album review: stay classy (a collection of cover songs), little hurricane
little hurricane might get compared to The White Stripes a lot, but this self-professed “dirty blues” duo’s lack of pretension sets them worlds apart from Jack White’s pet project. Formed in 2010, the San Diego-based pair have been playing songs off their debut LP, Homewreckers to crowds across the US, including appearances at SXSW, Austin City Limits and Lollapalooza.
Having brought their scratchy, backwoodsy blues-rock to the masses, the pair are now back home, resting up until the next tour. However, to see their fans through the hiatus, the band have released a cover album, free on the internet.
Stay Classy (A Collection of Cover Songs) sees the band take on some of the greats, including Pink Floyd, Creedence and Springsteen.
The album opens with a cover of Percy Sledge’s ode to furtive love, The Dark End of the Street which sees little hurricane remove the dated and now vaguely creepy, porn-tastic vibe of the original by placing Percy’s brilliant original lyrics over gritty electric guitar slides. The song gets a new lease on life when it is recast as a blues song about doomed love.
The cover of CCR’s Bad Moon Rising, is quite frankly, a little odd, with a slow, almost reggae beat, that despite being paired with brilliant vocals, does nothing to elevate the song. Next up is a version of I’m On Fire, which sees Bruce Springsteen’s hit reimagined as a dreamy indie song. There is none of the raw sexuality of the original, none of the fire, so to speak, and one cannot help but feel the meaning has been lost in translation. A condensed version of Pink Floyd’s Money benefits from a straight forward cover, which eliminates the keyboards and sax solo which placed it firmly in the 70s, and adds drums instead. Bill Wither’s Ain’t No Sunshine has never sounded so good. Vocalist Tone Catalano’s talents are on full display, and it is something to behold. A swampy blues beat and awesome guitar solos elevate this song to the highlight of the album.
Electric guitar does nothing much to improve Fiona Apple’s already brilliant Shadowboxer, but listening to Catalano let loose is a privilege. Elbow’s bar room brawler of a song, Grounds for Divorce, gets a swampy update, but it lacks the kick of a full band. The mandolin is a nice touch, though. A cover of ZZ Top’s Blue Jeans Blues adds a bit of reverb to this revered classic, lending a foreboding air to this once mellow song. Natural Blues is not quite as eerie as the Moby version, with the ghost of Vera Hall joined by jungle beats and piano. Instead, little hurricane have reimagined Natural Blues as a bonafide rock song, and the results are not too shabby.
In a bizarre twist of fate, the album is closed out with a cover of Aerosmith’s Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing. Gone is the overly schmaltzy tune you remember from that Michael Bay movie. This is a swampy blues song, and it is barely recognisable. This is could only be construed as a good thing by anyone with ears.
Overall, a brilliant cover collection which showcases Tone Catalano and CC Spina’s combined talents, as well as their trademark blues sound. Not only do they make the scratchy blues rock of my dreams, but they evidently have pretty good taste in music too. And best of all, you don’t even have to pay for it.
Must listen: The Dark End of the Street, Ain’t No Sunshine.
Download and listen to the lot here