Many artists have lent their voices to classic covers over the years. The latest to do so is Glass Tiger lead singer Alan Frew with his release entitled “80290 Rewind”. Although disappointed this was not a CD of originals as his first two albums were, and left with no surprises, as Frew broadcast the entire CD on Periscope over the summer, it is what it is: a CD of cover songs from the 80’s.
The CD opens with Scottish Alan Frew’s vocals replacing Scottish Jim Kerr’s vocals on “Don’t You Forget About Me”. Vocally Frew does a respectable job, fluctuating the lyrics in the right places, tossing in a feel of Glass Tiger’s “Animal Heart” and “Rhythm of Your Love” here and there. Although the music was recorded in Nashville, it doesn’t warrant the overuse of piano versus guitar and it sounds off-key in places.
Frew creatively adds his musical touch to Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis’ song “Human”. The rendition is well done with smooth lead and backing vocals and a nice use of brass instruments. The female bridge part is cleverly done, mingling faintly in the background with Frew’s vocals. As mellow as the original is, Frew’s version reminds me of something I’d hear in an elevator.
Two picks of the CD are “Everytime You Go Away” and “Missing You”. The former is well harmonized and Frew clearly makes it his “own”. “Missing You” is probably the best on the CD. The addition of brass instruments and piano gives the song a bluesy-country sound. Frew’s spin on this tune almost makes the listener feel like the song was meant for him to sing.
If “Live To Tell” and “Time After Time” had been left off the CD, they wouldn’t have been missed by this listener. Although Frew’s version of the Madonna hit intros with a nice saxophone riff, the vocals are ordinary and I feel the song sounds better with female vocals. The use of electric guitar on “Time After Time” is a nice addition to the tune. The song is well-orchestrated and Frew’s vocals are good, the little laugh he gives at the end is cute, but once again, I feel this song should have been left alone.
It’s no surprise that Frew chose to do a rendition of “Everybody Wants To Rule The World”. The “shuffle” beat to the song is very reminiscent to Glass Tiger’s “Don’t Forget Me (When I’m Gone)”. Although I feel it’s lacking backing vocals in many areas, the song is well done and a fun, lively classic with a great sax solo to finish it off.
One would think it would be simple for an artist to perform a cover of their own song. Not necessarily so. Although “Someday” is well-played out with acoustic piano, Frew took a bouncy classic pop tune and turned it into a dragged out country heartbreak song. The most memorable part is the high note Frew hits at the end.
“Hold Me Now” will always resonate with me as being the first cover song I ever heard Alan Frew perform live. And he does it extremely well. So well I prefer it live over this CD version.
Prince’s song “Nothing Compares 2 U” never did anything for me. Even more so since Sinead O’Connor sang the song. So when I learned Alan Frew was going to be singing this song, I rolled my eyes. I was pleasantly surprised with the results. Frew’s version has a nice, bluesy feel to it, complete with organ and a well-done piano solo, in which Frew recognizes pianist Jon Coleman when he declares “here’s Johnny”. Frew performs with strong, even vocals and, at least for me, has turned a song I once could not stand into something enjoyable.
Frew concludes “80290 Rewind” with a cover of the 1983 Yes song “Owner of a Lonely Heart”. In giving his fans a little history to the song, Frew indicated that Clive Davis didn’t think it would become a hit. I can see why he would think that. Other than a killer guitar solo from Kyle Cook, this song is highly lacking. To Frew’s defense, I feel it was also highly lacking in 1983 as well.
Cover albums aren’t meant to be spectacular and “80290 Rewind” is no exception. The more I listen to it, the more it sounds just “thrown together”. Knowing what Frew could have given listeners from his prior solo efforts in “Hold On” and “Wonderland”, I feel he took the easy way out on this one. However, with all that medically occurred to Alan Frew during the creation of “80290 Rewind”, maybe it was a blessing in disguise. Considering fact that this was his first stab at singing the hits of his peers, I give him an “A” for effort and a big “thank you” for taking his listeners down a great 80’s music memory lane.