Now, here’s a bit of fun. A duo from the North West comprising Ian Cleverdon and Phil Caffrey whose instrumentation includes cello-mandolin and cuatro, for their fourth album, Welcome On Board, they opted to give a folksy makeover to an eclectic choice of covers, two of which are studio versions of songs previously featured on their live album.
They open in splendid form with a faithful reading of Dave Alvin’s ‘King Of California’, moving into less familiar territory with a gently fingerpicked take on Dougie MacLean’s ‘Scythe Song’ from his 1997 album Riof, a number about learning, practice and patience inspired by his farmer father.
They’ve covered Colin Hay before with ‘Up In Smoke’, and here they turn to a mandolin-led version of his 1983 Men At Work hit ‘Overkill’, likewise Billy Joel whose ‘Downeaster Alexa’ also appeared on 2010’s Up For Grabs, this time, from 1976 album Turnstile, they opt for a jaunty strummed run through ‘Miami 2017 (I’ve Seen The Lights Go Out On Broadway)’.
The longest tracks at under five and half minutes (and longer than the original) is an evocative interpretation of Peter Gabriel’s ‘Mercy Street’ with some fine intricate fingerpicked acoustic guitar that deftly captures the same brooding atmospherics.
Another revisiting is for Boo Hewerdine, a nervy percussive beat and guitar pattern anchoring his Findlay Napier co-write ‘The Man Who Sold New York’, their song about legendary con man George C Parker. Up next are those two studio versions of numbers from Thank You And Goodnight, the first being Steve Knightley’s magnificent ‘Man Of War’, featured on Show of Hands 1992 live album but never as a studio recording. The second is an inspired mandolin-backed reinterpretation of Don Henley’s ‘Boys of Summer’ that slows the pace right down for a far more melancholic, wistful reading.
The chunky country lead track of her 2001 album, Lynn Miles’s ‘Unravel’ doesn’t quite come off in the duo’s simpler, resonator guitar accompanied arrangement, the chorus title word slightly strained as the vocals soar (though, to be fair, the same could be said of the original). They end on firmer footing though with a bubbling guitar riff percolating through Cyndi Lauper and Rob Hyman’s anthemic ‘Time After Time’ and, finally, picking up the electric guitar and driving folk-rock beat, they daringly reimagine Bowie’s ‘Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)’ to terrific effect.
Probably one for their live following, this being a faithful recreation of the stage sound, rather than an enticement to new audiences, as the title might invite, but those who like to see familiar songs shaken up a little should certainly lend it an ear.
Artists’ website: www.thehuers.co.uk
‘Overkill’ – live: