Under Review: The Bird And The Bee – Interpreting The Masters, Vol. 1: A Tribute To Daryl Hall & John Oates

Let’s say you sit down and decide to do a tribute album with your band.  The artist or group that you plan on saluting should be one that has some influence on your own, original music.  They could also be already well-known in the public sphere, but this is not strictly necessary.  If most people already know the band you’ll be covering, though, then you have a whole new set of choices.  Are you going to cover their hits or mine their catalogues for lesser-known gems?  And, no matter what songs you settle on, will you totally reinvent them or simply do your own inspired versions?  The Bird And The Bee clearly took all these decisions into account when crafting their new mini-album, Interpreting The Masters, Vol. 1: A Tribute To Daryl Hall & John Oates.  Sure, you might not think that Hall & Oates are worthy of a tribute, but Inara George and Greg Kurstin don’t always think like everyone else.  Heck, if they did, then we probably wouldn’t have all the charming and addictive material they’ve already produced on two albums and a handful of EPs.  Interpreting The Masters, if it indeed turns out to be a multi-volume series, is an equally ambitious and simple project.  After all, these songs are ones that are already near and dear to the band, yet they put so much of themselves into these recordings to show that they’re just as serious about covers as they are originals.

Interpreting The Masters starts off, curiously enough, with an original song, “Heard It On The Radio.”  The tune is said to be inspired by the ‘70s pop of, among others, Hall & Oates, but it still serves as an unusual introduction to an otherwise all-covers record.  The tribute itself begins with “I Can’t Go For That,” which George and Kurstin had been covering in concert for a few years.  The set is comprised of just about every Hall & Oates hit you might want to hear on a tribute.  “Rich Girl,” “She’s Gone,” “Private Eyes;” they’re all represented with The Bird And The Bee’s trademark bubbly electronics and overdubbed harmonies.  The lone track to feature an outside singer is “Maneater,” in which Garbage siren Shirley Manson supplies part of the chorus.  Though the mere notion of a Hall & Oates anything may make some indie-types cringe, the best part of Interpreting The Masters is the distinct absence of irony.  George and Kurstin (well, George at the very least) love these songs, and it’s easy to see why.  Hearing these pop classics reworked is not only a testament to The Bird And The Bee’s talent as modern torch-bearers, but Hall & Oates’ damn great songwriting.  The original title of the album was Guiltless Pleasures and, yes, it’s true that Hall & Oates have been unfairly relegated to the realm of soccer moms and slow dances.  However, the change in the album’s title reflects how The Bird And The Bee see (and, indeed, how we should all see) music in general: as something that no one should be ashamed of loving.

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~ by E. on March 15, 2010.

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