I wouldn't call myself a fan of Juliana Hatfield. Something about her voice has always given me the twitch. But she charmed the hell out of me with her collection of Olivia Newton-John songs. Then, I got right off the bus with her collection of Police songs, which I did not think worked at all. Now, she tackles the work of Jeff Lynne, a long time hero of mine on "Juliana Hatfield Sings ELO" and I am loving a lot of it.
Many complain about the kitchen sink production on ELO records, even though that is sort of the point. I never minded it, except on "Out Of The Blue," where many brilliant pop tunes just soak in layers and layers of strings and percussion and high squeal background vocals. So hearing "Sweet Is The Night" open up the Hatfield set stripped to a quartet really tickled me. Lynne's gorgeous melody sounds even better with so much less behind it.
I felt the same about "Don't Bring Me Down." Yes, the drums are iconic on the original, but Hatfield and her band slow it down just a bit, cleaned it up a bit, and now, those chugging guitars give it a swampy groove that just killed me. Most of the record killed me, just because I love the songs so much.
In other news, I can't say I've followed Shooter Jennings career by any stretch of the imagination. I do know he is the son of an outlaw, and for a brief time was a Soprano-in-law, after spending many years with Drea De Matteo. But I did go into his new live album "Shooter Jennings & The Werewolves Of L.A. Do Zevon" expecting an unhinged live set featuring covers that would be as raucous as the man the band was paying tribute to. Man, did I get it wrong?
This is one bland record. I felt like I was in an Atlantic City casino lobby. The band couldn't play it any straighter and that's disappointing. I know Jennings began his career playing some hybrid of hard rock and country and according to All Music, he's dabbled in Euro Dance and hip hop. I would have taken a Euro Dance/Hip Hop hybrid of Zevon covers over this pointless exercise.
Here is one more from Juliana, so we go out on a high note.