Micah P. Hinson: All Dressed Up And Smelling Of Strangers

mphaduasosMicah P. Hinson, everyone’s favourite Texan and honorary native of Burnley, returns with a double album of covers. When I saw this I thought a) Micah had put something out fairly quickly so that he could tour and b) he might have over-reached himself. He does have a fantastic voice and a classy sense of how to arrange and perform, but could he cover such karaoke classics as ‘Are You Lonesome Tonight?’ and (gulp) ‘My Way’? What about ‘Suzanne’? And could anyone do justice to ‘Running Scared’?

Well, it’s an almost flawless covers album – which puts it in the same company as Kicking Against The Pricks in my book – and the answers to those questions are ‘not bloody likely’ and ‘yes’. Though accompanied only by the extraordinary musical all-rounder Nick Phelps – MPH’s one-man touring band last time I saw him – and a couple of friends, this sounds nothing like a space-filling record. It continues the experiments with Link Wray distortion and surf guitar heard on Micah P. Hinson and the Red Empire Orchestra with clever cello to fill out the sound. And while the better-known songs benefit from a bit of volume – ‘My Way’ sounds best when MPH is singing quietly, loudly, if you see what I mean – there are some superb covers here. ‘Running Scared’ is particularly impressive, because Micah has Orbison’s clarity, if not his lungpower. ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ sounds different enough to work.

But the other standouts are, for me, in the standards and in the more obscure choices. I could listen to these versions of ‘Kiss Me Mother, Kiss Your Darling’ and ‘In The Pines’ all day – the latter sounds like Blixa Bargeld has turned up to add the requisite noise+weirdness. And the cover of Pedro The Lion’s ‘Slow and Steady Wins The Race’ is this album’s prize, as far as I’m concerned – that strange matter-of-fact oddness you only get from straight-faced examinations of faith.

This is a handsome-looking album (or rather 2 CDs running to 50-odd minutes) and you should go out and get a copy.

Micah P. Hinson – ‘Running Scared‘ – All Dressed Up And Smelling Of Strangers

Micah P. Hinson –  ‘Slow and Steady wins The Race‘ – All Dressed Up And Smelling Of Strangers

Buy here – I did. Nice mug, too!

JKneale

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About jkneale

BothBarsOn's London correspondent.

Posted on November 3, 2009, in Album reviews, Covers. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. When I first heard of this I thought ‘Kicking Against The Pricks’, so I’m glad to hear he’s achieved something of the glory of that classic. Quite a brave move don’t you think to release a covers album? Mind you I love covers full stop, so in a similar manner to you wanting Tarot Sport I must go and buy this as soon as is humanly possible.

  2. Available in Fopp too, I think 🙂 It isn’t quite as consistent as ‘Kicking’, but it’s not often you get a good covers album, so it’s the only point of reference I could think of.

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