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4.2 out of 5 stars
Cover Version
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on July 1, 2014
Format: VinylVerified Purchase
The six covers and six originals on this double LP vinyl edition are brilliant. Steven Wilson handles Alanis Morissette's 'Thank You' with aplomb and truly makes it his own. The sonics are wide open, uncompressed, and pleasing to the ear. It's nice to hear a stripped down, acoustic approach throughout as he tackles songs from Abba, The Cure, and Prince. Assembled from his solo singles 2003-2010, and sequenced with the covers on disc one and the originals on disc two. Detailed and very personal liner notes from Wilson. A master of prog rock, and one of the finest producers working in the industry today. Hard to say whether I enjoyed the covers or the originals more. Stellar performance and genius level music throughout. The vinyl on my set was dead quiet with music coming out of a black background and throwing a wide, deep soundstage on a VPI Scout with Dynavector 17d3 cartridge. Highly recommended for fans of analog and melodic progressive rock.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on July 8, 2014
Format: Audio CD
Cover Version assembles all the songs Steven Wilson covered on limited edition releases between 2003 and 2010 while also adding six more new tracks to the mix. I'm a big Steven Wilson fan; I own almost everything he has released from Porcupine Tree to No-Man to Blackfield to Bass Communion to his solo material, but I've never been one to get limited editions, especially if they contained only a few songs or B-sides. Therefore, this disc is more likely to appeal to those who haven't heard these tracks before, be it covers or new tunes. So for me, Cover Version is a winner; not only is it a 'new' disc for me, but it is also an amazing release in that it documents Wilson's far-reaching and eclectic musical tastes as well as growth and evolution as a solo artist.

The cover songs are amazing. Steven Wilson has given them all his trademark touch, making them sound like lost tracks from previous sessions. Fans of Blackfield may already be familiar with Alanis Morrissette's "Thank U" since it was covered in their 2007 live album. This version, however, is a lot more powerful. The mid-tempo tune is slowed down to half the speed and delivered in a much more intense manner, matching the spiritual lyrics. Speaking of which, Wilson even changes the lyrics a bit ("How about changing a line cause it don't make sense") but retains the tune's otherwise reflective nature. In The Cure's "A Forest," which has been covered by dozens of artists (including Norwegian black metal band Carpathian Forest), Wilson captures the song's electronic vibe but adds more sonic textures with distinct streams of melody running beneath the whole thing. The result is a darker and creepier soundscape with the second half sounding huge and intense. I would have thought it impossible to do this song justice, given it represents The Cure's definitive moment from their goth rock era, but Wilson has achieved it. Donovan's "Lord of the Reedy River" is twice as long as the original; the sound is developed with a more experimental method in that it weaves looped harmonies deep into the mix, though the folky acoustic guitars and vocals are faithfully re-interpreted. The amazing thing is that the middle section features a bluesy guitar solo, which really elevates it to another level. And the ending is sublime: the densely textured, looming sonic murmurs would not seem out of place on No-Man's Returning Jesus. The traditional English song "The Unquiet Grave" is breathtaking and unforgettable. It starts like a Comus song from 1971: wordless chants form the background for Wilson's vocals, delivered like never before. At one point, his vocals get buried under a slowly rising, Bass Communion-like drone before being brought to the fore again. The lyrics are easily the darkest on this release: they express loss, sorrow, and death, themes Wilson would go on to explore on a larger scale years later, especially on The Raven That Refused to Sing. Actually, this song is another ghost story, a murder ballad in a sense, and examines how the ghost of the protagonist's wife can't find peace due to the protagonist mourning her death obsessively for "12 months and a day."

Steven Wilson has also picked some of these artists' most lyrically powerful songs in their discography. The Prince cover "Sign 'o' the Times" features socially conscious lyrics addressing issues like drug use, natural disasters, and gang violence, but unfortunately it isn't one of my favourites on this collection, neither the original nor the cover. The cover version picks up quite a bit of tempo towards the end, making it one of the most aggressive cuts on this disc and doesn't cohere well with the rest of the songs. The very last song ABBA recorded in their career, "The Day Before You Came" is perhaps one of their few songs based on the band members' personal experiences. It deals with divorce and is possibly the best track on this release: Wilson cuts out the steady, unchanging drum machine completely from the original piece, replacing it with an amazing acoustic guitar element and a distant, slow-burning orchestral arrangement. His vocals are among his most emotionally charged ever, and the ending of this song certainly surpasses the original, which is also a great tune, in my opinion. "The Guitar Lesson" is another lyrically intriguing number: it examines the issue of child abuse, which may put some listeners off, but Momo's rather jarring, avant-garde approach to songwriting is transformed into a more melancholic song, with greater emphasis on mood than lyrics, and, therefore, successfully merges into the fabric of the album.

The 'new' songs are mostly acoustic pieces within the three-minute mark. "Moment I Lost" is a dark piano ballad with some acoustic guitar strumming; it would make for a great song on Insurgentes. "Four Trees Down" is another ballad with flickering guitar arpeggios, but the brief guitar solo is worth the price of this disc alone: Steven Wilson gives us a piece of his heart on this one. The piano intro of "Please Come Home" sounds like something Jon Oliva would play if he were composing a follow-up to Dead Winter Dead. Of course, the resemblance ends the moment Wilson's vocals kick in. One of his simplest yet most moving songs, this track also sports a bluesy guitar solo (well, they're not solos per se, but you'll know what I mean when you hear it) which resolves the gently rising synth effects. There is also a more direct, pop-formatted track on the album: "Well You're Wrong." However, the best track has got to be "An End to an End." I love it when Wilson fully develops his pieces, infusing them with deep undercurrents, meditative passages, and tension-laden twists and turns. This is the type of demo material that Wilson might have shared with Mikael Akerfeldt before they started working on the Storm Corrosion album.

Cover Version is another great addition to Steven Wilson's catalog. Though it is not as cohesive as, say, Grace for Drowning or The Raven That Refused to Sing, it still stands on its own with some of his finest and most powerful songs to date.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on December 7, 2014
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
Oddly, this album is the exact opposite experience that I tend to have with music. I really enjoyed the first listen and became less than thrilled upon further listens. The songs, as you can always expect from a Steven Wilson album, are produced incredibly well. Wilson is one of the best producers in the field today and there is good reason so many bands would fight to get him to mix their albums. The main issue people have with Wilson's music is that he tends to be very self indulgent, which is what you tend to expect from any artist, but at times he does so at the expense of thinking about what his fans might prefer. At the end of the day, I am a fan of Steven Wilson's many projects and enjoy many of the albums that others have shunned.

That said....this album is not a proper album. It is a collection of cover songs, and originals that seem to be inspired by the songs he covered, all compiled together into one set. When you think of it as a collection of odds and ends, especially for the low price, then there is nothing to complain about. The music is very acoustic guitar heavy along with a lot of synth and computer generated effects layered over top. It is easily worth the price of admission...it just isn't worth any more than that.

Sometimes you buy a cheap album and find it to be a gem among stones. This album is an admittedly shiny stone but is still just a stone. A few of the covers are excellent, most of the original songs less so, and overall the dark, listless, ambling pacing gets a bit boring. Which is unfortunate, because any of these songs taken on their own isn't bad, maybe not spectacular but certainly not bad. But all gathered together, you can't help but notice how strikingly similar everything is, and soon your passion for any particular song is drained away. Good for what it is but easily skipped if you're not a fan of Wilson specifically.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on September 11, 2014
Format: Vinyl
Loving it. At first, I thought it would be boring, but after listening the entire album several times, I realized that one should not doubt Wilson's genius. :)
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on August 20, 2014
Format: MP3 MusicVerified Purchase
Good ol' Wilson. He just keeps getting better. This is stripped, haunting, melodic, and beautiful. I know he only wrote about half of the tunes, which almost made me think twice about buying it until I thought, "It's Steven Wilson - if it wasn't a good idea, he wouldn't have recorded it". So remind yourself how great all of your other Steven Wilson records are - especially everything in the last 10 years or so, and think of how he doesn't ever let you down, and buy it.
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on January 2, 2015
Format: Audio CD
It took a few listens for me to get into this but I do like the entire thing now. I seem to enjoy the individual songs more when they pop up on the Pod on shuffle at work....I can see why he liked the covers here and the originals he poked in are jewels as well. I can't seem to get enough SW these days...he seems to be a bottomless pit of incredible creativity that comes from somewhere and I sure hope it keeps coming for years to come!
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on July 31, 2014
Format: Audio CD
I've been a big fan of Steven's stuff for several years now, and I knew about the Cover Version singles as they were being released, but never broke down and ordered them, so I was really excited to have the entire set released on a single CD. I have to say, though, that I am a bit disappointed. It's a very stripped down affair compared to Porcupine Tree and Steven's solo efforts, which is a setting Steven still pulls off very well, so I was looking forward to a really laid back release from Steven, some of the songs just fall flat to me. It is indeed, as another reviewer put it, very hit & miss.

Alanis Morissette's "Thank U" is done well here, Steven gives it a very emotional take and it comes across well, though I do prefer the version from Blackfield's Live in NYC

"Moment I Lost" is a strong original piece. Strong piano, acoustic guitar, and good vocal melodies. Probably would have been at home in mid-era Porcupine Tree (Lightbulb Sun or Stupid Dream)

Abba's "The Day Before You Came" I'm not familiar with the original, but Steven's simple take on it is really interesting. Probably my favorite cover on the album.

"Please Come Home" is another nice little original tune. It's a good song, but not spectacular.

The Cure's "A Forest" is where the release starts to get a little more experimental with some different electronics and vocal effects. To me it shows a just a touch of a Trent Reznor influence, while still being distinctly SW

"Four Trees Down" is an acoustic guitar driven original, with some extra soundscapes added toward the middle of the track with good effect. This one might be my favorite original on the album.

Momus' "The Guitar Lesson" is absolutely the lowest point of the album, at least for me. I had never heard of Momus before this, let alone heard this song before, and I couldn't believe my ears the first time I heard it. It's the story of a guitar teacher molesting a young female student told from the molester's perspective. I felt like I needed a shower after hearing it. It's a horrible song, and I'll never listen to it again.

"The Unquiet Grave" another original. This one is pretty experimental and very soundscape heavy. To me it just kind of meanders and doesn't really go anywhere.

Prince's "The Sign O' The Times" is probably the most upbeat point of the album with some light drum machines and percussive sounds helping provide a bit of a funky beat to Steven's understated vocals. It's different but it is a bright spot.

"Well You're Wrong" is similar to "Please Come Home" in that it's a nice little tune, but not great.

Donovan's "Lord of the Reedy River" low key to the point of being (for me) boring. There are some interesting sounds and such, but pretty minimalist and doesn't really pop to me.

An End to End is another track that to me just doesn't seem to go anywhere.

It pains me to give a Steven Wilson release anything less than 5 stars, but this one just isn't that good. Only really suggested for completists and serious SW fans.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on November 20, 2014
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
The album takes you on an amazing musical journey.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CD
I purchased these collections as they were being released individually through Burning Shed. I was quite excited when each was released and I was able to hear what cover came next. And then the collector's box with the release of the sixth was a real treat as it connected mini lp envelopes cor each disc that depicted a history of physical music of sorts. I am mot sure how this collection is presented, but that was a wonderful finale to the whole collection.

As for the music itself, the best way to describe the whole collection as hit and miss. While the entire set is a wonderful addition to any Steven Wilson collection. However, some of these songs will indeed seem to be for collector's only. They are not entirely accessible to everyone, and I think that was the point: Wilson wanted to present some familiar songs in a very different light. But I will say that some of the songs have a tendency to grow on you. Cover Version V was one that I found so complete odd and out of place in my Steven Wilson library, but over time I really came to enjoy it in an odd way. I now find the poppy synth shift into wall-of-digital-noise quite appealing to the whole song's intent. However, the Wilson original song that accompanies it still is not one that I find particularly engaging at all.

So the collection is a hit and miss, but, as a whole, it is a fantastic investment as well as a large part of Steven Wilson history.

Pesonal favorite: Cover Version VI accompanied by And End to End.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
I was looking forward to this new release by Steve and upon the first listen I was stunned. Yes some of these songs are covers and some are just filler. I have everything Porcupine Tree and Steve has put out. I am an avid fan, but simply cannot understand why he would put something like this out. It left me feeling nothing. There does not seem to be any kind of emotion, good or bad here. I never thought I would have a CD by Steve that I would be getting rid of. He can do what he wants musically and has never disappointed me, until now. I am being honest with my opinion. I hope that this is like someone that just has to get it out of his blood and then move on to making great music again. How about a new Porcupine Tree CD to make some of us forget this blip in an otherwise exceptional career. Still Love your music Steve! Just not this!
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