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on May 2, 2000
You'd think that starting at the beginning of the year and ending now I'd hear something better than a covers record wouldn't you? Covers records have historically stunk. Generally speaking, you don't want to hear someone do covers because the original is unbeatable. However Chan Marshall has made what I feel is the best album to come out this year (thus far... it's early, so there's still time) Where I can never say that someone, anyone, has performed a song better than the original, I can say that Chan Marshall has matched them. Her beautiful voice and stripped down performing style are perfect for these songs. Highlights are "Naked If I Want To" "Salty Dog" and "Sea of Love." One of the most interesting tracks is when she does a cover of one of her own songs "In This Hole," originally appearing on "What Would The Community Think." Also does wonderful folkish countryish songs Dylan's "Paths of Victory" (sounds wonderful on the piano) and traditional "Salty Dog." Where for the type of album this is, I would normally recomend for listeners new to Cat Power go for a Chan Marshall original, like "Moon Pix" however, either will do. This is an excellent introduction to Cat Power, and even though it's all covers, one of the more original albums to come out this year.
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on December 15, 2004
Clearly of the Less Is More faith, Cat Power spent two years stripping back to nearly nothing this esoteric set of covers, exposing their bare essence and reinventing them as minimalist sound sculptures.

Getting the makeovers are songs associated with Bob Dylan (Kingsport Town, Paths Of Victory), the Rolling Stones (Satisfaction), Helen Merrill (Troubled Waters), Moby Grape (Naked If I Want To), Michael Hurley (Sweedeedee), Velvet Underground (I Found A Reason), Nina Simone (Wild Is The Wind), Smog (Red Apples), Mississippi John Hurt (Salty Dog - with extract of Candy Man), Phil Phillips and the Twi-Lights (Sea Of Love) and Chan Marshall (her alter-ego) on In This Hole. Sublime
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on March 22, 2000
Covers records can be such a tricky thing. There are inherent dangers for an artist trying to pull one off. Do you do it exactly like the original? No one wants to hear that. Do you place the song in a new genre? Ugh, Madonna's "American Pie" has shown the world the errors of THAT. I mean, just think of that awful Duran Duran cover record (Simon LeBon singing Public Enemy's "911 is a Joke"?) or Guns N Roses "Spaghetti Incident." Ew.
Chan Marshall, however, manages to do it right on this album. Just listen to what she does on the opening track, with the Rolling Stones' "Satisfaction." Just as you get over the confusion of the song sounding completely different, Chan's voice kicks in and says, "for the next half hour, these songs are mine."
And once you hear her beautiful version of "Sea of Love", all harp and creaky voice, you should agree. It's a perfect late night, sitting around smoking cigarettes kind of album.
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on September 3, 2006
If you've been listening to the Cat Power album, The Greatest, you'll know that Chan Marshall makes a superb blues singer. The Covers Record, a likable collection of cover songs recorded in the late 1990s, serves as a nice introduction to Marshall's blues/folk singing style. There is no backup band on this stripped down album, only Marshall's voice and one other instrument per song. Spare, but it gets the job done.

Some reviewers have fawned over her version of the Stones classic "Satisfaction." I'm okay with that, but I'm considerably more enchanted by "Salty Dog," the country blues standard made famous by Mississippi John Hurt. Marshall does a wonderful version of it, easily on par with any folk or blues singer you can think of. One reason this song stands out for me is that she sticks to her strength (bluesy singing) and turns the guitar duties over to an actual professional, Matt Sweeney. He does nice job playing fingerstyle guitar John Hurt fashion. It's so easy to like this song. It's simple, clean, and sounds really great.

If only she had followed this approach for every song on the album! This could have easily been a five star album... not even just five stars, but a THOUSAND stars! But instead, Marshall prefers schlubing her way through the piano and guitar parts rather than have one of her talented friends provide a proper accompaniment. The Covers Record has a DIY quality to it as a result. Although I do like The Covers Record--it's one of her best albums--I keep thinking of how great it might have been if only she focused exclusively on singing.

Fortunately for us, Marshall's great voice saves the album. The CD is quite listenable even in spite of some of her bumbling and plodding accompaniments. I approve of the stripped down approach--no drum machines, no distorted guitars, no overdubbed harmonies. Truly, it would have been a formula for absolute perfection, if only!

Ah well... what are Cat Power fans if not an exasperated bunch? Look at any forum about her. It's one post after the next making excuses for her screwups, or making suggestions for improvement: "Chan would be so good if only she didn't cry and stop playing, or if only Chan would tune her guitar, or if only Chan would complete the song without messing up, or if only Chan would get a good producer who could help her." Somehow these problems never seem to arise with her peers like Ani Difranco, Regina Spektor, PJ Harvey, etc... but Cat Power fans have to learn to be tolerant. Every song can't be a winner. And in her case, it's more like every tenth song might be a winner, but only if the moon is right, she happens to be in a good mood, isn't drunk, nobody says anything mean to her, and she decides to let someone else play guitar for a change. Then and only then you may just get to hear something really magical come out of her.

In any event, The Covers Record has some remarkable moments and if you can accept its DIY limitations, it's a good listen.
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on May 11, 2002
In 1995 I saw Cat Power at Town Hall. She opened for Liz Phair. Timidly walking out on to stage, with shaking hands placing her set list on the microphone stand she played her set. She wasn't able to capture the audience that night, a low murmer of talking pervaded. She didn't finish he songs right, they just sort of ended mid strum. She walked off stage defeated.
In 2000 I saw the Matador Records 10th Anniversary Party, three nights at Irvin Plaza. Cat Power played on the second night and captivated me. I couldn't take my eyes off of her. The sound still echoes in my ears and memory. I was instantly transformed, converted into a Cat Power fan.
Her voice is simply beautiful. Hypnotic, Enveloping. Her guitar playing is similarly hypnotic. A vulnerable truth unencumbered by a need to hide itself from the world. All art and all artists should aspire to this level of vulnerability.
I bought The Covers Record on the strength of her cover of Satisfaction by the Rolling Stones. A song I didn't recognize until it was 2/3 done. Out of all her albums this is the most accessible, and I would consider this a great starting point, a great introduction to Chan Marshall a-k-a Cat Power.
Melancholy, slow, airy. Great art has the ability to transport you into a different world. This album transports you. If I close my eyes, I can see the studio with Chan at the piano, a single light so she can see the keys. If I keep them closed I'm drawn into the drama, the heartbreak, loss, and sorrow.
I saw Cat Power in 2001 at the Bowery Ballroom. She wasn't nearly as captivating. It was her crowd. She was confident on stage, almost brash. She played random songs she knew a few chords to and didn't finish them. She quipped with the audience. I don't know if this is typical of her performances now. I certainly hope not. Where was the Chan Marshall we had all come to know and love? Had this bravado swallowed her up?
I brought a friend of mine, a musician who can be similarly vulnerable. I wanted to show her a successful musician who wasn't polished, and whose main strength was her honesty. We left early.
Someone said that an album is a testament to a certain place in time. The Covers Record is her most polished album, but it certainly doesn't attempt to hide Chan away from the world. This album is a testament to who Chan Marshall was and is. A testament to a person.
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on May 5, 2000
It's generally known that Chan Marshall (aka Cat Power) gives bad show because she gets insecure and freaked out and tends to get upset when she makes mistakes. She's also just kind of weird. So it was against my better judgement when I attended her recent show at the El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles, after have attended two shows in NYC over the last few years.
Hair covering her face like a Ramone, she interupted nearly every song, but every song was as gorgeous as it is on The Covers Record. The raw beauty of her voice is amazing, accompanying herself with such spare intstrumentation. Weaving one song into another, she stopped only to switch from electric guitar to piano (as on the album). You'll need to listen to the album many times before you can truly appreciate its loveliness. Then see her live. Forgive her insecurity and hesitations, even cheer her on. But she will move you.
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on December 13, 2005
If you like John Cale, Mazzy Star, Nico, Cowboy Junkies, Sara MacLachlan or Nina Simone, this is something you need to hear. With a lyrical voice like an Appalachian angel, and lilting accompaniment on piano, guitar and harpsichord, Cat Power manages to sound sparse and rich simultaneously. Soft but strong, it's ideal music for sipping cocktails and just chillin' with friends. This is a real find, one of those CDs your guests will ask about when you play it. It's pointless to compare her versions of these covers to the originals. Her renditions stand alone. Unlike so MANY other derivative artists you've heard lauded as the next great thing, Cat Power's sound is truly unique and extremely listenable.
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on April 25, 2000
As distracted and angry i get at the current state of music, i have to admit that once in a while i am refreshed 100% by an artist. Chan Marshall has been a sort of savior to me on so many levels. As I have previously written, her album Moon Pix reaffirmed my love for powerful folk songwriting. This album, in many ways, surpasses that idea of 'folk'. Many a great folk musicians of the 1960s had a great repetoire of their own material, but just as importantly, had a great deal of cover songs as well. This is what folk musicians do. Recycle sounds, add a little here and there, or add nothing at all. Folk believes that music is a community...that we're all a community. My point being, that this "Covers Record" is as relevant and important to Chan Marshall's musical history as anything she's done before. Every track is amazing, and all are worthy interpretations of the originals. Repeat after me..."Thanks be to the folk Gods".
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on November 19, 2014
I bought this for the amazing cover of Wild is the Wind - her perfectly pitched, husky voice and simple but elegant piano are too perfect to pass by. It is the only cover of this song that competes with Nina Simone's old version. However, when listening to the album, not only was I taken by the entire set being excellent but just one listen to the hauntingly lovely 'Troubled Waters' and you'll have that song on repeat for a month. It will have you reflecting on the plight of this character in the song - I won't give it away or give you my interpretation as I'll let you consider that yourself - but be prepared to be reflective and consumed.
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on January 9, 2006
It's a cover album, so albiet i will be an artists reindition of songs of other artists???...No..

When i first heard i cant get no which is a rolling stones song, i couldnt figure out who was the original yet i knew the lyrics. Dont be fooled that this is a cover album and has no artistic value, but Chan Marshall does make this album her own...she even covers her own songs (In this hole)

This album is for those whom want to find new experiences to the songs they know or just know the sad people see the world by the eyes of Chan Marshall ( Cat Power )
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