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47 of 51 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon April 10, 2012
I've been a Counting Crows fan since the very beginning. I've faithfully stuck with them through thick and thin, but "Saturday Nights and Sunday Mornings" was a rough one for me--the music never gelled for me, and I thought that maybe the greatest days were gone for this band. Well, I'm delighted to report that Underwater Sunshine returns these guys to my CD player on heavy rotation. I've always loved Adam's particular genius with lyrics, and I was a little sad to hear that this was going to be a record of covers--but once I heard them do Aimee (originally by the Pure Prairie League), I was in heaven. And I have to say that this is just a fantastic cover record. Each of these songs is exactly the sort of song that Counting Crows is supposed to do: melodic with a Southern Rock flavor over a California rock backbone, wistful at turns, rocking at others. I expected a Dylan cover, and indeed would have been disappointed without one; fortunately, this is a great one. I didn't expect a Travis cover, but wow, it makes me remember what a great songwriting team Travis was when they were at their finest. Anyway, this is an album that is an easy win for long time fans, and should do quite well at bringing in new fans as well.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on April 12, 2012
It's funny that a ban who made it's name for deep, complex song writing would decide to release instead an album of covers, but I'm sure glad they did.

Recorded in an 'almost live' format, Underwater Sunshine really showcases the delicate skills of Counting Crows as musicians. I noticed many songs start with minimal instrumentation and build and build as the song goes. "Meet on the Ledge" adds layers and instruments every verse and ends as a soaring and encompassing symphony of sound.

The songs are all at least solid, with many great stand outs. I challenge you not to sing along with "Aime"

The liner notes of the album offer insights on the bands being covered, why they were chosen, the recording process, and some great (funny) stories about Counting Crows from back in the day and paint an envious picture of the music scene of the early 90's.

One negative, on my CD, at least, is that the tracks "Four White Stallions" and "Return of the Grievous Angel" are reversed. So when then name of the track comes on for those two songs, it's obviously wrong. This will be a pain when burning the CD, so be aware.

In any event, the amateurish mix up of the track labeling doesn't detract from the excellent musicality and strong performance of Counting Crows. I highly recommend this album to fans of Counting Crows, the Faces, Gram Parsons, Big Star, and live music.
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on April 12, 2012
I feel they never leave the comfort zone on this one. That comfort zone may well be a pleasant place to be in, but I'm hearing almost every song coming through at a samey mid-tempo. Or nice and slow. It woulda been good to have at least a single rocker. Or a piano ballad. Or an acoustic ballad. Quirky secret track? Nah. No boundaries are pushed here, it's cruise control. Jogging along, so to speak.

I kinda like these songs, I wanna give the album a four. But then I realise I already have very similar Crows versions of three of these fifteen songs on Hard Candy era releases I already paid for. (It's like'damn! I paid again for that one! And that one too!') Having so many songs virtually the same as ones I was digging years ago mixed in with the new stuff really does negatively affect the way the album comes across.

It's bona fide Counting Crows, sounds nice enough, but-and I don't care if it's a covers album or not- it's not trying anything new, and it could; though the arrangements are sound, it all seems tried and tested, and it didn't begin to blow my mind. The track "Jumping Jesus" is a little edgy with some nice vocal harmonies, and it took me back to "Recovering the Satellites" for a moment. Still wish I'd waited until I could get it second hand.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on April 18, 2012
Dedicated Counting Crows fans, and I am one, will want to have this collection of covers, most of which are fair to good. It is a CD that I likely will play from time to time while driving long distances. For those songs that I already knew, however, none of the versions offered here truly improves on the original. And the cover of Gram Parsons classic "Return of the Grievous Angel" is clueless -- sung as a happy cowboy rock song along the lines of "Aimee." It's the reason that I can only give this CD two stars. All of the strong emotional content (the underlying weariness and sadness) that was in Gram's voice is drained away. The back story on that song is that Gram did not actually write the lyrics, but put a poem by Thomas Brown to tune. Brown had admired Parsons' music but worried about his life style and addictions and wrote the poem "Return of the Grievous Angel" about him. By the time that the album "Grievous Angel" was assembled, Parsons had died. Listen to the original version with that background in mind and then listen to the Counting Crows version. If they had invested their version of that song with the same weariness and sadness that permeated "August and Everything After," it would have hit the mark perfectly. Counting Crows is a good band with the unfortunate legacy of having produced probably the best debut album ever -- and of struggling since to live up to that legacy.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on April 19, 2012
i'm a long time counting crows fan, living in the town next to the band's childhood routes in the bay area. we've seen them many times over the past 15 years including last month, and i was really looking forward to hearing this release even though it was all covers....and while i find it enjoyable and i will continue to listen to it, so far i'm left feeling that i wish adam and crew had focused on new, original music instead of some of their favorite covers. i applaud their innovation in putting out such a release, but the counting crows hardly ever have new original music anyway so i'm feeling that it may be a few years before they get around to putting out some of their own. maybe it was unrealistic to have been hoping for more out of a release of covers, but i am left wanting the 'real' counting crows....
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on April 15, 2012
I have to agree this is a great album - great choice of songs and great interpretations - I like the idea of putting an album together over a couple of sessions with most of it being played 'live' in the studio. The end result comes across as a band playing as a band, enjoying the experience and doing something quite different and to some extent innovative. But I have to say that some of these songs have appeared elsewhere before and to be quite honest they were often better versions!

Just to fill in the missing gaps, the UK version of 'Hard Candy' had 'Four White Stallions' and 'You Ain't Going Nowhere', the UK CD singles of 'If I Could Give All My Love to You' had 'Ooh La La' and 'Return of the Grievious Angel' and the UK CD single 2 of 'Big Yellow Taxi' had 'Amie' on it. I paid £10 ($16) for fifteen tracks and I already had five of them!

I would have loved fifteen new covers. Any comment Mr Duritz?
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on April 16, 2012
The Counting Crows picked a wonderful set of covers that showcase their acoustic side - soft country with a slight rock influence that allows Adam's voice to cut through and get right to the heart of the matter. I am very fortunate to have tickets to catch their hometown show in Oakland this evening.

To the person that couldn't get behind "Saturday Nights and Sunday Mornings" the only response I have is "WHAT????" It was an amazing blend of breakaway rock tunes combined with softer more introspective ballads that have the depth that the Counting Crows are known for. I totally disagree that it was a step in the wrong direction. The Saturday Night tunes are edgy and put a spotlight on their diversity, and the Sunday Morning tunes are so full of heartfelt emotion that you can feel the turmoil pouring out of the lyrics. For me personally it was a great album that got better and better every time through.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on January 29, 2013
I only stuck with this album to the end because I LOVE Counting Crows, except for this album. No greatness going on here. I wanted to love it but I doubt I listen to this one twice.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 10, 2013
I've been with the Crows since the beginning. Seen them in concert probably a dozen times. Was an original member of CloudKooKooLand, they're old fanclub, with the faded t-shirts to prove it.
To the naysayers who badmouth this album, or Duritz, or the band in general for putting out an album of covers, I say that, if anything, imitation is the best form of flattery.
The Counting Crows, no doubt, could put another live album out, or throw together new material.
But at this point I want to state that what I respect about this the most is it takes some bands out of relative anonymity and lets a very talented and famous band cover some of their favorite indie songs. Yeah, there are some big names on here like Amie, You Ain't Going Nowhere and Borderline, but plenty of random Dawes "All My Failures", Travis' "Coming Around" and Gram Parsons "Return of Grievous Angel".

Let the band show their creativity and appreciate their accomplishments. They had fun with this one. And I'm sure they'll be back with the new material that we long for when it's ready and worthwhile of a full length album.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on April 12, 2012
Gotta say, I was also bummed to hear that the new Counting Crows album would be a collection of covers. I was picturing thrashy renditions of all the popular classic rock songs from Steve Miller Band, Rolling Stones, and Led Zeppelin with a few newer pop covers. I was also thinking of Saturday Nights and Sunday Mornings and how that album just didn't work. It didn't sound like the Counting Crows that wrote all of the amazing music on August, Recovering the Satellites, and This Desert Life. What also came to mind were the recent pop hits of "Accidentally in Love" and the Joni Mitchell "Big Yellow Taxi" cover. Needless to say, I was braced for the worst. However, to my extreme delight, this record is a selection of songs that sound like they were written either by or for the Counting Crows. All of the songs sound so natural (except, maybe "Borderline"), and it was so great to read through the cover and see why each song was selected. It made me feel like I was living the band's life in Berkley in the early 90s when I read through all the detailed stories about how the band met the various artists who wrote these songs. Not only did this album make me appreciate the individual songs selected for these 18 tracks, it made me immediately go to iTunes and download more stuff from each band represented on the album. Kudos Crows. Now, get in the studio and start working on your next album!
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