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Thursday, August 2, 2007

Tainted Love: Mating Calls and Fight Songs

Posted on Thu, Aug 2, 2007 at 4:00 AM

Tainted Love: Mating Calls and Fight Songs
Label: Zoë
Length: LP
Media: CD
Format: Album
WorkNameSort: Tainted Love: Mating Calls and Fight Songs
An album of cover songs called Tainted Love that doesn't include 'Tainted Love?� That's not the only surprise within this 11-track cavalcade of woozy, swampy remakes of unexpected love songs. In lesser hands, stripping down 'Don't Stop ('Til You Get Enough)� into a doleful, heartfelt lament would get so overloaded with irony that you'd be thinking less about the lyrics than about all those miles you used to roller-skate with that song in the background. Here, Ambrosia Parsley and her band of collaborators in Shivaree have reimagined the song so well that it takes a while for the recognition to spark. Parsley also knocks a few bricks out of the Wall of Sound, turning the singalong spaciousness of Ronnie Spector's 'Paradise� into a bluesy churn. In keeping with this unintuitive flow, it's Rick James' 'Cold Blooded� that gets dialed up into an electro-rock raver, and Mötley Crüe's 'Looks That Kill� into a bit of acoustic sorrow. But Parsley's mischievous glint shines the brightest on a Portishead-meets-Isaac-Hayes version of R. Kelly's 'Half on a Baby,� a version that summons up twice the soul and half the pretense of the original. That lack of artifice (and irony) is what makes this collection of covers so outstanding; in the hands of a truly gifted singer (and her truly versatile and organic band), the emotional core of any song can be delivered effectively.

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