41

Mari Wilson: Cover Stories

John Eyles By

Sign in to view read count
Back in the 1980s, when she was renowned for her retro beehive hairstyle and her spectacular live shows, Mari Wilson had a string of chart-making hits that included "Just What I Always Wanted" and "Cry Me a River." These days, the only remaining vestige of that hairstyle is in the name of her record label. More recently, Wilson has appeared in musical theater (including playing Dusty Springfield in Dusty: The Musical), been a BBC radio presenter and, significantly, started the trio Girl Talk with Barb Jungr.

Compared to her albums Dolled Up (Beehive, 2005) and Emotional Glamour (Beehive, 2008), Cover Stories marks a new direction for Wilson, as it consists solely of cover versions without any of her own compositions. The album features eleven of Wilson's favorite songs, lending it a certain similarity to Jungr's album The Men I Love: The New American Songbook (Naim, 2010). However, unlike Jungr's choices, four of Wilson's selections are by female songwriters and six are by non-Americans.

Another similarity between Wilson and Jungr is that, rather than recording a straightforward cover version, they each often radically reinvent a song, sometimes making it unrecognizable in the process. One of the best examples of Wilson doing this is her stunning version of "Be My Baby," originally recorded by The Ronettes. Stripping away Phil Spector's wall-of-sound production, she is accompanied by atmospheric acoustic guitar alone, played by John Parricelli. She savors every word of the verses as well as the famous chorus, milking them all for emotion. Wilson achieves similarly miraculous transformations of "Don't Let the Sun Catch You Crying" (originally by Gerry and the Pacemakers) and Dusty Springfield's "I Only Want to be with You"—the latter her first ever Springfield cover.

If those examples suggest that Wilson is stuck in some sixties time warp, nothing could be further from the truth. Her choice of songs demonstrates that she has an ear for a great song and its possible reinterpretation. While including some songs by well-known artists, The Beach Boys' "Disney Girls" and The Bee Gees' "First Of May" for example, the eclectic array of tunes also features the lesser-known Caitlin Rose, Gillian Welch, Ron Sexsmith and even Big Audio Dynamite.

Most of all, Cover Stories lives up to its title. Every track is a cover version, but each is also a story in its own right. And Wilson is a story teller par excellence, extracting meaning and emotion from each one and communicating them impeccably to her audience, her voice as formidable an instrument as ever.

Track Listing: Don’t Get Me Wrong; Disney Girls; Be My Baby; Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Crying; I Only Want To Be With You; First Of May; Own Side; Right About Now; Dear Someone; They Don’t Know; Everybody Needs a Holiday.

Personnel: Mari Wilson: vocals; Simon Hale: piano, keyboards; John Parricelli: guitar; Geoff Gasgoyne: electric bass, acoustic bass; Keith Fairbairn: percussion; Ben Hale: flugelhorn, trumpet.

Title: Cover Stories | Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Beehive Records

Tags

Watch

comments powered by Disqus

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.

Related Articles

Read Along for the Ride Album Reviews
Along for the Ride
By Jack Bowers
June 20, 2019
Read Ancestral Recall Album Reviews
Ancestral Recall
By Karl Ackermann
June 20, 2019
Read Eternal Youth Album Reviews
Eternal Youth
By Don Phipps
June 20, 2019
Read Curiouser and Curiouser Album Reviews
Curiouser and Curiouser
By Mike Jurkovic
June 20, 2019
Read Getz At The Gate Album Reviews
Getz At The Gate
By Chris May
June 19, 2019
Read Keep Talkin' Album Reviews
Keep Talkin'
By Dan McClenaghan
June 19, 2019
Read Night Owl Album Reviews
Night Owl
By Dan Bilawsky
June 19, 2019