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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Barbara Lusch

Rock Me Sweet

Review by Gary Hill

This is an album of covers. However, I’ve always said that if you are going to cover something, you should make it your own. That seems to be the motto of Barbara Lusch. She’s taken a wide selection of rock songs and turned them into jazzy torch singer type numbers. For the most part, she’s been very successful. I think only one or two songs fall short of the mark. The thing is, for some reason, this makes me think of Tori Amos’ covers album. I’m not sure why, but there are similarities in my mind. I love that one, and I love this one, too.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2014  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Dancing in the Dark

I have to admit that I’m one of the five or six people in America who don’t like Bruce Springsteen’s music. So, I definitely prefer this rendition. It’s a slow, melodic piece that combines jazz and soft rock. Lusch’s vocal performance is great and it really lets the lyrics stand tall. I really like the bits of acoustic guitar soloing on the piece, too.

Hot Blooded
As good as the opener was, this is even better. The jazz stylings are pushed over the top and it has a great groove. I think I like Lusch’s singing even more on this one, too.
I Want You To Want Me
I’m from Rockford, Illinois, so Cheap Trick have always been the hometown heroes around my area. So, that made me particularly interested in seeing what Lusch does with this song. And, what she does is turn it into a mellow, adult contemporary styled piece. It works really well in that kind of a setting, really. I like the change and like this version a lot.
Living on a Prayer
While I don’t dislike Bon Jovi as much as I dislike Springsteen, it’s close. There’s a real 1970s jazz rock vibe to this. It’s another great piece of music. I love the horn over the top and the vocal performance.
Sweet Child O' Mine
I remember Pat Boone did a version of this a bunch of years back. I hated that one. I love Lusch’s rendition. It’s a slow moving, jazz ballad styled track. While you wouldn’t think it would work in that format, it really does.
Owner of a Lonely Heart
Anyone who has followed Music Street Journal closely will know that I’m a big Yes fan. In fact, they are my favorite band. I’m not enthused by this rendition of their song, though. It’s a bit too sparse in arrangement and just seems a little odd to me. It just doesn’t seem to work as some of the rest. That said, when there are more layers of sound added in the later sections, it does improve. The extended jazz jam late in the track is pretty cool, actually.
Hungry like the Wolf
I’ve always liked Duran Duran a lot, and I think Lusch’s version of this track of theirs is magical. It has more of an adult contemporary vibe to it. It’s pretty and intricate. It’s also quite delicate in some ways.
Cat People
In this format this sounds nothing like David Bowie at all. That’s not a bad thing, though And that’s not because I don’t like Bowie or his version (I do). It’s because Lusch makes this her own. It’s lush and quite beautiful. It’s one of the best pieces here.
Where the Streets Have No Name
More like the kind of adult contemporary music that would have come out of the 1970s, this U2 treatment is great. It’s one of the best here.
Dancing with Myself
This jazzy take on the Generation X number doesn’t work that well to me. It’s alright, but loses a lot of the magic of the original. It’s a little too much of Tijuana Brass kind of thing.
Running on Empty
With a mellow, jazz ballad sort of arrangement, this is very effective. It’s one of the best here.
 
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