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Counting Crows: Underwater Sunshine

A serviceable but uninspired covers set.

Subtitled ...What We Did On Our Summer Vacation, the Crows’ first album in four years would appear to be the product of a fairly humdrum holiday. Covers projects are nothing new, though often the perpetrators bring a little bit of themselves to the party.

Here, however, most of the Crows’ versions of other people’s songs are so close to the originals they’re practically duplications. Counting Crows are frequently more powerful live than on record, accomplished and intuitive musicians all, so the laziness of this outing baffles.

Yes, it’s all good stuff, and the group would warrant a hearty round of applause were they playing in the corner of your local, but is there any need to shell out money for facsimiles of Big Star (The Ballad Of El Goodo), Fairport Convention (Meet On The Ledge) or Teenage Fanclub (Start Again)?

Only Gram Parsons’s Return Of The Grievous Angel stands out, having been given at least a smidgen of a makeover, the addition of a jaunty mandolin giving it the air of bygone neckerchief-sporting gypsy rockers like McGuinness Flint or Ronnie Lane. Having said that, The Faces are already represented in the form of a carbon copy of Ooh La La.