Album: The Beautiful South

Golddiggas, Headnodders & Pholk Songs, SONY
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The Independent Culture

It's the season for anthologies of cover versions. The most interesting, however, has to be The Beautiful South's Golddiggas, Headnodders & Pholk Songs, if only because of the wilful perversity with which they attack their chosen favourites. The biggest shock comes right up front, with a slow, haunted version of the corny Grease hit "You're the One That I Want", where the slack pace and the bleak harmonies stress the sense of unrequited desire in the melody. Something similar happens with "Don't Stop Moving", the S Club 7 hit re-cast as barfly melancholia, the group locating a sadness at the song's heart that not even its original writers can have suspected. Despite a new livery that includes banjo and bluesy piano, their "Livin' Thing" is actually not that dissimilar to the ELO original, but their take on Blue Oyster Cult's pop-metal classic "Don't Fear the Reaper" is a revelation, the samba treatment deriving organically from the cyclical guitar hook, as if it was always meant to have been played this way. It's not all up to that standard - the rockabilly style of "Blitzkrieg Bop" adds little to the song, and your response to "I'm Stone in Love With You" will depend on how you regard Paul Heaton's falsetto vocal - but the unusual choices of material raise the album above the usual run.