Saturday, February 11, 2012

Marauder - Mickey Thomas




A slew of classic rock covers from the voice of Starship

Marauder
Artist: Mickey Thomas (www.mickeythomas.com)
Label: Gigatone
Length: 16 tracks/70:15 minutes

If you are a fan of The Beatles, you will most likely enjoy Marauder by Mickey Thomas. He covers three Beatles’ songs and one each by Paul McCartney (“Maybe I’m Amazed”) and George Harrison (“Wah Wah”). “Rain” and “Across the Universe” have more heft but retain a touch of psychedelia and have brief nods to a couple of other Beatles’ songs. “Rain” is one of the best cuts. “Oh! Darling” is pushed further toward the ‘50’s sound that it was intended to honor. Like several songs it has some brass accompaniment. The piano runs on “Maybe I’m Amazed” are a delight. The notes are pristine.

In this collection, much of it classic rock but also containing more recent hits, Thomas faithfully recreates the originals while enhancing them in subtle ways. One that changes a little more is the opening “Gimme Shelter,” which is given a swampy blues treatment. It is decidedly acoustic but still has plenty of grit and works well.

One of the most poignant moments is Snow Patrol’s “Chasing Cars.” Thomas sings it beautifully making it as moving as ever.

He consistently shows his versatility in being able to sing in a variety of styles. You could call him a musical marauder for being able to plunder different genres and making them work. On the longest track, Oasis’ “Champagne Supernova,” he is in the anthem rock mode. Whether it is ballads, pop or singing to heavier accompaniment as on “Supermassive Black Hole” and “Voices,” he does it well.  

One advantage of a collection like this is that you get songs you might not have in your library. Here you get two solid back to back classics, Leon Russell’s “Delta Lady,” made famous by Joe Cocker, and Bob Seeger’s “Hollywood Nights.” The changes are slight making these likeable substitutes if you don’t have the originals. Thomas does such an admirable job that you can almost forget that these are covers.

Thomas is best known as the voice behind Elvin Bishop’s “Fooled Around and Fell in Love,” and the Jefferson Starship/Starship hits “We Built This City on Rock and Roll,” “Sara” and “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now.” Though nothing here quite matches the emotional intensity achieved on those heights, Thomas’ voice is strong, and these are interesting and fun versions, which makes for enjoyable listening. Beatles’ fans in particular can be thankful for such fab versions of their songs, and all of these tributes are tastefully done. Praise is due for mostly strong song selection and the excellent support from long-time friend, producer, keyboardist and ace guitarist Jeff Tamelier. 
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