Latest and Greatest Acoustic Songs, It may be a big lie, but this is a beautiful way to be deceived.  

Label: Union Square Music
Time: 60 Tracks / 230 minutes

Let’s get something out ouf of the way early on: this title is built on a lie. “Latest and Greatest” is fair enough; the series title easily encompasses anything good, whether the artist is new, classic or dead. It’s the “Acoustic Songs” label that had me fooled.

I saw the tracklist (below) and drooled a little at the prospect of new acoustic renditions of tracks like Lloyd Cole’s “Perfect Skin” and Del Amitri‘s “Nothing Ever Happens.”  In reality, only eight tracks out of sixty are asterisked with the label “acoustic versions.” Several of the others are thoroughly acoustic, but original studio versions (All About Eve’s luscious “Martha’s Harbour”), while others have an almost unplugged mood, but feature prominent guitar solos and/or electric keyboards.

Yet it doesn’t matter. The set is more colourful as a result.This is an almost perfect playlist; a beautifully-compiled favourite radio show. The mood is easy; the songs nearly all provoke singing; and they have enough of an independent twist to feel fresh. It is a prime example of the compiler’s art, as Steve Earle’s “Copperhead Road” sits neatly between Atlanta Rhythm Section’s “Spooky” and Gerry Rafferty‘s smooth vocals on the equally classic “Stuck in the Middle with You.” Tracks are even enhanced by what is around them, especially old artists (Ralph McTell) who sound contemporary in such company.  

Geography is no problem - this set brings together the best of British (Elbow, Travis, Rod Stewart, Aztec Camera and Paul Weller) with American classic artists like Buffalo Springfield, Sheryl Crow and Suzanne Vega. The continents slide together when Ryan Adams covers “Wonderwall” in a truly stripped back fashion.

So what about the new versions? The fewer of them there are, the better the disc. Disc one has six of the eight and feels less impressive as a result. Pixie Lott’s “Uh Oh Uh Oh” and Amy MacDonald’s “Pride” are enjoyable enough, but feel a bit in your face after the more refined mixes of studio tracks. Duffy takes a few band members with her on “Mercy” and the Sugababes’ harmonies enhance their thoughtful “Ugly.”

Better still, James Morrison’s soulful vocals are just right for an acoustic session and his quietly emotional performance earns a second track on the disc. Prefab Sprout’s fresh take on “When Love Breaks Down” gives it just the facelift that I was hoping for from this collection.

And if such a good batch of songs is not enough, the set is being sold at bargain price.

01.     Elbow - New Born (Album version)
02.     Stereophonics - Maybe Tomorrow
03.     Travis - Driftwood
04.     James Morrison - You Give Me Something
05.     Michael Kiwanuka - Tell Me A Tale
06.     Fyfe Dangerfield - She's Always A Woman
07.     Pixie Lott - Mama Do (uh oh, uh oh) - (Acoustic Version)
08.     Gabrielle - Rise
09.     Ryan Adams - Wonderwall
10.     Amy Macdonald - Pride (Acoustic version)
11.     Duffy - Mercy (Acoustic Session)
12.     Ronan Keating featuring Yusuf - Father And Son (Steve Mac version Radio Edit)
13.     Sugababes - Ugly (Acoustic version)
14.     Nelly Furtado - Try
15.     James Morrison - You Make It Real (Acoustic Version)
16.     Jamie Cullum - High & Dry
17.     The Cranberries - Linger
18.     Sheryl Crow - Strong Enough
19.     Zero 7 - Destiny (Acoustic Mix)

01.     Paul Weller - Wild Wood
02.     Everything But The Girl - I Don't Want To Talk About It
03.     Seals and Crofts - Summer Breeze
04.     Shawn Mullins - Lullaby
05.     Prefab Sprout - When Love Breaks Down (Acoustic version)
06.     Lightning Seeds - Lucky You
07.     Beautiful South - Prettiest Eyes
08.     Suzanne Vega - Marlene On The Wall
09.     Del Amitri - Nothing Ever Happens
10.     Seal - Crazy (Acoustic Version)
11.     Joan Armatrading - Love And Affection
12.     Extreme - More Than Words
13.     John Martyn - May You Never
14.     The Corrs - Runaway
15.     The Lemonheads - It's About Time
16.     The La's - There She Goes
17.     Dodgy - If You're Thinking Of Me
18.     Aztec Camera - How Men Are
19.     Lloyd Cole And The Commotions - Perfect Skin
20.     The Jam - English Rose

01.     Ralf McTell - Streets Of London
02.     Rod Stewart - Reason To Believe
03.     Madness - It Must Be Love
04.     Stealers Wheel - Stuck In The Middle With You
05.     Steve Earl - Copperhead Road
06.     Atlanta Rhythm Section - Spooky
07.     Buffalo Springfield - For What It's Worth
08.     Orleans - Dance With Me
09.     Bourgeois Tagg - I Don't Mind At all
10.     Kirsty MacColl - They Don't Know About Us
11.     Cast - Walkaway
12.     The Wannadies - You & Me Song
13.     World Party - Is It Like Today?
14.     Longpigs - On & On
15.     All About Eve - Martha's Harbour
16.     Heather Nova - Walk This World
17.     Edie Brickell & New Bohemians - What I am
18.     K.D Lang - Constant Craving
19.     Jim Croce - Time In A Bottle
20.     The Sutherland Brothers - Arms of Mary
21.     Connells - 74 -'75



Derek Walker

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