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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Powerman 5000

Copies Clones & Replicants

Review by Gary Hill

Albums of covers are not uncommon. The result is not universal. Some such albums are great, while others don’t work well. This one falls in the better end of the middle. There are only a couple tracks that qualify as weak. The majority are quite good. It’s also interesting how, despite the fact that I was familiar with all but one of the tunes here, this feels like a Powerman 5000 disc beginning to end.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2012  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
20th Century Boy

This comes in with keyboards but quickly powers out to a killer hard rocking jam. It’s not quite metal, but certainly close to it. There’s some great guitar soloing on this number and it’s just plain fun. It’s a cover of a T-Rex song.

Electric Avenue
Here they take on the Eddy Grant hit. This gets a real Powerman infusion with the hard rocking sounds and techno influences all over this thing. Some of the guitar soloing here reminds me of Hawkwind and the synthesized vocals that come in at times are a great touch.
Whip It
Devo comes into the cloning machine’s targeting system here. There aren’t any surprises. It’s a straight ahead Powerman 5000 treatment of the cut, but it’s a lot of fun.
Jump
This Van Halen tune gets a pretty major reworking. It reminds me of a combination of Devo and Powerman covering the Halen tune. It’s a good one, but not one of the highlights.
Space Oddity
The early portions of this number have a definite space rock feeling. It grows out later into something more like the rest of the music on the set. It’s a great treatment of the David Bowie classic.
One Thing Leads To Another
There’s a sultry groove to this rocker. It’s not one of my favorites on the set, but it’s cool anyway. The guitar solo on this makes me think of Duran Duran.
Candy-O
I’m a big fan of the original of this tune. I like how Powerman 5000 power up the number while still maintaining its cool spacey elements.
Devil Inside
This INXS cut gets a real space rock texture here. It’s still got a lot of the original in it, mostly in the vocals and rhythm section, though. With cool waves of keyboards, this works fairly well, but it’s not one of the highlights of the set.
Pop Muzik
The opening here makes me think of the earlier cut “Electric Avenue.” The vocal delivery here seems similar to the INXS type sound. I’m not overly crazy about this. That applies both to the original song and this rendition. It’s OK, but far from the best material on this set.
Should I Stay Or Should I Go
This is very cool. It’s a cover of the Clash song and frankly, the obvious way to go with this would be to create a hard rocking Powerman 5000 metallic jam out of it. They went the unconventional route, turning it more into an electronic rocker. This is in a similar territory to some of the mellower Nine Inch Nails music. It’s a cool tune and while surprising, really works. It might be my favorite tune of the whole set.
We're Not Gonna Take It
If there’s another loser in the set, it’s this one. It’s just not that interesting, despite the fact that alternate between a mellower, more electronic, movement and the harder rocking, rawer one.
Under The Milky Way
So, this isn’t as great as one might have guessed. It’s still pretty cool, though. The original always had a bit of a space rock feeling to it. Powerman 5000 boost the gain on the end and use an alternating mellow, electronic based section with a chorus that’s not that different than the original. While it’s not  a real standout, it’s better than the previous two cuts and reasonably effective way to end the album.
 
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