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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Billy Valentine

Brit Eyed Soul

Review by Gary Hill

I've always said that if you are going to do someone else's music that you shouldn't do it the same way they did it. I mean, why would you do that? If people want the song done the way it was originally done, they can just listen to the original. Make the song your own. Billy Valentine takes that to heart here. He re-imagines all these tunes with a great classic soul sound. The result is an album that's very entertaining and will make you hear all these numbers in a new light.

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Track by Track Review
Beast of Burden

I love the funky bass line on this Rolling Stones cover. The horn section adds a lot of magic, too. This is just smoking hot. It's a huge change from the original, but stands tall next to it.

Do You Really Want to Hurt Me
This Culture Club tune gets turned into a slow, soulful ballad.
How Long
This time around, Valentine turns to Ace for inspiration. This song is on the soulful side to begin with. That means that this rendition is perhaps closer to the original than the first two songs were. I like the bass sound on this a lot. The energy is good, too.
More Than a Woman
The Bee Gees are in the spotlight here. This is another slow moving balladic cut here. I dig the soulful vibe on it.
Holding Back the Years
Organ starts this number. It's a re-imagining of a Simply Red tune. I like this version a lot. It's slow and very soulful. I love the more powered up section of this tune.
Watching the Wheels
There is a bit of a funk edge to this. It has some reggae in the mix, too. This is originally a John Lennon song, but you couldn't tell it from this version.
Here, There and Everywhere

On the last song he tackled a John Lennon tune. On this one he covers the Beatles. I like this rendition a lot. It's actually one of my favorite tunes on the disc.

First Cut Is the Deepest
I don't remember the original of this all that well. Cat Stevens was the one responsible for that rendition. Here it's done as a slow moving, soulful ballad. It's a good tune, but doesn't hold up as well as some of the rest. I do like the guitar solo on this a lot.
Train in Vain (Stand By Me)
I would say that The Clash would be unexpected territory from which Valentine would turn for material. Yet, here we have this tune. I'm not crazy about the organ sound that opens this. The stripped down rock and roll sound on this is kind of cool, though. The cut is not one of my favorites here, but it has its charms.
(I Guess That's Why) They Call It the Blues
I'm a big Elton John fan, and I've always loved this song. I really like this rendition. I mean, the original has a soulful feeling to it, so this seems kind of a natural extension. That might be a part of why this works so well. Don't get me wrong. I still prefer the original, but this is a nice change of pace from that.
Roll with It
Here we find Valentine tackling a Steve Winwood tune. Winwood is another artist covered here who really has quite a bit of soul in his style. That makes this one of the more effective pieces. I think I might actually like this one more than I like the original.
(What's So Funny Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding
On the closer Valentine turns his attention to Elvis - Costello that is. I like this version quite a bit. It has energy and style.
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