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Wednesday February 7, 2001

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CD Review: Hootie and the Blowfish

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Scattered, Smothered & Covered


Grade: D

Getting covered by a famous band is usually an honor - a magnanimous nod from a group that has "made it." When that famous band is synonymous with bland, take-no-chances rock, however, the tribute is quite a bit more dubious.

Pity, then, the 14 groups with the distinctly mixed privilege of appearing on Scattered, Smothered & Covered, Hootie and the Blowfish's new all-covers CD. In musical terms, getting covered by Hootie is roughly equivalent to getting voted "Best Personality" in your senior-year poll or being told "well, at least you've got a pretty face."

Sure, some of the lesser-known bands here might benefit from the exposure this nod from Hootie might bring them. But does the world really need to hear Hootie frontman Darius Rucker stumble his way through REM's "Driver 8" or emote on an acoustic version of Led Zeppelin's "Hey Hey What Can I Do?"

Serving as a perfect example of the Blowfish's flagrant offenses is their cover of the Smiths' "Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want." The original song, as voiced by Smiths singer Morrissey, was a subtle blend of self-pity and manipulative pleading, a mix of heartfelt sadness and more sinister desire. The Hootie version, on the other hand, buries all nuance entirely, bulldozing it beneath Rucker's earnest bellow. The result is another bland, middle-of-the-road, light rocker, a far cry from the Smiths' pop classic.

Blowfish fans without much concern for authenticity will find little to upset them here - Smothered deviates little from the band's well-worn, generic groove. Fans of the original versions of the songs covered here, however, would do best to stay well away.