Jon Auer

6 1/2

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It is a fresh idea for the Posies and Big Star vet to forego the '60s psych-pop classics his band has covered (Zombies, Bee Gees, Hollies, Chris Bell, etc.) and instead turn his attention to his less-recognized, but just as extraordinary underground contemporaries. Still, credit Auer with mega-bonus points for doing such sweet, light, and pretty reworkings of, shockingly enough: his old Geffen labelmates the Chameleons' 1987 Strange Times opus/zenith, "Tears" (Auer comes in right directly between the stunning original full-band version and the lesser, acoustic one); Swerverdriver's 1997 99th Dream ace, "These Times" (again, somewhere between the better version from the original LP turned in by the Oxford powerhouse that Geffen then dropped, and the later re-recording for the Zero Hour version); and in one more bit of synchronicity, the same song Swervedriver leader Adam Franklin has covered live, Grant Hart's indelible Hüsker Dü 1985 Flip Your Wig gem, "Green Eyes." What tremendous taste! That they're all such nice versions makes this CD a good deal of fun. Of the other four, the instrumental of Serge Gainsbourg's "Bonnie & Clyde" is nondescript, and Ween's "Baby Bitch" isn't much of a tune, but Madonna's "Beautiful Stranger" works a lot more as an acoustic-pop love paean instead of an electronica pop crossover. Likewise, the reverent, louder re-creation of the Psychedelic Furs' 1982 Forever Now classic "Love My Way" is more in line with the primo stuff; it's lulling and in some ways nicer, with Auer's dulcet tones in place of classic Richard Butler's sandpaper voice. All in all, if this is what Auer wants to fool around with in his scant free time, we can only reply, "More please."

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