Released hot on the tails of both a studio album (Yes and Also Yes) and a live album (The Question Jar Show), Mike Doughty's third record of 2012, The Flip Is Another Honey, finds the singer/songwriter completing his release trifecta with an album of cover songs. In the style of all great covers, Doughty isn't content to just perform someone else's work, but instead recasts these songs in a way that they could plausibly be his own. On "Southern Girls," the ripping power pop of Cheap Trick is transformed into a slower, more atmospheric number, propelled along by the mechanical thump of a drum machine and occasional keyboard swells. Similarly, Thin Lizzy's "Running Back" trades its gritty blues shuffle for a folk-tinged arrangement, mellowing the song out and giving it a more sentimental vibe. Elsewhere on the album, Doughty uses another song as a jumping-off point, like "Sunshine," which lifts a sample of John Denver's "Sunshine on My Shoulders" as the basis for a song that finds the singer dusting off his Soul Coughing flow. Likewise, "Tightrope" is a whole new song crafted around the chorus of a Stone Roses song of the same name, allowing Doughty to build a new narrative around something familiar while managing to keep the spirit of the song intact. With all of the interesting changes Doughty is able to make to so many familiar songs, it's strange that the album's best moment comes when he plays it closest to the original. "God's Song (That's Why I Love Mankind)" is done with an arrangement that keeps the basics of the Randy Newman classic intact, but expands its toolkit with the help of longtime collaborator Andrew "Scrap" Livingston, who adds an ominous cello line to the songs existential musings. Albums like these always have to strike a careful balance between mimicking the original and killing the spirit of the original, but it's a balance that The Flip Is Another Honey is able to find quite comfortably.
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AllMusic Review by Gregory Heaney