On the heels of her 1977 U.K. hit -- a cover of Alice Cooper's "Only Women Bleed" -- Julie Covington went back into the studio with producers Joe Boyd and John Wood to record 11 more tracks for what would be her self-titled second album. Boyd helped put together a stellar cast to support Covington -- including Richard Thompson, Simon Nicol, Ian Matthews, and Trevor Lucas from the various incarnations of Fairport Convention, as well as Steve Winwood, John Cale, Andy Fairweather-Low, and a collection of top-shelf session players. When it came to material, he was also helpful in gathering a fine collection of songs for Covington to wrap her powerful, theater-honed voice around. Boyd brought Thompson's "I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight" and Sandy Denny's previously unreleased "By the Time It Gets Dark" to the project, while Covington added the Weill/Brecht composition "Barbara's Song" from her days in the theater, to a list that included tunes from Kate Bush, Steve Winwood, and Kate and Anna McGarrigle. There's a slight commercial sheen to the music that gives the Thompson and Denny tracks a certain accessibility ("Bright Lights" was the first single), while "Barbara's Song" fits naturally with Andy Fairweather-Low's dancehall shuffle "Dancing in the Dark," or John Lennon's "How." On the other hand, Tom T. Hall's rocking "I Can't Dance" is stiff and not really well-suited to Covington, while Anna McGarrigle's "Dead Weight" seems forced and a bit rushed, lacking the subtle venom and dark humor of the original. Reissued in 2000, Julie Covington...Plus, which is a nice mix of folk-rock and pop, adds the bombastic "Only Women Bleed" along with a respectable cover of Little Feat's "Easy to Slip" to the original 1978 release (Julie Covington). Both songs were previously only available as a single.
AllMusic Review by Brett Hartenbach