The Church

A Box of Birds

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Covers albums could be seen as the last refuge of a dying band, but that's a cynical reading of the situation. At their best, covers albums can be fun and even revealing, as the band stretches out and play with their favorite songs. Such is the case with the Church's A Box of Birds. Their roots have always been evident -- they were fans of '60s psychedelia, plus bits of '70s album rock and prog rock and post-punk. Not surprisingly, that's what's heard on A Box of Birds, but they've been very clever about their choices; only Mott the Hoople's "All the Young Dudes," Hawkwind's "Silver Machine." and Neil Young's "Cortez the Killer" are covered regularly by other bands. The remainder of the songs -- ranging from the Beatles' "It's All too Much" and the Monkees' "The Porpoise Song" to Kevin Ayers' "Decadence," Television's "Friction," Ultravox's "Hiroshima Mon Amour" and Iggy Pop's "The Endless Sea" -- aren't obvious choices, and give the record considerable character. The Church don't really reinvent these songs, choosing to remain faithful to the tenor of the original while retaining their own signature sound. The end result may not be revelatory, like the best covers albums, but it is fun, and the band sounds like they're having fun, too. After all, fun is the main reason you'd quote Eddy Grant's "Electric Avenue" and the Pretty Things' "Sorrow" in the coda of "It's All Too Much."

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