Album Review: The Members – “Versions”
Reformed a few years minus original singer Nicky Tesco, the prospect of a covers album by the Members may not exactly be the most anticipated release of 2019, but never let it be said that we don’t try and expand our horizons from time to time here at Pure Rawk.
I saw the new version of the Members a few years ago supporting Chelsea and to be honest, I thought they sounded energetic but a bit unremarkable for the most part. Here, that’s definitely the case on a few songs unfortunately – the harmonica-led version of Prince’s When You Were Mine which kicks things off here is sunk a bit by guitarist-turned-frontman JC Carroll’s vocals which don’t really suit the tune, something which also hinders their version of Bowie’s Boys Keep Swinging as well, where it sounds like he’s trying to emulate the Duke without really pulling it off convincingly, and their cover of Abba’s Does Your Mother Know is just dull. Worst of all though is their version of Johnny Thunders’ Chinese Rocks which sounds like the work of a pissed pub band who only heard the song for the first time ten minutes before they attempted to play it.
The Members fare slightly better when they try thinking outside the box a bit – their reggaefied take on the Buzzcocks’ What Do I Get? is at least a bit inventive while their countrified run through the Ramones’ Sheena Is A Punk Rocker and an almost samba-style take on the Lurkers’ Shadow show some welcome innovation.
The second side of the album is probably the strongest as this is where the Members take on a few reggae standards. They had a penchant for doing this sort of stuff back in the day as evidenced on their minor hit Offshore Banking Business and their runs through John Holt’s Police In Helicopter and Gregory Isaacs’ Night Nurse are handled well. Unfortunately they then try to whack these dynamics onto the Buzzcocks’ Ever Fallen In Love? and while it’s a brave effort it just doesn’t work, although they at least end on a decent note with a reggaefied run through Grandmaster Flash’s White Lines of all things, which at least sounds energetic and works better than it really should.
The best way I can think of to describe this album is "all over the place". "Versions" is frankly a bit of a mess, but at least it's an enjoyable mess in places, with some stuff working well when you'd think it really has no right to. As with all covers albums, this is probably one for Members die-hards only but those who listen to it will at least find a few things to enjoy in here.