Various Artists - Mama Kangaroos: Philly Women Sing Captain Beefheart [Genus Records, 2005]

The music of some artists is so unique that it's hard to imagine that an album of cover versions can be any good. Captain Beefheart is such an artist: unique, iconoclastic, a true genius. So of course Mama Kangaroos, Philly women sing Captain Beefheart can't be any good, right?

Wrong! The world's only all female Captain Beefheart retrospective is a wonderful album and a fitting tribute to one of rock music's most original artists. Mama Kangaroos' song selection covers the entirety of Beefheart's career, and its stylistic range runs the gamut from a jazzy drum'n'bass version of Where there's woman to a very Cramps-y take on Frying pan. Rock, blues, jazz, folk, it's all there.
Some artists stay close to the original, but most dare to take risks and make their chosen track all their own. It's hard to pick the best tracks - almost all are excellent - but some of our favorits include the pseudo-Irish folk version of Orange claw hammer by King of Siam and a beautiful "ethnic" version of Abba Zabba by a group called Voices of Africa. Oh, and Lick my decals off baby by Kiss Kiss Kill (who sound like a Philadelphia version of Charming Hostess by the way) must be the most sexy Beefheart cover yet. Like one time Beefheart guitarist Gary Lucas wrote: "Hell, they're all good!".

No matter if your a hardcore fan of the Captain or if you're new to his music, this is THE tribute album to get!

Marco Kalnenek

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Various Artists - Mama Kangaroos