Under the Covers, Vol. 1

Take one part 1980s guitar pop singer. Add one part 1990s guitar pop singer/songwriter. Combine with 15 songs from the heyday of psychedelic guitar pop, and mix.

Those are basically the ingredients that go into this joint project by ex-Bangles chanteuse Susanna Hoffs and power pop maven Matthew Sweet. The pair previously worked together as part of Ming Tea, the house band for the first Austin Powers movie which backed Mike Myers on the song "BBC." On this album, they take the retro playfulness of Ming Tea and combine it with their genuine passion for '60s pop songs.

As Beach Boys collaborator Van Dyke Parks, himself a contributor to the album, says about this project, "They've bagged the best of the '60s, with uncanny insight."

The result is alternately beautiful and enthusiastically fun. Whimsically adopting the nicknames "Sid & Susie" for this album, they grab hold of two powerhouse Neil Young tracks and rip through both "Cinnamon Girl" and "Everybody Knows This is Nowhere" with deft harmonies and raw guitars.

The pair's voices work well together, and they blend magnificently on Dylan's "It's All Over Now Baby Blue." Hoffs takes the lead vocal on Fairport Convention's "Who Knows Where the Time Goes?" and does a wonderful job evoking the song's emotion.

Also represented on the disc are songs by The Velvet Underground, The Beatles, Love, The Who, The Zombies, The Mamas and the Papas, and even the Bee Gees.

Any fan of Matthew Sweet's early '90s work must have this album, as should connoisseurs of classic pop-rock. And for those who just want to enjoy some great music, and perhaps discover some terrific musical gems, this album is highly recommended.

Mike Sauter, WYEP Music Director