Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Regine Velasquez-Covers, Volume 2 (2006)


I was in the mood for something familiar to entertain my ears a couple of nights ago, and that's when I decided to make my return to the OPM circuit so that I could reconnect with Regine Velasquez, treating myself to her "Covers, Volume 2" collection. Having been delighted by Regine's amazing, versatile voice three times previously, I knew beforehand that the fourth time would bring the same results. And with her leading the way in delivering a collection of hits that I remember good and well from my yester-years, that only increased my expectations. What I didn't expect, however, were the mighty ambitious and diverse music styles selected for this sixteen-track production. Shocking my senses right off the bat was her powerful rendition of BLONDIE's "Call Me", keeping the original true to its name with her more alternative rock-sounding approach. I was all smiles shortly thereafter with her mellow, soft piano ballad approach to one of my all-time favorite Alanis Morissette songs, "Head Over Feet". And this softer side works really well, especially with the way it contrasts nicely with the explosive, uprising outburst of the main chorus. Soul legend Al Green would applaud Regine for her delightfully funky, jazzy interpretation of "Let's Stay Together"; always a joy to hear that part of the song that goes 'whether times are good or bad, happy or sad', no matter who's singing the ear-pleasing words. A song I first heard snippets of by a rock artist in a truck commercial a couple of decades ago comes back to me on Track #4's "Come Together", which I hadn't known was a BEATLES classic for the longest time. Recognized that memorable catch line 'come together, right now, over me' in an instant. Regine's more laid-back, low-key soft rock approach is very different, but very likable, especially with its light funky swing. She really beefs up the beats on her take of HALL & OATES' "Kiss On My List", this time adopting a more urban r&b style that's different, but cool, the sultry voices of the ladies on backup vocals adding some extra spice. She pays tribute to the BEATLES again—well, one of them—when she performs Paul McCartney's "Silly Love Song". The original version? Well it's simply magical, and I still feel that the magic is being captured here on Regine's refreshing remake with all of the twinkly, orchestral cinematics and the chilled soul groove, the music soothing me in a blanket of ambiance. There are some sweet jazzy moments on this album that I must highlight, and that includes the surprise jazzed-up twist of Paula Abdul's 80's hit "Straight Up" (took a moment to recognize the familiar chords, but Regine's delicate vocals are a marvelous complement to the instrumentals) and Prince's "Kiss" (modified by her to say 'you don't have to be rich to be my guy, you don't have to be cool to rule my world', modified further with the blaring trumpets replacing the 'smooching' sounds of the Prince original as she teasingly says 'kiss' in the main chorus, then modified to grand, epic proportions with the big band sound blasting into your ears!). "Xanadu": the Olivia-Newton John hit I hadn't heard in literally ages sounds so nice with Regine giving it a fresh makeover. Can offer the same sentiments about her semi-acapella pop remake of ABBA's "Take A Chance" (this song's skippy, sunny air always puts a smile on my face), her reinvented slowed-down soul version of Donna Summer's "On The Radio" (the downshift in tempo totally works here, the original actually even starting off that way, with the thunderous spruced-up instrumentals igniting the music as the song hears towards the second movement) and her appropriately old-fashioned bluesy take on the Elvis Presley classic, "Blue Suede Shoes" (the harmonica accompaniment is so sublime in helping her bring this one home). Think I've just about covered all the bases here; now it's just a matter of me going back a couple of years to recover her previous collection of covered hits:

1. Call Me
2. Head Over Feet
3. Let's Stay Together
4. Come Together
5. Never Give Up
6. Kiss On My List
7. Silly Love Song
8. Straight Up
9. Hold Me In YOur Arms
10. Xanadu
11. Take A Chance
12. Still In Love
13. Blue Suede Shoes
14. So Much In Love
15. On The Radio
16. Kiss

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