At some point, almost every band in existence plays a cover that
pays reverence to those artists who came before them. Far fewer,
however, are capable of recording an album consisting exclusively
of covers.

Music Reviews
We need an extreme makeover. Just look at us. (Courtesy of Virgin)

On their latest release, eMOTIVe, A Perfect Circle
revamps classic songs of revolution, describing the record as
“a collection of songs about war, peace, love and
greed,” and looks to elevate the awareness of societal
shortcomings. The message is powerful, but it would have carried a
greater amount of weight if the album were stacked with completely
original tracks.

“Passive” and “Counting Bodies Like Sheep to
the Rhythm of the War Drums” are the only two original tunes
on this recording, the latter being a redesign of vocal sections
from their song “Pet.” The remix of “Counting
Bodies Like Sheep to the Rhythm of the War Drums,”
reminiscent of Tool’s “Die Eier Von Satan,” gives
the song a profoundly different feel from its original incarnation
and rivals “Pet” in its ability to transmit the
song’s influential message. With “Passive,” the
band returns to true form, led by Maynard James Keenan’s
vocal lines blazing the trail. “Go ahead and play dead / I
know that you can hear this / Go ahead and play dead / Why
can’t you turn and face me / You fuckin’ disappoint me
/ Passive aggressive bullshit,” Keenan demands.

Bands that play covers well always approach them from new
angles, and thankfully, that’s exactly what A Perfect Circle
does. Unfortunately, just one or two of the artistically gifted
members of the band stand out on each track. Josh Freeze, for
example, only makes his creative drumming talents well known on a
few songs, the best of those being the spastic,
breakbeat-influenced “Let’s Have a War.”
Guitarist James Iha, a recent acquisition made after the demise of
The Smashing Pumpkins, is credited on “People are
People,” but has no other appearance on the entire disc.

A Perfect Circle must be given recognition for having the balls
to tackle songs that most people consider “untouchable”
like John Lennon’s “Imagine” or Marvin
Gaye’s “What’s Going On.” By dropping
“Imagine” down to a minor key, A Perfect Circle gives
the song a dark, sinister feel that is paradoxical to the sense of
yearning hope Lennon’s lyrics provide. “What’s
Going On,” backed by flanged drums and echoing vocals, is
bland in its arrangement without enough driving bite to carry the
song to the end. They will certainly never be held in the same
esteem as the originals, but they are fearless, unabashed attempts
at recreation.

More disheartening, though, is the cover of “Gimme, Gimme,
Gimme.” Keenan, sounding more like Marilyn Manson than the
Maynard fans have come to know and love, abandons his versatile,
pristine voice in favor of a dirty, death-metal scream. The
comparatively gentle “Annihilation” accentuates the
tenderness Keenan is able to supply, but is sadly supported by what
sounds like a child’s toy piano.

By far the best use of A Perfect Circle’s capabilities,
“When the Levee Breaks” and “Fiddle and
Drums” underline the inventiveness the band established on
its first two albums and what fans should expect on future
records.

 

Rating:  3 out of 5 stars

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