Southside Demos and Covers EP review by Chris High
Texas. The very name summons up ‘Big’ in just about every way. When associated with music, though, Texas defines big in even more ways: Big on sounds. Big on live shows (who remembers Sharleen’s Elvis look?). Big on hits. Southside was the debut album way back in 1989 and their latest 2 releases, Southside Demos and Southside Covers, do exactly what they say on the tin. In a big, BIG way.
Founded in 1986 by Johnny McElhone (formerly of the bands Altered Images and Hipsway) and Sharleen Spiteri on lead vocals, Texas soon became a phenomenon. Bigger than Simple Minds. Bigger than Big Country. Bigger than, well, you get the picture.
First up is the Bernard Edwards mix of I Don’t Want A Lover and, man, it is fabulous. As fresh today as it was when it scored the band’s first hit, peaking at #8 in the UK, what this new mix does – well, new to us and long since sought out by the band themselves, apparently – is underline just what a fabulous rock voice Spiteri has. Smooth but solid, it is a vocal that can create and crack boulders simultaneously. Added to this mix too is the excellence of drummer Tony Thompson, he of Chic, who’s natural brilliance allows the edge of this slice of excellence all the more. That they have added a slightly more undercooked version to the end, as well, highlights the strength of this song that made their name.
The opening of I’ll Never Forget sounds a little U2 for some reason, but also it enhances the following character both McElhone’s musicianship, Spiteri’s lyricism and, combined, their overall prowess.
Compiled and curated by the band, the albums are a seven track and four track, electronically only available release that oozes class at every chord. One Choice is all moody and deeply commanding, whereas Tell Me Why, with its thumping bass and drum backdrop, wallops its way into the psyche.
Texas have always been at the forefront of breaking through. Southside Covers is taken from their gig at The Paradiso in Amsterdam in 1989. John Lee Hooker’s Dimples is given the full treatment arguably even the man himself might find hard to better. There’s an energy and rawness about these recordings, exemplified by the Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong composition Can’t Get Next to You, originally performed by The Temptations, then Al Green, which is simply all consuming. Yet amidst this innocence there is a burgeoning, boiling roiling confidence at work which makes each song singularly sublime in its own right.
Take a listen to the simply majestic cover of Elmore Leonard’s It Hurts Me Too and, please, try not to cry: it really is that beautifully delivered. McElhone’s guitar is almost another voice in its own right, whereas Spiteri is, well, Spiteri. And as for pushing boundaries, what other band might dare cover – and so succinctly succeed in – a Stevie Wonder classic such as Living For The City in such a manner as this. Hell, what am I saying. Arguably this version is better than Wonder’s. Seriously. More bang for the buck, that’s for certain.
Then again, it shouldn’t be a surprise. Texas always were, always will be bigger and better than most. These two albums simply prove how much bigger and better they are.
Can’t Get Next to You
It Hurts Me Too
Living For The City
I Don’t Want A Lover
I’ll Never Forget
Fight The Feeling
Tell Me Why
Your Only Future Is Promises
I Don’t Want A Lover
You can find out more about the EP release here as well as dates to their up coming tour: https://www.totalntertainment.com/music/texas-announce-tour-and-new-album/