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Gareth Malone's new genre-busting effort sees his new choir tackling a range of pop and indie repertoire, but where might you have heard those songs before? From Bon Iver to Fleetwood Mac via Paul Mealor and Erasure, it's an eclectic mix to say the least…
UK indie band Keane were initially known for their unconventional 'guitar-less' sound, but soon found acclaim for Tom Chaplin's soaring vocals and their bold songwriting. Gareth Malone's arrangement of Hamburg Song (originally released by Keane in 2006) turns it into a choral wall of sound.
Keeping a pop sheen and a prominent electronic beat, this is one of the more faithful cover versions on this debut album from Gareth's new choir. The Alicia Keys original from 2009 was a chart and critical success, drawing comparisons to Prince. Malone's version gives it an almost gospel feel, with those massed choral vocals to the fore in the chorus.
Stepping away from the pop repertoire momentarily, this gorgeous slice of Paul Mealor showcases the choir in its most 'core' classical guise. Relatively unchanged from the original Mealor setting, this is a chance for the Voices choir to be heard at their rawest and most exposed which, considering the pop nature of the rest of the album, is a bold move.
Justin Vernon, otherwise known as Bon Iver, shot to fame in 2007 after taking to a log cabin to record his first album. This particular track, however, comes from Vernon's second album, and originally features some extensive instrumentation. Malone's arrangement strips it right back to basics, however, to something more in line with the sound of Bon Iver's first album.
Absolutely the most surprising inclusion for Gareth Malone's Voices album is this radical interpretation of hip-hop duo Death Grips' song 'Guillotine'. The original is a confrontational, acerbic and aggressive rush of hip-hop, but Malone's version turns it into a cascading choral showpiece, complete with bare electronic beats. It doesn't bear a huge resemblance to the original, but it just goes to show what's possible with a choir and a bit of imagination.
Given Gareth Malone's vintage, it's perhaps inevitable that some classic '80s fare made it on to the record. But in true Malone style, it's not quite as simple as an ordinary cover version. There's a nod to the original with the proto-techno beats, but the harmonising in the choir is all Malone.
An elemental take on The Moody Blues' original, this is drenched in reverb and ghostly backing vocals. Where the Moodys' version took a stately approach to baroque prog rock, Voices' version milks all the ethereal atmosphere it possibly can out of those haunting chords.
Seattle indie-folk band Fleet Foxes are known for their close harmonies and whimsical songwriting. It begins as a mini round in the manner of London's Burning, but soon develops into a dark and deceptively angelic nursery rhyme of a song. Voices maximise the choral potential with an expansive arrangement.
Perhaps one of the more recognisable songs from the album, this Radiohead song was released during the Oxford band's late-90s heyday and is taken from their OK Computer album. The song itself is a rather dystopian take on modern paranoia, which doesn't make it a natural fit for angelic choral voices, but the juxtaposition makes it thoroughly interesting.
One of the most hyped artists in recent years, US singer Lana Del Rey's placid, murky ballad is left relatively untouched by Gareth Malone's Voices, deciding to retain the original's dark charm. Del Rey, who has gone under many different musical pseudonyms before breaking through to the mainstream, won her second BRIT Award earlier this year.
Though originally written back in 1991, I Can't Make You Love Me has seen continued success since country and blues singer Bonnie Raitt first performed it, thanks to some high-profile cover versions from the likes of AdeleKelly Clarkson and Bon Iver (whose song 'Calgary' appears earlier on the Voices album).
Hopefully the internal relations of Gareth Malone's Voices don't resemble those of Fleetwood Mac at the time they recorded this song from their multi-million selling Rumours LP, but musically they've taken the energy and harmonies at least. With countermelodies running all over the place it expands the most anthemic themes of the original, it's a rousing way to finish off this inventive collection.