Under the Covers to the Exception to Music’s Rule

It’s hardly a rule of thumb as there are countless examples of cover versions which exceed the standards set by the originals. So many, we aren’t even going to go through the rigmarole of listings some examples. However, surely an entire album of cover versions is a step beyond what any right thinking music fans wants, right? Typically the domain of a band or artist trying to escape a financially-ruinous multi-album deal with a record label, they scream laziness and desperation. There is, in Sonic New’s opinion, one exception. In fact, there are three.

Susannah Hoffs you know well: the evergreen chanteuse from Paisley Pop trailblazers and later chart-topping The Bangles and gifted solo artist. Matthew Sweet, you may be less familiar with, though this is to your detriment. Hailing from the same town as REM, he led the power-pop charge in the early 90s…some might say, entirely single-handedly. He made inroads in the charts and MTV but never really broke through the ceiling, more a case of a crowded market place than anything he did wrongly. These two incredibly undervalued artists came together to interpret some of their favourite tracks, a project which proved so popular they issued three volumes and now, as reported on Second Disc, a best of. Hugely recommended:

The new collection, The Best of Under the Covers, presents 28 songs on two 180-gram translucent cherry vinyl disks or 30 songs on two CDs. Note that this anthology has two exclusive covers: Buffalo Springfield’s “On the Way Home” and The Easybeats’ “Sorry,” both outtakes from the 1960s volume. (The former appeared on a promotional CD single while the latter was an Australia-only bonus track.) Neither of these songs appear on the Completely Under the Covers box, making them most welcome additions here. The three decades are addressed almost equally and this enjoyable set is representative of Sweet and Hoffs’ output even if some personal favorites might be missing. There are no new liner notes. (Completists might wish to add two more titles to their Sid ‘n Susie collection. Hoffs and Lindsey Buckingham both joined Sweet on his 1998 cover of Walter Egan’s “Magnet and Steel” included on the Sabrina the Teenage Witch soundtrack; Buckingham played and co-produced the original track. In 2009, Hoffs and Sweet’s “Got to Get You Into My Life” appeared on the soundtrack to the Eddie Murphy film Imagine That.)

Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs, Under the Covers Vol. 1 (Shout! Factory DK 97654, 2006 – reissued Demon LP DEMREC703, 2020) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. / Amazon Canada)

Side A

  1. I See the Rain
  2. And Your Bird Can Sing
  3. It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue
  4. Who Knows Where the Time Goes?
  5. Cinnamon Girl

Side B

  1. Alone Again Or
  2. The Warmth of the Sun
  3. Different Drum
  4. The Kids Are Alright

Side C

  1. Sunday Morning
  2. Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere
  3. Care of Cell 44
  4. Monday, Monday

Side D

  1. She May Call You Up Tonight
  2. Run to Me
  3. Village Green Preservation Society
  4. I Can See for Miles

Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs, Under the Covers Vol. 2 (Shout! Factory 826663-11306, 2009 – reissued Demon LP DEMREC704, 2020) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. / Amazon Canada)

Side A

  1. Sugar Magnolia
  2. Go All the Way
  3. Second Hand News
  4. All the Young Dudes
  5. You Can Close Your Eyes
  6. Marquee Moon

Side B

  1. Here Comes My Girl
  2. I’ve Seen All Good People: Your Move/All Good People
  3. Hello It’s Me
  4. Willin’
  5. Back of a Car
  6. Couldn’t I Just Tell You

Side C

  1. Gimme Some Truth
  2. Maggie May
  3. Beware of Darkness
  4. Dreaming
  5. Bell Bottom Blues
  6. You’re So Vain

Side D

  1. I Wanna Be Sedated
  2. Baby Blue
  3. You Say You Don’t Love Me
  4. (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding
  5. Everything I Own
  6. Melissa
  7. Killer Queen
  8. A Song for You

Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs, Under the Covers Vol. 3 (Shout! Factory 826663-13579, 2013 – reissued Demon LP DEMREC705, 2020) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. / Amazon Canada)

Side A

  1. Sitting Still
  2. Girls Talk
  3. Big Brown Eyes
  4. Kid
  5. Free Fallin’

Side B

  1. Save It for Later
  2. They Don’t Know
  3. The Bulrushes
  4. Our Lips Are Sealed

Side C

  1. How Soon Is Now
  2. More Than This
  3. Towers of London
  4. Killing Moon

Side D

  1. Trouble
  2. Train in Vain
  3. You’re My Favorite Waste of Time
  4. I Would Die 4 U

Under the Covers: The Best of Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs (Demon DEMREC643/Edsel EDSL0060, 2020)

2CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. / Amazon Canada
2LP: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. / Amazon Canada


  1. And Your Bird Can Sing
  2. Second Hand News
  3. You’re My Favorite Waste of Time
  4. They Don’t Know
  5. You’re So Vain
  6. Sunday Morning
  7. Maggie May
  8. On the Way Home
  9. (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding (*)
  10. Dreaming
  11. Train in Vain
  12. Sorry
  13. Different Drum
  14. Trouble
  15. Killing Moon
  16. I Would Die 4 U
  17. Beware of Darkness


  1. Cinnamon Girl
  2. Sitting Still
  3. It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue
  4. Melissa
  5. Bell Bottom Blues
  6. Care of Cell 44
  7. Gimme Some Truth
  8. I Wanna Be Sedated (*)
  9. I Can See for Miles
  10. How Soon Is Now
  11. Marquee Moon
  12. Free Fallin’
  13. All the Young Dudes

(*) CD-only track

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