It is an intriguing idea, an album of cover versions played with members of the original band. That is the idea behind SSHH’s debut album. SSHH is comprised of Australian singer/artist Sshh Liguz and guitarist/drummer Zak Starkey. Zak Starkey’s name should be familiar to you, he has drummed with the who’s who of rock for the past 30 years, including The Who, Oasis, Waterboys, Ian McNabb, Johnny Marr, and Ringo Starr and The All Starr Band (the band that happens to be fronted by Zak’s dad, Ringo Starr). Starkey and Liguz have worked together in the past, when they formed a band in 2008 called Pengu!ns. Although Starkey is regarded as one of the finest drummers ever, it is interesting to note that Starkey has switched from drums to guitar for this album, and he has proven to be quite a guitarist.
The album originated when the band was asked to list their favourite albums for a radio show. They decided to go one step further and work with their heroes. Kicking off the album is a rousing version of “Problems” featuring Glen Matlock and Paul Cook of the Sex Pistols. Together with SSHH, they create a hard sound that brilliantly paves the way for this album, which features members of The Ruts, Blondie, The Pretenders, Bob Marley and The Wailers, and many more.
You may be wondering: does it work? Yes and no. Although Liguz has an interesting voice, it does not always suit the song she is singing. This is most evident in “Back to Black” (which features Nathan Allen and Dale Davis of Amy Winehouse’s band). Although it is well produced by the wonderful Ian Broudie (Lightning Seeds), Liguz simply does not have the vocals to pull it off. SSHH’s cover of Bob Marley’s “Get Up, Stand Up” (which features Santa Davis from the Wailers and Eddie Vedder from Pearl Jam) is sloppy and there is nothing to enhance the original song.
The album gets a full point for its idea and the use of several musicians who do not get the attention they deserve (especially John Jennings and Dave Ruffy of The Ruts on a cover of their incredible “Babylon’s Burning”). The real problem with this album, and with most cover albums, it makes me reach for the originals. Maybe that was their goal, to draw attention to the original songs and artists, like sitting around with a friend who wants to introduce bands or songs they love that you’ve never heard before. I am not saying this album is not good, I just appreciate the original versions more. When an artist does a cover, they have to bring their own stamp to it and own it, and SSHH just does not do that with this album. I look forward to more original music from this duo in the future.
SPILL ALBUM REVIEW: SSHH – ISSUES