If this EP is anything, it's a statement by The Vaccines that they're no Wire, Jonathan Richman, Nick Lowe, Johnny Cash or ABBA. The Vaccines recorded this EP while on tour in Europe. They have gave it away for free, which is understanding seeing as these four cover tracks are all very basic and acoustic. It begins with a classic, The Beast In Me, written by Nick Lowe and famously performed by Johnny Cash. They don't have the passion, desire or ability as the late great country legend. Do they do the song justice? Yeah, it's not that bad. For an acoustic cover in a hotel room, it's not bad. It doesn't lack character, it's hard for The Vaccines not to add their twang on covers. Their version of 'The Beast In Me' is far less bitter. It's not as ruthless, but does have moments of beauty.
Next up is Wire's classic 'Mannequin'. I don't like to be accused of prejudice, but I'm pretty sure.. The majority of The Vaccines fans have never listened to the original, or have heard of Wire. I'm just saying.. You know, Their fanbase isn't the most... Mature. Nonetheless, The Vaccines obviously take influence from the wave of 70's punk bands, with Wire topping the list as the most eclectic. The Vaccines deliver the 'sha la la la la la la's' first, before going straight into the verse. The quiet, reverberated and clear vocal makes Wire's version standout even more than I first thought. The lyrics are stunning, making The Vaccines look amateur. I'm enjoying the backing vocals on this track, with one guitar which hits the correct notes throughout. Mannequin is the most accurate cover on this EP. They highlight the song writing over Wire's aggressive three chord punk power.
The hardest of these four tracks to cover is clearly ABBA's song about a broken down relationship and self-guilt, The Winner Takes It All. I'm not a fan of ABBA.. But this is one of three tracks I genuinely enjoy because of the lyrical theme. The Vaccines also enjoy ABBA's self-guilt / relationship classic. Just look at The Vaccines debut and you see this theme stamped all over it. The Vaccines can't sing as dominantly as Agnetha Fältskog, they also can't write like Benny & Bjorn... They do however give it an indie, working class touch. The acoustic guitar isn't as well sounding as ABBA's synth and piano. Justin Young can't reach the high notes, although he does sing the verses exceptionally well, using distortion (bad recording) to cover up his vocal. This version of The Winner Takes It All is far less emotional than the original.
Jonathan Richman's 'That Summer Feeling' has always been one of his most famous and well known tracks. His Boston twang once ruled the airwaves with The Modern Lovers, way ahead of their time in the mid 70's. Richman is an influence on many artists, with himself taking influence from the great Velvet Underground. Richman's hidden talent was his songwriting, which he now thrives off in his solo acoustic sets. The Vaccines understand the lyrical theme, taking advantage of their easy going vocal. Richman's loud and appropriate vocal cannot be matched by any cover, and The Vaccines are no different to any other artists when covering That Summer Feeling. It's a tremendous song, with The Vaccines producing a friendly, catchy track for their cover.
These four tracks are brilliantly recorded by their original artists. The Vaccines are influenced by all of these tracks. It becomes clear that The Vaccines intended to cover tracks that they themselves enjoy. Neither of these covers are amazing, but they're not bad either. I didn't expect anything better than a swift, simple cover. That's what I got, and I'm sure fans of The Vaccines will welcome these four covers with open arms. It's free, it's simple and it's acoustic, what's not to like. The original artists won't suffer, only gain from this little exposure. Even though this is just a free EP, I recommend listening to it.