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Stryper - 'The Covering' http://rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/96/fa/32/1000_stryperthecovering_1298157795.jpg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     February 19, 2011    
 
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Covers album by Stryper.

Whatever your opinion of the covers album craze there's no denying that it's thrown up some interesting releases, my own personal bugbear being that the time spent making them could be better spent writing and recording some original material. It's well known from interviews that the members of Stryper are big rock fans (now back to the original line-up of Michael Sweet (vocals, guitar), Oz Fox (guitar), Robert Sweet (drums) and returning bassist Tim Gaines), particularly British bands of the 70s, so what they've sensibly done here is not pick anything too obscure and infuse everything with those unmistakable Stryper guitar and vocal harmonies. I also think from personal experience that covers albums are rarely played things that take up space on your shelf, but as this is an exercise to show Stryper fans where their heroes came from musically, there's nothing too outlandish here and you can easily see how a liking of most of these bands led to the music of Stryper.

Strangely, one of the songs I was most looking forward to and one of my own personal favourites, The Sweet's 'Set Me Free', gets this album off to a false start, lacking the energy and power of the original, but that's about the only gripe you'll get from me. Other early British bands include a fairly faithful rendition of Led Zeppelin's 'Immigrant Song' and the Purple classic 'Highway Star' (complete with killer Hammond and twin guitar solos), then to move on kind of chronologically we get to UFO's 'Lights Out', Priest's 'Breaking The Law' and a superb version of Sabbath's 'Heaven & Hell'. By this time, of course, the US had already started exerting an influence with those trademark Stryper harmonies and twin lead solos all over the Kansas classic 'Carry On Wayward Son' and a pretty cool 'Shout It Out Loud' from the Kiss catalogue, whilst it's a neat touch to record 'On Fire' from the first seminal Van Halen record with the guitar in one channel like the original.

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The only non UK/US track here is Scorpions' 'Blackout' and it's one of only three tracks from the 80', along with Ozzy's 'Over The Mountain' and Maiden's 'The Trooper', the latter of which may well be the tightest and most impressive version here. The album ends with a Stryper original, and 'God' is musically fantastic and upbeat but has the kind of Christian message in the lyrics that puts off non believers.

With a sharp production that's maybe just a tad light on the drums, what Stryper have done here is walk a line between the originals and the early Stryper sound, although obviously the biggest difference on some is the voice of Michael Sweet, which soars higher than he has in years and proves he's still got the pipes. I doubt it'll bring them many new fans but it should at least bring them some much overdue respect.

Phil Ashcroft

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