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Review: Wilson keeps ‘Immortal’ tracks alive on covers album

September 17, 2018

This cover image released by BMG shows "Immortal," a release by Ann Wilson. (BMG via AP)

Ann Wilson, “Immortal” (BMG)

Ann Wilson is one of rock’s immortal performers, having earned her spot among the greatest vocalists of all-time. On “Immortal,” an album of covers, the Heart singer pays tribute to artists who have died or bands who have had a key member pass on.

The result is an exciting, eye-opening look at largely obscure songs by big-name artists.

It kicks off with Lesley Gore’s “You Don’t Own Me,” which benefits from Wilson’s passionate wailing and subtle phrasing. Audioslave’s “I Am the Highway” would feel right at home on most Heart albums, and she plucks “Luna” from the extensive Tom Petty catalog instead of one of his more anthemic recordings.

Unfortunately, Wilson abandoned this tactic in covering the Eagles’ “Life In the Fast Lane.” But the result is so draggy and listless that it literally becomes a parody of itself. (And there are scores of Eagles’ songs she could have picked to honor Glenn Frey, but Don Henley sang this one.)

The true payoff comes on Leonard Cohen’s “A Thousand Kisses Deep.” Rarely has a song benefited from vocals so silky smooth and sensual, and yet they are only part of this woman’s vast vocal repertoire.

A crunchy cover of Cream’s “Politician” should keep the headbangers happy, and David Bowie’s “I’m Afraid of Americans” is just plain fun.

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