Ayo Jegede
reviews editor
November 05, 2004
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A Perfect Circle

i met Christopher Reeve's death with ambivalence. the very nature of his injury meant new, unfathomable daily travails and the abrupt end to the physical abilities one thought almost entirely secured. his fiscal investment into a cure was venerable, for not only did it shed light on the matter but also gave a recognizable face to it. part of me wonders if many diseases do not get attention because they have yet to compel the people with the most fiscal and public currency. i also think part of Reeve's attempt was a self-righteous last gasp tantamount to an expensive cry for help. his foundation and, more relevant to this review, backing of specific politics looked entirely ad hoc. still, i can't deny that his work has benefitted those who truly needed it. it's one thing to actually do something about a problem and another to simply [and worthlessly] yell at it.

during the recent election, we saw an uncanny political blitzkrieg from musicians, actors, writers and every other part of the artistic spectrum. bands from the Dixie Chicks to Death Cab for Cutie, Bruce Springstein to Bright Eyes have all made their political discontents known by availing themselves of one of the more powerful pulpits available: the record. but whereas the former musicians have all turned political by bundling their musical agendas for tours or compilations, A Perfect Circle have the gall to not only put out a political album on the fly, but also one that's about the most apoplectically unoriginal covers record i've heard in a long while.

it's not so much that it's a covers record, but rather the songs that they chose to cover: Marvin Gaye's 'What's Goin' On;' Depeche Mode's 'People are People;' Elvis Costello's '(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding;' Black Flag's 'Gimme Gimme Gimme;' Crucifix's 'Annihilation;' Devo's 'Freedom of Choice;' and, most incendiary of all, John Lennon's 'Imagine.' quite a few of these songs were responsible for forging new paths for music altogether and all of them are recognizable anthems whose potency has never dulled. it offends me that any group would first try to somehow reinvent an already phenomenal song list, but what infuriates me is the desultory, ineffective manner A Perfect Circle did. their renditions are watered down and unappreciative simulacra that don't capture even a soupcon of the originals' depth, complexity, and, most importantly, humanity.

every song sounds alike and all attempt to slow down the tempo and impact of the originals. an example is Memphis Minnie's 'When The Levee Breaks.' i first needn't mention Led Zeppelin's powerful rendition of it, but Maynard & co. feel that a more ambient conversion is needed. frankly, i fail to see where exactly the band exists on the entire song since it's mostly just Josh Freese--who sounds absolutely bored on the drums--and Maynard's crooning vocals and reverb. as such, the original power Zeppelin conveyed is gone entirely. i would say that APC's version is a shell, but that'd be too high of an accolade. 'Counting Bodies Like Sheep to The Rhythm of the War Drum,' one of the original pieces on the album, is a bill of goods. the title and even the vocal loop were lifted from Thirteenth Step's 'Pet.' though industrial in orientation, it has only an ephemeral presence antipodean to the original. it's a questionable effort emblematic of the entire record. the cover of Lennon's 'Imagine' disgraces the original artist. the wading, lost piano and statical vocals practically deride Lennon's fragile, hopeful intent and beg the question as to what the fuck they were doing covering it in the first place.

that artists are not entitled to voice their political opinions is not my point. it is, in fact, that they must be cautious of the manner in which they do so. the force with which anyone has political persuasions must be met with an appropriate way to express them. your artistic abilities matter little to the long-term political landscape, and playing musical Robin Hood with classic songs simply because you feel that you're qualified enough to do so simply upsets their great legacies. the one ingredient eMOTIVe lacks in great detail is humility. from the pedantic album title and cover art to the terribly performed songs themselves, this is perhaps the most naive political statement this year. Christopher Reeve died putting everything into an agenda that affected millions of people. A Perfect Circle only put an iota of their energies into something because they could.

Release date: November 2, 2004
Label: Virgin
Rating: 1.0 / 10