Tom Waits is the best songwriter of
this generation, yet many people are scared away from his songs by his
midnight, cigarettes and whiskey vocal style.
You can just see a record
company exec pondering how to sell Waits' music to the masses. Suddenly a lightbulb goes on over his head. Tribute album!
Well, all tribute albums are
a mixed bag, so I wasn't expecting too much, but I'm pleasantly surprised
how little of a sell-out this is.
The artists involved may change up Waits'
music a bit, but they remain stubbornly true to his musical vision. For
example, in its own way, the Violent Femmes' take on the title track is as
disquieting as anything the master himself has done, and the Femmes
strongest moment yet.
Pete Shelley turns "Better Off Without A Wife" into a
great punk anthem, Magnapop deconstructs "Christmas Card From A Hooker In
Minneapolis" and The Tindersticks deceptively pretty musical yet vocally
dead version of "Mockingbird" captures the songs' self-pity and loathing.
Even the more straight forward songs work, 10,000 Maniacs version of "I Hope
That I Don't Fall In Love With You," with it's minute story-telling detail,
would have fit snuggly on any of the band's albums.
Get this album, learn to
love the songs, then seek out the sources. (4/96)
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright © 1996 PopEntertainment.com.
All rights reserved.
January 31, 2016.