Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Rickey Reviews New Music

There are several basic varieties of schmucks in the world. For example, there’s the kind of schmuck who insists on announcing his presence in the men’s room by aiming directly for the urinal cake, making a much more audible noise than his neighbors in hopes of reaffirming his masculinity. This of course causes splash damage which is most likely why these schmucks always wear black pants (Rickey's more of a khaki man himself). Then there’s the kind of schmuck who insists on driving at night with both his regular lights and his fog lights turned on for no explicable reason whatever. Then there's the sort of schmuck who steals people's forks from the staff kitchen sink (by Rickey's count, that fucker has collected nearly an entire Lennox flatware set by now). And finally, there’s the penultimate schmuck: the schmuck who recommends things to people sight unseen.

Here at RwR, we don’t do that sort of thing. And we’re proud to say that we only do one of the three previously mentioned items. (Look, Rickey happens to think that a Saab 9.3 looks freaking awesome with the headlamps and fog lights on. We know, we're jackasses, and we're trying to get it under control. Recently, Rickey's even taken to wearing driving gloves as well as a leather coat and scarf. And now Rickey's shopping for aviator sunglasses. Yeah we have no idea what the fuck is going on... clearly this new car thing has gotten the better of Rickey). Ahem. Anyway, like we were saying, we may be schmucks, but we don't recommend things sight unseen. We like to try things out and weigh their merits before passing them along to you.

And it is that meticulous search for excellence which allows Rickey to recommend that you purchase the soundtrack to Todd Haynes’ Bob Dylan biopic “I’m Not There” as soon as humanly possibly. But don't take our word for it: you can listen to the complete album here.

Ironically enough, there’s only one song that Bob Dylan actually performs on this sprawling two disc album. The rest are all covers of Dylan’s songs, most of which we’re very happy to report are pretty damned good. It takes big spiky balls to cover a Bob Dylan song: try to imitate him and you reduce yourself to being a singer in a Dylan cover band. Visa versa, if you attempt to radically reinterpret one of his songs, you risk diluting the message and losing the edge of the original Dylan version of the song. So over the course of musical history, only a handful of musicians have managed to cover Bob Dylan without sounding like they’re doing bad karaoke imitations of Dylan. (Rickey still gets shivers thinking about that awful Dave Matthews Band rendition of “All Along the Watchtower”). But have no fear, there’s some actual music playing ability going on in this album. Here’s the track listing:

DISC 1:

1. All Along The Watchtower - Eddie Vedder and The Million Dollar Basher

2. I'm Not There - Sonic Youth

3. Goin' To Acapulco - Jim James/Calexico

4. Tombstone Blues - Richie Havens

5. Ballad Of A Thin Man - Stephen Malkmus and The Million Dollar Bashers

6. Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again - Cat Power

7. Pressing On - John Doe

8. Fourth Time Around - Yo La Tengo

9. Dark Eyes - Iron & Wine/Calexico

10. Highway 61 Revisited - Karen O and The Million Dollar Bashers

11. One More Cup Of Coffee - Roger McGuinn/Calexico

12. Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll, The - Mason Jennings

13. Billy 1 - Los Lobos

14. Simple Twist Of Fate - Jeff Tweedy

15. Man In The Long Black Coat, The - Mark Lanegan

16. Senor (Tales Of Yankee Power) - Willie Nelson/Calexico


DISC 2:

1. As I Went Out One Morning - Mira Billotte

2. Can't Leave Her Behind - Stephen Malkmus/Lee Ranaldo

3. Ring Them Bells - Sufjan Stevens

4. Just Like A Woman - Charlotte Gainsbourg

5. Mama You've Been On My Mind - Jack Johnson

6. I Wanna Be Your Lover - Yo La Tengo

7. You Ain't Goin Nowhere - Glen Hansard/Marketa Irglova

8. Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window? - The Hold Steady

9. Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues - Ramblin' Jack Elliott

10. Wicked Messenger - The Black Keys

11. Cold Iron Bound - Tom Verlaine and The Million Dollar Bashers

12. Times They Are A Changin', The - Mason Jennings

13. Maggie's Farm - Stephen Malkmus and The Million Dollar Bashers

14. When The Ship Comes In - Marcus Carl Franklin

15. Moonshiner - Bob Forrest

16. I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine - John Doe

17. Knockin' On Heaven's Door - Antony and The Johnstons

18. I'm Not There - Bob Dylan

Rickey’s not the type to name drop, but in case you hadn't noticed, there’s a whole helluva lot of musical talent at work here. Much more than you’d find than in your average baby-boomer nostalgia vanity project, wethinks. But to really enjoy it, you’ve got to be curious. You need to ask yourself, what would “I Wanna Be Your Lover” sound like if Yo La Tengo performed it? How would Karen O take on “Highway 61 Revisited”? What would Cat Power do with “Stuck Inside a Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again”? If you’re that kind of curious musical fellow then proceed directly to your local musical retailer, because you’ll definitely get a kick out of this album.

Be warned however, we’re talking about 34 tracks here, so it’s not all gold. For example, the Eddie Vedder version of “All Along the Watchtower” is pretty “meh,” but we absolutely recommend listening to Sonic Youth’s brilliant interpretation of “I’m Not There.” But in the end, nothing beats strumming guitars and harmonica solos, and Rickey's current faves on the album would have to be Bob Forrest's folksy "Moonshiner," (which is reminiscent of Johnny Cash's later work) or Mason Jenning's folksy rendition of "The Times They Are A-Changin'". But that's just Rickey--trust us, there's something for everyone on this two disc set.

Younger folk singers like Sufjan Stevens and Jack Johnson sort of fumble the ball with two Dylan songs, but its fun to listen to the old timey crooners emerge from their primordial gopher holes who show punks like Johnson and Stevens how folk music should be done. We’re talking Ramblin' Jack Elliott, John Doe, Jim James, Roger McGuinn, and oh yes, Willie Nelson. They all turn in great renditions and even better, Calexico backs some of 'em up. That alone is worth the price of admission. Definitely pick up the album—it’s a great listen and wonderfully eclectic.

Now if only Rickey could find someone to actually see the freaking movie with... None of Rickey’s buddies have expressed any interest so far and Rickey has a strict policy concerning going to the movies alone (he refuses to do it).

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8 comments:

George said...

Take the Saab to the movies.

mr. met said...

If you are not against listening to people sing in French, check out Malajube. I find them strangely soothing and I just play ignorant and hope they are singing about fires taking out Quebec.

Also Beirut is pretty badass.

And While on the topic of Eddie Vedder and sountracks, I thought he did a great job on Into the Wild.

Chris C. said...

Jerry Garcia does an amazing version of 'Simple Twist of Fate'. I'll have to check out this CD.

Pope Terry said...

Only interested in the song the black keys do, jack johnson can go suck a lemon

Dan said...

Don't, like, women and giraffes and stuff play Bob Dylan in the new movie. WTF? Hell, I know Bob Dylan is one weird bastard, but what's up with that?

Rickey Henderson said...

George: the Saab in stingy with paying for popcorn, so Rickey doesn't take it to the movies much.

Mr. Met: Rickey was introduced to Beirut a few weeks ago by a friend. Terrific band. Will look into Malajube.

Dan: Women and giraffes? What? Having not seen the movie, Rickey has no idea what you're talking about.

Gameguy said...

I eventually just gave up and started seeing some movies alone. I saw some clips from this. I think it might just be worth going solo.

Soup said...

Anything The Black Keys touch is gold. That being said, I haven't heard this. I'll be sure to check it out.