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Step Right Up - The Songs of Tom Waits

Various Artists

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iTunes Review

This tribute to Tom Waits features an eclectic mix of performers working over songs from Waits’ early years. Tim Buckley’s “Martha” had been recorded back when Waits was just starting out and Buckley was the living legend. There are plenty of surprises here. The Tindersticks are expected to do right by “Mockin Bird,” but the brilliance of Drugstore’s interpretation of “Old Shoes” is a head-turner. The vocals capture a desperation that goes beyond garden-variety mid-‘90s alternative rock. The Buzzcocks’ Pete Shelley turns the barroom-clearing “Better Off Without a Wife” into a power-punk tune. The Wedding Present twist out “Red Shoes By the Drugstore” into a maniacal piece of post-punk worthy of the Fall. These Immortal Souls are the perfect group to whack out the dark undertow of “You Can’t Unring a Bell.” The Gun Club’s Jeffrey Lee Pierce is the only man worthy of turning “Pasties and a G-String” into a subversive piece of new-wave blues. Giant Sand turn out their southwestern rock for “Invitation to the Blues.” The Blasters’ Dave Alvin adds a deliberate poignancy with his solid guitarmanship and sincere vocal for “Ol ’55.”

Customer Reviews

One of the best of the tribute albums!

Whoever produced this album put a lot of thought and effort into and it shows. The bands and songs covered are overall excellent, and there are a few absolute gems. Frente!'s version of "Ruby's Arms" is as good as, if not better, than the original, and Dave Alvin's cover of "Ol' 55", Tim Buckley's of "Martha" and Alex Chilton's of "Downtown" are thoroughly enjoyable. Unfortunately, missing from this collection (but on the original CD) is one of the best tracks, 10,000 Maniac's version of "I Hope That I Don't Fall In Love With You".

Don't care if it is a "tribute" or not. It stinks.

I gave it 1 star because I can't give it no stars at all. I could barely stand to listen to this entire album. There might be one track I found to be ok, but the rest were craptastic. If you are going to participate in a tribute album, you should at least in some small way make your version flattering to the original artist... but nobody told this to the performers on this album. Maybe they could use this album for torture at Guantanamo Bay.

Step Right Up - The Songs of Tom Waits
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