The Walkmen

The Walkmen

Thursday, 09 November 2006

Song for song covers of albums tend to be a pretty lame affair. Every once in a while, someone knocks out an all star Beatles re-enactment and effectively flattens it of any spirit. Which is why it is practically startling just how good this track-for-track version of Harry Nilsson’s Pussycats is. Why does it work? Because this notorious album, (originally half sung in drunk-speak with John Lennon), was never very good to begin with. What people expected to be a melding of melodic minds into one all-seeing eye of brilliance ended up being a couple of drunken louts singing a bunch of covers in the studio. But what The Walkmen have done is put a frame around this less-than-perfect release. When they cover “Subterranean Homesick Blues” and “Many Rivers to Cross,” they are not covering Bob Dylan or Jimmy Cliff, they are covering the Nilsson/Lennon version. They grab all the bumps and scratches of the original and hold them high, creating a raucous record which also seems to free up the band from the stiffness felt on their last record. In the end, not only have they succeeded in becoming the first band in years to actually perform “Rock Around the Clock,” but in the execution of this, created something near brilliant.

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