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Various Artists – [Album]

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Thursday, 20 June 2013

At this point in music history, multi-artist compilations and soundtracks (which are, most often, the same beast) are probably some of the hardest sells on any record store's new release rack. Why? Well, most often, such CDs only really have two or three good songs on them, which makes it far more cost effective to just buy those few songs on iTunes; after that, the discs just take up space in their owner's collection. Such a statement isn't intended to read like an indictment, it's just the fact of the matter; the only series of soundtrack compilations which have managed to dodge the peril of quickly outliving their usefulness in recent memory have been the seasonal soundtracks for HBO's True Blood. True Blood has proven to have a truly astounding track record for selecting artists which either perfectly suit (see Bad Livers, Screamin' Jay Hawkins, Bob Dylan) or sit in almost comical counterpoint to the action and plot twists on the screen (the latter category is exemplified by Debbie Davies, Lyle Lovett and the Eels) and the soundtrack discs actually make for good listening as a result – a tradition that the new Volume 4 set continues.

Now, before getting too far into this review, I want to point out that I was won over on first listen by The Heavy's “What Makes A Good Man?” (which first appeared on the band's third album, The Glorious Dead) and Iggy Pop's totally asymmetrical but light and enjoyable  lounge workout “Let's Boot And Rally.” Those two songs sold me on listening to this disc from top to bottom (along with the inclusion of “Smokestack Lightnin'” by Howlin' Wolf, but everyone loves that song) and reviewing it, and I was glad I did when all was said and done; while not every track's a winner, the disc is a worthwhile listen overall.

Songs including “Your Face Can Tell The Future” by Flaming Lips (taken from At War With The Mystics), “Pocket Change” by Alabama Shakes and Mobhey's cover of “I Wanna Be Your Man” all play smoothly through the running of True Blood Volume 4 and successfully straddle the lines of “enjoyable by recognition” and “enjoyable by novelty,” keeping interest up and relegating more feeble cuts like My Morning Jacket's cover of “Turn Turn Turn” and War Paint's “Undertow” to the level of being perfectly forgettable cannon fodder, nicely. That list pretty much covers most of the obvious highs and lows of this CD's run-time, but fantastic surprises like “We'll Meet Again” by Los Lobos and the swampy blues of “Whatever I Am, You Made Me” by Koko Taylor add to the set's value exponentially, and make the purchase of the CD seem more and more wise – rather than just parting the songs out on iTunes. While some people will certainly do that, because of the disc's overall strength, it might hold up well enough that True Blood Volume 4 will become the surprise stocking stuffer of 2013. It's a little too early to tell for sure, but the quality of this comp at least makes that possibility real.

Artist:

www.hbo.com/true-blood/

Album:

True Blood – Music from the HBO Original Series
, Volume 4 is out now. Buy it here on Amazon .

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Various Artists – [Album]

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Tuesday, 15 December 2009

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