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Various Artists
Sunday Nights: The music of Junior Kimbrough
Fat Possum Records

I don't know that Junior Kimbrough would exactly approve. As with so many compilations that are tributes to particularly groundbreaking artists, there are many hit and miss tracks included on Sunday Nights. Perhaps it is this disparity among tracks, both stylistically and sonically, that makes this compilation stand out from so many ho-hum projects, but it also causes some serious dysfunction in the ears at times.

There are amazing gems of tracks here. Iggy And The Stooges belt out a ripping version of "You Better Run" - not once, but twice. All the ferocity of Funhouse era Iggy is evident, belying the fact that he's quite a bit older these days, but just as musically vicious. "My Mind Is Rambling" as presented by The Black Keys is simply a work of blues-fueled art. Thick guitars and laid back beats (reminding me very much of early Big Sugar) carry the track through its soulful course. Mark Lanegan soaks up the whiskey and throws his heart into the fray on "All Night Long". Presenting in an almost Tom Waits' style narrative, Lanegan gives fresh meaning to this finest of devil's music.

Thee Shams rock it out quite all right and Jim White gives a rock solid performance, filled with delta heart and an oddly sparse arrangement. Outrageous Cherry slows things down and dredges up delta soul garage style on "Lord Have Mercy On Me", one of my favorites of Kimbrough's songs. Whitey Kirst gets full-on low-down grungey psychedelic on "Pull Your Clothes Off", infusing punk rock style with flanged drums and tons of attitude. And the closing version of "You Better Run" is slowed down and a bit more groovy than the immediacy of the album opener.

If you are looking for a great record to listen to, but never get bored with, this may be a great choice. Junior Kimbrough wrote fine songs, and these are definitely some of his best. Most of the performers give dynamic voice to the songs and create a rich landscape of blues-rock that will certainly make the listener want to rush out and re-familiarize themselves with the original recordings of some of these songs.

So, yeah... maybe Mr. Kimbrough would approve after all.

-L. Keane

Track Listing:

1. You Better Run (version #1) - Iggy and the Stooges
2. Sad Days Lonely Nights - Spiritualized
3. Meet Me In the City - Blues Explosion
4. Done Got Old - Heartless Bastards
5. My Mind is Rambling - The Black Keys
6. I'm Leaving - The Fiery Furnaces
7. I Feel Good Again - Pete Yorn
8. Do the Romp - Cat Power & Entrance
9. All Night Long - Mark Lanegan
10. Release Me - Thee Shams
11. Done Got Old - Jim White
12. Lord Have Mercy On Me - Outrageous Cherry
13. Pull Your Clothes Off - Whitey Kirst
14. I'm In Love With You - Jack Oblivion
15. Burn In Hell - The Ponys
16. You Better Run (version #2) - Iggy and the Stooges

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