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Various Artists - If You're Going To The City: A Tribute To Mose Allison

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If You're Going To The City: A Tribute To Mose Allison

Various Artists

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While "quirky" can be a compliment in music, more often it's a polite death sentence. Few have embodied the word with more success than songwriter/pianist/social philosopher Mose Allison. An easygoing, garrulous performer who mixed amusing, often pointed repartee with his distinctive, conversational take on the blues, Allison, who died at 89 in 2016, has always been most important as a songwriter, a quality celebrated on this lively, star-studded tribute to the sage from Tippo, Mississippi.

The quality of Allison's songwriting and the wide affection in which he was held while alive has drawn a higher quality mix of performers here than is usual for a tribute project. While several of his biggest supporters are absent—Pete Townsend who opened The Who's Live at Leeds, with Allison's "Young Man's Blues" comes to mind—the energy level never falters. Opening with an appropriately witty version of "Your Mind is on Vacation" by Taj Mahal, the next move is Robbie Fulks’ creaky banjo and fiddles version of "My Brain"—Allison's reimagining of Little Walter's "My Babe." A peppy, swing jazz version of "Your Molecular Structure" by The Tippo All Stars featuring Fiona Apple on vocals is short and sweet. The usual challenge of ensuring a consistent sound—common to all projects where tracks were recorded at different times in different locales—is solved here by Gavin Lurssen's sure mastering which is natural and balanced.

This project's most rewarding track is Chrissie Hynde's "Stop This World," a rare attempt by the Pretenders' frontwoman at being a slinky blues chanteuse. That's followed by a low keyboard rumble-and-trumpets version of the title track by Iggy Pop whose stylistic liberties one suspects Allison would have adored. The pianist's two most famous and oft-covered numbers, "Everybody's Crying Mercy" and "Parchman Farm" are here entrusted to live versions by old pros Bonnie Raitt and Richard Thompson respectively. After 40 years of covering "Everybody's Crying Mercy,"—this version was recorded in 2017—Raitt can make a convincing case that it's her reading, even more than Allison's, that best captures this eloquent plea for sanity's urgency and heart. © Robert Baird / Qobuz

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If You're Going To The City: A Tribute To Mose Allison

Various Artists

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1
Your Mind is on Vacation 00:02:42

Taj Mahal, MainArtist

(C) 2019 Sweet Relief, under exclusive license to Fat Possum Records (P) 2019 Sweet Relief, under exclusive license to Fat Possum Records

2
My Brain 00:04:13

Robbie Fulks, MainArtist

(C) 2019 Sweet Relief, under exclusive license to Fat Possum Records (P) 2019 Sweet Relief, under exclusive license to Fat Possum Records

3
If You Live 00:03:37

Jackson Browne, MainArtist

(C) 2019 Sweet Relief, under exclusive license to Fat Possum Records (P) 2019 Sweet Relief, under exclusive license to Fat Possum Records

4
Your Molecular Structure 00:01:41

Fiona Apple, FeaturedArtist - The Tippo All Stars, MainArtist

(C) 2019 Sweet Relief, under exclusive license to Fat Possum Records (P) 2019 Sweet Relief, under exclusive license to Fat Possum Records

5
Nightclub 00:05:16

Ben Harper, MainArtist - Charlie Musselwhite, MainArtist

(C) 2019 Sweet Relief, under exclusive license to Fat Possum Records (P) 2019 Sweet Relief, under exclusive license to Fat Possum Records

6
Stop This World 00:03:20

Chrissie Hynde, MainArtist

(C) 2019 Sweet Relief, under exclusive license to Fat Possum Records (P) 2019 Sweet Relief, under exclusive license to Fat Possum Records

7
If You're Going to the City 00:03:50

Iggy Pop, MainArtist

(C) 2019 Sweet Relief, under exclusive license to Fat Possum Records (P) 2019 Sweet Relief, under exclusive license to Fat Possum Records

8
Everybody's Crying Mercy 00:04:21

BONNIE RAITT, MainArtist

(C) 2019 Sweet Relief, under exclusive license to Fat Possum Records (P) 2019 Sweet Relief, under exclusive license to Fat Possum Records

9
Ever Since the World Ended 00:02:56

Loudon Wainwright III, MainArtist

(C) 2019 Sweet Relief, under exclusive license to Fat Possum Records (P) 2019 Sweet Relief, under exclusive license to Fat Possum Records

10
Parchman Farm 00:04:11

Richard Thompson, MainArtist

(C) 2019 Sweet Relief, under exclusive license to Fat Possum Records (P) 2019 Sweet Relief, under exclusive license to Fat Possum Records

11
I Don't Worry About a Thing 00:03:22

Peter Case, MainArtist

(C) 2019 Sweet Relief, under exclusive license to Fat Possum Records (P) 2019 Sweet Relief, under exclusive license to Fat Possum Records

12
Wild Man on the Loose 00:02:16

Phil Alvin, MainArtist - Dave Alvin, MainArtist

(C) 2019 Sweet Relief, under exclusive license to Fat Possum Records (P) 2019 Sweet Relief, under exclusive license to Fat Possum Records

13
The Way of the World 00:03:45

Richard Julian, FeaturedArtist - John Chin, FeaturedArtist - Anything Mose!, MainArtist - Mose Allison Publishing, MusicPublisher

(C) 2019 Sweet Relief, under exclusive license to Fat Possum Records (P) 2019 Sweet Relief, under exclusive license to Fat Possum Records

14
Numbers on Paper 00:02:21

Frank Black, MainArtist

(C) 2019 Sweet Relief, under exclusive license to Fat Possum Records (P) 2019 Sweet Relief, under exclusive license to Fat Possum Records

15
Monsters of the Id 00:03:25

ELVIS COSTELLO, MainArtist - Amy Allison, MainArtist

(C) 2019 Sweet Relief, under exclusive license to Fat Possum Records (P) 2019 Sweet Relief, under exclusive license to Fat Possum Records

Album Description

While "quirky" can be a compliment in music, more often it's a polite death sentence. Few have embodied the word with more success than songwriter/pianist/social philosopher Mose Allison. An easygoing, garrulous performer who mixed amusing, often pointed repartee with his distinctive, conversational take on the blues, Allison, who died at 89 in 2016, has always been most important as a songwriter, a quality celebrated on this lively, star-studded tribute to the sage from Tippo, Mississippi.

The quality of Allison's songwriting and the wide affection in which he was held while alive has drawn a higher quality mix of performers here than is usual for a tribute project. While several of his biggest supporters are absent—Pete Townsend who opened The Who's Live at Leeds, with Allison's "Young Man's Blues" comes to mind—the energy level never falters. Opening with an appropriately witty version of "Your Mind is on Vacation" by Taj Mahal, the next move is Robbie Fulks’ creaky banjo and fiddles version of "My Brain"—Allison's reimagining of Little Walter's "My Babe." A peppy, swing jazz version of "Your Molecular Structure" by The Tippo All Stars featuring Fiona Apple on vocals is short and sweet. The usual challenge of ensuring a consistent sound—common to all projects where tracks were recorded at different times in different locales—is solved here by Gavin Lurssen's sure mastering which is natural and balanced.

This project's most rewarding track is Chrissie Hynde's "Stop This World," a rare attempt by the Pretenders' frontwoman at being a slinky blues chanteuse. That's followed by a low keyboard rumble-and-trumpets version of the title track by Iggy Pop whose stylistic liberties one suspects Allison would have adored. The pianist's two most famous and oft-covered numbers, "Everybody's Crying Mercy" and "Parchman Farm" are here entrusted to live versions by old pros Bonnie Raitt and Richard Thompson respectively. After 40 years of covering "Everybody's Crying Mercy,"—this version was recorded in 2017—Raitt can make a convincing case that it's her reading, even more than Allison's, that best captures this eloquent plea for sanity's urgency and heart. © Robert Baird / Qobuz

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