- Audio CD (May 13, 2008)
- Number of Discs: 1
- Label: Nonesuch
- ASIN: B001662F9Q
- Average Customer Review: 12 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #233,683 in CDs & Vinyl (See Top 100 in CDs & Vinyl)
Tooth of Crime
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You re my friend, but I m going to kill you.
Don t fret. T Bone Burnett hasn t gone off the deep end. At least not in that way. He s merely explaining the tone of the putyou-
on-your-heels opening track of his gripping new album, Tooth of Crime. At once seductive and unsettling from the haunting
Dope Island (featuring alluring vocals by Sam Phillips) to oddly romantic Kill Zone to the brutal The Rat Age to the atmospheric
Telepresence to the hill-country blues elegy that closes the tale, Sweet Lullaby it s a set of songs capturing a state of identity
and cultural dislocation with an air that could be termed dramatic, even theatrical in places. Fittingly.
The album completed fresh off Burnett s stunning work as producer and arranger of the hugely successful Robert Plant/Allison
Krauss collaboration Raising Sand, and featuring some of the same musicians is a vibrant outgrowth of a long-running collaboration
with playwright Sam Shepard that began with the 1996 musical staging in New York of his noted play of the same name. The songs
are arresting distillations of modern conflicts and personal drama in a modern hyper-reality. The arrangements are imaginative and
inventive. The performancesare stunning, masterful, and unpredictable.
Tooth of Crime is a prophetic play that Sam first wrote in 1972, and it takes place in a time very much like now, Burnett explains.
It s a time when there are zones of fame that flare up and people can become incredibly famous in their own zone and nobody
else can know it. And then the zone completely disappears, but the famous person doesn t realize it because you can t even find
the zone anymore. You have to hook up a toaster to a television to a microwave to a piano very post-apocalyptic. That was the
initial inspiration for the album. These songs came together like a broken mirror, and you get a bunch of shards and start putting
them together and create a lot of different angles, he says. That s this group of songs, this process.
Working with what has become a solid musical team anchored by Marc Ribot (Tom Waits, Elvis Costello, John Zorn) and drummer
Jim Keltner (John Lennon, George Harrison, Eric Clapton, etc.), Burnett crafted the sound of Tooth of Crime into a unique aesthetic.
It s an approach that has evolved over decades of distinctive work for Burnett, both as a recording artist in his own right and in guiding
an elite roster of artists and movie music projects: The 2000 Grammy album of the year O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack;
the Oscar-nominated The Scarlet Tide for the film Cold Mountain (for which he also produced the soundtrack); albums by Bob
Dylan, Elvis Costello, Los Lobos, Roy Orbison, Ralph Stanley, Tony Bennett and k.d. lang; and recent projects such as Raising Sand,
the re-imagining of the Beatles catalog in Across the Universe, and the music for the Johnny Cash biopic Walk The Line, are just
highlights of a resume that stands as one of the most productive, distinctive, and lauded production careers of modern music
Digital Booklet: Tooth of Crime
Digital Booklet: Tooth of Crime
Top customer reviews
Is it because I consider Slayer one of my favorite bands?
times, I get this feeling that T-Bone is trying really hard to come off
sounding like Joe Henry, but Joe Henry is much much better and original since
he's been doing this sound for several albums now.
Everytime I listen to this recording, that's what comes to mind - Joe Henry
but not as good. Sorry Mr. Burnett. Maybe next album you get Joe Henry
to produce YOU!
I read the fifteen page lyric booklet, and the lyrics didn't make any sense. Bill Hart is there thanked for directing the first production of the play. It's a play? This is a soundtrack? Sam Shephard is credited for inventing an "intense nulanguge", and some of it reminds me of his play, True West.
But slip the CD in, and it's a different story. T-Bone's talking blues style perfectly fits the sleek, stylish music, 180 degrees from radio. The album starts off with a noir/ modernist jazz feel on "Anything I Say Can and Will Be Used Against You." There's a dazzling interplay of English major words (and I was an English major), but musically, it's probably T-Bone's best album (and that's saying a lot for a T-Bone fan). Glimpses of startling imagery and snatches of arresting phrases slide through the naked, suggestive music, recalling songs like "Mad Ave" and some of Alpha Band, like "Born in Captivity": "Then when you're the object of complete derision/ I'll make you a star on television."
Sam Phillips provides wonderful vocals on "Dope Island" (and four other songs), reminiscent of her stunning debut, The Indescribable Wow. Roy Orbison is listed as a co-writer on the incredible "Kill Zone". Whatever is going on onstage during the play visually, it must be amazing to hear this audio soundscape performed live. For those new to T-Bone's endless invention, this isn't his most accessible album. Those would include Proof Through the Night, for some reason released only as a limited edition by Rhino on CD, an EP called Trap Door, Truth Decay, and a collection called Twenty-Twenty. But after you hear those (or whatever you can find of those) you'll want more. Take heart, for just when you thought you'd die if they played those same twenty "alternative" songs on the radio again, here's something completely different, and it seems the Muse can sing again.
If this album seems somewhat bleak, it's merely because it is, and whatever else this retro/ future SF/ noir album is, it's an excursion through the dark side of the human condition. Lines like this from "Kill Zone": "How much grief and sin/ til a heart caves in?" simply make you long for the other side of the blues, which T-Bone explores elsewhere, the good news called gospel.