Sunday, January 26, 2014

add 0736 chuck e weiss old

Weiss, a crony of Tom Waits since the early '70s, has probably heard more than enough comparisons between his and Waits' music. It's nonetheless hard to avoid when describing Old Souls & Wolf Tickets, which has much in common with Waits' own fusions of hipster growl, blues, smoky after-hours jazz, and weird Americana. Just because it sound at times like a poor man's Waits, however, doesn't mean it isn't likable enough on its own terms. Weiss is considerably more steeped in Louisiana-styled R&B, backwoods blues, and Cajun music than Waits is, so what you get here sometimes sounds like an unholy cross between Waits and Dr. John. The New Orleans influence is no secret from the mere title of the opening track, "Congo Square at Midnight." Weiss' wizened, sly vocals are a good match for the off-kilter material, which stews together goofy, onomatopoeic wordplay with the kind of bemused boho world-weariness you would expect from his persona. Sometimes the goofiness crosses over to silliness, as in his deliberately high, squeaky minstrel vocals on "Piggly Wiggly." When he gets close to straight blues, the results get more pedestrian. A duet that he recorded with Willie Dixon in 1970, "Down the Road Apiece," might excite extreme completist blues collectors, but sounds out of place on a CD where everything else was recorded 30 years later. But if you're looking for more modern equivalents to the kinds of idiosyncratic music Dr. John made in his voodoo rock days, this isn't a bad disc to check out.


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