search for something...

search for something you might like...

What Good is a Purr Without a Scratch Cat Power returns from that room of her own with honey drizzled album that hopefully isn't going to be her greatest statement.

What Good is a Purr Without a Scratch

Cat Power returns from that room of her own with honey drizzled album that hopefully isn't going to be her greatest statement.

by Alex V. Cook, Music Editor
first published: January, 2006
I pose this to the cosmos: do you really care about Dusty Springfield? If she hadn't been resurrected by the Pet Shop Boys a while back from one of their late-career disco barbituates, would she even register as a meme?

Cat Power
The Greatest
(Matador)

Man I fell hard for Chan Marshall back in 98. The name Cat Power would not stay off my radar, and I for some reason had it associated with the spate of riot grrl records and collectives  I respected for their ardor and adroit grassroots marketing, but didn't really care for as music, so I emailed a much hipper person than myself asking what the deal is. He responded that the deal is that his girlfriend plays Ms Marshall's Moon Pix constantly, in an obsessive teenage kind of way, and that it still as a good record even if he didn't ever want to hear it again. I got a copy with sweet freckle face Marshall spooking out of the silver print cover and was enlisted in the Cat Power Army. "Cross Bones Style" despite it being an assemblage of indie rock clich?┬ęs like the semi-Funky drummer beat and the minimal lyric cycles, is one of my favorite songs ever, and "Metal Heart" pays in full the debt of all the purple prose writ about her. A covers album later showed promise, but didn't really deliver, and despite "You Are Free" being the official Record-We've-All-Been-Waiting-For of 2003, it didn't really do it for me. It sounded empty, like it was by the shy persona that her onstage hysterics have projected.

So here comes The Greatest being lionized as her "Dusty in Memphis." I pose this to the cosmos: do you really care about Dusty Springfield? If she hadn't been resurrected by the Pet Shop Boys a while back from one of their late-career disco barbituates, would she even register as a meme? Dusty in Memphis is a classic of Nashville texture, with that yellow light pouring out of the strings, but to me its like the recent feting of "Smile" - sure its good, exemplary aat what it is, but don't believe the hype.

The Greatest is, from what I can tell, a collection of variations on "Moon River" those syrupy strings filling in the gaps usually left to the crisp air in her skeletal songs. Her voice is in great form, that haunting rasp that has its own built-in reverb that exudes the too-much-trouble sexuality I always associate with her. My favorite here is the Spartan "Love and Communication" which shows that a torch song can burn without being doused in kerosene, but the string pieces have their merit. Like the Barbara Mandrell Special sway of "Lived in Bars" has a great cheese-ball lounge groove to it, and the exaggerated pedal steel twang of "Island" is pretty intoxicating. In fact the whole this is designed to give you a late 60's Nashville contact high. Its prescription pill rock of the finest order, and while I applaud her for coaxing the most out of her purr, I miss getting scratched by Cat Power, and hope she emerges next round, weird as a beard with claws intact.

Alex V. Cook
Music Editor

Alex V. Cook listens to everything and writes about most of it. His latest book, the snappily titled Louisiana Saturday Night: Looking for a Good Time in South Louisiana's Juke Joints, Honky-Tonks, and Dance Halls is an odyssey from the backwoods bars and small-town dives to the swampside dance halls and converted clapboard barns of a Louisiana Saturday Night. Don't leave Heathrow without it. His first book Darkness Racket and Twang is available from SideCartel. The full effect can be had at alex v cook.com
about Alex V. Cook »»

john robinson week in outsideleft logo
I pose this to the cosmos: do you really care about Dusty Springfield? If she hadn't been resurrected by the Pet Shop Boys a while back from one of their late-career disco barbituates, would she even register as a meme?

OUTSIDELEFT Week in Music

view on youtube

RECENT STORIES

RANDOM READS

All About and Contributors

HELP OUTSIDELEFT

Outsideleft exists on a precarious no budget budget. We are interested in hearing from deep and deeper pocket types willing to underwrite our cultural vulture activity. We're not so interested in plastering your product all over our stories, but something more subtle and dignified for all parties concerned. Contact us and let's talk. [HELP OUTSIDELEFT]

WRITE FOR OUTSIDELEFT

If Outsideleft had arms they would always be wide open and welcoming to new writers and new ideas. If you've got something to say, something a small dank corner of the world needs to know about, a poem to publish, a book review, a short story, if you love music or the arts or anything else, write something about it and send it along. Of course we don't have anything as conformist as a budget here. But we'd love to see what you can do. Write for Outsideleft, do. [SUBMISSIONS FORM HERE]

outsideleft content is not for everyone