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The Greatest [Deluxe Digipack] Limited Edition
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This is not a greatest hits album, despite the the title. It contains all-original songs written by Chan Marshall (professionally known as Cat Power), and features the great memphis session musicians. Teenie Hodges on guitar, Leroy Hodges on bass (Al Green, Hi Rhytms Section), drummer Steve Potts and mroe. The combation of Marshall's superbly evocative and flexible voice plus some of the greatest Southern soul player, has prodcued a masterpeice. These songs explore themes of Southern loss, longing and marginality. The limited first digipak pressing and regular single vinyl contain a onus track. After the first pressing sells out, the regular jewelcase version will not cotain a bonus track.
Indie-folk singer Chan Marshall has a reputation for onstage unpredictability, but some erratic (read: often drunken) live performances wont have prepared you for the full-bodied beast that is The Greatest. Recorded with the help of a few Memphis musicians, including Al Green co-writer Mabon "Teenie" Hodges, his brother Leroy "Flick" Hodges, and present Booker T And The MGs drummer Steve Potts, this is a gentle homage to 70s soul that Chan carries with a sleepy-eyed charm.
Element of pastiche or not, though, theres a vitality here thats absent from many of her earlier recordings: "Living Proof" simmers with a just-under-the-surface raunch, Chan cooing "Its not your face/Or the colour of your hair/Or the sound of your voice, my dear " over the simmering organ, while even the restrained "Where Is My Love" boasts a mini-orchestra of sweeping violin and elegiac, wandering piano. Most importantly, The Greatest doesnt suffer from the rather troublesome sense of genre tourism you get when, say, Will Oldham hooks up with a troupe of Nashville old-hands perhaps because its executed so convincingly, or perhaps simply because Chan Marshalls voice could melt your heart under any context--Louis Pattison
Top Customer Reviews
The album blends the highlighted soul elements with the prior piano-lead joy of Cat Power, offering something between 'Dusty in Memphis' and Patti Smith. The sophoric/transcendental qualities Power offers recall Mazzy Star/Hope Sandoval too - it's been a good year or so for talented females incidentally: Neko Case, Fiona Apple, Vashti Bunyan, Joanna Newsom, Candi Staton, Marissa Nadler, Kate Bush, Bjork, Laura Cantrell, Isobel Campbell...which is not to same that being female they are all the same - but to point out that many great records are being made by females.It should be easy for people to get lost in the shuffle...
'The Greatest' is (predictably) the Greatest- not really a dud here and I kind of feel cheated that I waited a few weeks before getting it - we've lost hours together. 'The Moon' and 'Islands' are moments of poetic joy - you can see why someone mentioned 'Astral Weeks' in an earlier review - while the conclusion of 'Hate' and 'Love & Communication' offers up something close to a concept sequence, Cobain cited on the former ("I said I hate myself and I want to die")- while the latter is more surreal with the use of 'Cuz' suggesting Chan's a Slade-fan!Read more ›
I've now had 12months to get my head around it though and ye know what? It turns out it's pretty damn good.
At first i took it very much as "Cat Power goes to Memphis" (i've no idea how many times i've seen that written now but it's a fair description), unsure of an entire band backing little Miss Marshall, but having taken time to separate the album from her others i've come to really appreciate it.
Stand-out tracks for me are "The Greatest" (undeniably beautiful), "Living Proof" and the persistent "Love and Communication" (including a discordant guitar near the beginning harking back to those early days... - this is my favourite track on the album).
Great joy also comes from fully band-backed recordings of "The Moon", "Willie" and "Islands" after hearing early Chan-and-a-guitar versions on the "Speaking for Trees" DVD/CD.
The extra track on this edition is nice, but i'm generally not a fan of bonus tracks of any sort. An album is an album. If a track isn't on the original playlist then there's a reason for that and it shouldn't be shoved in. But hey.
It's taken a year for me to fully accept this album and i still don't like to give it 4 stars, just for the reason that i feel i'm betraying my love for her earlier work, but "The Greatest" really does deserve it.
Soulful, beautiful, at times fun, at times pretty dark.
(a solo album next time would be great though)
Single "The Greatest" is every bit as good as you would expect but it's by no means the only highlight on this brilliant album. "Could We" sparkles and shimmies, whilst "Willie" starts off sounding like a Ben Folds song but transforms itself into something else entirely over the course of a listen. "Hate" is earthy and raw and whilst somewhat out of place in some senses on this album, does hark back to some of her previous work.
My personal pick of the bunch is "Love And Communication." Right at the end of the album (ignoring the bonus 'unadvertised' track) I was already enthralled by the album, but this track quickly was stuck on repeat play with its blaze of guitars and strings.
You don't look to a Cat Power album for a cheery, laugh a minute, session and whist on the surface the tunes, such as "After It All" may make this seem like some kind of departure, but before you get too carried away lyrics such as "I hate myself and I want to die" remind you just who you are listening to.
It's perhaps not the leap that Marshall may have made, but this is still a fantastic collection of songs, which certainly does live up their with her greatest work and certainly defies any easy catergorisation. It's a liitle bit country, it's a little bit soul, but it's a whole lot Cat Power. She's pulled it off again.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Ordered because of one song only, but started to love the whole album.Published 1 month ago by Kristel L.
This was my first introduction to Cat Power, although a song on the CSI soundtrack sent me in her direction. Read morePublished 22 months ago by Riley
Great album, and with a lot of different tempo and rhythms, very enjoyable, one to listen to on an uninterrupted day.Published on 5 July 2013 by Brian E. Viercant
This album is a bit of a change from Marshall's earlier ones. One thing is unchanged though: her amazing voice and her masterful use of it. Read morePublished on 14 Jun. 2012 by Finn Ekberg Christiansen
Cat Power 's vid for 1998's " Naked As The News " was an intense music experience , equally disturbing and powerful with , let's say P.J. Read morePublished on 26 Oct. 2009 by giovanni
average fare from cat who is usually above average.
Too many extraneous noises that are meant to be musical.
I heard this playing in a restaurant and asked the manager who it was. I then bought the cd. I just love her smoky voice and the slow lazy sound. Read morePublished on 30 April 2009 by K. James