Local Wire

The Walkmen

It's hard to say why anyone would think to cover Harry Nilsson's Pussy Cats, a cover-heavy oddity whose appeal is based more on the spirit of friendship and drunken abandon producer John Lennon was able to capture on his way to passing out than on what he and his drinking buddies actually recorded. And The Walkmen? Not exactly New York's most outrageously debauched. But while their boozy romp through "Rock Around the Clock" is, at best, inessential, and "Loop de Loop" feels as staged as it was — with a cast of thousands acting like they've never had more fun — most tracks here find them playing to their strengths. Jimmy Cliff's "Many Rivers to Cross" makes the most of a haunting Mind Games ambiance, but it's Hamilton Liethauser's raw, impassioned vocal that ultimately makes the song The Walkmen's own. Well, that and the fact that it's soulful and slow, like all the highlights here, from Lennon's wistful "Mucho Mungo" and Nilsson's aching "Don't Forget Me" to a sleepwalk through the Drifters hit "Save the Last Dance for Me" that feels like it's trying to break into Nilsson's "Without You."
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Ed Masley