As a self-described introduction to the music of Junior Kimbrough, this tribute album fails spectacularly: These versions of his songs are so radically and haphazardly interpreted that they give only the faintest clue to what set Kimbrough apart from other venerated bluesmen.
And yet almost every eclectic cut here is a winner, from the grits-and-honey-smeared soul of Heartless Bastards' "Done Got Old" to a meltdown rendition of "You Better Run" by the re-formed and surprisingly virile Iggy and the Stooges. Spiritualized punctuates "Sad Days Lonely Nights" with pump organ, feedback, and a Can-like throb, while the Fiery Furnaces' Eleanor Friedberger leaves a trail of scorched hearts across "I'm Leaving." Even stiff readings by Pete Yorn and Jack Oblivion are passable, cleansing the palate between the more dramatic bursts of weirdness contributed by superior acts such as the Black Keys, Blues Explosion, and Cat Power. Will this album make everyone who hears it rush out and buy some real Kimbrough? Hardly. But as a work unto itself, it's almost flawless, dragging some truly tweaked and inspired performances out of the indie-rock glitterati.