Perfect Day [SACD]

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Steve Klinge
Throughout his career, Chris Whitley has been a restless explorer, constantly shifting the settings for his bluesy National Steel guitar work and for his songs of desire and transgression. Now comes Perfect Day, an album of covers recorded with bassist Chris Wood and drummer Billy Martin of the jazz-funk trio Medeski, Martin & Wood. Rather than focus on his guitar playing -- sufficiently highlighted on Live at Martyr's, released just two months earlier -- Perfect Day is a singer's album. Whitley explores the upper ranges of his voice, slipping into a whispery falsetto for Jimi Hendrix's "Drifting" and sighing through a slow, pause-ridden version of Lou Reed's title ...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Steve Klinge
Throughout his career, Chris Whitley has been a restless explorer, constantly shifting the settings for his bluesy National Steel guitar work and for his songs of desire and transgression. Now comes Perfect Day, an album of covers recorded with bassist Chris Wood and drummer Billy Martin of the jazz-funk trio Medeski, Martin & Wood. Rather than focus on his guitar playing -- sufficiently highlighted on Live at Martyr's, released just two months earlier -- Perfect Day is a singer's album. Whitley explores the upper ranges of his voice, slipping into a whispery falsetto for Jimi Hendrix's "Drifting" and sighing through a slow, pause-ridden version of Lou Reed's title track. Howlin' Wolf's "Smokestack Lightning," a loud, pounding accusation in its original, becomes a lonesome, haunted meditation, and Whitley emphasizes Bob Dylan's blues roots in his phrasing on "Spanish Harlem Incident" and "4th Time Around." The arrangements have an improvisational casualness, with spacious interplay among the instruments, and slow, abstract rhythms that create an atmosphere of late nights alone, of desire unfulfilled. Producer Craig Street honed his ability to blend jazz, blues, and rock idioms into seamless new creations working with Cassandra Wilson, and he flexes that muscle here, as Whitley, like Wilson, works magic with Robert Johnson. Whitley has internalized Johnson's harrowing passion better than most other acolytes, and his "Stones in My Passway" emphasizes the song's lyricism with a guitar line that echoes but doesn't imitate the original. Perfect Day explores love's frightening edges and constantly reveals new emotional depths to old songs.
All Music Guide - Steve Huey
After issuing the spare, entirely solo Live at Martyrs' in early 2000, Chris Whitley returned to the studio with drummer Billy Martin and bassist Chris Wood of Medeski, Martin & Wood fame to cut the similarly low-key, all-covers album Perfect Day. It's a mix of blues standards and rock songs with a poetic bent writers like Dylan, Reed, and Morrison all given hauntingly minimalist treatments. Whitley's guitar work is subdued and spacious, as are Martin and Wood's constantly shifting backing rhythms. The cover photo of a haggard-looking Whitley sets the tone for his performances: he sounds committed but weary, which gives these renditions a darkly compelling power. "Spoonful," in particular, often seems on the verge of falling apart, as Whitley's guitar slashes almost randomly over the rhythm section's syncopations. But -- perhaps like the singer himself -- it somehow holds together in the face of desperation, which is a handy way to sum up the album's impact as a whole.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 11/14/2001
  • Label: Valley
  • UPC: 618321511954
  • Catalog Number: 15119

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1 Spanish Harlem Incident (2:38)
  2. 2 Smokestack Lightning (4:41)
  3. 3 China Gate (3:08)
  4. 4 Drifting (2:34)
  5. 5 She's Allright (3:55)
  6. 6 Perfect Day (3:31)
  7. 7 Wild Ox Moan (3:09)
  8. 8 Crystal Ship (3:18)
  9. 9 Spoonful (5:04)
  10. 10 Stones in My Passway (3:16)
  11. 11 4th Time Around (3:46)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Chris Whitley Primary Artist, Guitar, Vocals
Billy Martin Percussion, Drums
Chris Wood Acoustic Bass, Overtone
Technical Credits
Willie Dixon Composer
Bob Dylan Composer
Lou Reed Composer
Chris Whitley Liner Notes
Jim Morrison Composer
Ray Manzarek Composer
John Densmore Composer
Bo Diddley Composer
Howlin' Wolf Composer
Greg Calbi Mastering
Jimi Hendrix Composer
Robert Johnson Composer
Craig Street Producer
Victor Young Composer
Vera Hall Composer
Harold Adamson Composer
Ruby Pickens Tartt Composer
Danny Koppelson Engineer
Robby Krieger Composer
Chester Burnett Composer
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