Tooth of Crime

Tooth of Crime

3.5 2
by T Bone Burnett
     
 
While his A-list work as a producer (Raising Sand, O Brother Where Art Thou?) has made T Bone Burnett a force to be reckoned with, it has also obscured his own formidable work as a singer-songwriter. Building on music that he first fashioned for playwright Sam Shepard’s 1972 production of his Tooth of Crime, (and returned to in 1996), Burnett has

Overview

While his A-list work as a producer (Raising Sand, O Brother Where Art Thou?) has made T Bone Burnett a force to be reckoned with, it has also obscured his own formidable work as a singer-songwriter. Building on music that he first fashioned for playwright Sam Shepard’s 1972 production of his Tooth of Crime, (and returned to in 1996), Burnett has conjured up fully-formed, obsessively verbose songs that gain further impact from the texturally spooky sonic atmosphere he concocts. Calling on favored collaborators including drummer Jim Keltner, singer (and ex-wife) Sam Phillips, and guitarist Marc Ribot with his distinctive tremolo-driven twang, Burnett constructs an idiosyncratic wall of sound that makes use of such disparate elements as jazz orchestration, treated percussion, and off-kilter guitar and keyboard tones. Obviously inspired and influenced by the word-crazed playwright who first brought him onto the project, Burnett’s own verbal virtuosity transforms him into some sort of brilliantly twisted offspring of Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, and, well, Sam Shepard. With Tooth of Crime, Burnett alerts us that his personal muse hasn’t yet left the building.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Mark Deming
While T Bone Burnett spent most of the '90s and the first years of the new millennium honing his craft as a producer, he cautiously re-emerged as a songwriter and recording artist with 2006's The True False Identity, which was his first new album in 14 years and prompted his first concert tour since 1986. A mere two years later, Burnett has returned with another new disc, Tooth of Crime, and while this project has long been in the works, it's still significant and welcome since it finally appeared at all. The ten songs on Tooth of Crime were originally created as accompaniment for a revised staging of Sam Shepard's play of the same name, which debuted in 1996 (one song, "Kill Zone," obviously dates back even farther, since the late Roy Orbison is credited as co-author), and while it's likely Burnett savored the opportunity to linger over this material before taking it into the studio, the performances here sound fresh and thoughtful -- like a good play -- while plenty of analysis and rehearsal went into refining Tooth of Crime's characters and narrative, there's still a vital humanity in the work that brings it all to life. The True False Identity was a poorly focused and lyrically scattershot work, but Tooth of Crime better captures Burnett's strongest suits as a songwriter, and if "The Rat Age," "Anything I Say Can and Will Be Used Against You," and "Here Come the Philistines" sound like broadsides, they're broadsides that communicate and express their rage and disgust with our culture's many wrong turns in an eloquent and bitterly witty fashion. Burnett is also able to find flashes of compassion in "Blind Man" and "Kill Zone," and as usual he's assembled an impressive team of collaborators who do superb work on this set. Burnett's former wife Sam Phillips brings her lovely, nuanced vocals to five songs and Marc Ribot's guitar work, at once melodic and sharply angled, is outstanding throughout, while fellow accompanists Jim Keltner, Greg Leisz, Jon Brion, and an imaginatively arranged horn section give this music a broad and atmospheric menace that well suits the songs. Tooth of Crime is a smart, absorbing, and beautifully disquieting collection of songs that could have come from no one else but T Bone Burnett, and it shows that one of America's best songwriters may be working at a very deliberate pace but he still has some remarkable things left to tell us.
Rolling Stone - Brian Hiatt
Burnett pushes his trademark three-dimensional production into an almost hallucinatory vividness.

Product Details

Release Date:
05/13/2008
Label:
Nonesuch
UPC:
0075597993851
catalogNumber:
450300

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

T Bone Burnett   Primary Artist,Guitar,Piano,Vocals,6-string bass
Marc Ribot   Banjo,Guitar
Jim Keltner   Percussion,Drums
John E. Abbey   Bass
Jon Brion   chamberlain,Guitar (Baritone)
Miguel Ferrer   Vocals,Background Vocals
J.D. Foster   Bass
Greg Leisz   Steel Guitar
Darrell Leonard   Pocket Trumpet,Trombonium
Lovitt   Flugelhorn
Suzette Moriarty   French Horn
Sam Phillips   Vocals,Background Vocals,Vocal Harmony
Greg "Frosty" Smith   Baritone Saxophone,Bass Saxophone
Kurt Snyder   French Horn
Joe Sublett   Tenor Saxophone
Sim Cain   Drums
David Poe   Background Vocals,Vocal Harmony
Jagoda   Drums
Leslie Kahn   Background Vocals
Dan Kelly   French Horn
Kenneth Kugler   Trombone,Tuba,Bass Trombone

Technical Credits

Roy Orbison   Composer
Bob Neuwirth   Composer
T Bone Burnett   Producer
Darrell Leonard   Horn Arrangements
Susan Rogers   Engineer
Sam Shepard   Composer
David Poe   Composer
Mike Piersante   Engineer
Paul Ackling   Guitar Techician
Richard Misrach   Cover Photo
Henry Burnett   Composer
Ronen Givony   Editorial Coordinator

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Tooth of Crime 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
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