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Twenty Twenty: The Essential T Bone Burnett

Twenty Twenty: The Essential T Bone Burnett

3.0 1
by T Bone Burnett
T-Bone Burnett is an artist whose reputation among critics, fellow musicians, and discerning record-buyers has cast a far longer shadow than his visibility among casual listeners for the better part of four decades. As a lyricist, Burnett has few peers; his sharply etched, intelligently witty, and very human meditations on love (both romantic and divine), compassion,


T-Bone Burnett is an artist whose reputation among critics, fellow musicians, and discerning record-buyers has cast a far longer shadow than his visibility among casual listeners for the better part of four decades. As a lyricist, Burnett has few peers; his sharply etched, intelligently witty, and very human meditations on love (both romantic and divine), compassion, corruption, and greed in our culture dig deeper than most other writers of his generation, but roll gracefully off the tongue with a grace that never quite belies their philosophical heft. Burnett's musical instincts are as sure as his lyrical sensibility (the fact Pete Townshend, Richard Thompson, David Hidalgo, Jim Keltner, Mick Ronson, Marc Ribot, and some guy called Bono have all guested on his records suggests he's well regarded by folks who know), and his gifts as a producer are such that he managed to turn bluegrass into a 21th century cultural phenomenon with the soundtrack to O Brother, Where Art Thou? Simply stated, this man deserves a wider audience, and Twenty Twenty: The Essential T-Bone Burnett is a compilation assembled with Burnett's participation designed to provide a one-stop introduction to his music. This is a noble enough idea, and there's no shortage of superb music included on this package -- 40 songs and nearly two and a half hours of music are crammed onto two CDs, with a thick accompanying booklet featuring a gushing profile from writer Bill Flanagan and notes on each tune from Burnett himself. The set is admirably comprehensive, featuring cuts from two of the three hard to find albums Burnett made with the Alpha Band in the mid-'70s, excellent selections from the five albums and two EPs he released between 1980 and 1992, and three unreleased cuts. (Completists will, of course, grumble that he chose not to include anything from his misbegotten debut album, 1972's The B-52 Band & the Fabulous Skylarks, whose opening cut, "We Have All Got a Past," certainly merits preservation.) However, for beginners this is almost too comprehensive to be useful -- the right 20 tunes would have been a superb introduction, but this seems a bit more like a poor man's box set that lost its third disc somewhere. Also, while many regard 1983's Proof Through the Night as Burnett's finest album, the LP has never been given a CD release, and the presence of seven cuts from that album on Twenty Twenty is doubtless a major selling point for longtime fans. However, five of those seven songs have been extensively overhauled by Burnett, with dramatically different remixes (hope you didn't like the drumming on "The Murder Weapon," since it's been wiped away), new overdubs, new vocal tracks, and in the case of "Hula Hoop" some new lyrics, leaving listeners to debate if this represents an artist's prerogative or messing with history (T-Bone, shake hands with George Lucas). Twenty Twenty: The Essential T-Bone Burnett certainly confirms the depth and breadth of Burnett's talent, but it also plays out as too much of a good thing.

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

T Bone Burnett   Primary Artist,Acoustic Guitar,Percussion,Piano,Electric Guitar,Vocals,6-string bass
Norman Blake   Acoustic Guitar
Jerry Douglas   Dobro
Edgar Meyer   Bass,Bowed Bass
Masakazu Yoshizawa   Clarinet
Rubén Blades   Vocals
Cindy Bullens   Harmony
Ry Cooder   Electric Guitar,6-string bass
Elvis Costello   Electric Guitar
Van Dyke Parks   Accordion
Ringo Starr   Drums
Richard Thompson   Mandolin
Pete Townshend   Electric Guitar
Marc Ribot   Electric Guitar
Mick Ronson   Guitar
Billy Swan   Background Vocals,Harmony,Hand Drums
Jim Keltner   Drums
Williams Brothers   Harmony
Steven Soles   Acoustic Guitar,Vocals,Background Vocals,Hand Clapping,Harmony
Alex Acuña   Percussion
Carla Azar   Drums
Byron Berline   Fiddle
Steve Berlin   Saxophone
Matt Betton   Percussion,Drums
Jon Brion   chamberlain,Guitar (Baritone)
Tom Canning   Keyboards,farfisa organ
Keith Ciancia   Marimbas
Joe Correro   Drums
Dennis Crouch   Bass
Mickey Curry   Drums
Stuart Duncan   Fiddle
Charles Duncan   Background Vocals,Hand Clapping
Mitchell Froom   Organ,Harmonium,Clavinet
David Hidalgo   8-string Bass
Kirby Johnson   Conductor
David Kemper   Drums
Nick Lane   Euphonium
Greg Leisz   Slide Guitar
Darrell Leonard   Trumpet,Cornet
Tony Levin   Bass
David Mansfield   Organ,Acoustic Guitar,Dobro,Mandolin,Percussion,Violin,Cello,Electric Guitar,Steel Guitar,Timpani,Classical Guitar,taiko
Jerry Marotta   Drums
David Miner   Bass
Gary Montgomery   Harmony
Cait O'Riordan   Vocals
Dean Parks   Slide Guitar
Sam Phillips   Background Vocals,Harmony
David Rhodes   Electric Guitar,Harmony
Ann Savoy   Guitar
Jerry Scheff   Bass,Percussion,String Bass
Kurt Snyder   French Horn
Harry Stinson   Drums
Joe Sublett   Tenor Saxophone
K.O. Thomas   Piano
Ron Tutt   Drums
Andrea Zonn   Viola
Roy Huskey   Bass,Slap Bass
Jay Bellerose   Drums
Enrique Diaz   Bass
David Poe   Background Vocals
Mike Elizondo   Bass
Rodolfo Fernández   Violin
Oscar Palermo   Piano
Dino Carlos Quarleri   Cello
Eduardo Walczak   Violin
Mark Safan   Background Vocals,Hand Clapping
Patrick Walter   Harmonium
David P. Jackson   Bass,Bowed Bass
Lisandro Adrover   Bandoneon
Mark O'Connor   Mandolin,Violin
Oscar "El Negro Oro" Gonzalez   Bandoneon
Moises Abramovich   Violin
Giuseppe Libertella   Bandoneon
Ludmilla Spektor   Vocals
Dan Kelly   French Horn
Kenneth Kugler   Tuba

Technical Credits

Van Dyke Parks   Arranger
Bob Neuwirth   Director,Producer
Billy Swan   Composer
Steven Soles   Producer
Tchad Blake   Engineer
T Bone Burnett   Composer,Producer
Jeff Eyrich   Producer
Reggie Fisher   Producer
Geoff Gillette   Engineer
John Hanlon   Engineer
Larry Hirsch   Engineer
Dennis Kirk   Engineer
Darrell Leonard   Horn Arrangements
Mark Linett   Engineer
David Miner   Producer
Rik Pekkonen   Engineer
David Rhodes   Producer
Ann Savoy   Producer
Joe Schiff   Engineer
Bill Flanagan   Liner Notes
Howard Fritzson   Art Direction
Mike Piersante   Producer,Engineer
Herb Burnette   Composer
Henry Burnett   Composer
Elizabeth Reilly   Photo Coordination
Sylvain Poons   Composer
Chelew Brothers   Producer
Reggie Gillette   Producer
David Marshfield   Woodwind Arrangement
Kiva West   Producer

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Twenty Twenty: The Essential T Bone Burnett 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
glauver More than 1 year ago
There is no doubt T Bone Burnett is an intelligent songwriter, singer, and producer. He is an important figure in roots music. His major flaw is twisting melodies to fit his words. When Dylan (a major Burnett influence) or Steely Dan, two other writers who loved obscure lyrics, wrote cryptic music they kept it tuneful. Not so T Bone, who seems to have problems with lyrics and melodies colliding. I also find myself reading the booklet to understand the message of the song, not a good thing. I agree with AMG that a single disc collection of the more accessible songs would have sufficed.