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Late Great Daniel Johnston: Discovered Covered

The Late Great Daniel Johnston: Discovered Covered

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by Daniel Johnston

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Although his name doesn't ring all that many bells in the mainstream, Daniel Johnston is a veritable American Idol among fellow musicians who respond to the often brutal honesty and unfettered beauty of his work. Johnston -- who, despite the title of this stellar tribute, is very much alive -- has battled mental illness for most of his


Although his name doesn't ring all that many bells in the mainstream, Daniel Johnston is a veritable American Idol among fellow musicians who respond to the often brutal honesty and unfettered beauty of his work. Johnston -- who, despite the title of this stellar tribute, is very much alive -- has battled mental illness for most of his adult life, a state of affairs that's part and parcel of many of his songs. More important in their creation, however, is his ability to capture both remarkable innocence -- evident here in Tom Waits's appropriately creepy take on the monster-movie homage "King Kong" -- and deep-seated melancholy, as on the rending "Sorry Entertainer," interpreted here by Calvin Johnson. Many of the performers gathered here pay direct tribute to Johnston by sticking as close to his ultra-minimalist style as possible -- most notably Gordon Gano of the Violent Femmes, who turns in an endearingly lo-fi "Impossible Love," and Mercury Rev, who tear down their usual wall of sound for a whispery "Blue Clouds." Others take Johnston compositions into unfamiliar places: Beck puts his imprint on a shuffling "True Love Will Find You in the End" without compromising the original's wide-eyed hopefulness, while Bright Eyes bring an added tension to "Devil's Town," with the help of Yeah Yeah Yeahs guitarist Nick Zinner. Normally, tribute albums are but a pale imitation of the intended honoree, but the love and dedication present in these renditions make Discovered Covered palatable to Johnston diehards and an ideal entrée for those who have never heard this distinctive artist's music.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Mark Deming
Daniel Johnston is a cult figure rather than an artist with a mainstream following for two important reasons: while Johnston is a truly gifted songwriter, his lyrics are often so painfully intimate and obsessively personal that much of his best work is difficult to listen to without feeling like a voyeur, and his skills as a performer are rudimentary at best, with Johnston's quavering, tuneless voice and primitive instrumental accompaniment enough to drive away most listeners unless they're determined to listen past the inept technique to hear the songs hidden within. In 1994, Kathy McCarty, a friend and admirer of Johnston, stepped forward to address the dilemma of his songs versus his recordings by making the album Dead Dog's Eyeball, in which she sang 19 of his songs, accompanied by imaginative and beautifully executed arrangements. The Late Great Daniel Johnston: Discovered Covered attempts to do something similar but with a more ambitious agenda -- disc one of this set features 18 different artists each covering a favorite Daniel Johnston tune, ranging from Tom Waits and Beck to Bright Eyes and Death Cab for Cutie, while disc two features Johnston's original recordings of the same songs in the same sequence. Presumably the idea is that new listeners, once they've grown to appreciate the songs in relatively sugarcoated form, will then be able to move on to investigate Johnston's songs in their pure form. There is a flaw in this thinking -- while the covers on disc one range from good to excellent and in the liner notes most of the musicians make brief but coherent arguments in support of their choices, the original versions on disc two don't make for an especially strong Daniel Johnston's Greatest Hits album, with a number of key songs missing in action. (Johnston himself has compiled a much stronger overview of his work, Welcome to My World.) But the tribute disc has enough pearly moments to compensate -- Tom Waits' full brio interpretation of "King Kong," Calvin Johnson's craggy voice merging with the angst of "Sorry Entertainer," Sparklehorse and the Flaming Lips joining forces for a grand-scale cover of "Go," and Jad Fair embracing "My Life Is Starting Over Again" with help from Teenage Fanclub. Disc two also includes song lyrics, samples of Johnston's artwork, and a video for the song "Rock This Town," all of which can be accessed via your computer's CD-ROM drive. As a testimony to the artistry of Daniel Johnston, Discovered Covered isn't quite up to the standard of Dead Dog's Eyeball, but as an all-star (or semi-star) celebration of an often marginalized artist, it's engaging stuff that never loses sight of the beauty and gravity of these songs.

Product Details

Release Date:
High Wire Music


Album Credits

Performance Credits

Daniel Johnston   Primary Artist,Guitar,Vocals,Various,Interviewee
Tom Waits   Percussion,Mouth Percussion,Musician
Marc Ribot   Guitar,Musician
Vic Chesnutt   Cymbals,Drums,Electric Guitar,Vocals,Snare Drums,Classical Guitar,Synthesizer Bass,Musician,Guitar (Nylon String)
Jad Fair   Vocals,Musician
Beck   Musician
Jonathan Donahue   Acoustic Guitar,Vocals,Musician
Dave Fridmann   Synthesizer,Musician
Gordon Gano   Acoustic Guitar,Violin,Electric Guitar,Vocals,Background Vocals,fender rhodes,Musician
Calvin Johnson   Musician
Mark Linkous   Bass,Guitar,Percussion,Glockenspiel,Vocals,Sampling,Juno,Musician
Gerard Love   Bass,Musician
Francis MacDonald   Drums,Musician
Raymond McGinley   Guitar,Musician
Scott Minor   Sampling,Musician
Eels   Track Performer,Musician
Ryan Miller   Piano,Keyboards,Vocals,Musician
Brian Rosenworcel   Drums,Musician
Michael Ivins   Bass,Vocals,Musician
Wayne Coyne   Vocals,Musician
Jeff Mercel   Drums,Background Vocals,Mellotron,Musician
Brendan Fitzpatrick   Bass,Musician
Joe Pisapia   Bass,Guitar,Background Vocals,Musician
Steven Drozd   Guitar,Vocals
Matt Cohen   Bass,Musician
Melissa Moore   Vocals,Voices,Sampling,Musician
Eef Barzelay   Guitar,Vocals,Musician
Billy Ryan   Background Vocals,Slide Guitar,Musician
Allan Vest   Guitar,Strings,Vocals,Musician
Chris Walla   Guitar,Choir, Chorus,Musician,Delay
Ben Gibbard   Acoustic Guitar,Piano,Vocals,Human Whistle,Melodica,Musician
Nick Harmer   Synthesizer,Bass Guitar,Korg,Musician
Maria Taylor   Organ,Drums,Vocals,Musician
M. Ward   Sounds,Musician
Conor Oberst   Acoustic Guitar,Vocals,Musician
David Andrew Sitek   Musician
Tunde Adebimpe   Vocals,Musician
Jason McGerr   Drums,Musician
Eric Paul   Drums,Musician
Carlos Anthony Molina   Piano,Bass Guitar,Background Vocals,Musician
Astor   Guitar,Drums,Vocals,Guitar Effects,Musician
Doctor Grasshopper   Guitar,Background Vocals,Musician
Steven Drozo   Guitar,Vocals,Musician
Ron Dumont   Bass,Musician
Brad Mehlenbacher   Drums,Musician
Matthew Linkous   Bass,Guitar,Sampling
Nick Zinner   Guitar,Musician
Pete Fitzpatrick   Guitar,Musician
Norman Blake   Organ,Musician

Technical Credits

Jerry Harrison   Producer
Teenage Fanclub   Author
Tom Waits   Producer
Vic Chesnutt   Producer,Engineer,Instrumentation
Daniel Johnston   Artwork,Drawing
Mercury Rev   Arranger,Producer
Rabbit   Producer
Jad Fair   Author
Kevin Salem   Producer
Warren A. Bruleigh   Producer
Duncan Cameron   Producer
Joe Chiccarelli   Producer
Karl Derfler   Engineer,Drum Engineering
Robbie Egle   Producer,Engineer
Dave Fridmann   Engineer
Gordon Gano   Producer,Author
Calvin Johnson   Producer,Author
Bill Johnston   Digital Photography
Mark Linkous   Engineer,Executive Producer,Author,drum machine
Gary Leib   Artwork
Mark Miller   Producer
Done Piper   Engineer
Guster   Producer
Eric Masunaga   Enhanced CD Audio Creation,Enhanced CD Development
Brian Rosenworcel   Author
Everett True   Liner Notes,Interviewer
Michael McCoy   Engineer
Suzanne Kapa   Engineer
Jordan Trachtenberg   Engineer,Executive Producer
Matt Cohen   Engineer
Melissa Moore   Author
Elisa Garcia   Art Direction,Package Art Direction
Eef Barzelay   Author
Allan Vest   Author,drum machine
Chris Walla   Sound Effects,Producer,Engineer,Feedback
Ben Gibbard   Author,Feedback
M. Ward   Arranger,Producer,Author,Instrumentation
Conor Oberst   Author
TV on the Radio   Producer
David Andrew Sitek   Producer,Instrumentation
Tunde Adebimpe   Author
John Shyloski   Engineer
Dick Johnston   Executive Producer,Digital Photography
Mark Oliver Everett   Producer,Author
Astor   Author
Doctor Grasshopper   Author
Greg Gilpatrick   Director,Video Director
Eric Krauter   Enhanced CD Development
JT LeRoy   Author
Matthew Linkous   Author,drum machine
Tom Shirley   Director,Video Director
Mark "Guitar" Miller   Producer
Koool G Murder   Engineer

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The Late Great Daniel Johnston: Discovered Covered 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you read the liner notes all of these great artists will tell you how great the songs Daniel Johnston has written are. After a few listens I am a believer in the beautiful genius of this songwriter. Besides that this cd is a great value- you get 2 cds for the price of one. And both are worth the price of admission. When I listened to the Johnston versions I was amazed that I'd never heard of him, and when i listened to the more orchestrated cover versions i was enthralled and at the same time even more reminded of how great Daniel Johnston's songs are. This is also an enhanced cd containing artwork of Johnston's and videos. Any fan of heartfelt rock, or heartfelt music period, should get this cd. P.S. Daniels not really dead.