Dead Man Walking Sounds Like Best Soundtrack Of '96

Blues album of the year.

ATN editor Michael Goldberg reports: When

Bruce

Springsteen's acoustic show last month at the Berkeley Theater was highlighted

by the performance of "Dead Man Walking," the title track from the Tim Robbins

film of the same name, it was hard to imagine any of the other songs on the

soundtrack matching Springsteen's contribution. Well, most of the other tracks

on this 12 song album do indeed stand up to the Boss' excellent song. The

collaborations between Eddie Vedder and Pakistan's Nusrat Fateh Ali--"The Face

of Love" and "The Long Road" (both produced by Ry Cooder, who also contributes

guitar part) once again find Vedder pushing himself into unfamiliar

territory--and pulling it off. I mean a Pakistani blues-dirge? Truley great

stuff. Patti Smith's "Walkin' Blind," is a scary, eerie funeral march, a punk

blues with wirey slide guitar, and suble drums and bass. A skelton of sound

behind an absolutely mesmerizing vocal from Ms. Smith. "I walk it up, I wallk

it down," she sings. "I know not what I do/ Your love is a sword made of folded

gold/ In the sheath of my heart." This is a dark death trip. Tom Waits' "Walk

Away" is a classic Waits' rum drinkin' sea chanty of death row wishful thinking

for just one more chance. "I want to look in the mirror and see another face,"

he sings. No such luck. And then there's Johnny Cash as produced by Ry Cooder

doing "In Your Mind," and Steve Earle and a risky song by Suzanne Vega. Hey,

you got to hear it.This is the real deal. Maybe the best blues album in some

time, if you get my

drift.