T Bone Burnett

Twenty Twenty: The Essential T Bone Burnett (Columbia/DMZ/Legacy)

Before the tres cool producer legend of note came the ultra-cool, left-field and decidedly cult artist whose eclecticism and artiness--albeit mixed with his gritty Fort Worth roots--likely kept him from becoming, say, Elvis Costello (who Burnett produced and is half of the Coward Brothers for a track here). What made him more than a contender is epitomized here on such gems of his bohemian noir songwriter rock as "Boomerang," "Fatally Beautiful" (with Pete Townshend slashing Who sparks across it), "The Murder Weapon" and "I Wish You Could Have Seen Her Dance" that became Burnett's (sadly) little-known trademark alongside moments of truly visionary weirdness like his cover of "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" and his Jim Thompson-esque opus "Hefner and Disney" (whose title alone deserves an award). This 40-track revisit to Burnett's career also sheds new light on such stunningly Dylan-esque Burnett compositions as "Shut It Tight," "Over You" and "Every Little Thing"--he learned much on Rolling Thunder--and spotlights the gifted arranging, versatility with genres and knack for wonderfully offbeat touches that served him well as a producer of hit rock albums (Counting Crows, Wallflowers) and soundtracks (the genuinely culture-shifting O Brother). The prime T Bone here only whets the appetite for The True False Identity, his first new album in years.

 
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