Tuesday, 12 December 2006

Tell me now, what more do you need...

2005 saw Michael Penn release his fifth album, Mr Hollywood Jr, 1947, although to make such a comment in Britain would understandably be met with a shrug. A shame, as it contained some of his finest songs to date, opener Walter Reed possibly standing out as his finest pop melody to date. Something about the album - littering it with throwaway instrumentals perhaps - suggests he didn't really have one eye on the kind of success that would return him to the mainstream audience he enjoyed with his classic No Myth single, but the songs are generally pretty damn good. Denton Road, On Automatic and You Know How are truly fine examples of songcraft, in a similar vein to the Neil Finns and Paul McCartneys of the world.

Since his chart-bothering days, he's been in and out of public consciousness due to troubles with many a record label. However, there's still a lot of love there for Penn. It may well be a smaller fanbase than what it was at the end of the 80s, but it's one with a passion for the subject's material that puts many other artists' followings to shame. In the summer of 2006, members of Penn's mailing list recorded a 40-track tribute to the singer, taking his songs into previously unknown territory and generally making a fine job of it. The full collection can be downloaded from here, but special mention should be made of The Breakups' take on Mary Lynn (right-click to download), which transforms the hippyish original into a foot-stomper of the highest order.

MP3: Michael Penn - Walter Reed

Buy Mr. Hollywood, Jr. 1947 from amazon.co.uk

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