Various Artists: True Blood Vol. Four

[17 July 2013]

By Matt James

HBO’s True Blood may be getting a little long in the tooth with its blood-soaked carousel of bit part half-faeries, plaid-clad shifters, Werepanthers, Lyncathropic toddlers and Rutger “Where Am I?” Hauer but its accompanying seasonal sweep-up soundtracks are proving finger lickin’ good. Vol. Four picks the bones from Season Five and the current Season Six, again mixing newbloods with a splash of veteran vintage. But whereas Vol. Three favoured an Alt-Goth touch (Nick Cave, Siouxsie, PJ Harvey), this set slides back down south with mo’ rhythm ‘n’ blues, soul and spit ‘n’ sawdust swagger.

The first blood spilt may be a tad rum: The Animals’ Eric Burdon mauling a grouchy “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” as if he’s been rudely dragged outta bed on a Sunday, but much of the rest is pretty darn tasty. The surely Vampiric Iggy Pop joins Best Coast’s vivacious Bethany Cosentino for an early highlight on the original “Let’s Boot and Rally”. Sounding like the Munsters’ theme resurrected by the B-52s, it’s a Ray-Ban riot on the beach as gloriously Go-Go goofy as the show in its pomp. “Hot like a Vamp with a suntan” duo Deap Vally’s “(She’s a) Wanderer” is equally lightnin’ loose and lookin’ for trouble. Filthy degenerate delicious and sparklin’ heat like early Yeah Yeah Yeah’s it’s a spit n’ sawdust firecracker. “Can you feel ... my ... heart ... BEAT?!” it bellows like Godzilla in heels. Elsewhere there’s a fine new cut from Alabama Shakes – all reassuringly authentic, dusty, locomotive rattle and Brittany Howard’s stellar out o’ time voice – and a top drawer ‘from-the-crypt’ rarity from the Flaming Lips, “Your Face Can Tell the Future”. A “Do You Realize??”-style kiss from the Lips’ rather than an acid-fried smacker. It’s minor chord acoustic, swaying cellos and sad face “Is this it?” disappointment. Underrated Kiwi’s the Naked and Famous bring out “The Sun” – broody sizzle with Sci-fi bleeps – whilst Warpaint’s “Undertow” gets another catwalk call and proves as seductively sultry n’ bewitching as ever. Colour me glamour’d.

To lesser hypnotic effect there’s also Led Zep lovin’, “Armadillos in our trousers”, lion mane hair, foot-on-amp preposterousness from Brit Muthas the Heavy, Bosco Delrey bustin’ his moves like Jagger on a hyperactive romp through John “Cougarfree” Mellencamp’s “Authority Song” and Austin’s Mobley painting White Stripes across a tub thumpin’ take of the Beatles’ / Stones’ “I Wanna Be Your Man”. My Morning Jacket conjure a respectful phantom of the Byrds’ version of “Turn Turn Turn”, which is pointless perhaps but their newly anointed fuzzy guitar outro works wonders. There’s also a Vegas Cabaret knees-up version of WWII last dancer “We’ll Meet Again” by Los Lobos. Endearingly daft.

Vol. Four waves its cape slightly more reverentially to its ancestors via a pair of ‘Genuine Article’ legends. Koko “Queen of the Blues” Taylor brings hella true grit and bitter bite with the amusingly apt “Whatever I Am, You Made Me”. Unlike yer Modern Vamps Ms Taylor packs the kind of housequakin’ holler that doesn’t bother to knock. But Howlin’ Wolf’s “Smokestack Lightnin’” is surely the true immortal here. Written in the ‘30s and recorded in the ‘50s, its voodoo hoodoo, Mississippi mojo sounds potent, devilish, eternal.

Despite inspiring much chin-stroking “What the hell would a Vampire listen to anyway?” debate, Vol. Four, like its three Grammy-nominated kinfolk, has been clearly compiled with care. Though not truly ‘essential’, if you were to meet it at some clandestine crossroads ‘neath a silvery full moon it would certainly suffice a pleasant enough midnight snack. ‘Tis not just for Fangbangers then.

Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/173338-various-artists-true-blood-volume-4/