Jim O'Rourke: All Kinds of People ~ Love Burt Bacharach

This is a gloriously silly album from beginning to end. It’s also musically inventive, beautifully performed and sung, and pristinely produced so that every little sound can be discerned and appreciated.

Jim O\'Rourke

All Kinds of People ~ Love Burt Bacharach

Label: AWDR
US Release Date: Import
UK Release Date: Import
Japanese Release date: 2010-04-07

When experimental musician and producer Jim O’Rourke named his recent tribute album All Kinds of People ~ Love Burt Bacharach he wasn’t being funny. The pop composer has received accolades from notables in all genres during more than five decades of writing hit songs. Legends from classic rock like the Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson and Steely Dan’s Donald Fagan have spoken of Bacharach’s seminal influence, as have jazz masters like Stan Getz and Wes Montgomery. More contemporary rockers like Elvis Costello and Oasis’ Noel Gallagher have praised Bacharach’s genius as have hip-hop maven Dr. Dre and soul master Ronald Isley. The list of those who love the pop maestro could go on endlessly.

Still, when word hit the streets about O’Rourke’s latest project, one couldn’t but wonder if was a joke. The sunny sound of Bacharach’s melodies seemed antithetical to the former bass player for Sonic Youth, a band known for its dark spirit. Yet O’Rourke, a known Paul McCartney fan, always had an impish quality that found its way into his music. O’Rourke’s production, on disparate works like Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and Joanna Newsom’s Ys, beguilingly revealed an upbeat, happy, even sappy spirit.

O’Rourke brings that part of his sensibility to this album, in everything from his song selections to the guest singers to the instrumentation. This is a gloriously silly album from beginning to end. It’s also musically inventive, beautifully performed and sung, and pristinely produced so that every little sound can be discerned and appreciated. Some records are meant to be heard loud and clear, but this one begs to be heard soft and clear.

The cuts here range from the big hits like “I Say A Little Prayer”, “You’ll Never Get To Heaven” and “Do You Know the Way to San Jose?” to more obscure gems such as “After the Fox” and “Anonymous Phone Call”. Still, the recognizable songs outnumber the lesser-known ones. The guest vocalists will be less familiar to most American listeners and include Yellow Magic Orchestra’s Haruomi Hosono, Kahimi Karie, Yoshimi, and several other Japanese artists.

O’Rourke has lived in Tokyo for about four years, and while he has always been an idiosyncratic artist, his expatriate existence somehow makes him seem more American. He ignores his singers’ mispronunciations and awkward grammar in favor of sincerity, and it works like a charm. While the lyrics may not be sung perfectly from an English teacher’s (or in the case of “After the Fox”, from an Italian teacher's) perspective, they are always perfectly charming.

Some of the incorrect word choices are deliberately provocative. Hosono turns the romantic “Close to You” into the narcissistic “Close to Me”, as he sings of his personal wonderfulness. This echoes other changes O’Rourke makes in his selection of instruments. Is that really a steel drum taking the lead in “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head?” There’s no way to be sure. O’Rourke is more interested in capturing the atmosphere of the song in creative ways than in being faithful to the originals. Still, he takes pains to keep the music as close to the originals as he can. A careful listener can note when O’Rourke makes substitutions, and admire his inspired resourcefulness. Every cut offers its own delights. O’Rourke handles most of the instrumental duties and does sing lead on three cuts, plus he’s ably assisted by Wilco’s Glenn Kotche, Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore, and others.

Fans have long praised Bacharach as a genius for his ability to write sophisticated pop tunes full of unexpected turns of phrase and emotional depth. This album will add to O’Rourke’s reputation as a brilliant artist in his own right, for the same reasons.


Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

Keep reading... Show less

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

Keep reading... Show less

The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

Keep reading... Show less

Winner of the 2017 Ameripolitan Music Award for Best Rockabilly Female stakes her claim with her band on accomplished new set.

Lara Hope & The Ark-Tones

Love You To Life

Label: Self-released
Release Date: 2017-08-11

Lara Hope and her band of roots rockin' country and rockabilly rabble rousers in the Ark-Tones have been the not so best kept secret of the Hudson Valley, New York music scene for awhile now.

Keep reading... Show less

To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.

Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.