Various - Chamber Music: James Joyce (1907) (3 stars)

Various - Chamber Music: James Joyce (1907)

(Fire Records)


As it says on the double-CD, this is a collection of 36 James Joyce love poems from 1907 interpreted by underground rock artists, some familiar – Mercury Rev, Mike Watt, Ed Harcourt or Willy Mason – others still on the fringes. Disc one gets the thumbs up via highlights from ex-Thrum chanteuse Monica Queen backed by what sounds like Crazy Horse, the Swans-esque War Against Sleep and the Scritti Politti-ish Mary Lorson, one-time leader of Madder Rose.

You’ll recognise at least one track here: Venture Lift’s update of Syd Barrett’s psychedelic reading of JJ’s ‘Golden Hair’. Top marks also go to the sparse and effervescent Califone, Ian Kearey (very Cohen-meets-Thackeray) and retro-folker Owen Tromans.

Disc two is a tad too delicate, featuring as it does Gravenhurst, Christian Kiefer, Lovetones and Peter Buck’s Minus 5, while the psychedelic Bardo Pond, Green Pajamas and Scots poet Gerry Mitchell are all worthy of mention.

You feel Joyce might well have approved of such modern readings of his verses.

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