T-Bone Burnett

Playlist: The Very Best of T-Bone Burnett

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Sony's Playlist series is certainly a 21st century approach to the "best-of" compilation. Though these titles now come in plastic jewel boxes instead of digipacks, they still claim to be "eco-friendly." They provide both CD quality music and downloadable mp3 files, and instead of liner notes and photos in the printed booklet, they provide them digitally on the CD. Most importantly, they are sold for a budget price. T-Bone Burnett's entry in the series draws no less than five of its 14 tracks from The Criminal Under My Own Hat. After that, there are a pair each from The Talking Animals and The True False Identity, and one each from his self-titled album, the Trap Door EP, Spark in the Dark, and Proof Through the Night. The big surprise here is that this set includes a pair of cuts from the self-titled Alpha Band debut LP. Alas, that said, the amazing Truth Decay album, originally issued by John Fahey's Takoma imprint -- and reissued numerous times by Demon and Edsel in the U.K. -- is unrepresented here. While what's here is fine, this disc suffers from a lack of balance. Burnett is among the most well-known producers of the early 21st century, and those who have become fans would have been better served by a more representative look at his career as a recording artist (if not cuts from Truth Decay, then tracks from the other Alpha Band recordings, perhaps?) instead of this rather obvious attempt at showcasing the work of his best-known and most widely available album.

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