The Walkmen

Pussy Cats

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AllMusic Review by

Remaking an entire album -- especially one as rooted in mood and the performers involved as Harry Nilsson's Pussy Cats -- seems about as wise an idea as Gus Van Sant's shot-by-shot remake of Psycho. Fortunately, the Walkmen's song-by-song redo of Pussy Cats doesn't come off as a half-baked technical exercise. The band remains loyal to the rambling feel of the original (which, to be fair, was half covers itself) and the results are as intimate as an in-joke between old friends. The Walkmen recorded this album concurrently with A Hundred Miles Off and were getting ready to shut down their Marcata Studio; while it's not exactly the months-long "lost weekend" that Nilsson and John Lennon embarked on in early 1974, Hamilton Leithauser and crew give off a similarly rumpled, tweedy, maybe too smart for their own good vibe as Nilsson did, and invite a bunch of friends, including Ian Svenonius and Mazarin's Quentin Stoltzfus, to help them send Marcata off. Interestingly, one of the stronger moments on A Hundred Miles Off was the band's cover of Mazarin's "Another One Goes By," so the spirit of having fun interpreting other people's music was already flowing by the time they approached Pussy Cats. And while the band's versions of these songs aren't much different than the originals, they do them well: Svenonius' cameo on "Subterranean Homesick Blues" helps make it a goofy highlight, along with Stolzfus' collaboration on "Mucho Mongo/Mt. Elga," which with its tropical percussion and shimmering organs, seems to have been a big influence on A Hundred Miles Off. Likewise, Pussy Cats' rare moody moments, "Don't Forget Me" and "Black Sails," are also perfect fits for the band's sound. A little messier than its inspiration but with the same freewheeling spirit, the Walkmen's Pussy Cats feels like a musical wake, rooted in just having fun making music with friends.

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1
blue highlight denotes track pick