The Walkabouts

Got No Chains

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This isn't exactly a Walkabouts album. Yes, one disc of this two-CD set does offer remastered versions of 15 Walkabouts songs, all sounding better than ever. But it's the other disc that's of even greater interest, those same 15 songs performed by others -- a tribute disc. There are no major names here, the focus is on old Seattle friends such as Terry Lee Hale, the Minus 5, and Gary Heffern, as well as those who've traveled the same route, such as Walter Salas-Humara. What's fascinating is the variety of the interpretations, such as the largely electro take on "Grand Theft Auto" by Chris Cacavas or the melody rewrite of "This Rotten Tree" by the Willard Grant Conspiracy. These are labors of love, there's no doubt about that, and tributes freely offered to a band that's played a significant, if small, part in music since the '80s. It's interesting to compare the originals with these versions. Some are surprising, like a surf "Sundowner" from the Bambi Molesters, Jon Langford's relocation of "Christmas Valley" to his native Wales, or Steve Wynn's eerie carnival atmosphere on "Jack Candy," which simply adds to the song's sense of doom. Experience the way they were first recorded, then hear them refracted through 15 different prisms; it's a great experience.