Eugene Chadbourne

In the Malakoff Diggings

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Released as a CD-R on Eugene Chadbourne's home label House of Chadula, In the Malakoff Diggings is the fourth album by Me and Paul, his duo with drummer Paul Lovens. Pieced together from recordings of five different concerts held in Italy, France, and the U.S. in 2000-2001, this album follows in the footsteps of last year's Me and Paul, but fails to match the same level of quality. The sound is shaky in some songs ("Dock of the Bay" is barely listenable), the singer's voice being recorded from too far away. A few mastering mishaps also mar the listening experience: annoying cuts upon track changing when the songs obviously segued and a brutal one-second interruption of loud white noise in the middle of a passionate rendition of Gram Parsons' "Sing a Song for You." Then again, this is not an "official," "real label" release, and die-hard fans of the Doctor are used to these sorts of things. The set alternates between short free improvisations and cover songs from the country-rock and folk repertoires -- no Chadbourne originals this time. Highlights and surprises include Neil Young's "Out of My Mind," Kurt Weill's "Speak Low," and an unexpected singing saw solo from Lovens in Hendrix's "Foxy Lady." In the Malakoff Diggings adds little to previous albums and will appeal only to the dedicated.