Tom's Album

Various Artists

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Tom's Album Review

by Stewart Mason

In 1990, British remixers DNA added a proto-trip-hop rhythm track to "Tom's Diner," an a cappella song from Suzanne Vega's 1987 album Solitude Standing; at Vega's insistence, A&M Records not only didn't sue, they released the rather wonderful results. Tom's Album is the extremely spotty follow-up, an entire album's worth of remakes of Vega's rather simple song about a morning at New York's Tom's Restaurant (later even more famous as the diner where Seinfeld's regulars hung out). Some of the tracks are basically goofy jokes -- this includes R.E.M.'s hilariously bad version recorded under the name Bingo Hand Job and the conceptually brilliant mash-up "Jeannie's Diner," which adds the tune from the I Dream of Jeannie theme. The others include a dreary German-language translation (with male vocals) that nicks DNA's rhythm track and a handful of not particularly interesting versions with new musical beds and unfortunate rap interludes. (Unfortunately, DNA's nothing-special remix of Vega's "Rusted Pipe," from 1990's Days of Open Hand, shows that lightning rarely strikes twice.) The album also includes DNA's original remix and the two versions of the song (vocal and instrumental) that bookend Solitude Standing.

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