WHO IS HE? Late, great American jazzbo pianist and singer-songwriter Mose Allison, who specialized in dry-witted ditties and finger-popping renditions of blues classics — though his best-known number by far is Young Man Blues, as explosively and definitively delivered by The Who on Live at Leeds.
WHAT IS THIS? A collection of his classic cuts, creatively covered by a long list of pop, rock and roots artists such as Iggy Pop, Chrissie Hynde, Fiona Apple, Black Francis, Elvis Costello, Phil and Dave Alvin, Bonnie Raitt, Ben Harper, Richard Thompson and others — all curated and compiled by Allison’s daughter Amy to benefit the Sweet Relief Musicians Fund.
WHAT DOES IT SOUND LIKE? A night at the coolest karaoke lounge you could ever imagine. Mostly because the majority of the artists are only too happy to embrace Allison’s mellow delivery and gently swinging vibe. As they should be.
WHAT SHOULD IT BE TITLED? Hip Replacement.
HOW SHOULD I LISTEN TO IT? While wearing a black turtleneck sweater, reading beat poetry, smoking a pipe and playing the bongos.
WHAT 10 WORDS SUM IT UP? Hip, cerebral, witty, timeless, smoky, lively, vibrant, sharp, freewheeling, colourful.
WHAT ARE THE BEST SONGS? There aren’t many duds, but standouts include Taj Mahal’s Your Mind is On Vacation, Bonnie Raitt’s powerful live version of Everybody’s Crying Mercy (which has been a staple of her set for decades), Richard Thompson’s muscular Parchman Farm, the Alvins‘ gritty Wild Man on the Loose, Robbie Fulks’ rootsy My Brain (an homage to Willie Dixon’s My Babe) and Iggy’s electro-flecked version of the title track.
WHAT WILL MY FRIENDS SAY? ‘The only thing that could make this better is if it came with a disc of Mose’s originals.’
HOW OFTEN WILL I LISTEN TO IT? Not as often as you might listen to the real deal, but hey, beggars and choosers, you know?
IF THIS ALBUM WERE FACIAL HAIR, WHAT WOULD IT BE? An unironic goatee.
SHOULD I BUY, STREAM OR STEAL IT? Pony up — it’s for charity. Though if you don’t already own a decent Allison anthology, you should definitely snag one at the same time.