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Jim Carroll: Runaway

2 and a half Stars

Singing has never been one of Basketball Diaries author and poet/spoken-word artist Jim Carroll's strong suits, and his pipes haven't improved with age. So though covering fellow NYC poet/rocker Lou Reed's "Sweet Jane" back in the '80s wasn't such a bad idea (Reed, after all, is pretty much in the same vocal boat), tackling Del Shannon's 1961 classic "Runaway" is more problematic because it's not the kind of song you can talk your way out of. Carroll gives "Runaway" his best shot, and he gets through it without hurting anyone. Anyway, what makes this five-track EP a welcome addition to Carroll's discography are the three tracks that he recorded live at Seattle's Crocodile Café in November 1998 and that document his brief return to the rock-and-roll stage after a decade that had seen him stick mainly to the written and spoken word. Backed by a band of Seattle rockers, including Fastbacks guitarist Kurt Bloch, Truly guitarist Robert Roth, and former Posies/current Fountains of Wayne drummer Brian Young, Carroll rips through a pair of classics from his 1980 Jim Carroll Band LP Catholic Boy (ATCO) -- "I Want the Angel" and "It's Too Late" -- as well as "Falling Down Laughing" from 1998's Pools of Mercury (Mercury). The disc is rounded out with a demo version of "Hairshirt Fracture," another Pools of Mercury tune.

The original review was found at

©2001 Boston Phoenix


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