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The Late Great Daniel Johnston
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Performer Notes
  • Personnel: Daniel Johnston (vocals, various instruments, guitar).
  • Despite its title, this 2004 tribute/best-of collection finds singer/songwriter Daniel Johnston alive and relatively well. (Johnston has struggled with mental illness that sometimes leads to erratic behavior.) The first part of this two-disc set presents a remarkable array of admiring artists, including Tom Waits and Death Cab for Cutie, covering Johnston's songs. Some renditions--particularly Calvin Johnson's vocals-and-percussion-only "Sorry Entertainer," Beck's Dylan-esque acoustic "True Love Will Find You in the End," and M. Ward's gorgeous "Story of an Artist"--stick closer to Johnston's minimal arrangements. Other versions opt for a much fuller sound, particularly Mercury Rev's dreamy take on "Blue Clouds," and "Go," a wonderful Sparklehorse/Flaming Lips collaboration that highlights the notable similarities between respective frontmen Mark Linkous and Wayne Coyne. The second disc features Johnston's original recordings of every song on the first disc, along with a new tune, "Rock This Town." Although some may find Johnston's high-pitched yelp and rudimentary guitar and piano playing bewildering, his quirky, unaffected aesthetic is exactly what drew the aforementioned performers to contribute to this excellent compilation in the first place.
Professional Reviews
Rolling Stone (p.96) - 3 stars out of 5 - "[A] thoughtful tribute album....His songs stand strong and tall."

Uncut (p.125) - 4 stars out of 5 - "[T]his collection is near faultless..."

Mojo (Publisher) (p.95) - 3 stars out of 5 - "[The album] ropes together Americana's finest to recast just 18 of Johnston's homemade originals."
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