Best Albums of the 00s: The Greatest

The Greatest - Cat Power (2006)

The third consecutive female artist on my favourite albums from the start of the 21st century is Cat Power and her album, The Greatest (2006). Cat Power is the stage name of the Georgia state-born vocalist Chan Marshall. I first came across her when I heard her stripped-down take on (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction by the Rolling Stones. I checked out the album that contains that track, The Covers Record (2000), and was quite satisfied by her equally sparse versions of songs by acts like The Velvet Underground and Bob Dylan. I didn’t come across her again until I saw her performing barefooted on Later with Jools Holland in 2006. I was even more captivated by the two songs she performed that night, Lived in Bars and the title track from the album pictured above. This was her first album to include exclusively original material and it was also notable for its musical departure from her previous six albums that featured the minimalist guitar and piano sound I knew from The Covers Record

The sound on The Greatest was expanded to feature saxophone, trumpet and strings as well as soul-like backing vocals. This soul connection was strengthened by recording the album in Memphis, Tennessee, the home of southern soul music. This warmer sound fully complements Marshall’s breathy, jazzy and bluesy vocals. This album marked not only a significant shift in her musical style, but also in her lifestyle. She had been battling against depression and alcoholism throughout the decade. Her alcohol abuse often led to ramshackle live performances and confrontations with audience members at her concerts. She has recovered from these problems and went on to release another full album of covers called Jukebox in 2008 that was even better than her earlier one. I’ve put together a full album of covers by Cat Power that features versions that don’t appear on any of her studio albums

01 I Feel (Hot Boys cover) Jukebox bonus track

02 Naked, If I Want To (Moby Grape cover remake) Jukebox bonus track

03 Breathless (Nick Cave cover) Jukebox bonus track

04 Angelitos Negros (cover) Jukebox bonus track

05 She’s Got You (Hank Cochran cover) Jukebox bonus track

06 We Dance (Pavement cover)

07 Still In Love (Hank Williams cover) Myra Lee

08 I Love You (Me Either) (Je T’Aime Moi Non Plus) (Serge & Jane cover) Monsieur Gainsbourg: Revisited

09 Ye Auld Triangle (Brendan Behan cover) Dark End of the Street EP

10 Amazing Grace (trad) Dark Was the Night compilation

11 Crying, Waiting, Hoping (Buddy Holly cover) Rolling Stone session

12 Dreams (Fleetwood Mac cover) Live in Munich

13 Crazy (Gnarls Barkley cover) Live in Berlin

14 Dead Leaves & The Dirty Ground (White Stripes cover) Live

15 Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again (Dylan cover) I’m Not There OST

16 Hard Times In New York Town (Bob Dylan cover) Peel session

17 He Was A Friend Of Mine (Bob Dylan cover) Peel Session

18 Come on in My Kitchen (Robert Johnson cover) Peel session

19 Wonderwall (Oasis cover) Peel session