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Twistable Turnable Man: A Musical Tribute to the Songs of Shel Silverstein

Twistable Turnable Man: A Musical Tribute to the Songs of Shel Silverstein (Sugar Hill)

Reviewed by Audra Schroeder, Fri., July 2, 2010

Phases & Stages

Twistable Turnable Man: A Musical Tribute to the Songs of Shel Silverstein

(Sugar Hill)

Shel Silverstein is perhaps best known for illustrated books like Where the Sidewalk Ends, full of pen and ink oddballs stumbling and bumbling through preposterous situations. His stories were often aimed toward kids but were charmingly subversive. His music, like the songs he wrote for Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show, was decidedly not for children. And so as tribute albums go, Twistable Turnable Man captures one of the more interesting subjects, in that Silverstein straddled both the salty and the sweet. This being Sugar Hill, the acts gathered to tip their hats are typical, and a handful do it well: Local bluegrass phenom Sarah Jarosz polishes "Queen of the Silver Dollar" until she sees her reflection, as does John Prine on "This Guitar Is for Sale," and Andrew Bird's verbal acrobatics on "The Twistable, Turnable Man Returns" give it some fresh air. Not all of it works. Bobby Bare Jr.'s duet with daughter Isabella on "Daddy What If" is more grating than endearing, and Todd Snider's take on "A Boy Named Sue" – yes, Silverstein wrote that – merely traces Johnny Cash's version. It would have been interesting to see a few folks from outside the country and bluegrass circle tackle these songs, especially the less "safe" end of the sidewalk, but a tip of the hat to Sugar Hill for getting his songs out at all.

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