Paul Westerberg – Come Feel Me Tremble

What I Think of When I Think of This Artist (part 4)

Paul Westerberg toured behind Stereo / Mono, and I had the chance to see him do an in-store at the Michigan Avenue Virgin store (thanks to my friend Kiri for securing the ticket for me during the workday). He also signed my copy of Let It Be, though I wish I had taken Tim instead. I also saw him at the Vic on that tour. There was a documentary made of the tour and this was the related album, coming just one year after Stereo / Mono.

What I Think of This Album

Fully embracing the DIY approach that earned him accolades on Stereo / Mono, Westerberg again sounds raggedy and carefree, liberated from any expectations and absolved from any missteps. If it weren’t a good album, you could accuse Westerberg of simply giving up, as you get the feeling he is essentially releasing first takes of whatever he comes up with in his basement, often with risibly ham-fisted drumming. But this is a really good Westerberg album, with several strong songs and mostly fun songs.

Westerberg offers up a blue collar anthem on bluesy “Dirty Diesel,” and follow-up “Making Me Go” is in a similar vein, all distorted riffing and quasi-tough posturing. The carbon copy pattern from Mono continues on the garagey “Soldier of Misfortune,” with Westerberg’s enjoyable whine fighting to be heard over his rhythm playing. Power-pop gets a spin on touching but tough “My Daydream,” with a very cool solo. Supposedly, Paul offered ballad “What a Day (for a Night)” to Bonnie Raitt, and that is at least plausible insofar as it sounds like something she could work with; the intro lead part is appealing. Paul gets a little pitchy on the silly and overlong “Wild & Lethal,” in which he compares himself to a river; this maybe could have worked with more effort (though the title is dumb – I love you, Paul, but no one believes you’re “wild and lethal”).

What follows is the stunning Sylvia Plath-inspired “Crackle and Drag (original),” that details her suicide; the title is taken from her poem “Edge.” There is a quieter alternate take as well that I can do without. Westerberg returns to the governing aesthetic on the grimy “Hillbilly Junk” and Westerberg delivers a somewhat troubling ode to alcohol on the musically multi-faceted “Knockin’ Em Back.” “Pine Box” is another eye-opener, presenting a biography of Westerberg’s father – including service in World War II, his brother’s early death, and his own fatal lung disease – not as a ballad but as a barn-burner; impressive as it is, I think the melody is severely lacking, though the guitar tone kick ass. Paul grabs the acoustic for the affecting “Meet Me Down the Alley.” He ends things with a weary cover of Jackson Browne’s “These Days,” which suggests not everything is going well down in that basement.

The Best Thing About This Album

“My Daydream” can wake you from a gloom.

Release Date

October, 2003

The Cover Art

A visual depradation. A video still from the accompanying documentary of the same name, with a thankfully obtrusive text box plastered over it, this cover took all of five seconds to conceive of and create.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Proudly powered by WordPress | Theme: Baskerville 2 by Anders Noren.

Up ↑