Formats and Editions
For The Greatest, Chan Marshall returned to Memphis, pursuing the slinky Hi Records sound of the 70s, famed for its sensuous feel and beguiling rhythms. She got Al Green's guitarist and songwriting partner Mabon "Teenie" Hodges to play guitar on the whole album (Teenie co-wrote "Love and Happiness" and "Take Me to the River," among other soul classics). With Teenie came his Hi Rhythm bandmate (and brother) Leroy "Flick" Hodges, who plays on half of the album (Memphis A-team bassist Dave Smith supplements). Anchoring the band is Steve Potts, whose reputation on drums was solidified when the surviving members of Booker T. and the MG's asked him to replace their late drummer, Al Jackson. Other top Memphis musicians guest on keyboards, horns and strings. Cat Power went right to the sources, and created her own paean to the songs and styles she grew up on.
The Greatest adds to Cat Power's singular sound all the elements that make an Al Green record great: Memphis horns, funky string arrangements, smooth background vocals. "Lived in Bars" is a hypnotic song that seems to start in the middle of the night and flow backward like water upstream to the source of a good time. Many songs hearken back to earlier in Cat Power's career, like the surface simplicity of "Willie"-much more complicated upon deeper listen-and like "Where Is My Love," which sounds like it could be the first song she ever wrote, and also the one to which she has always aspired. "Living Proof," on the other hand, has an almost gospel-like swing that stands in contrast to the quieter songs. The ethereal title track is the missing link between Big Star 3rd and the 21st century.