Edgar Allan Poe, the poster boy of American gothic, wasn’t very well received by his contemporaries. The writer was still a relative unknown by the time of his death, he struggled financially and received little acclaim for the books and poetry that did get any attention at all. But in 1997, an album of some of our favourite cult icons reading Poe’s works was released.
The album saw a host of actors and singers take on the recital of Poe’s work. Iconic voices such as Christopher Walken, Jeff Buckley, and Iggy Pop all take their turn on the LP called Closed on Account of Rabies, it’s a somewhat odd concept for an album but does also see spots for Marianne Faithfull and Debbie Harry.
Christopher Walken takes on the most recognisable poem of Poe’s work ‘The Raven’ with his idiosyncratic tone of voice adding so much extra nuance to an already powerful and poignant poem. While Debbie Harry recites ‘The City and The Sea’, Buckley takes on ‘Ulalume’, and Marianne Faithfull gives a wonderful rendition of ‘Annabelle Lee’. Iggy Pop however possibly got the best role of the lot though as he gives a beautiful performance of Poe’s horror story ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’.
While this celebration of Poe’s work is a natural homage to the man and his craft, it’s release did upset some poetry buffs. The spoken word portions of the track are backed by music and while on some tracks it works (Buckley’s ‘Ulalume’ the best of the bunch), on others, the added production does seem to distract rather than enhance his work.
The 1997 album is a truly interesting listen. But, sad to say, that currently, it’s not on streaming platforms but after you hear these you’ll be starting the petition alongside us!
Listen below to Debbie Harry, Iggy Pop, Marianne Faithfull, Christopher Walken, and Jeff Buckley reciting one of the greatest American authors ever.
Source: Open Culture