Song Of The Day: Walt Wagner, “Purple Rain”

If it seems odd that Sub Pop would sign Walt Wagner, a legendary Seattle jazz pianist, one listen to his debut, Reworks, proves that they truly heard magic. Press story goes that the label suits heard him playing at Canlis, the restaurant where he had been employed for the past few decades, and upon learning that he was soon to retire, the label offered him the chance for a final hurrah. Reworks is just that–a collection of surprising covers from a diverse array of artists ranging from The Buzzcocks and My Bloody Valentine to the label’s own acts Goat, Band Of Horses and Fleet Foxes–all done in his mellow, melancholic solo piano arrangements. Perhaps “Purple Rain” is a safe selection for Wagner to cover, but it’s a brilliant, beautiful, and understated take that truly captures the essence of the emotional side of Prince‘s masterpiece. Reworks is an understated, beautiful collection of songs, one that might be a bit of a low-key and obscure release for a label such as Sub Pop, but it’s one that shouldn’t be missed.

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