Picks and Pans Review: Closed on Account of Rabies: Poems and Tales of Edgar Allan Poe

updated 01/12/1998 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/12/1998 AT 01:00 AM EST

Various Artists

He burned brightly, died young and left a body of writing that continues to fascinate and provoke nearly 150 years after his death, at 40 (of rabies, according to one theory), in Baltimore. Now Edgar Allan Poe, by all contemporary accounts a loser who died broke and unappreciated, gets a ghostly last laugh over his 19th-century critics with an unusual tribute offered by such 20th-century hipsters as Christopher Walken, Debbie Harry, Marianne Faithfull, Iggy Pop and the late Jeff Buckley—all of whom contribute readings to this sampling of 13 poems and stories. Cocky, irreverent, morbid and self-destructive, Poe—who gambled, took drugs and drank to excess—is a compelling figure for young moderns. No slacker—between his voluminous outpouring of poems, essays and Gothic tales, there was little time to chill Poe rocked. Indeed, this project might have been titled Poe: Plugged. Electric guitars punctuate Walken's reading of "The Raven," and keyboards provide counterpoint to Pop's wonderful, almost lascivious rendition of "The Tell-Tale Heart." (Mouth Almighty/Mercury)

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