Wednesday, February 28, 2007

It’s true - Nobody Sings Dylan Like Dylan

Irked, perhaps, by The Dylan Daily’s recent focus on the forthcoming Bryan Ferry covers album, an anonymous reader sent me a CDR of a variety of covers of Dylan songs, mainly taped at live shows.

Many thanks for the disc, dear reader, whoever you are!

Digging on dylantree, I established that the CDR is volume 3 of Nobody Sings Dylan Like Dylan (track list below). And that it’s part of a massive series, now reaching 17 volumes.

Will I be collecting them?

Not likely. The project underlines, yet again, the sheer majesty of the Dylan Songbook, and the respect in which he’s held by many musicians. It also illustrates the diligence and energy of Dylan collectors, who’ve tracked down and assembled this enormous library.

But the bottom line is: CBS’s 1970s marketing slogan - Nobody Sings Dylan Like Dylan – was absolutely spot on. Dylan sings his songbook beautifully; most Dylan covers are bloody awful.

About one third of the assembled tracks in the 17 disc series look mildly interesting. The other 65% look like an endless succession of dull, grizzled guitar-strumming navel-gazers. As for the male singers...

If I listen to this kind of mediocre, but oh-so-precious, sub-Americana for half an hour, I lose the will to live.

You might think differently, so I'd give the link, but dylantree seems to have closed down:

Nobody Sings Dylan Like Dylan, Vol. 3: Lost Forgotten Years (1968-1976)

01. Sign Language - Eric Clapton (11-11-76, The Coliseum, Jacksonville, FL)
02. Tough Mama - Jerry Garcia/Legion of Mary (4-19-75, Oriental Theater, Milwaukee, WI)
03. I want You - Bruce Springsteen (2-5-75, The Main Point, Bryn Mawr, PA)
04. Just Like a Woman - Van Morrison (9-05-71, Pacific High Studios, San Francisco, CA)
05. I'll Be Your Baby Tonight - Emmylou Harris (WBAI, NYC, 1970)
06. It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry - David Bromberg (Summer 1970, The Jabberwocky, Syracuse, NY)
07. Man on the Street - Dave Van Ronk (February 1969, The Jabberwocky, Syracuse, N.Y.)
08. Tears of Rage - The Band (7-17-76, Carter Baron Ampitheatre, Washington, D.C.)
09. Open the Door, Richard - Fairport Convention (4-21-70, BBC Studios)
10. The Wicked Messenger - The Faces (11-19-70, Paris Theatre, London, England)
11. One More Cup of Coffee - Eric Burden (4-21-76, Rockpalast, WDR Studio L, Germany)
12. Girl From the North Country - Leon Russell (11-21-70, Fillmore East, New York City)
13. It's All Over Now, Baby Blue - The Byrds (1-4-70, Fillmore West, San Francisco)
14. Like a Rolling Stone - Jimi Hendrix, BB King and Paul Butterfield Blues Band (4-15-68, Generation Club, New York City)
15. Blowin' in the Wind/ She Belongs to Me/ Mr. Tamborine Man (Instrumental Medley) - Elton John (12-18-73, BBC Studios, London)
16. I Threw It All Away - George Harrison (1-9-69, Twickenham Studios, London)
17. Mama You Been On My Mind - George Harrison (1-9-69, Twickenham Studios, London)

Gerry Smith