Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Things Have Changed... A Bit

My friend Jeff K, an occasional contributor here, suggested...no...demanded I listen to Bettye Lavette's new record of Dylan covers. My first thought was, in a word, no. No more Dylan covers. No more. And as much as I love everything about Miss Lavette's comeback, the covers records are starting to pile up, with five new collections of "interpretations" since her 2005 return.  I just wasn't feeling it.

I finally gave in.

It's great.

Really and truly wonderful.

Credit must go to producer Steve Jordan, who thankfully did not turn Miss Lavette's record into a showcase for his patented, trash bin drum sound. (I love Jordan's playing, just not the sound of his drums.) Instead, this is a soulful collection with brilliant arrangements of a few obvious selections and some, not so obvious selections. And of course, there is Bettye Lavette, who sings the bejeebus out of all of it, but never overdoes it, and neither does the crack band behind the voice. It's all so well-executed, giving space to both singer and songs.

I thought I'd never want to hear another "It Ain't Me Babe" ever again. But this arrangement, at least while I'm basking in the glow of this record, might end up being my favorite. Same goes for the arrangement of "Political World," with a genius key change, that for my money, makes the whole song. The "Inner City Blues" meets Isaac Hayes take on "What Was It You Wanted" is another gem.

"Things Have Changed" works. If you had the same feeling I did, regarding an album of Dylan covers, at least listen to the songs posted here.


kevin m said...

Sal - to be perfectly honest; I have never been exposed to Bettye until this record and what drew me in was Keef's participation.

And since I downloaded the record a week ago, it's been playing non-stop. You're spot on; the arrangements, production and her voice are fantastic.

So now I need to go and visit Miss LaVette's catalogue

Sal Nunziato said...

The Rhino collection, Child Of The 70's, is amazing. Essential. Also, "Interpretations" is a fave of her recent releases.

Tumblingdice70 said...

These two songs are fantastic! I knew it was out but hadn't downloaded it yet, but I will now. Thanks Sal!


Anonymous said...

I like It Ain't Me Babe, but I just finished listening to Political World for the third time in a row - wow, what a great track! How's the rest of the album in regards to funkability?

Gonna have to order this. Sal, you've been killing my wallet lately.


jeff said...

now that I have your attention, there's this great song called "Season in the Sun" that you *must* listen to.

buzzbabyjesus said...

In general, I feel the same way about Dylan covers, Beatles too. Stop it!
This is cool though. "It Ain't Me Babe" is transformed into something else.
Nice to hear Keef, too.

kevin m said...

Thanks Sal. I'll be ordering the Rhino collection later today (after work)

Chris Collins said...

3 songs in now. This is wonderful.

DaveF said...

Wow I didn't see this coming at all. More Dylan covers? Just no. But a big yes to Bettye's interpretations. Another contender for my top ten list this year. Thanks for the heads up. I would've missed this one entirely.

Dr Wu said...

Sal, you’re absolutely right on this: truly wonderful! Been a fan since her work with the Drive-By Truckers, working backwards and forwards from there. Her new millineum discography is a dangerous thing: once you start, that’s what you’ll be listening for the rest of the day. And it’s time spent well. It’s all great. Thanks for the share, Sal

Anonymous said...

Thank you Sal!!!!!

A walk in the woods said...

As a Dylan fanatic, I'm aware of this record, and had heard the title cut, which is great. But I hadn't heard any more... based on this rave review, I will check the whole album out and surely get it. I have a lot of "whole album Dylan covers" projects and love them all, and a new one that avoids the obvious songs and arrangements is welcome.

M_Sharp said...

This one's good enough to pay for twice! Great takes on “It Ain’t Me Babe” and “Times They Are A-Changin’”. “Mama You Been On My Mind” is outstanding, as is "Emotionally Yours". Great performances by everyone, and like you said, no one overdoes it. A real pleasure to listen to.