(Flashback Friday) The Brothers and Sisters: Dylan’s Gospel
There are many mediocre Bob Dylan cover albums, both old and new. While it certainly isn’t perfect, The Brothers and Sisters: Dylan’s Gospel clearly is near the top of the pile, and an outstanding album that is getting a richly deserved reissue courtesy of the great folks at Light in the Attic records.
There are a few songs on the LP that seem included solely as nods to tepid Bob Dylan fans who really would never have been purchasing this album anyways, it is mostly a powerful tribute to the righteous joy of Dylan’s songwriting and the shared genius of Lou Adler’s production and Merry Clayton’s spine-tingling vocal chords.
The songs streaming below (“All Along the Watchtower,” “I Shall Be Released,” & “The Times They Are A-Changin'”) are the shining lights that really propel this album forward. Dylan’s more typical “hits,” like “Lay Lady Lay,” “I’ll Be Your Lady Tonight,” and “Mr. Tambourine Man,” don’t feel as commanding as the more personal –“Just Like A Woman”– or timeless –“Chimes of Freedom”– material that made the cut. There also were some more throwaway tracks, like “The Mighty Quinn,” that Adler and the choir were able to really bring to life. There are many moments when the “choir” portion of the title is at the forefront, like the previously mentioned “Chimes of Freedom,” but the real story on the album is Ms. Clayton (best known for her amazing role on the Stones “Gimmie Shelter”). Her voice could fill an entire stadium, and with the lush production and the (mostly) classic material, her magical voice is riding as high as ever.
As a cover album, this isn’t going to ever have a chance to be more than a token album, but it stretches that limit. When the band and Clayton hit their zenith on some of Dylan’s most powerful work, this becomes a “must own” LP. You can listen below to a few examples of the power of the record and buy the reissue from Light in the Attic HERE.