The Turtles – It Ain’t Me Babe

ImageFrom Jimi Hendrix to Eric Clapton to the Grateful Dead, countless rock legends have covered Bob Dylan songs in countless different variations, so what makes The Turtles worth listening to? Well, for starters, It Ain’t Me Babe, which was released on White Whale in 1965, stays remarkably true to Dylan’s folk roots while still bringing their own rock ‘n’ roll sound to the covers. While songs like Jimi Hendrix’s cover of “All Along the Watchtower” or Clapton’s cover of “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” are rock classics, they feature phenomenal guitar work and are far removed from the poeticism of Bob Dylan––the same poeticism that made folk music so prominent in the early to mid sixties. The Turtles, however, seem to strike a perfect balance between the poeticism of Bob Dylan and the sweet sound of rock ‘n’ roll. For example, the album’s title track, “It Ain’t Me Babe” starts off quiet, letting the words and the tambourine do the work. However, during the chorus, Mark Volman’s voice comes crashing through the speakers like the protopunk vocals of MC5 or The Seeds. It is this same balance between the energy and ferocity of rock ‘n’ roll and the meaningfulness and heaviness of folk music that makes all of The Turtles’ Dylan covers on the album fantastic, including “Love Minus Zero” and “Like a Rolling Stone.” Although Bob Dylan was clearly a major influence on this debut album, it is hardly a Dylan cover album. The Turtles load this album with powerful tracks from the early to middle sixties. Continuing in the folk tradition, The Turtles perform impressive renditions of “Eve of Destruction” and “Let Me Be.” Both songs rival the originals and perhaps even surpass them. The Turtles also tap into their surf rock roots (they started as a surf rock cover band called The Crossfires) with the song “Your Maw Said You Cried Last Night.” This song is beautiful, fun and fast. Perhaps my favorite song on the album is also the only song written by The Turtles: “A Walk in the Sun.” This song is fast, loud, and heavy. It’s protopunk, psychedelic, and garage rock all in one. Overall, this album simply brings it. The only gripe I have (and it’s a very small gripe) is that they do not perform more original numbers. But, it’s hard to argue with their cover choices. Every song on this album is really good; some are just down right phenomenal. If you come across this album, BUY IT!  A

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