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

Advertisements

The Box Tops – Dimensions

Image

The main reason I picked up this album is because of the cover. It’s one of those covers that just screams 60s psychedelic music, so I bought it. Dimensions is the last album The Box Tops would release. (They later released a reunion album, Tear Off!, in 1998 after a 30-year hiatus.) The album was released in 1969 by Bell Records. While all of the members of the band stayed in the music industry after The Box Tops’ breakup, none of them would ever find such success again. The band reunited in the late 90s and toured together throughout the early 2000s. The first song on Dimensions is perhaps their most popular. “Soul Deep” is a classic on oldies stations of today. It’s a classic example of the blue-eyed soul that The Box Tops became famous for. It’s a very radio-friendly song: nothing too risky, something for everyone. The next song is a cover of Bob Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released.” It’s a great song to cover for a soul band. They generally stick true to Dylan’s rendition. “Midnight Angel” follows with the first dose of psychedelic injected into the album. While it’s not as well known as the first two songs, it’s the most experimental and interesting of the three. “Together” is a love song that is another solid blue-eyed soul song. It’s not particularly unique or complex, but it’s makes for a good oldies jam. The next song, “I’ll Hold Out My Hand” is similar to the previous in both its sound and context. It’s a classic oldies love song, a little too cookie-cutter perhaps. The final song on the first side of the album is “I Must Be the Devil.” This song was so Chicago-style bluesy that I was shocked to find out it’s not a cover of a blues master. It’s an original jam written by Alex Chilton, the lead guitar player. It’s a slow, sweet love-makin’ sound: a perfect way to close the first side. Speaking of love makin’––”Sweet Cream Ladies,” a song supporting prostitutes, opens up side two of the album. Although it promotes an idea perhaps ahead of its time, the song is truly beautiful in its simple, repetitive approach to a psychedelic beat. This song gets the second side started off in the right direction. “(The) Happy Song” comes exactly as advertised. It’s an upbeat melody that will make you sway your hips and put a smile on your face. The next song, “Ain’t No Way” is a cover of Neil Diamond. It has more horns and more blues than Neil’s rendition. Actually, that’s an understatement: it blows Neil’s version out of the water. The final song of the album, “Rock Me Baby” is the reason this album is on this blog. It’s a psychedelic bluesy jam. This song shows off the depth of the musicians’ ability. They display their ability to improvise and groove with each other. It’s by far the best song on the album. Although the album is very good without this song, “Rock Me Baby” just takes it up another level. Overall the album gets better the deeper you get into it. A couple of the songs on side one might be a little too radio friendly for fans of this blog, but the album gets bluesier and better as it progresses. The album has a thin but audible psychedelic sprinkling throughout: just enough to make psychedelic rock/pop fans happy to own it. If you like this blog, buy this album.  A-