How Many Roads: Black America Sings Bob Dylan

How Many Roads: Black America Sings Bob Dylan

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Bob Dylan is not a black artist; not thought of as an R&B/soul/blues artist; and not even especially thought of as a songwriter often covered by African Americans. Yet his compositions have garnered their share of interpretations by black musicians, and 20 such covers from 1964-1990 were assembled for this unusual compilation. The Ace label excels at putting together

Overview

Bob Dylan is not a black artist; not thought of as an R&B/soul/blues artist; and not even especially thought of as a songwriter often covered by African Americans. Yet his compositions have garnered their share of interpretations by black musicians, and 20 such covers from 1964-1990 were assembled for this unusual compilation. The Ace label excels at putting together imaginative, cross-licensed anthologies bridging different eras and styles, as well as combining material by stars and unknowns, and How Many Roads: Black America Sings Bob Dylan is no exception. None of these tracks were hits, but the majority of the performers were either very popular (Nina Simone, Solomon Burke, Gary "U.S." Bonds, Booker T. Jones, Esther Phillips, Brook Benton, the Isley Brothers, the Neville Brothers, the O'Jays, the Staple Singers, Patti LaBelle) or had a solid level of niche popularity (the Persuasions, Howard Tate, Freddie Scott, Bobby Womack). Most of the songs date from the '60s, but a couple post-'60s compositions do dot the program. But while there's no faulting this CD on packaging grounds (including Ace's usual excellent liner notes), the music isn't quite as exciting as it is historically interesting. For the most part, these don't rate among either the best or more inventive Dylan covers. They're often simply competent tracks done in a more soul-oriented style than these items usually are. Highlights are naturally the cuts where performers strongly imprint their own personalities or come up with a particularly effective arrangement, like Nina Simone's impassioned "Just Like a Woman"; the Isley Brothers' surprisingly restrained and heartfelt "Lay Lady Lay"; the Persuasions' a cappella "The Man in Me"; and the Staple Singers' "Masters of War," which with a 1964 recording date goes back to their folk days. It might be a little harsh to suggest that some of the lesser efforts verge on forced novelty, but certainly Solomon Burke's strange 1965 version of "Maggie's Farm" does not play to that great soul singer's strengths. Other items are not so much worthy of praise or criticism as they are fairly perfunctory or unremarkable. It's also undeniable that this is missing some of the best and most famous African American Dylan covers, like Jimi Hendrix's "All Along the Watchtower," Richie Havens' "Just Like a Woman," Stevie Wonder's "Blowin' in the Wind," or (to dig a little deeper) anything from Odetta's fine Odetta Sings Dylan album. There might be room for such selections on subsequent volumes, however, and overall this does a commendable job of putting an eclectic mix of lesser-celebrated Dylan covers in one place.

Product Details

Release Date:
10/05/2010
Label:
Ace Records Uk
UPC:
0029667042420
catalogNumber:
6704242
Rank:
37876

Related Subjects

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Con Funk Shun   Conductor
Ron Fair   Conductor
William S. Fischer   Conductor
James Carmichael   Conductor

Technical Credits

Nina Simone   Arranger
Bob Dylan   Composer
Isley Brothers   Arranger
Bobby Womack   Producer
Freddie Scott   Producer
Con Funk Shun   Arranger
Willie Mitchell   Producer
David Anderle   Producer
David Dashev   Producer
Joel Dorn   Producer
Ron Fair   Arranger,Producer
William S. Fischer   Director
O'Kelly Isley   Producer
Ronald Isley   Producer
Rudolph Isley   Producer
Orrin Keepnews   Producer
Bert Keyes   Arranger,Director
Daniel Lanois   Producer
Eric Malamud   Producer
Arif Mardin   Arranger,Producer
George Patterson   Arranger
Jerry Ragovoy   Arranger,Producer
Lelan Rogers   Producer
Nat Shapiro   Producer
Jerry Wexler   Producer
Harold Wheeler   Arranger,Producer
Bergen White   Arranger
Jackie Mills   Producer
Quin Ivy   Producer
Tony Rounce   Liner Notes,Photo Courtesy
David Robinson   Arranger,Producer
James Carmichael   Arranger
Tommy Kaye   Producer
Gene "Bowlegs" Miller   Arranger
Steve Van Zandt   Producer
Jeffrey Cohen   Producer
Ted Sturges   Producer

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