Shadows In The Night is Bob Dylan’s 36th studio album. Whilst it might seem strange that the man often regarded as the songwriter’s songwriter would release an album completely consisting of cover versions, it’s not the first time that his albums have been either mostly comprised (Bob Dylan, Self-Portrait) or even completely comprised (Good As I Been To You, World Gone Wrong, Christmas In The Heart), of cover versions, or if you want to be specific, traditional songs.
This time round, the theme is songs popularised by Frank Sinatra in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Reportedly 23 songs were recorded – so we can either expect another studio album to reveal more, or another of his fantastic Bootleg series. And as a whole album, it hangs together really, really well. The sleeve suggests the classic smoky late night atmosphere of Sinatra’s studio albums or jazz albums of the period. These are songs that require a croon – which he does well. Whilst it falters a little on ‘Stay With Me’ the vocal style is midway between Sinatra and Dylan at his more gruff.
Indeed some of these covers are genuinely moving – the South Pacific song ‘Some Enchanted Evening’ and though brief, ‘Autumn Leaves’ is this scribe’s favourite. It’s a gorgeous album overall, with a fantastic melancholy that makes it something to treasure. Covers albums can be hit or miss, but overall this is a fine example of one that works, and shows us that six decades in, Dylan is still capable of surprises.
There’s a common belief that ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ by Queen was the first music video ever. The reality is that promotional films had ben getting made for music since back in the forties, and there’s sections of musical films which would probably have been able to be used.
This wasn’t the Beatles’ first double A-side (‘Eleanor Rigby’/’Yellow Submarine’ in the UK) and even though I still hold Revolver up as my favourite album ever, I think those two tracks were probably the weakest on it – though I obviously understand why Parlophone might have baulked at putting out ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’/’Love You To’ as a single, had it been discussed.
This was the first Beatles single in several years not to get to no.1 (held off by Engelbert Humperdinck’s ‘Please Release Me – oh the indignity!) yet it was one of their strongest singles, pulling together two of their best songs together ‘Strawberry Fields Ever’ and ‘Penny Lane.’ Both of them had ‘promotional films’ made for them – and this well over a decade before MTV launched in the US! NB I suspect the sleeve at the top was not the UK one – but can you guess why?
Oh and call it what you want, but this is a flippin’ well-iconic music video/film clip/promotional video.
From D.A. Pennebaker’s Bob Dylan documentary Don’t Look Back
Finally, another early example of a promo video. This is the Rolling Stones doing ‘It’s Only Rock’n’Roll (But I like It)’ in 1974. Years ago, I met bassist Bill Wyman (he was doing a signing in the bookshop where I worked at the tiome, Ottakar’s on George St, now gone). He told me that they’d each been insured for £1,000,000 for this video. Not surprising when you get to about three and a half minutes in…
Yup, just a couple of years after the rather great actually Modern Times, Bob Dylan has made the opening track on his new album Together Through Life available for just twenty-four hours. It’s called
So, what does it sound like? Well, I rate Dylan and if he dipped in the eighties (an accusation that was also levelled at Neil Young and David Bowie, amongst others), he’s certainly still continued to produce great stuff as the years have gone by. He may be of pensionable age, but his talent sure as heck isn’t.
A friend said they thought this sounded like ‘Black Magic Woman’ by Santana, but ‘in a good way.’ I hear an element of this. It’s certainly got quite…well, not a European feel per se , but certainly not just American. According to Uncut’s Allan Jones, “Dylan had been asked by the French film director Olivier Dahan, who made the Edith Piaf biopic, La Vie En Rose…to write some songs for his new movie, My Own Love Song. Dylan duly came up with a ballad called “Life Is Hard”, and was so inspired the next thing anyone knew he’d written nine more new songs and not long after that – bingo! – here’s Together Through Life in all its rowdy glory.”
Sure, you know from the people that leave comments and there are various things you can do to track readers, but sometimes you don’t know who’s reading, until some follow-up happens.
This morning Mrs 17 Seconds and I came in from doing our weekly food shop, to find a phone message from Mother Seconds, asking if I was ok, as she had just been reading 17 Seconds, and I had said I was stressed, and was I OK?
Well, I was touched she had rung to ask. I’d managed to unwind slightly over the weekend.
And then embarassed that I had forgotten her and Father seconds’ wedding anniversary a few days ago.
So folks, these are few you. lots of love, a lot of apologies and hopefully we will have spoken by the time you read this. Hell, I’ve dedicated several posts to Mrs 17 Seconds and Brother Seconds, it’s time you had one too.
Maybe not the stuff I normally post here at 17 Seconds, but as a blogger rather than an editor who has to answer to people…why not?
I’m by no means an authority on this genre (arguably, I’m not an authority on any genre) but this seems to fit with what I want to listen to tonight).
Fairport Convention -‘A Sailor’s Life.’ mp3
Fairport Convention -‘I’ll Keep It With Mine.’ mp3
Of course, playing Fairport Convention led me to someone I love, even though I’m far from an authority on his very wide body of work: Richard Thompson. As well as his solo work, and being guitarist for Fairport Convention in the sixties, Thompson also made some damn fine records with his then wife, Linda.
Richard and Linda Thompson -‘Shoot Out The Lights.’ mp3
Richard and Linda Thompson -‘I’ll keep It With Mine (live).’ mp3
And because it kinda fits with what I want to hear tonight, it may be obvious, but why not?