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Van Morrison, The Healing Game. One of his later albums, but with some great tracks - the title track, The Burning Ground and This Once Was My Life (with Georgie Fame's call-and-response backing voca

God what an innocent I was (am) - never realised the Sweetest Girl was about H. Will have to try to find my copy now and listen again. And Jacques Derrida - Scritti Politti changed my life - in a sm

Liza, That song you mentioned a while back (you asked if you were crazy to like it), the band's name escapes me, well it's on the radio all the time now and now I like it. (They remind me of Meatloaf,

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Despite my vagueness about Tim Buckley, I am sound on Jeff, whose Grace is at #45. I have some albums, and I know the blockbuster songs on this; the rest is good too. I recall I accused Nick Cave of histrionic vocals on The Birthday Party's debut. Histrionics is kind of the point here, but Buckley has such wonderful control over his vocal gymnastics I think it makes it okay.


So why is Orange Juice at #44?  I think of them, if at all, as a singles band with short-lived UK chart success. I don't think I've ever tried to listen to an album, and I was right not to. Collins, of course, is as tuneless a vocalist as Kevin Rowland, but Dexys had great songs. That Orange Juice appears in this list higher than Buzzcocks is farcical.  Something about 2006 and the people who made the list I guess. Jeez, I'd even put Echo & the Bunnymen higher than this.  (I am just comparing with UK acts of the era; it's obviously kind of weird that they're above even mediocre Bob Dylan.)

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Speaking of folk, it does contain, at #56, Bob Dylan -- which, yes, does involve country and blues as well as folk.


This is an oddity. If I ever knew, I had forgotten that this is almost entirely an album of covers, recorded by Dylan when he was 20.  That means it's going to appeal primarily to those people who are interested in Dylan's vocal stylings as much as his songs. I am not among those people.


Yes, some of this is fresh and raw and appealing. But some of the singing, on "House of the Rising Sun," for example, is pretty painful. It did occur to me, though, that anachronism should be avoided. I would much rather listen to Ralph Stanley or Blind Lemon Jefferson sing the relevant songs here; but in 1962 that probably would have been very difficult, certainly for the people who put the album at No 13 in the UK chart. How lucky we are now. 


A quick word about #55, New Boots and Panties. I bought it when it came out, and know every groove. Worth saying that one of the reasons it sounds fresh today was that it was an unusually successful experiment in combining the rough edge of pub rock (and even the obnoxiousness of early punk) with sophisticated jazz and funk backing from a superb band.  Sounds like a recipe for disaster, but no; and Dury's lyrics remain hilarious.


Thinking about this, I think you might be considering this album in the wrong context.  This isn't an album of "covers", and it certainly wasn't meant for people who couldn't find Ralph Stanley albums.  It was part of the "folk revival".  The songs weren't written by the singer because the folk revivalists didn't write new songs:  they revived and interpreted old ones.  That was the whole point.  I would argue that Dylan's version of the old, old song "Man of Constant Sorrow" assumed familiarity with the Stanley Brothers' (the same way any current jazz saxophone version of "Body and Soul" assumes familiarity with Coleman Hawkins's).  (I'm not saying I like "folk revival" music, BTW -- in fact, I hate it -- I'm just trying to specify what it was, to clarify audience expectations.)


Dylan was exciting to that audience because of his raw style.  He didn't smooth out or prettify the music.  He left it as weird as it the originals were on Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music (now THAT I love).  Which is why even anti-folkies such as myself can listen to this album with pleasure (even if it's not what we're primarily interested in Dylan for).


Folk revivalists didn't write new songs because they weren't expected to.  Or rather, they were expected not to.  When Dylan began writing most of his own material, that was controversial.  Not as controversial as his Going Electric, but still controversial.  (People like Pete Seeger wrote songs, but they weren't in any way personal or particularly innovative within the genre.)  (Woody Guthrie wrote songs -- but he was what the revivalists were reviving.)

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To speak more abstractly, I think it's anachronistic to use the term "covers" to describe what Dylan was doing on his first album.


Back then, the term "cover record" still had its original meaning (which I for one wish it kept, for purposes of clarity):  a competing version of a new song, made by a different singer in an attempt to beat the original version to airplay (often done by white artists of songs by black artists whose access to mass airplay would have been limited).


You would never talk then of, say, Frank Sinatra "covering" "I've Got You Under My Skin".  It was already a standard.  He did a version of it.


So, too, Dylan didn't "cover" the (old old) songs on his first album, which he assumed his audience knew.  He did versions of them.  Just like the other folkies did.


It was Dylan himself who would (on subsequent records) establish the expectation that such artists would write their own material (which expectation is a necessary precondition for the current meaning of the term "cover").  (Even into the late Sixties, people like Joan Baez, Judy Collins, and Tom Rush didn't.  Although they did come to start interpreting new songs they'd found by current songwriters instead of resurrecting old folk songs.) (But those weren't "covers" even under the current usage, because most of the songwriters -- Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, Randy Newman -- weren't yet recording themselves.)

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Sneak: I know where you’re coming from on this, but I can’t say that I think you’re totally correct. Dylan’s second album was only a year after his first & it had originals that he wrote beforehand. And, although you correctly listed some of the other folk artists who were mainly doing covers around then, there were, for example, others like Tom Paxton & Phil Ochs doing tons of originals around that time as well.

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Wasn't Phil Ochs later?  (Like, wasn't he directly influenced by Dylan?) (Like didn't he follow Dylan around and want to be Dylan?) (Not knocking Phil, understand.)


I'm thinking of Dylan as being kind of the tail end of the people before Paxton.


And I think it's telling that Columbia Records wouldn't let Dylan put those existing self-written songs on a record until his first album had been a hit.*  They knew the audience didn't expect him to be doing original material.  And, as I said, he caught shit from the Sing Out! crowd when he did.


* Kind of like the way Impulse! compelled Coltrane to record ballad and standards albums (which were great, don't get me wrong) to soften up the market before they'd let him record stuff like A Love Supreme.

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Hmmmm.  OK, Paxton was publishing songs in 1962.  But they were Seeger-like songs:  imitations of old folk material (things like "Rambiing Boy").  They were like, in fact, the few originals Bob Dylan was allowed to put on his debut album, which were essentially Woody Guthrie retreads.

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