Bob Dylan's oft-slighted '80s output gets new life on covers album

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Photo by Tony Nelson
Craig Finn is just one of the artists featured on the new compilation of Dylan covers

The music of Bob Dylan has always set up well to be reinterpreted and reworked by other bands and artists. Some of the most beloved Dylan songs of all time are actually cover versions, made indelible by musicians (Peter, Paul and Mary, the Byrds, Jimi Hendrix, Manfred Mann, George Harrison, PJ Harvey, etc...) who all came by the music second hand. It speaks to the depth and breadth of Dylan's timeless catalog that each new generation continues to draw inspiration from the Bard from the North Country.

On March 25, an entire album of covers will be released that will shine a spotlight on Dylan's oft-disparaged decade of the '80s, with a series of new interpretations of Bob's songs by modern artists like Built to Spill (hear their version of "Jokerman" below), Blitzen Trapper, Deer Tick, Elvis Perkins, Glen Hansard, Bonnie "Prince Billy," Aaron Freeman of Ween & Slash (!!), and many others, including two musicians with local ties, Craig Finn and Chastity Brown.

See Also: Bob Dylan's "The Times They Are A-Changin'" turns 50: How much has actually changed?



The compilation, released by ATO Records, is called simply, Bob Dylan in the 80s: Volume One, and it aims to shine a new light on some of Dylan's material that has long been ignored and openly criticized.

Jonathan Lethem composed the liner notes for the collection, and he writes of the Dylan of that era: "Given the benefit of decades more hindsight, our Dylan was a lot better than anyone knew...Were one to begin compiling instances of greatness in the type of songwriting that defines our esteem for the earlier Dylan - complex, suggestive, glinting, cascading constructions - you'd hit a dozen examples even before the 'comeback' of Oh Mercy."

The album's co-producer Jesse Lauter has this to say about the aims of this new collection of covers: "'80s Dylan is by no means a celebrated period in his career. It was, in fact, the lowest point of his commercial success even though he released eight studio albums. Our goal was to showcase one of the greatest artists of our time during an off-rhythm period and bring a stronger sense of harmony to the material at hand. [Co-producer] Sean [O'Brien] and I did everything we could to make this album flow together sonically as if you were listening to a concept album."

Portions of the proceeds from the sales of Bob Dylan in the '80s will go to the charity, Pencils of Promise, a non-profit organization that builds schools and increases educational opportunities in the developing world. The album is available for pre-order now.

Here is the complete tracklisting and album art for Bob Dylan in the 80s: Volume One:

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1) Langhorne Slim & The Law - "Got My Mind Made Up"(from Knocked Out Loaded, 1986)

2) Built To Spill - "Jokerman" (from Infidels, 1983)

3) Reggie Watts - "Brownsville Girl (Reprise)" (from Knocked Out Loaded, 1986)

4) Craig Finn (The Hold Steady) - "Sweetheart Like You" (from Infidels, 1983)

5) Ivan & Alyosha - "You Changed My Life" (from Shot Of Love outtakes, 1981)

6) Deer Tick - "Night After Night" (from Hearts of Fire Soundtrack, 1987)

7) Dawn Landes & Bonnie "Prince" Billy - "Dark Eyes" (from Empire Burlesque, 1985)

8) Tea Leaf Green - "Waiting To Get Beat" (from Empire Burlesque outtakes, 1985)

9) Aaron Freeman of Ween & Slash - "Wiggle Wiggle (from Under The Red Sky, 1990)

10) Elvis Perkins - "Congratulations" (from Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1, 1988)

11) Hannah Cohen - "Covenant Woman" (from Saved, 1980)

12) Marco Benevento - "Every Grain Of Sand" (from Shot Of Love, 1981)

13) Yellowbirds - "Series Of Dreams" (from Oh Mercy outtakes, 1989)

14) Blitzen Trapper - "Unbelievable" (from Under The Red Sky, 1990)

15) Lucius - "When The Night Comes Falling From The Sky" (from Empire Burlesque, 1985)

16) Glen Hansard - "Pressing On" (from Saved, 1980)

17) Carl Broemel (My Morning Jacket) - "Death Is Not The End" (from Down In The Groove, 1988)

-- Bonus tracks available exclusively via iTunes as a Deluxe Edition -- and will also be included on the digital download card that accompanies the vinyl.

1) Spirit Family Reunion - "Man Of Peace" (from Infidels, 1983)

2) Widespread Panic - "Solid Rock" (from Saved, 1980)

3) Grayson Capps - "Silvio" (from Down In The Groove, 1988)

4) Neal Casal - "Property Of Jesus" (from Shot Of Love, 1981)

5) The Low Anthem - "Lenny Bruce" (from Shot Of Love, 1981)

6) Jesse Elliott (These United States) - "Handy Dandy" (from Under The Red Sky, 1990)

7) Chastity Brown - "Saving Grace" (from Saved, 1980)


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