Home > Album Reviews, In the Spotlight, Reviewed > Light in the Attic Reissues Dylan Gospel Covers Album

Light in the Attic Reissues Dylan Gospel Covers Album


by Cat Johnson

I’ve always thought that a good gospel choir could make any song sound amazing. “Mary Had a Little Lamb?” No problem. “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad?” Brilliant! So throw a song such as Bob Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released” into the mix and we’re talking a potentially transformative situation here.

In 1969, a group of session singers called Brothers and Sisters took on the Dylan catalog for Ode Records, the record label of renowned producer Lou Adler. With roots in the Baptist churches of Los Angeles, Brothers and Sisters tapped into the soul, human questioning, and acceptance that’s woven throughout Dylan’s material. Now, Light in the Attic has reissued the classic, rafter-raising album on CD and vinyl. Here’s the track list:

1. The Times They Are A Changin’
2. I Shall Be Released
3. Lay Lady Lay
4. Hey Mr. Tambourine Man
5. All Along The Watchtower
6. The Mighty Quinn
7. Chimes Of Freedom
8. I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight
9. My Back Pages
10. Just Like A Woman

While it’s a bit odd to hear “Lay Lady Lay” and “All Along the Watchtower” reworked in the gospel style, other tunes, including “I Shall Be Released,” sound as though they were made to be sung in church.

Here’s an excerpt of what Light in the Attic has to say about the project:

The genesis of the project was Lou Adler, the music business visionary who staged the legendary Monterey International Pop Festival. He imagined a project that combined the songs of Dylan with L.A.‘s most sought after session singers, most of which began their singing in the Baptist churches of South Los Angeles. “Listening to Dylan’s songs, I felt there was a gospel-like feel to them, both spiritually and lyrically,” Adler says in the liner notes. “So those two ideas, to work with these singers and to explore that side of Dylan – came together.”

Recording sessions at Sound Recorders Studios in Hollywood were a four-day party, with food, drink and far more musicians than were ordered, many of the singers bringing along cousins, mothers, partners and more. Carole King came to hear, as did Peggy Lipton and Papa John Phillips. It was a rock ‘n’ roll version of a gospel church. “Lou just put on a big, crazy party,” remembers Edna Wright. “He had all these people together, all this raw talent. And we were there for nothing but the love of singing.”

If you’re a fan of Dylan, gospel, Light in the Attic, soul music, or killer reissues, you’re going to want to give this one a spin. Here’s a teaser:

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