A friend of mine told me this album was pretty great. I can’t remember whether or not he said it was one of the great cover albums of all time, but I feel like it was implied if not explicit. And I’ve read elsewhere that it is among them. So my expectations were pretty high, because I quite like a great cover album.
One look at the track listing and you can tell Ferry has a pretty expansive idea of what he wants to sing; there’s Dylan, there’s perhaps the most serious (certainly the most controversial) lyric the Stones ever wrote, there are standards, and then there’s “It’s My Party.” That’s just a brief idea of how diverse this selection is, at least if you go by the original performers.
To his eternal credit, for the most part Ferry makes all the tracks sound as if they are Bryan Ferry tracks, and as if they all belong together, something that’s hard to imagine if you just google the lyrics to “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonn Fall” and “It’s My Party” and read them back to back.
But my expectations were pretty high, rightly or wrongly, and I must say that, for the most part, few if any of these covers are so good that they make forget the original (or most famous version); few make me completely rethink the song (though a couple do) or see it in a completely new light. Because, as much as they all sound like Bryan Ferry songs, they still sound like the originals too. For some people, I suspect that’s a plus, but I like my covers interesting, and I’m not sure how many of these qualify as “interesting.”
I generally enjoy this; I could listen to it over and over. I just feel like there are cover albums out there that utterly transform the songs in really neat ways and this is not one of those albums. And I’d rather listen to one of those.
Check out this bonkers track listing:
- “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall” (Bob Dylan cover from the album The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan (1962)) by Bob Dylan 5:19
- “River of Salt” (Ketty Lester cover from the album Love Letters (1962)) by Irving Brown, Bernard Zackery, Jan Zackery 1:48
- “Don’t Ever Change” (Crickets cover) by Gerry Goffin, Carole King 2:15
- “Piece of My Heart” (Erma Franklin cover from the 1967 single) by Jerry Ragovoy, Bert Berns 3:06
- “Baby I Don’t Care” (Elvis cover) by Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller 1:50
- “It’s My Party” (Lesley Gore cover from the album I’ll Cry If I Want to (1963)) by Walter Gold, John Gluck Jr., Herb Weiner 2:00
- “Don’t Worry Baby” (The Beach Boys cover from the album Shut Down Volume 2 (1964)) by rian Wilson, Roger Christian 4:13
- “Sympathy for the Devil” (The Rolling Stones cover from the album Beggars Banquet (1968)) by Mick Jagger, Keith Richards 5:50
- “The Tracks of My Tears” (The Miracles cover from the album Going to a Go-Go (1965)) by William “Smokey” Robinson, Jr., Warren Moore, Marvin Tarplin 3:04
- “You Won’t See Me” (The Beatles cover from the album Rubber Soul (1965)) by Paul McCartney 2:32
- “I Love How You Love Me” (The Paris Sisters cover from the 1961 single) by Barry Mann, Larry Kolber 3:02
- “Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever” (Four Tops cover from the album On Top (1966)) by Ivy Jo Hunter, Stevie Wonder 3:06
- “These Foolish Things” (standard) by Jack Strachey (music), Eric Maschwitz (lyrics) 5:41