"The tape stopped, but they were still singing."
July 24, 2015 4:36 PM   Subscribe

Of all the great back catalogs in the history of rock, Bob Dylan’s is among the most covered, his acolytes ranging from The Byrds to Adele via Manfred Mann and Guns N’ Roses. But something tells us you haven’t heard anything quite like Dylan’s Gospel by The Brothers and Sisters, a choir of Los Angeles session singers brought gloriously to the fore for a very special, one-off record.

The brainchild of legendary producer Lou Adler, the album was released by Ode Records in 1969, but due to contract issues, it quickly went out of print. On April 1st, 2014, a new edition of the album was released by Light In The Attic Records. The album's page includes a short video about the sessions. All Things Considered has an interview with Lou Adler and Merry Clayton. Pitchfork has a somewhat acerbic review of the album. And The Guardian's story about the reissue speaks at length with Merry Clayton, whom oldsters remember for her scorching vocals on "Gimme Shelter" [video includes some disturbing images].
posted by Johnny Wallflower (17 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
Many thanks to sallybrown for mentioning this in the recent thread about covers.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 4:37 PM on July 24, 2015 [2 favorites]

Merry Clayton is one of my favourite voices ever. That she did the original "backup" vocals for those famous songs in hair curlers and a robe is one of the best rock and roll stories ever.
posted by clvrmnky at 4:49 PM on July 24, 2015 [2 favorites]

Holy crap, how I have I never heard of this? This is amazing. Just bought the album. Thank you!
posted by neroli at 4:50 PM on July 24, 2015

Works for me. Thanks for the post.
posted by oluckyman at 5:16 PM on July 24, 2015

You can listen to the whole thing on YouTube.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 5:22 PM on July 24, 2015 [2 favorites]

Amazing, had never heard of this. Thank you!
posted by Miko at 5:52 PM on July 24, 2015

Excellent album, thank you for sharing.

The concept of this album reminds me of a similar album of Dylan covers: Black America Sings Bob Dylan. I couldn't find the whole album on youtube, but a few tracks:

Don't Think Twice It's Alright -- Brook Benton
Just Like a Woman -- Nina Simone
Blowin' in the Wind -- OV Wright
Mr. Tambourine Man -- Con Funk Shun
posted by Theophrastus Johnson at 5:59 PM on July 24, 2015 [2 favorites]

I think this is my favorite. Bass, drums, piano, organ, chorus and, most importantly, hand clapping...
posted by jim in austin at 6:39 PM on July 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

Oh yes. This has been one of my favourite albums for the last fifteen years. All Along the Watchtower is just gripping
posted by mdoar at 7:21 PM on July 24, 2015

I am pleased as punch to see this! A friend recommended this album to me because of my love for Bob Dylan and gospel and I listen to it constantly.

(Merry Clayton's sardonic facial expressions to the camera were the best part about 20 Feet from Stardom)
posted by sallybrown at 7:52 PM on July 24, 2015

This is a wonderful album. Thanks for sharing.

Now, since we're discussing covers, I'll mention that music streaming services are a fantastic way to discover interesting covers. I can be entertained for hours listening to different versions of one good song. With that said, I have to share this utter abomination I came across on Spotify somewhat recently: The Pigs: Ignition Remix. We're talking about a song so good that even R. Kelly's creepyness couldn't ruin it, but these guys sure managed.
posted by zachlipton at 10:18 PM on July 24, 2015

A wonderful album. Thanks for the reminder, Johnny Wallflower.
posted by On the Corner at 12:53 AM on July 25, 2015

If it was been recorded in 1981 they would've probably taken a stab at something from 'Desire,' though. Also, maybe The Staple Singers?
posted by box at 5:53 PM on July 25, 2015

Also, I didn't know this was a thing, I don't know how I didn't know this was a thing, and now I bought this thing. So thanks for the post.
posted by box at 5:54 PM on July 25, 2015

Anyone have any other suggestions for (more or less) similar (more or less) secular gospel?

This isn't secular, but if you like this mix of gospel and soulful, high quality music, I recommend Aretha Franklin's live gospel album Amazing Grace - one of the greatest performances ever recorded!
posted by sallybrown at 6:33 AM on July 26, 2015

Heh. The extended edition of Amazing Grace has a perky gospel instrumental of George Harrison's "My Sweet Lord."
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 6:42 AM on July 26, 2015

Aretha's Bridge over Troubled Water is also excellent
posted by MOWOG at 11:18 AM on July 27, 2015

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