Jan 312017

In October of 2015, when Bob Dylan started performing Frank Sinatra covers that weren’t on his first standards album Shadows in the Night live, we wrote Shadows Volume 2 may be closer than you think.” Sure enough, a few months later, that “Volume 2” appeared, titled Fallen Angels.

Then this past June, we noticed that another American songbook standard had entered his setlists, prompting us to write a post titled Is Bob Dylan Planning a Third Album of Frank Sinatra Covers?. And today we got our answer: Yes. It’s called Triplicate and it’s three discs long.

We cheered that first album Shadows in the Night as loudly as anyone – we even named it the best covers album of the year. Last year, though, Fallen Angels didn’t even make our year-end list. Those songs reportedly came from the same sessions as the Shadows tracks, and it sounded like it. Songs that weren’t good enough to go on Shadows ended up on Fallen Angels. One standards album, as it turned out, was enough.

But it wasn’t for Bob. Nor was two standards albums. On March 31, we’re getting another. Or, rather, we’re getting three more bundled together as his first three-disc album ever. The first single, “I Could Have Told You,” is that same song we wrote about back in June.

Supposedly all these thirty new covers were at least recorded in a new session, so they’re not just scraps that weren’t even good enough to make the first scraps album. And “I Could Have Told You” sounds fine. Nothing revelatory – not like his “That Lucky Old Sun” or “Stay with Me” from the first album – but fine. Still though, enough is enough.

Though Bob Dylan can be a wonderful song-interpreter – something we’ve celebrated again and again – there’s no question that his greatest contribution to the world of cover songs has been writing songs for others to cover. Many of the greatest and most iconic covers of all time have come from Dylan songs. Hell, the most popular post in our site’s history is a 3,000-word history of one of them, Jimi Hendrix’s “All Along the Watchtower.”

That’s what we need, Bob. Write the next “All Along the Watchtower” for the next Jimi Hendrix to cover. We’ll even take a “Wiggle Wiggle” at this point. This standards thing has gone far enough and, to quote one of your own songs, beyond here lies nothin’.

You can pre-order ‘Triplicate’ here if you’re so inclined, but we’d suggest you just get ‘Shadows in the Night’ if you haven’t already.

Cover Me is now on Patreon! If you love cover songs, we hope you will consider supporting us there with a small monthly subscription. There are a bunch of exclusive perks only for patrons: playlists, newsletters, downloads, discussions, polls - hell, tell us what song you would like to hear covered and we will make it happen. Learn more at Patreon.

  24 Responses to “Bob, Quit It with the Covers Albums”

Comments (23) Pingbacks (1)

  2. Couldn’t disagree more. While I would be DELIGHTED with new original material I am indebted to Mr. Dylan for turning me on to so many songs that he didn’t write over the years. Hell there’s a book called Songs He Didn’t Write that catalogues them. That said the last two albums are certainly open to criticism. Mine is that he chose so many songs that are played at the same tempo but when he mixes them in at concerts they sound wonderful. Also his singing over the last few tours has been great. I just count my blessings that he’s still putting himself out there. Bob will always do what he wants to do and I’m glad to go along for the ride. Now I would love to hear that this latest is a place-setter for a new album of originals produced by Daniel Lanois. Hope springs eternal. :)

  3. I should’ve added that I really like your blog. Thanks!

  4. Bob does very nice versions of songs that have been down AMAZINGLY well by Sinatra, Crosby, Como, Torme, Bennett and many others… I have all the masters doing these songs… this is not Bob’s strength… I would rather see him write new songs in the style of the old classics…. hearing Bob do “ok” versions of old songs is like listening to Bruce Springsteen do a concert of calypso music… I mean, what’s the f**king point?

  5. If he wants to empty venues carry on with the copies. He didn’t get the nobel prize for bad copies he got it for the words he composed and that’s what most fans want to hear!

  6. Can’t hide my disappointment at what’s coming up in March … Don’t even like what looks like the cover either. Ah well. There’s no telling him.

  7. Lanois and Bob, please. enough covers.

  8. I liked most of the last two records. His voice is stronger than it’s been in years. I even liked his cover of “Once Upon A Time” in the Tony Bennett 90th birthday broadcast. But I agree. This cover craze is getting stale. Write something original.

    • Wouldn’t it be good if he could rediscover his own melodies, and sing his own original songs with the same tunefulness that he can manage for the Sinatra covers.

  9. Im 66 and have loved Dylan through thick and thin and realise he isnt a young man any more able top perform some of his rocking classics but Im afraid after buying the first two cover albums this train has hit the buffer.He is coming to Glasgow soon but no way am I paying to listen to the likes of this.

  10. For 50+ years Bob has been doing things that at the time few understood, the vast majority of which turned out to be spectacular – even if it took a long time for anyone or everyone else to understand. If you’re a fan and don’t give him 100% benefit-of-the-doubt to do anything he wants, you’re not really where you need to be. Also, he’s 75 and the right thing to do now may not be what it was 10-30-50 years ago. Worlds of old stuff is being released every year. New stuff too… Shut up and enjoy.

  11. I like to put on one of the cover albums with four other varied choices by other artists and set the CD player to random. The songs stand up very well and you overcome the repetitive tempo problem.

  12. I like hearing Bob sing the standards, especially the second album (more variety), but frankly I mostly enjoy listening to his killer band.

  13. I loved Tempest great album in my opinion. I can not listen to more than a few songs of these cover albums without being bored out of my mind. Write,sing use that incredible band please.

  14. i can discover songs on youtube anytime I want to…I don’t need a ‘way past his prime’ Bob to expose me to classics or non-classics. the least he could do is mine some rare blues songs like Monkey Joe Taxes on My Pole https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QUrGQisRgRg

  15. You’re looking at this as either/or, and so am I. Only you seem to see it as Bob releasing covers instead of new originals, while I see it as Bob releasing covers instead of nothing at all. If he was capable of writing quality material right now, he’d be doing so and releasing it. Apparently he’s not. So we get new recordings of songs he cares about done well. Is that better than hearing nothing from him? Well hell yeah.

    • This is what I was thinking. I would love new Dylan but to be honest, it’s really just possible he can’t write songs anymore or doesn’t like what he does write.

      Hopefully he’s just holding back, getting inspired, and preparing a magnum opus or even a quality late career album, but we may have just seen the end of new Dylan songwriting until the inevitable demo/b-sides collections start rolling out.

  16. One more Dylan/Lanois collaboration of original songs is what the world needs right now

  17. As a huge Dylan fan, I have travelled to catch a few shows in a row many times. The nature of the shows changed after Larry Campbell left the band. I would still go to shows, and buy Dylan’s new releases as they came out.

    When Dylan started on his covers kick, I really wasn’t interested, whether live or in studio. Sinatra covers are not what I go to Dylan for, believe me.

    Time was when Dylan changed the setlist every night. The setlists have been so uniform for so long now. That has a lot to do with why I don’t travel to see Dylan anymore.

    Don’t get me wrong, love Bob!

 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>