By Tony Attwood
Well, no, I’m not going to write a complete article on “It’s alright ma’s” cover versions, because Jochen has already done that, and I can’t compete. If you want to hear a whole string of staggering versions simply click here for his article.
Moving on to JWH, the problem here for performers is that the melody is very striking and so as soon as one starts out on the song we know it all too well – so the problem is, how to make a difference?
McKendree Spring makes no attempt to change the melody but instead the band tears up all concept of the original accompaniment and instead throw anything they can find at the piece.
As a result you’ve got everything from a wild harmonica, a bass that is playing a set of variations on the melody and a rhythm guitar having great fun all on its own.
I can’t think of what else I have heard that is quite like this. Because we all know the melody so well, it is easy to miss the organised chaos that is now happening behind it but I think it’s great fun – and indeed “chaos” is not really the word I should use, because this is clearly carefully planned.
It’s one of those versions that I don’t think I’ll go back and play very often, but yes, it makes me smile.
A totally different approach comes from Phil Cunneen; the accompaniment is again changed but with a much more gentle approach so that by the time we’ve got to the instrumental break, we really are in a different territory. A sunny day where everyone is a jolly nice person. JWH as Robin Hood in fact.
Once again the bass player gets a real part of his own to meander around, and yes, I did notice the fact that they slipped in an extra chord along the way.
Just one more… try it with a reggae beat and yes it works rather well. In fact, listening to this I could find myself imagining that this was how the song was meant to sound. Of course, I know it wasn’t but still…. it might have been.
Here’s a list of most of the articles from this series…
- The song with numbers in the title.
- Ain’t Talkin
- All I really want to do
- Apple Suckling and Are you Ready.
- As I went out one morning
- Ballad for a Friend
- Ballad in Plain D
- Ballad of a thin man
- Frankie Lee and Judas Priest
- The ballad of Hollis Brown
- Beyond here lies nothing
- Blind Willie McTell
- Black Crow Blues (more fun than you might recall)
- An unexpected cover of “Black Diamond Bay”
- Blowin in the wind as never before
- Bob Dylan’s Dream
- You will not believe this… 115th Dream revisited
- Boots of Spanish leather
- Born in Time
- Buckets of Rain
- Can you please crawl out your window
- Can’t wait
- Changing of the Guard
- Chimes of Freedom
- Country Pie
- Crash on the Levee
- Dark Eyes
- Dear Landlord
- Desolation Row as never ever before (twice)
- Don’t fall apart on me tonight.
- Don’t think twice
- Down along the cove
- Drifter’s Escape
- Duquesne Whistle
- Farewell Angelina
- Foot of Pride and Forever Young
- Fourth Time Around
- From a Buick 6
- Gates of Eden
- Gotta Serve Somebody
- Hard Rain’s a-gonna Fall.
- 42 Heart of Mine
- 43: High Water
- 44: Highway 61.5
- 45: Hurricane
- 46: I am a lonesome hobo
- 47: I believe in you
- 48: I contain multitudes
- 49: I don’t believe you.
- 50: I love you too much
- 51: I pity the poor immigrent.
- 52: I shall be released
- 53: I threw it all away
- 54: I want you
- 55: I was young when I left home
- 56: I’ll remember you
- 57: Idiot Wind and More idiot wind
- 58: If not for you, and a rant against prosody
- 59: A Dylan cover a Day: If you Gotta Go, please go and do something different
- 60: If you see her say hello
- 61: Dylan cover a day: I’ll be your baby tonight
- 62: I’m not there.
- 63: In the Summertime, Is your love and an amazing Isis
- 64: It ain’t me babe
- 65: It takes a lot to laugh
- 66: It’s all over now Baby Blue
- 67: It’s all right ma