Various Artists

The Songs of Bob Dylan, Vol. 2: May Your Song Always Be Sung

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The basic folk and blues base that Bob Dylan uses as a songwriter opens his songs to a wide variety of approaches, and covers of his songs are frequently fascinating. This collection of recordings bears witness, as artists like Patti Smith ("Wicked Messenger"), the Cowboy Junkies ("If You Gotta Go, Go Now"), and even Elvis Presley ("Tomorrow Is a Long Time") offer their interpretations of Dylan material. Nina Simone's breathy and carefully nuanced vocal on "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues" transforms one of Dylan's best songs into an even more atmospheric gem. Odetta's sparse and funky acoustic take on "Paths of Victory" is also compelling, as is Kiko Veneno's version of "Memphis Blues Again," which recasts the song as a flamenco blues. The Vacels, a vocal group who had a minor hit with "You're My Baby" on Kama Sutra Records in 1965, appear here with another recording from that year, the first known version of Dylan's "Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window," which has a wonderful garage-folk feel, complete with horns.

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