Burl Ives

The Times They Are A-Changin' [CBS]

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It is not well remembered, but in the wake of the enormous brouhaha over folk musicians going electric, a lot of musicians identified with the pre-rock folk era did go electric, or pop, just for a little while. This late-'60s album by Burl Ives is one of the most ludicrous examples. Perhaps it was felt that getting Ives to cover contemporary material with modern arrangements might appeal to those who felt Ives doing what he'd been doing for so many years was an anachronism (which it was). So he did a set including four Bob Dylan songs, Tim Hardin's "If I Were a Carpenter," Simon & Garfunkel's "Homeward Bound," and straight pop tunes like "Gentle on My Mind" and "By the Time I Get to Phoenix." Bob Johnston, who was producing Dylan, Simon & Garfunkel, and Johnny Cash around the time (and would in fact produce Pete Seeger with electric backup at Columbia), produced. But Ives' voice was shaky, the arrangements bland MOR, and the whole enterprise a mesh of ill-fitting pieces. Nowhere is that more evident than in the title track, which devolves into a grandly intended spoken intonation of the lyrics that succeeds only in getting Ives to make a fool of himself.

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