Saturday, February 25, 2006

Dolly Parton - Those Were The Days

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Dolly Parton...doing cover versions of her favourite 60's and 70's songs...and joined by a plethora of special guests such as Norah Jones and Keith hardly fills one with feelings of joy does it? Especially when you add in the reports that this is Dolly's "anti-war" album, a move which is particularily brave for a country and western act. Indeed I still don't think the Dixie Chicks have quite recovered from their anti-war backlash.

Fear not though, as the result is not as unimaginably bad as you might fear. Quietly Dolly has undergone a renaissance recently, ever since 2000's Grass Is Blue, and whilst this is not the bluegrass we have come to expect from Dolly recently the emphasis is still very much on the acoustic. And therein lies the problem. Some of the tracks are perfectly pleasant but few show any real spark or imagination. Exceptions though are to be found. Me & Bobby McGee (a song perfect for the Parton treatment) and If I Were A Carpenter, which almost outranks the Johnny Cash version, which give old classics a vivid, if again a not entirely fresh, update.

For the most part the tunes are handled respectfully and for those who like this sort of thing, you probably won't be disappointed. The anti-war doctrine will probably pass most casual listeners by as well which probably proves that for all her bluster, Parton knows where her bed lies. And hey, at least her version of Imagine is a hell of a lot better than Madonna's...

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