Various Artists – The Village: A Celebration of the Music of Greenwich Village

January 01, 1970



Subtitled “A Celebration of the Music of Greenwich Village,”
The Village pays tribute to the early
sixties folk revival, the era of Dylan, Tim Buckley, Fred Neil and Eric
Anderson. The songs tend to be familiar-five Dylan compositions, traditionals
like “Wayfaring Stranger” and “He Was A Friend Of Mine,” and populist favorites
like “Both Sides Now” and “Guantanamera.” Many of the artists are one or two
musical generations removed from the originals; a handful are young enough to
be children of that generation. Sad to say, it’s a disappointment.


Lucinda Williams barely enunciates her way through
“Positively 4th Street,” a song she covered to better ends earlier
in her career. Rickie Lee Jones tries to turn “Subterranean Homesick Blues”
into some sort of boho-funk thing; John Oates drains “He Was A Friend Of Mine”
of any empathy by making it a jaunty faux-gospel mandolin strut (where’s Daryl
Hall when you need him?); Bruce Hornsby keeps threatening to turn “Darlin’ Be
Home Soon” into “The Way It Is.” At least Los Lobos sound like they take
“Guantanamera” seriously when they could have easily played it for laughs.


Some redemption comes at the end of the thirteen-track
collection: Shelby Lynne (“Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright”) and Cowboy Junkies
(“Once I Was”) need only to sing softly and slowly to find meaning in their
songs. Amos Lee (“Little Bit Of Rain”) and Rocco DeLuca (“The Ballad Of Hollis
Brown”) also keep it simple and direct – DeLuca is solo with a Resonator
guitar. But there’s little here that sheds new light on the originals, much
less the era, aside from Rachael Yamagata, who actually wrings some life out of
the oft-covered “Both Sides Now,” slowly building it into something at once
orchestral and atmospheric.  If The Village were vinyl – as would
appropriate for the source material – side two would be the keeper.


Standout Tracks: “Both Sides Now,” “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright”  STEVE KLINGE



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