Top critical review
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5* music, fine for newbies but maddeningly packaged for established fans
on 25 September 2012
The first Barb Jungr album I bought was her 2002 Dylan 'covers' album on Linn, 'Every Grain of Sand', on the strength of a favourable review in Mojo, I recall. Not my usual thing by any stretch but I loved it; partly being a Dylan nut but also because of Jungr herself... she's got a superb voice and a very sincere, individual singing stlye, wonderfully well suited to Dylan. (Especially live, if you ever have a chance). So I bought all her other records, her earlier Brel album 'Chanson' (2000) plus all the subsequent albums that Linn then put out between 2003 and 2008, each of which included a couple of Dylan 'covers' apieice: namely: 'Waterloo Sunset', 'Love Me Tender', 'Walking In The Sun' and 'Just Like A Woman'. BUT BUYER BEWARE: this record, 'Man In The Long Black Coat', simply brings together all nine individual Dylan covers from those four albums. Naturally, I avoided buying it, since I already have the songs. But then Linn went and did something predictably maddening: they plonked an extra 4 brand new Dylan covers (not available elsewhere) at the end of the record: brilliant new, stripped-down versions of Sara, Man In The Long Black Coat, It Ain't Me Babe and With God On Our Side. Having heard her sing them all live, especially Sara, which she always sings so beautifully, my hand was forced. But I was loathe to buy a CD for 4 songs. Why do they do that?! It really irritates me the way record companies knowingly supplement compilations of old material with a few rarities or new songs in an attempt to draw diehard fans and newcomers alike. It feels borderline exploitative and is a real bête noire of mine. They could have put the 4 tracks out as a cheaper EP or as a self-contained bonus disc on a limited presssing of a future record (Dylan himself has done this). That would even have allowed for an 'expanded reissue' of 'Every Grain Of Sand' with the other 9 (previously released) songs included. Everybody wins! Having said all that... not by any stretch is this record to be avoided. If you only own 'Every Grain of Sand' and want a shortcut into Jungr's other Dylan covers then it's a no-brainer I guess. But my thinking is that most folk with a real liking for her would want to hear the non-Dylan tracks on those albums too. She's more than just a re-interpreter of Dylan after all. Plus she's since included another brace of Dylan covers on her two latest albums (You Ain't Going Nowhere on 'The Men I Love' and 'Lay Lady Lay' on the forthcoming 'Stockport To Memphis'), which, being on Naim rather than Linn, aren't featured here. So it's not like this CD can even be considered definitive. Jungr devotees are far better off doing as I ended up doing: don't buy the whole CD, simply downloaded the 4 new tracks. Easy enough to re-create the full playlist in iTunes if so desired. Plus then you can also include the Dylan songs from her two albums on Naim! However you go about acquiring records by this singular artist, just make sure you do buy something. The aim of this review is not put off newcomers - I'm a huge Barb Jungr fan (went to a gig she did on my first date with my now wife!). Just a cautionary tale for those in my position. All others can proceed without hesitation (and please excuse my cynicism).