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4.5 out of 5 stars
22
4.5 out of 5 stars
John Wesley Harding
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Price:£7.99


on 21 July 2015
Great concept, as usual Thea delivers the goods.
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on 13 July 2017
Excellent cover versions of Bob Dylan album
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on 6 May 2011
Thea continues her run of outstanding albums with this wonderful release. Her take on "I Dreamed I Saw St Augustine" is already recognised as one of the best Dylan covers ever but the rest of these tracks are just as good if not better! Thea re-invents the album in her own unique style. Her voice is just amazing and the way she gets under the skin of these magical songs is spine tingling. The band behind her pull out all the stops. Drummer Paul Beavis, Robbie McIntosh and Nigel Stonier all deserve acclaim and all play out of their skins. This is a must-buy album by one of the best female singer-songwriters in the business.
My personal favourite track is "The Ballad Of Frankie Lee And Judas Priest" which Thea just lives and makes her own. A superb release that deserves success.
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on 2 May 2011
Thea Gilmore's interest in Bob Dylan's John Wesley Harding began when she recorded 'I Dreamed I Saw St Augustine' a number of years ago for her Songs From The Gutter album. Now, in her own words, she has gone back to the studio and 'cut the whole bloomin' lot'. Such a bold move might set alarm bells ringing about the potential pointlessness of such a project. While Dylan's songs have received copious cover treatment over the years, the concept of re-recording an entire album, albeit a more unfamiliar one like John Wesley Harding, might seem a tad ambitious.

In fact, such fears prove to be groundless. Gilmore breathes new life into most of the songs on the album. Things start sedately enough with a distinctly Dylanesque harmonica on the title track. On the touchstone of 'All Along The Watchtower' she does not fall into the trap of attempting to reproduce either the Hendrix version, arguably better known than Dylan's original, or the all-out rock thrash of Neil Young's version that appeared on the Dylan 30th Anniversary Tribute album (and indeed in live concert). Instead the song is turned into an attractive blues shuffle that doesn't outstay its welcome. There are rocked out versions of 'Drifter's Escape' and 'As I Went Out One Morning', a piano-accompanied 'Dear Landlord', and a ringing Byrdsian take on 'I Pity The Poor Immigrant'. Production by other half Nigel Stonier, who also supplies backing vocals and multi-intrumentals, is crisp and crystal clear. Thea Gilmore's live performances, as well as her 2004 album Loftmusic prove that she is no stranger to a judicious cover version. This reinvention of one of Bob Dylan's entire albums is a worthy addition to the extensive catalogue of an artist who for this reviewer can currently do no wrong.
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on 16 October 2011
I must first declare a (lack of) interest: never having been an avid Dylan fan, I'm both unaware and unconvinced of the original iconic status of John Wesley Harding. So, when Thea Gilmore, one of my favourite artists, declared her intention to re-record the whole thing, I was somewhat baffled and bemused, but I had faith in her: After all, her version of "I Dreamed I Saw St Augustine", from years earlier, is stunning in its own right, and her choice and performance of various covers at her live gigs has always been exemplary.

The end result, though...? Hmmm. It's....it's nice. Excellently played, beautifully sung and produced, but there's not much more I can say about it, although it did send me to dig out the original, if only to see what exactly she'd done. Her take on the now almost overly familiar "All Along the Watch Tower" is certainly brave (if not bold), but the gently lolloping tempo kind of robs it of any urgency: I also keep expecting it to break into her own "The Wrong Side" or even America's "Horse With No Name". "The Drifter's Escape" has a real charge and energy to it, which is refreshing; "Dear Landlord" is performed with a nice bluesy feel, and "I Pity the Poor Immigrant" has a wonderfully yearning atmosphere. A welcome highlight for me is "The Wicked Messenger", which Thea and her band attack with real verve and power. Unfortunately, the album goes on to wrap up with a rather sedate, faithful version of "I'll Be Your Baby Tonight" that never takes on its own life. This has, for various reasons, long been one of my favourite Dylan songs without even knowing the album, and I'd hoped Thea might inject a sense of fun with it, let it swing a bit. Unfortunately, it plods nicely and sweetly, but that's about it. It's not that it's bad in any way...it's just that, given the combination of song and performer, it could have been so much more.

Overall? Well...it's a nice enough album, but I'm still not convinced of the point of the exercise.

Following up the excellent Murphy's Heart was always going to be a tricky proposition, but while her take on John Wesley Harding is by no means a disgrace, I think it's fair to say it's the most inessential Thea Gilmore album I ever hope to own.
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on 7 May 2011
I've been a fan of Thea's since discovering her covers album "Loft Music" and was intrigued by the idea of her covering an entire album as she does here.

Stand-out tracks for me are "Pity The Poor Immigrant" (which comes close to the soul wrenching of Joan Baez's version)and "I Dreamed I Saw St Augustine" closely followed by "All Along The Watch Tower" is a fascinating reinterpretation that stays away from Dylan's own and from Hendrix too. Probably one of the most effective uses of double tracked echo I've heard. Excellent!

Thea's voice is ideally pitched for these songs and the sparse backing and simple production fit them well.

The CD jewell case comes in a box with a nice pack of 12x12 cards - one for each track with some artwork on one side and the song lyrics on the other. It won't stop the rush to digital download from solid disks but it's a nice add on (as it was on Thea's last album, "Murphy's Heart"). Warning though - If you're OCD about alphabeticising your CD collection and have fixed size shelves, the box won't fit!

"Never known to make a foolish move" must apply to Thea's musical choices too.
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VINE VOICEon 8 December 2011
It's not exactly unknown, quite the opposite in fact, for movies to be remade. It's also extremely common for one artist to cover someone else's song, though it's rare for it to be an improvement than the original. Ironically, one such cover is Jimi Hendrix's version of All Along The Watchtower which even Dylan prefers, as does everyone in the known universe. It's also one of my favourite songs and covers I own include those by The Grateful Dead and an absolute balls to the wall live version by Neil Young with guest Chrissie Hynde. It is, however, extremely rare for an artist to cover an entire album but Thea Gilmore has done it and with one of my favourite Bob Dylan albums.

Gilmore is one of those artists who can be classified as a singer/songwriter, folk, and folk/rock. Unlike, however, the album which followed this one -Don't Stop Singing (see earlier post)- where she channeled Sandy Denny, she doesn't attempt to recreate the original album, Gilmore does it her own way.

And she does it brilliantly by reinterpreting the songs in a variety of different ways, all different to the originals but always doing justice to one of Dylan's landmark albums. All Along The Watchtower is a shuffle, The Drifter's Escape rocks out. There are elements of country, folk, folk/rock, and more including echoes of Fairport Convention (the Sandy Denny-Jerry Donahue lineup) which is probably to be expected. The small band is tight as a newt's bottom, playing with precision and skill -some great guitar solos too. Gilmore's vocals are flexible and expressive -she is truly one of the best current British female vocalists in any musical genre and I've a feeling I'm probably going to end up buying all her albums.

This is great genre-transcending stuff.
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on 13 May 2011
WOW THIS IS BRILLIANT. THIS LADY HAS A GREAT VOICE AND THE INTERPRETATIONS OF BOB DYLAN'S JOHN WESLEY HARDING LP FROM THE MIDDLE SIXTIES IS BY FAR THE BEST DYLAN TRIBUTE I HAVE EVER HEARD. I MUST ADMIT THAT DYLANS VERSION OF THIS ALBUM WAS NOT MY FAVOURITE OF HIS FROM THE SIXTIES BUT AFTER LISTENING TO THEA GILMORE'S VERSION IT HAS REKINDLED ANOTHER LISTEN TO DYLAN. ITS GREAT TO HEAR ACOUSTIC/ELECTRIC GUITAR BASS DRUMS AND MANDOLIN BEING PLAYED TO GREAT EFFECT WITHOUT THE INTRUSION OF BARING TRUMPETS OR SAXOPHONE. THE BEST SONG IS I PITY THE POOR IMMIGRANT WHICH IS SUNG WITH GREAT PASSION AND BELIEF IN THE PROJECT. THEAS STYLE IS PUNCTUATED ALL OVER THIS RECORDING AND I RECOMMEND IT HIGHLY. I WOULD SUGGEST YOU PURCHASE THE LIMITED EDITION WHICH HAS THE CD ENCASED IN A LOVELY BOX ACCOMPANIED BY VARIOUS POSTCARDS (PAINTED) WITH THE LYRICS SYMPATHETICALLY PRINTED ON THE REVERSE. EXCELLENT
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on 9 November 2011
I'm led to belatedly review John Wesley Harding, having heard Thea Gilmore's superb new album, Don't Stop Singing, her musical interpretation of Sandy Denny's unused lyrics. Being a huge Dylan fan I was overwhelmed by her interpretation of the entire John Wesley Harding album a few months ago - a firm personal favourite album of the year. She brings compassion and emotion to this Dylan classic, and I could hear all these songs in a refreshing new way - perfectly suited to her lovely vocal style and great musical arrangements. Nothing else I've heard this year has really come close, except for Don't Stop Singing! In my view, a highly gifted artist and both these albums come highly recommended.
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on 5 June 2011
I was wary of this album ,how could anyone cover such a classic Dylan album.No need to worry Thea and her band have done a great job.Every track is a winner,wonderful singing combined with power playing.Any Dylan or Thea fans will love this.Folk rock at the highest level.
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