Flowers of Indulgence “Dylan’s Lost Songs, Vol. 1”

TBS Records, 2024

Dylan’s sketches finally filled out.

When the first trails for ‘Dylan’s Lost Songs, Vol. 1‘ appeared it was actually a surprise that no one had thought to do this before – this being taking a bunch of the roughest least fleshed-out songs from ‘The Basement Tapes‘ and give them a firm plumping up, clear recording, musically rounded out to a full sound and recorded as if Dylan and The Band had taken the next step and taken a rough demo into the studio proper. Not only is that what Flowers of Indulgence have done, but they make the claim that the song collection on ‘Dylan’s Lost Songs, Vol. 1‘ represents the first cover versions for any of these songs in the fifty-odd years since they were first sketched out in rough. As such it is a realization of thoughts others have had – Tom Russell has sung of searching Dave Ronk’s couch for any songs Dylan lost under the cushions, Arlo Guthrie has a quip about the songwriting process being like fishing in a river “so you don’t want to be downstream from Dylan.” who he once begged “to throw the small ones back in.” Who are Flowers of Indulgence? Well, they claim to be: Don Khan – Lead Vocals and Guitars, Tiny Montgomery – Lead Vocals, Bass and Guitars, Silly Nellie – Guitars, Skinny Moo – Piano, Organ, T-Bone Frank – Drums, Percussion, and The Rose Maries – Backing vocals. It is just possible that some of these monikers are not actual birth names. Sometimes the lead vocals tantalizingly sound familiar…but then they do also try and sound like Dylan as much as possible.  Doubtless all will be revealed if they ever take this out on tour, but for the moment “nothing was revealed.”

Of course, what this all means is that Flowers of Indulgence have actually been raiding ‘The Complete Basement Tapes‘, as plum songs like ‘This Wheel’s On Fire‘ and ‘You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere‘ have been extensively recorded, traditional songs likewise as have the reshaped stabs of earlier Dylan songs like ‘Blowin’ In The Wind‘.  That does leave a considerable choice though and within the dozen songs on ‘Dylan’s Lost Songs, Vol. 1‘ there are some that it is really surprising that no one has grabbed before – the steady rock chunk of ‘One Man’s Loss‘ wouldn’t sound out of place on ‘Planet Waves‘, whilst ‘2 Dollars and 99 Cents‘ has an intimidating intensity, like been harangued by an unsavoury stranger in a place you’ve decided it would be wise to leave.  ‘Wild Wolf‘ slowly pleads for a certain kind of forgiveness, almost nudging towards the outright religiosity of Dylan’s Christian “phase“, hanging halfway between that and the songs that made up ‘John Wesley Harding‘.  Maybe ‘Mary Lou, I Love You Too‘ is musically a little too like ‘When I Paint My Masterpiece‘ or a lesser ‘Romance In Durango‘ –  whilst also illustrating a lyrical weakness which explains why Dylan left it where it was, but that’s also the obvious merit of this album.

An album, then, that all Dylan fans will have already pounced on, certainly – and so the point score is somewhat meaningless, but also ‘Dylan’s Lost Songs, Vol. 1‘  is an album that those less deeply into the Bard of Hibbing can enjoy.  And both kinds of listeners would surely not be averse to a Volume 2.

7/10
7/10

About Jonathan Aird 2779 Articles
Sure, I could climb high in a tree, or go to Skye on my holiday. I could be happy. All I really want is the excitement of first hearing The Byrds, the amazement of decades of Dylan's music, or the thrill of seeing a band like The Long Ryders live. That's not much to ask, is it?
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