The idea of big names joining forces for an extended jam session resulting in an album has been with us since – well, the 1956 Million Dollar Quartet of Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash might reasonably claim to be the first, though I’m sure others may have issue with that.
Lost in the River, which includes T Bone Burnett, Elvis Costello and Marcus Mumford among others, is the latest such supergroup, and The New Basement Tapes is their take on a series of previously undiscovered Bob Dylan lyrics from his extraordinarily productive 1967 period. Again, no new thing: at the end of the 90s, Wilco and Billy Bragg did much the same thing using old Woody Guthrie lyrics on Mermaid Avenue.
As with that collaboration, … Basement Tapes won’t cross over into the charts – its chief audience is likely to be Dylan completists middle aged males – but it’s still an enjoyable listen for anyone interested in rootsy blues rock.
There’s fun to be had in the skiffley hoe downs of Duncan and Jimmy and Card Shark while Costello fans are directed to Six Months In Kansas City (Liberty Street), which recalls his recent album with The Roots, Wise Up Ghost, with the band sounding soulful and almost funky.
Like this? Try these: Billy Bragg and Wilco, Mermaid Avenue vol I, Jack White, Lazaretto
By Andrew Greenhalgh