Thursday, April 19, 2007

Shawn Elliot - Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues

I found a sealed copy of this curious LP during last week's record safari.

These days, Shawn Elliot is known primarily as a stage actor, but back in the 1960's he was a New York night club singer. He recorded a calypso single for Roulette records, 'Shame And Scandal In The Family', which eventually became a hit outside of the U.S.

In what can be assumed was an attempt to avoid 'putting all his eggs in one basket', his first LP contains a few calypso numbers, mixed together with a smattering of Cole Porter songs, show tunes, and pop.

(click on image to ENLARGE liner notes in new window)

Bob Dylan's 'Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues' was released on his Highway 61 Revisited album in 1965. Over the years there've been several cover versions recorded, notably by Judy Collins and Nina Simone among many others, but in my opinion this one stands out like a sore thumb in a punch bowl.

I don't think I've *ever* before heard anyone take this type of upbeat and loungy approach to this particular Dylan tune.
- - and certainly not back in the sixties, when the 'easy listening' acts were so much more likely to latch onto one of his earlier, folkier, 'easier' songs - - you can't swing a dead cat without hitting Mr. Tambourine Man or Blowin' In The Wind or Don't Think Twice, It's Alright gone pop.

The part of Shawn Elliot's choice that I find the most interesting is that it works SO well. Toe-tapping 'cha-cha' beat and all. This is hot!

- - Makes me yearn to stumble onto other such unlikely choices; Lou Rawls crooning Desolation Row. Della Reese with Ballad Of A Thin Man. Sam Cooke belting out It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding). Y'know, stuff like that.

In my dreams...

Listen to: Shawn Elliot - Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues (click for audio)


DirkStar said...

Shawn Elliot shows a complete grasp of the folksong genre with his masterful cover of a classic Dylan song.

This is a timeless piece of music and onw I have added to my Ipod songlist.

Thank you...

Tom D. said...

This is great stuff, I would love to hear the rest of the album.... i'm familiar with the title track, though. Does the LP mention whether a stereo pressing might exist for the release?

Anonymous said...

interesting cover.....bryan ferry has a nice cover also.....

Anonymous said...

This is wild!!
I was looking for anything related to Elliott, but lisatening to him doing a Dylan song, wow!!

His single Shame and Scandal was huge here in Brazil, but I do not have any information of a local release of the album. I doubt it...

Thanks for something really unusual.
Miguel Aranega

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