9

Mar 12

Alison Krauss/Bad Company: “Oh, Atlanta”

Alison Krauss -- Now That I've Found You

Alison thinks wistfully about the last time she listened to Bad Company's album, "Straight Shooter."

Alison Krauss

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Bad Company

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For this week’s Cover Friday, we have one of the unlikeliest of combinations, one which I didn’t even see coming, to be honest: modern-day bluegrass star Alison Krauss taking on a song by classic rock standbys, Bad Company. Fact is, she recorded her version of “Oh Atlanta” 17 years ago — but made it such a quintessentially bluegrass-y song that I had no idea it was a cover of a rock song, much less one by Bad Company, until very recently. I assumed it was either her own song or an old bluegrass standard that I just hadn’t heard before. On paper, it seems like an odd song choice — I mean, what’s next, a duet with Robert Plant?

Seriously, come to think of it, the fact that Krauss saw how great this song could be as an acoustic number, followed a few years later by her work on the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack, put together by T-Bone Burnett, makes the path to 2007’s Raising Sand, the excellent duet album with Robert Plant, produced by Burnett, seem a bit less surprising. She apparently had an existent appreciation for ’70s rock.

Krauss recorded “Oh, Atlanta” as a new-at-the-time addition to her 1995 “best of” compilation, Now That I’ve Found You: A Collection. Although recording a new song for a “best of” comp is always a bit risky and/or presumptuous, in this case it worked just fine, as it easily stands its ground with the rest of the album. She knew it was that good. By comparison, the original Bad Company version, from 1979’s Desolation Angels (the same album that “Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy” can be found on), is somewhat dull. Not that you can’t tell it’s a well-written song (it’s by guitarist Mick Ralphs) — it’s just that it was recorded with a same-y tempo throughout and not a whole lot of dynamic range. This is one cover/original combo that sounds reversed — Bad Company’s version sounds like they were doing a rocked-up version of Krauss’s bluegrass original, with so-so results. All the more impressive that Krauss saw the diamond in the rough that it was, restructured it, and made it her own.

4 Comments

  1. Judyzwo says:

    Excellent post, Dave. I listen to the Krauss CD all the time and this sends shivers down my spine. Good point about the Bad Company version sounding like a boring take on her song.

    1. Dave Gershman says:

      I know what you mean about the shivers…she has a number of songs like that. I remember seeing her live in her early days, probably a year or two before this CD, at Johnny D’s, a little club in Somerville, MA, and she could do that to you live as well…

      1. Judyzwo says:

        Can you find another “shivery” one and do another post, Dave? I look forward to it.

        1. Dave Gershman says:

          I’ll see what I can do…

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