Today's song is "One More Cup of Coffee," by Bob Dylan. Now, here's a song I'd been anticipating since the moment in February when I first heard the song was being recorded and even considered for a single. The thought that crossed my mind was that if the song were to be released as a single, the sound would have to be totally different from the original.
With all due respect to Mr. Dylan, the version on his January 1976 album, Desire, was about as uncommercial as one could get. It was nearly a dirge in a minor key with a poetic verse that requires one to ponder long before it makes any sense. It's not exactly lighthearted party music fit for commercial radio.
Dylan's even sounded unrehearsed in a few places. The violinist soloing in the opening bars obviously wasn't entirely sure of the chord changes, and that wasn't fixed by overdubbing. Dylan and backup singer Emmylou Harris obviously weren't reading from the same lyric sheet, and that wasn't fixed by overdubbing.
(Funnily enough, Plant left that second mistake intact at the end of his version, harmonizing with his own overdubbed second vocal line. With Plant's sense of humor, it's probably an intentional nod to Bob.)
On Plant's version, out goes the violin, and in come the electric guitars. He nudges the tempo just a bit so that the song doesn't drag. He sings it in the same key as the original, but instead of bellowing the lyrics as did his predecessor, Plant uses his raspy, breathy voice to ease through the verses. On the choruses, where he overdubbed his vocals to sing with himself, he alters the harmony from the original so that he doesn't have to sing in a female vocal range. Each chorus concludes with a full-band break preceding the last four words.
In these reviews, I've used words like "landscape" and "soundscape" so many times, I'm growing sick of it! But really, the Strange Sensation ought to be renamed the Smooth Sensation because the arrangements on these songs are perfectly smooth, swirling and textured. It will become such a cliche by the time I'm through reviewing each song, but that doesn't mean the album repeats itself at all. It's really an album that is worthy of being heard and thus enjoyed.