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Cat Power put out a song-by-song re-creation of Bob Dylan's Royal Albert Hall concert

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

On May 17, 1966, Bob Dylan played a concert in England that went down in history. Instead of the topical folk songs he was known for, he brought an electric guitar and a band. And they played loud.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BOB DYLAN: (Singing) Once upon a time, you dressed so fine, threw the bums a dime in your prime, didn't you?

FADEL: Now, the folkies in the crowd were not happy. One famously yelled out, Judas. But the show marked a shift in Dylan's career and the arc of popular music. Now singer-songwriter Chan Marshall, better known as Cat Power, has issued a song-by-song recreation of this legendary concert. Will Hermes has this review.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SHE BELONGS TO ME")

CAT POWER: (Singing) She's got everything she needs. She's an artist. She don't look back.

WILL HERMES, BYLINE: Even though it was recorded in Manchester, the famous bootleg of that Bob Dylan show was incorrectly titled "The Royal Albert Hall Concert." Chan Marshall once called Dylan's catalogue the Mount Everest of songwriting. So when offered the chance to perform at London's fabled Royal Albert Hall, she impulsively agreed, with the caveat that she'd play all Dylan songs in a sly nod to the famous bootleg. The live album that resulted from her performance might seem like a ginormous act of hubris but not to me. Marshall is both a brilliant songwriter and song interpreter, now with four full-length albums of cover songs. She's one of our Billie Holidays, Frank Sinatras, Nina Simones, a singer who uncovers new meanings and fresh emotions in classic songs.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "IT'S ALL OVER NOW, BABY BLUE")

CAT POWER: (Singing) Yonder stands your orphan with his gun, crying like a fire in the sun. Look out. The saints are coming through. And it's all over now, Baby Blue.

HERMES: Of course, Bob Dylan began his career singing other people's songs. He still does it. And many of the greatest recordings of Dylan songs are by other artists. Think Jimi Hendrix's "All Along The Watchtower."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ALL ALONG THE WATCHTOWER")

JIMI HENDRIX: (Singing) There must be some kind of way out of here, said the joker to the thief.

HERMES: And The Byrds' "Mr. Tambourine Man."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MR. TAMBOURINE MAN")

THE BYRDS: (Singing) Hey, Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me.

HERMES: Chan Marshall covers that one, too, unpacking the lonely restlessness of Dylan's version with one that's sultry and a little bit flirty.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MR. TAMBOURINE MAN")

CAT POWER: (Singing) Hey, Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me. In the jingle jangle morning, I'll come following you.

HERMES: "Cat Power Sings Dylan" is, in a sense, a sort of drag show, demonstrating what Shakespeare knew - how artists can reveal truths about gender and romance through cross-dressing. The album is also a mash note to a fellow singer-songwriter and a torch passing to one of our great torch singers.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LIKE A ROLLING STONE")

CAT POWER: (Singing) Once upon a time, you dressed so fine, threw the bums a dime in your prime, didn't you?

FADEL: Cat Power Sings Dylan: The Royal Albert Hall Concert" is available on Domino Records. Critic Will Hermes is author of the new biography "Lou Reed: The King of New York."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LIKE A ROLLING STONE")

CAT POWER: (Singing) You used... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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