Record Of The Week # 69

June 26, 2019

Jesse Dayton – Mixtape Volume 1

Dayton started his career playing covers and absorbing his sister’s record collection. It can come as no surprise that he’s garnered considerable affection for some of the icons and great tunes of that time. His own 11 studio albums are always beautifully played and burst with personality thanks to his expressive baritone.

This collection includes some exceptional cuts from Dr Feelgood to Bruce Springsteen. Thankfully there are no dreary B sides by long dead singer songwriters you’ve never heard of. The era spanned on these 10 tracks is the 1970s and 80s. His guitar skills come to the fore and so do his catchy country rock interpretations. They never interfere with the pace or arrangements of the originals yet they are unmistakably Dayton’s, often drenched in pedal steel with his touches of honky tonk and rockabilly.

I can see the attraction of bowling up to the studio and trawling through your record collection to find your faves and then recording them. As he’s said “I’d done almost five years on tour doing two original records back-to-back. I played on a lotta other people’s records. I just needed to take the pressure off, just have some fun.”

I enjoyed the whole album. They all work but maybe his ZZ Top cover of “She’s a Heartbreaker” is the only disappointing orange cream in this box of chocolates. He’s included a revisit to a personally much loved “Just What I Needed”. He put The Cars’ cover on his 2004 Country Soul Brother. Gordon Lightfoot’s “If You Could Read My Mind” is faithfully rendered; given the melody and fabulous words then why tamper with genius? The Elton John/Bernie Taupin 1970 “Country Comfort” feels very easy in the hands of a proper country artist. Yet he can switch to a very different genre such as The Clash’s “Bankrobber”. Dayton’s rockabilly adds to rather than sucks the life out of it thanks to a tincture of punk being added by the drums.

This is a delightful easy listen (and sometimes you need just that).

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