I've long been a fan of the old Batdorf & Rodney duet, which issued an absolute gem, a CSNY-styled debut, and later a very good sophomore effort before fading forever. I've also, from his very first release, been enamored of the work of James Lee Stanley, one of this country's most undersung folk musicians, a baffling condition despite a very long list of excellent solo and collaboration releases (not to mention session sit-ins). Therefore, it was with a bit of shock that, while attending one of Bernie Pearl's gigs at Boulevard Music in Culver City (Calif.), I saw this CD in the store's bins. Lacking the bread to grab it, I rushed back a week later, once again in the area, to pick it up, but some damned eagle-eyed aficionado had beaten me to the punch. The idea of Batdorf & Stanley covering the Stones was just too cool for words, so I cursed and fumed, but now all is set to right.
The idea's a great one: early Stones classics in an all-acoustic environment, heavily accenting just the two players, their voices, and their guitars. Then throw in a musician or two on auxiliary guitars here and there—Laurence Juber, the Monkee's Peter Tork, and Little Feat's Paul Barrere—with Timothy B. Schmitt (Eagles) on some backing vox, Laura Hall in an accordion one-spot, and lastly a bit of bass and low-level percussion. Therein, sports fan, you have all the makings of a treat. More than once, the renditions come off as if Donovan or John Sebastian were arranging them, though both Batdorf's and Stanley's individual trademarks are quite clear as well. Everything's recorded in an intimate living room atmosphere, the sort of item to listen to on a cold winter's night with a mug of mulled cider, low lights, and an enthusiastic someone else.
These cuts aren't apings or rave-ups but rather a collection of sensitive covers from Woodstock Nation, not the London Bowery with Springheel Jack prowling and Mick following behind for the panther's feast. Some swing crops up (Let's Spend the Night Together) as well as a wistfully propulsive rhythm or two (a killer version of Mother's Little Helper, f'rinstance) while others are outright folky (Last Time). All are interpretations and enough outside the originals to seduce the extravagant, but sufficiently faithful to put the lock on Stoners and the entire audience…though I have to say that Standing in the Shadows becomes a completely different song, one imbued with a lot more magic than Jagger & Richards achieved. In point of fact, the liner notes note that London's second-most-famous lads have never been captured quite like this, and that's entirely correct.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2010, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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