By Annie Reuter
In 1969, producer Lou Adler brought 27 backup singers to Los Angeles to cover Bob Dylan‘s music during a two-day session. The project, titled Dylan’s Gospel, was released in 1969 but has been nearly impossible to find, until now. On April 1, a new edition of the album will be released via Light in the Attic.
In an interview with Rolling Stone, Adler explained the spirit of the recordings.
“Sometimes there were more than 27 voices,” Adler said, “because on several occasions real brothers and sisters stopped by and grabbed a part. It sounds corny, but that was the spirit of the thing. The tape stopped, but they were still singing.”
The singers transformed Dylan’s songs to sound like they were meant to be sung in church. Songs included “Lady Lady Lay,” “I Shall Be Released” and “The Mighty Quinn.”
“You can find something spiritual about almost all of his music,” Adler said. “It’s something that goes beyond just being a pop song, there’s always something deeper than that in a Dylan song.”
Watch below as Adler and singer Merry Clayton talk about the process of recording the album back in 1969.
“It’s an identical thing we would have done in church,” Clayton said. “So we just took it . . . we had a church service that day. In music. That’s how we approached it, just like we were singing in our gospel choir at church and it worked out wonderfully.”