CD REVIEWS: The Man In The Long Black Coat

Barb Jungr: Man in the Long Black Coat
Nightlife Exchange, Sept 2012

Barb Jungr: Man in the Long Black Coat; Durga Rising
Review on

Record Collector - July 2011 *****
Barb Jungr has a new album devoted to the songs of Bob Dylan, Man In The Long Black Coat (*****Linn), celebrating Dylan's 70th birthday. A sympathetic and innovative interpreter of Dylan's work - principally because her own voice and delivery is unique - the CD includes four regular live tracks: Sara, Man In The Long Black Coat, It Aint Me Babe and With God On Our Side, which appear on a Jungr CD for the first time.

Approaching the songs as if they were all her own, the likes of Just Like A Woman is given a reggae/funk crossover, while those of a softer disposition may be drawn to a collection of Dylan songs that don't actually sound like Dylan songs.

The Sunday Times - May 2011 ****
What to do if you admire Bob Dylan’s songs, but not his singing? Barb Jungr laid out her stall almost a decade ago with her gorgeous disc Every Grain Of Sand. Just in time for the great man’s 70th birthday, she returns with a pensive, unfailingly literate collection drawn from her more recent recordings, with the addition of four newly recorded tracks, including the haunting title number and a delicious version of Sara. Jungr never follows the obvious route: the subtle criss-crossing of jazz, folk and rock influences may well give purists nightmares. The lyrics glow even brighter, however, and the musicianship is never less than first rate. (Clive Davis)

BBC Website - May 26, 2011
Barb Jungr - The Man In The Long Black Coat
As a Dylan interpreter, Jungr is right up there with Simone or The Byrds.
In March 2002, singer Barb Jungr released Every Grain of Sand, an album of Bob Dylan songs, on Linn. It became a cult classic, bringing her universal praise as a Dylan interpreter, and acting as a springboard for her career. Not lacking success before, Jungr has been on an upward trajectory ever since.

As if to acknowledge her debt to Dylan, each of Jungr’s subsequent Linn albums has included at least two of his songs. She even included a couple each on her tribute albums to Elvis Presley and Nina Simone. As Jungr herself has said, "Once I had started singing Dylan’s songs, I couldn’t stop."

Released to coincide with Dylan’s 70th birthday, Man in the Long Black Coat is almost a sequel to Every Grain of Sand, in that it consists entirely of Dylan songs. However, it is not a completely new album. Instead, it compiles all the Dylan tracks from Jungr’s post-2002 Linn albums and adds versions of four Dylan songs not previously recorded by her.

As always, Jungr’s versions cannot be called covers as they radically reinvent the originals. They are most successful when they avoid superfluous embellishments and focus on Jungr’s voice, which expressively conveys every nuance of the lyrics. But a few tracks try too hard to introduce jazz elements; for instance, The Times They Are A-Changin’ really is not improved by the addition of a saxophone solo between verses.

Tellingly, the four new recordings are the most successful, evidence that Jungr continues to improve. Crucially, they all focus firmly on the piano and Jungr’s voice. With God On Our Side – its lyrics as relevant today as they were when first heard in 1964 – is given a rousing, impassioned reading. In complete contrast, a gorgeous version of Sara – Dylan’s poignant love song to his estranged wife – perfectly captures the fragile longing of his lyrics.

As a Dylan interpreter, Jungr is right up there with Simone or The Byrds. Thankfully, Dylan has written over 200 songs, so we can hope to see more fine Jungr albums like this. (John Eyles)

The Glasgow Herald - 1 Jun 2011
Deranged obsessives, as many of them are, Dylan fans may not be too enamoured of this collection of Zim classics as reinterpreted by Jungr and her often jazz-schooled cronies.

As it is a belated follow-up to her Every Grain of Sand collection and assembled from sessions dating back to 2004, beefed up with four new piano-and-percussion-only arrangements, it even looks dangerously like a cash-in for the 70th birthday market (Bob’s, not Barb’s).

In fact it is a very fine set, sonically very much of a piece, thanks to the consistent mixing desk role of the astonishingly eared Calum Malcolm, and packed – bravely – with Dylan songs we all know and love. Perhaps the blinkered purists will be appalled, but I rather like this hip Latin-rhythm The Times They Are A-Changing and lilting reggae version of Just Like A Woman. Instrumentation elsewhere includes two fine string quartet arrangements by Jonathan Cooper and some superbly controlled guitar feedback by Matt Backer on Like A Rolling Stone. And Jungr sings Dylan’s words quite beautifully, which the man himself, well, can’t.
Keith Bruce

THE INDEPENDENT - Friday, 27 May 2011
(Rated 3/ 5 ) Reviewed by Andy Gill
A compilation of Dylan covers from various stages of her career, freshened up with four new recordings, Man in the Long Black Coat mines Barb Jungr's fascination with the septuagenarian troubadour with variable results.

The rushed "The Times They Are a-Changin'" and ill-judged reggae version of "Just Like a Woman" don't work, but elsewhere her deconstructed jazz takes on "Blind Willie McTell" and "High Water" allow new slants to seep into the songs, while the abstracted arrangement of "Like a Rolling Stone" is effective in evoking the drifting sensibility being criticised. Likewise, the waltz-time title-track has an apt fatalism about it, while the mbira thumb-piano at the heart of "Ballad of Hollis Brown" has the quietly demented tone appropriate to the poor farmer's deepening madness.

DOWNLOAD THIS Like a Rolling Stone; Man in the Long Black Coat; High Water; Ballad of Hollis Brown

6 Moons website

London Jazz

In Tune Magazine, June Issue, 2011
Having fallen for the songs of Dylan in 2002 via her tribute album EVERY GRAIN OF SAND. Barb subsequently featured the odd song or two on later collections and in order to close the circle the decision to collate all those scattered tracks for release together with four added new recordings proves to be a logical one in view of the iconic singer/songwriter/poet/painter's 70th birthday in May 2011. What you get is Barb's eclectic cabaret vocal style in its warmhearted celebration. They receive an irresistible finger-clicking approach but then each track incorporates a blend of jazz and blues in the singer's reinvention of diverse lyric-driven songs with a definite French/European approach to her material. (Allen Pollock)

Jazzwise July 2011 ***
As Barb Jungr notes in the CD booklet, her first album of material from the Bob Dylan songbook, her 2002 recording Every Grain of Sand, marked ‘the beginning of a love affair'. Paying tribute to Dylan in his 70th birthday year, this new compilation brings together all of the Dylan songs that Jungr has recorded since Every Grain, with the added bonus of four newly recorded songs - ‘Man In The Long Black Coat', ‘It Ain't Me Babe', ‘Sara' and ‘With God On Our Side' - whish the singer has introduced into her live repertoire. Heard back to back, what impresses most about the 13-track collection is the sheer variety of approach - rhythmically, harmonically, texturally - from the infectious 5/4 groove of ‘The Times They Are A-Changin' and the reggae-tinged ‘Just Like A Woman', to the hypnotic bass-plus-finger-clicks of ‘Trouble in Mind' and the autumnal soulfulness of ‘I Shall Be Released' (arranged for voice and string quartet). Of the new material, the suitably apocalyptic title track, opening with ominously toiling bells and open fifths in the piano, provides the most dramatic lead-off song imaginable. As we've come to expect from Linn, the recording quality throughout is faultless, with every tiny textural detail given its rightful place in the mix. If you've yet to enter Barb Jungr's musical universe, then this paean to Dylan is just about the perfect place to start. (Peter Quinn)

O's Place Jazz Magazine, 14 June 2011 *** out of 4 stars
O's Notes: British vocalist Barb Jungr has a powerful voice. She puts it through the paces on Man in the Long Black Coat, a collection of songs by Bob Dylan. She first sang Dylan's tunes on her popular 2002 release Every Grain of Sand and has included at least one Dylan song in all CDs since! Barb adds four new Dylan songs to her post 2002 collection in celebration of Bob's 70th birthday. We enjoyed the funky blues of "Trouble in Mind", "Sara" and her take on "High Water". These aren't just covers but transformations! When she hits it right, Jungr strikes gold. (Dr. Oscar Groomes)
Posted on May 14, 2011 by Doug Boynton

If I’m going to have hard liquor, I try to stay away from highballs – a shot of liquor and a splash of some mixer. I much prefer a traditional cocktail – some blending of spirits, as in a Martini or Manhattan. Infinite variety in search of perfection. You may think you’ve found it, but…ah! Here’s one that’s even better.

Which brings us to Barb Jungr. And Bob Dylan.

Barb Jungr – Man In The Long Black Coat (Linn)
Released – May 30, 2011

This is Barb Jungr’s second compilation of music and lyrics from Bob Dylan, although Mr. Dylan’s work peppers pretty much all of her back catalog of albums. In the liner notes, she writes about that first collection (“Every Grain Of Sand”) in 2002 – “…it was the beginning of a love affair. Once I had started singing Dylan’s songs I couldn’t stop, and recorded more over the last six years on various collections.”

Nine of these then, are from previous releases. Four tracks – “Sara,” and “Man In The Long Black Coat,” along with “It Ain’t Me Babe” and “With God On Our Side,” are new recordings.

I’m laughing as I write this, listening to her take on Dylan’s mournful “Just Like A Woman” in a sassy uptempo, with the hook reminiscent of sixties girl-group kitsch. And some of the appeal is just this – in hearing Mr. Dylan’s laments reinterpreted through a new lens.

Ms. Jungr performs with a level of emotional intensity, even through some of the lighter fare – somewhere between simplicity and performance art – that I found uncomfortable at first. But that was years ago. I began dropping her tracks into other mixes – and just as my Martini cocktails kept getting a little drier – I eventually acquired the taste. It wasn’t hard work, and I’ve been enjoying Ms. Jungr’s work straight up ever since.

My favorites on this disc include two of the new tracks – “Sara,” and “It Ain’t Me, Babe,” along with “Like A Rolling Stone,” which came from 2003′s “Waterloo Sunset.”

Ms. Jungr’s work started getting recognition in the US – she’s been performing regularly (and winning cabaret awards) in New York since 2005, and the release of this disc couples with a UK tour through the summer.

Powerful, familiar, surprising, and even amusing in spots, this recording takes Dylan’s work to some surprising new places, and is very highly recommended.