In the summer of 1969, producer Lou Adler gathered 27 of the best backup singers in Los Angeles to cover the music of Bob Dylan during a marathon two-day session. “Sometimes there were more than 27 voices,” Adler told Rolling Stone in 1969, “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.”
Adler called his gospel-chorus The Brothers and Sisters of Los Angeles, and they made songs like “Lady Lady Lay,” “I Shall Be Released” and “The Mighty Quinn” sound like they were written to be sung in church. “You can find something spiritual about almost all of his music,” Adler says today. “It’s something that goes beyond just being a pop song, there’s always something deeper than that in a Dylan song.”
The project was titled Dylan’s Gospel and Ode Records released it in 1969, but its been out-of-print for decades and extremely difficult to find. But on April 1st, a new edition of the album will come out via Light in the Attic.
Above is a short documentary, directed by filmmaker Jessica Hundley, that features new interviews with Adler and Merry Clayton, who contributed vocals to the project a few months before the Rolling Stones recruited her to sing on “Gimme Shelter.”
Dylan is currently prepping for a fourteen date tour of Japan, which kicks off March 31st in Tokyo. A source recently told Rolling Stone that Blood on the Tracks material might serve as the next archival release, after Dylan’s 30th anniversary concert is reissued on March 4th.