Dolly Parton Rockstar review: A rock epic with Macca and Elton? It’s a whole lotta Dolly! writes ADRIAN THRILLS
DOLLY PARTON: Rockstar (Butterfly)
Verdict: Backwoods Barbie rocks out
You have to admire Dolly Parton’s dedication. When her name was put forward for America’s prestigious Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame, she initially rejected the accolade because she considered herself too country.
She eventually changed her mind and was inducted alongside Eminem and Duran Duran in May 2022, but the episode got her thinking. If she was going to be honoured as a rock icon, then she’d prove her worth.
The upshot is Rockstar, her first rock album and a truly gargantuan undertaking. With 30 tracks, there’s a helluva lotta Dolly here. The quality inevitably ebbs and flows, but the 77-year-old isn’t doing things by halves.
Parton has penned hits such as Jolene and 9 To 5. She reiterated those songwriting skills on last year’s Run, Rose, Run album, and there’s another handful of strong originals here.
Adrian Thrills: You have to admire Dolly Parton’s dedication. When her name was put forward for America’s prestigious Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame, she initially rejected the accolade because she considered herself too country
Dolly earned her place in the Hall Of Fame on merit, but fans might want to choose the best moments here
But the onus is otherwise on covers of classic rock (and pop) anthems, often sung with help from the stars who first made them famous. Baby, I Love Your Way is a duet with Peter Frampton, Sting guests on Every Breath You Take and Elton John pops up on Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me.
The song choices are sometimes too obvious. Dolly’s breathy vocal twang stands up well against a backdrop of loud guitars and pounding drums, but even she struggles to add anything fresh to Queen’s We Are The Champions and 1980s soft-rock staple Keep On Loving You, a duet with REO Speedwagon’s Kevin Cronin.
She fares better when she teams up with her goddaughter Miley Cyrus on the latter’s 2013 chart-topper Wrecking Ball, imposing her Backwoods Barbie personality on a lovely duet that ends with a snippet of her own I Will Always Love You. Her sense of humour is also to the fore on What Has Rock And Roll Ever Done For You, sung with Stevie Nicks.
The most unexpected track is a version of Stairway To Heaven featuring Lizzo on jazz flute. It could have been the moment when Rockstar veers off into the realms of the absurd, but the unlikely musical couple respect the crunching, arena-pleasing power of the Led Zeppelin original while tapping into the song’s folky, fairytale essence.
Rockstar, her first rock album and a truly gargantuan undertaking. With 30 tracks, there’s a helluva lotta Dolly here
Dolly Parton attends the 61st Annual GRAMMY Awards at Staples Center on February 10, 2019
It’s a cover with its roots in Dolly’s formative years, when her interest in storytelling was ignited by Smoky Mountain folklore.
But the best moments arrive when she explores a more authentic strain of country-rock. Duetting with John Fogerty, she’s in her element on Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Long As I Can See The Light. Bob Seger’s Night Moves, sung with Chris Stapleton, is superb.
Of the originals, protest song World On Fire finds the famously apolitical Parton tactfully voicing her dismay at the state of the planet. Simon Le Bon is remarkably effective on country ballad My Blue Tears, but I Dreamed About Elvis, with country singer Ronnie McDowell imitating The King, is a novelty too far.
There’s a fittingly over-the-top finale, with Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr joining Dolly for a hearty Let It Be, and Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Ronnie Van Zant appearing from beyond the grave to duet on an 11-minute version of Free Bird.
At two hours and 20 minutes, Rockstar isn’t for the faint-hearted. The vinyl edition stretches across four LPs and the CD is a double. Dolly earned her place in the Hall Of Fame on merit, but fans might want to choose the best moments here.
‘Rockstar’ is out today
By Tully Potter
A new Messiah recording is usually one of the pleasures of this time of year —and this set is effectively two in one.
During the sessions in Coventry Cathedral in November 2022, The English Concert and Choir under John Nelson gave a filmed live performance.
Trills abound, the choristers are superb and the period-instrument players manage to be authentic but not doctrinaire; the solo trumpeter is a master of the natural instrument.
A new Messiah recording is usually one of the pleasures of this time of year —and this set is effectively two in one
Beethoven: Piano Concertos 3 & 4 (Naxos 8.574152)
With this disc, Boris Giltburg and Vasily Patrenko have completed their series of the Beethoven Piano Concertos.
Yet again the standard is high: Petrenko conducts the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic well and there is a good rapport between him and the Russian-born Israeli pianist.
Giltburg writes his own booklet note, which is very interesting, and we learn that it was the C minor Concerto, the Third, that made the biggest impression on him as a child.
He certainly plays it with conviction but he does even better in the G major Fourth, the jewel of the five Concertos, pacing it judiciously and making many good points.
At this level of attainment, it is difficult to sort out the sheep from the goats and if you need a budget set of these great Concertos, Giltburg’s three discs are very good buys.
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