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I’m so old.

How old are you?!

I’m so old I remember the original, rather bubble-gummy version of this pop tune from when it was on the radio back in the sixties, performed by a group calling themselves the Foundations, who only just managed to avoid the status of one hit wonders. Their bigger and more famous AM top of the pops sensation, the annoying yet insanely catchy ear-worm Build Me Up Buttercup, had pretty much the same arrangement – hey, if it works, keep doing it, amiright? – but Baby, Now That I’ve Found You came first, and made it to a respectable #11 on Billboard in 1967. It wasn’t a bad song or anything, but I’d never have imagined it contained the germ of greatness until Allison discerned the rough diamond hiding under the blaring horns and faux Motown rhythm section, and cut it into a wonderfully understated bluegrass gem that’s all gleaming facets, arranged for acoustic guitars and her own always tastefully played fiddle. The accompanying musicians are an outfit named Union Station, and they’re terrific too, upright bass and all.

Krauss is one of those impeccable artists whose work is always enjoyable. The listener would do well to look up her version of the gorgeous hymn Simple Gifts, performed with Yo-Yo Ma (see prior post – here, I’ll make it easy for you:)

A Night at the Symphony (Song – and Orchestral Work – of the Day)

and other highlights include an objectively perfect rendition of When You Say Nothing at All – a gentle and very touching love song – and a lovely sort of gospel number called Down to the River to Pray from the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack. I knew vaguely of Alison from way back, having been exposed to her by my brother, but I first took particular note of her while randomly flipping channels on a Christmas Eve, more than 20 years ago now, when I found myself transfixed by her performance of an overtly Christian number called Things Aren’t Always As They Seem, a song of worship so steeped in the Biblical dogma that it should have put me off, but couldn’t, not when she played so beautifully, and sang so mournfully in that lovely soprano voice, sincere, moving, and utterly without pretension. By the time she was through I was damned near ready to take Communion.

She doesn’t write her own material, but like Linda Ronstadt she has unerring taste, and renders more beautiful everything she touches. Not for nothing has she won 27 – 27! – Grammys out of a whopping 42 nominations, making her the most honoured woman in the history of those awards.

For fun, compare and contrast with the original:

And here’s Things Aren’t Always As They Seem, taken from the same broadcast I happened upon that Christmas Eve. This time the accompaniment is by the musicians of Nickel Creek, whose breakout platinum album Krauss produced.

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