sat 13/07/2024

Album: Rockstar - Dolly Parton | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Rockstar - Dolly Parton

Album: Rockstar - Dolly Parton

An indulgence, but who would begrudge her?

Leather and rhinestones - Dolly Parton rocks out

When Dolly Parton was nominated for induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, she requested that her name be withdrawn.

She was "flattered and grateful" for the honour but "I don't feel I have earned that right," she wrote. "It kind of would be like putting AC/DC in the Country Music Hall of Fame. That just felt a little out of place for me.” Officials responded, saying they respected the star's "thoughtful note” and saying that "in addition to her incredible talent as an artist, her humility is another reason Dolly is a beloved icon by millions of fans around the world." A few weeks later. Parton said she would “accept graciously”.

And so it was that at the ceremony she was joined by Brandi Carlile, Pink, and fellow inductees Pat Benatar, Duran Duran's Simon Le Bon, Annie Lennox, Dave Stewart, and Judas Priest's Rob Halford for a performance of "Jolene". Dolly returned in a leather jumpsuit with a rhinestone-encrusted electric guitar to debut a new song written specially for the occasion, “Rockstar”. “I figure if I’m gonna be in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, I have to earn it,” she explained.

So now we have the rock ‘n’ roll album she promised, all 30 tracks and 140-odd minutes of it. That’s two-CDs and four LPs! Something of an indulgence then – but who’s to begrudge Dolly, who has shared the fruits of her extraordinary success in multifarious ways, funding scholarships for every high school kid in Sevier County, Tennessee, and awards for teachers; giving cash to victims of the Great Smoky Mountains wildfires, and squillions of books to kids around the world; and then there’s money to hospitals, and of course Covid research. The Divine Ms P can do what she damn well likes IMO.

Rockstar’s very existence is testament to her extraordinary power and success. It is a giant karaoke party, and we all know how much fun that is. Most of the album doesn’t really work, and of course in Parton’s well-manicured hands the songs take on a different meaning. “We Are the Champions/We Will Rock You” is kind of preposterous – until you think of it as Dolly leading a chorus for all those whose lives she’s championed.

Parton completists will buy it and it may be that those who gave her such a warm reception in the mud at Glastonbury will want the download, but Rockstar is not an album likely to appeal to fans of such finely crafted albums as Little Sparrow and The Grass is Blue. Not that this isn’t finely crafted, or that it doesn’t sound like Dolly – how could it not? Her voice, like silvery rain, is always so distinctive, and it soars throughout the album over arrangements that are perhaps overly faithful to the originals.

It's good to hear Dolly and pals Brandi and Pink belting out the macho lyrics of “Satisfaction” (presumably Mick and Keef weren’t available), and “Stairway to Heaven”, Lizzo standing in for Plant and Page, is actually quite pleasing. “Heart of Glass”, with Debbie Harry, is rather good and has a “9 – 5” feel in that insistent rhythmic motif. Their voices blend nicely. On “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me”, a huge production, you feel Elton is having at least as much of a good time as Dolly. “Let It Be”, with Paul and Ringo, and Peter Frampton and Mick Fleetwood, is perfectly creditable, though it is among the least truly rock ‘n’ roll cuts on the album.

My favourite is probably “You’re No Good”, where Parton teams up with Emmylou Harris and Sheryl Crow to pay homage to the great Linda Ronstadt, sadly prevented from singing because of Parkinson’s. Her cover of the song was a barnstormer.

And mention of Ronstadt's name should send us all scurrying back to the shelves for the Trio albums - Dolly, Linda, and Emmylou - which deserve only superlatives.

Rockstar’s very existence is testament to Parton's extraordinary power and success


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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