Cleveland, Ohio, has been home to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame since 1983, so it’s only natural that local bands and artists alike have taken inspiration from the genre.
This includes four-piece band Hollin Kings, a group that started as a local cover band in the suburbs of Cleveland. Each member has brought their own influences to the group, fusing inspirations together to make a unique blend of rock ‘n’ roll.
Hollin Kings recently released a cover of Bob Dylan classic, “Ballad of a Thin Man”, a track from one of the most controversial albums of Dylan’s career — the record where Dylan went electric. Despite the controversy, “Ballad of a Thin Man” is one of the many standout songs of his career, which details the life of an eccentric Mr. Jones.
The character finds himself constantly in bizarre situations, unable to piece together the meaning of any of it. Critics have been baffled throughout the years as to what Dylan’s intention was behind the lyrics, some arguing it was Dylan’s protest to the media, others arguing it was about a closeted homosexual man, and still others considering it a metaphor for racism.
Regardless of the song’s meaning, Hollin Kings has decided to tackle it head-on, extracting the same blues-rock influence that Dylan did back in ‘65. The original piano riff is replaced with an electric guitar groove, giving the song a tenacious rhythm. The raspiness of the lead vocals give the cover a more rock-inspired grit than the original.
But what really sets the cover apart from the original is the replacement of verses 4 and 5 with a kick-ass electric guitar solo, serving as a musical breakdown in the middle of the piece. Ultimately, the Cleveland band goes the extra mile in giving “Ballad of a Thin Man” the rock ‘n’ roll treatment it rightfully deserved.
Hollin Kings’ cover of “Ballad of a Thin Man” proves the group is more than capable of covering the classics, but they’re not afraid to add their own creative twist, either. This Dylan cover is part of broader project, Cleveland Verses Volume 1, which features a whopping 17 tracks, all a re-imagining of classic Dylan covers from various artists. Definitely something worth investigating for Dylan fans far and wide.
Whether it’s a cover of an old classic, or an original piece, we can’t wait to see what the band will come up with next.