I was in a book store store last night waiting for a buddy and I heard some background music that sounded familiar. It was like an old college friend that I couldn't quite place. I kept straining to hear it better. Hey, isn't that the Cowboy Junkies? I wondered. Then I'd hear a bit more and say, no that can't be it. I know that album really well and this section is different, more lively. Then a few minutes later I'd here some vocals and get that same weird feeling again. I mean who would do a cover version of the Cowboy Junkies doing a cover of Sweet Jane? It was driving me nuts. Finally, I went to the front counter to see what the heck they were playing. Guess what, the Cowboy Junkies have done a cover version of their first album: Trinity Revisited.
The original Trinity Sessions album was recorded at the Church of the Holy Trinity in Toronto in 1987 with a single microphone for the whopping sum of $250. And it became a classic alt-rock album in the late '80s and early '90s selling more than a million copies. Margo Timmins with her haunting vocals, brother Peter on drums, Michael on guitar, the sparse arrangements, the lo-fi sound; it all worked.
The band re-recorded the album in 2006 to commemorate the 20th anniversary (Can it be? Am I that old?) and has now reissued it with a CD and DVD package. Not only is the recording better, but the songs have more spunk with some excellent distorted guitar solos --especially on Sweet Jane, my favorite song on both the original and the new album. The updated version of Sweet Jane has a gloriously cacophonous intro and the song is much richer and more textured than the original stripped down version. They've included a handful of guest vocalists (Natalie Merchant, Ryan Adams, Vic Chesnut) which adds a fresh vibe. They also did a live show at Massey Hall in Toronto last week to commemorate the new release.
The DVD covers the live re-recording (with a few more microphones) as well as a documentary featuring band interviews and rehearsal footage. Most importantly, seeing the inside of Trinity Church where it all happened provides an additional level of atmosphere to the music. Watch for an upcoming tour that will take the band on the road in the US and Canada from March through June.