It’s been two years since the release of Mangy Love, the most recent solo album from the great shambling and mercurial singer-songwriter Cass McCombs. These days, McCombs doesn’t seem to be all that interested in making solo music. This year, he formed the Skiffle Players, a new band devoted to “acoustic dance music.” And now he’s teamed up with the Chapin Sisters, the second-generation New York folk-rock family act, to cover Fred Neil’s “Dolphins.”
Neil, the ’60s and ’70s folk musician, is best-known for writing “Everybody’s Talkin’,” Harry Nilsson’s biggest song. But Neil also devoted much of his life to wildlife preservation, especially to the wellbeing of dolphins. And in 1969, as part of his self-titled solo album, he recorded “The Dolphins,” a seven-minute conservationist hymn.
Over the years, people like Linda Ronstadt, Tim Buckley, Billy Bragg, and Beth Orton have covered “The Dolphins.” With their version, McCombs and the Chapin Sisters have done a warm, spacious version of the song, playing it with a real sincerity and zoning out hard at the end. Here’s their take, along with Neil’s original:
As far as we know, the McCombs/Chapin Sisters cover is just a one-off, not part of a larger project. But it was released on the streaming services with no real extra info, so who knows!