The Songs He Is A-Changin' - Tue 30th Nov

Bryan Ferry 'Dylanesque' By John O'Brien

When you start your solo career with the best Dylan cover ever made then doing anymore Dylan can seem like all downhill from there. Bryan Ferry the sultan of esque of course released his stomping version of A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall in 1973 where one press head line was 'Bryan Ferry took the mickey out of Bob Dylan and got away with it.'. Bryan also visited the Dylan canon with 'It Ain't Me Babe', 'It's All Over Now,' 'Baby Blue & Don't think Twice', 'It's All Right' where his interpretations of these Dylan songs had the Ferry style stamped all over them.

Bryan Ferry has turned the 9th Roxy Music canvas to the wall to realise a 30 + years ambition to record an entire album of Bob Dylan songs. With many of the songs recorded in the space of a frantic week in August 2006 Bryan has produced a very live feeling album as a lot of the tracks where done in a live set up with just a few takes and some overdubs later.

I have tried to write this as descriptively as possible rather than form an opinion, using some references to Bryan Ferry's previous work in an attempt to form an impression of how the album sounds.

Just Like Tom Thumbs Blues (3:50)

Just Like Tom Thumbs Blues starts with a straight 2 string strum on guitar with a lick that could be the intro to a million songs. Ferry makes his entrance with a delicate vocal, almost whispering the first 4 lines. The band all drop in at once and take us through a fairly straight rock arrangement. There are hints of Manzaneraesque quasi-reggae style guitar from 'Love Is The Drug', and Chris Spedding plays some delicate slide guitar, but in a more subtle place in the mix than he did on 'This Is Tomorrow'. Ferry plays a harmonica solo bringing the song to a close similar to somewhere between 'This Is Tomorrow' & 'Shame Shame Shame' - or indeed, 'Baby Blue'.

Simple Twist Of Fate (5:18)

Ferry re-visits the 'country' feel he explored on 'I Forgot More Than You'll Ever Know' with this bright and breezy track. The soloing swaps between violin (Lucy Wilkins?) Spedding and Ferry on harmonica. Make You Feel My Love (3:22) The first ballad of the album opens with piano and synth. Ferry close miked like much of 'As Time Goes By' brings a warmth and depth of feeling to what are some of the nicest lyrics on the album. Hints of Neil Hubbardesque (played by Ollie Thompson) provide the punctuation between some of the lines on top of a wash of synth, strings and echo guitar.

The Times They Are A Changin' (3:39)

The first single from the album has a very radio friendly arrangement. Ferry's double tracked voice augmented with backing vocals from the girls in his touring band. The track is driven by guitar strumming a straight 8 with Ollie Thompson providing the guitar solo. Hue's of early Ferry organ (Another Time, Another Place) are evident at the coda as the track fades.

All I Really Want To Do (2:28)

'All I Really Want To Do' opens with a '60s sounding guitar and piano arpeggio. The song continues in this vein throughout with tremelo guitar often used during this period but recorded in a contemporary way. The arrangement is upbeat with the the girls joining Ferry on the chorus hook.

Knockin' On Heaven's Door (6:12)

This is probably the most familiar song on the album thanks to several high profile covers by big names like The Byrds, Eric Clapton, Elvis Costello and Guns 'N' Roses, to name a few. Bryan sticks closely with the original but with a some Ferry signatures to make it his own. The opening has the David Williams guitar from the opening of 'Your Painted Smile' and touches of  Ollie thompson playing like Neil Hubbard again, a sound that Ferry wove round his voice in many of his solo albums. The harmonica comes out the pocket of his Anthony Price Jacket (or is it M&S?) again to add to the soloing in what is a 4 bar pattern that loops throughout the song.

Positively 4th Street ( 3:45)

Bryan opens this ballad on piano with some faint atmospheric guitar and swirling symbols. This a very Ferryesque arrangement and is the closest track to sounding like a Ferry original in terms of sound, arrangement & chord structure. The song fades out with cello taking the lead at the closing refrain. The strings are arranged by Warren Ellis who also did the strings on 'The Cruel Ships

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