CB Music Dylanesque - Album Review - Thu 14th Jun

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by Michael Cartwright

Former Roxy Music frontman Bryan Ferry began covering Bob Dylan back in 1973 with his own interpretation of "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall." Five years ago, on his last solo effort, he included two Dylan covers among otherwise original material. So, despite noticeable differences in style, it should be of no surprise that Ferry decided to release a full album of Freewheelin' Bob's more legendary material.

As with all work of this nature, one is forced to wonder if Dylanesque will be filled with pointless retreads, or if more original, worthwhile material will be brought to our attention.

Well, apart from a few potential throwaways, Ferry definitely puts an effective, admirable spin on some of Dylan's finest work. He and his touring band (along with Brian Eno and Oliver Thompson) recorded the album in just one week, and so it easily could have been an unimaginative, irrelevant disaster, but the obviously inspired Ferry managed to produce fairly impressive results nonetheless.

Things begin with "Like Tom Thumb's Blues" and alterations include a slew of harmonica fills, weaved in and out of Ferry's velvety vocals. Following the opener, a string section and mellow piano run through "Positively Fourth Street," as both of the effective additions turn the track into a more painful, heartfelt ballad. It is undoubtedly one of the album's more passionate recasts.

"The Times Are A-Changing" was morphed into a slow-rolling, art-rock song, somewhat reminiscent of The Byrds' critically acclaimed cover. It likely should be considered the album's gem. Despite the aforementioned similarities, it's an unexpectedly refreshing change from the countless covers we've heard before.

"Knockin' On Heaven's Door" is a relatively bland revampment, although maybe it just seems merely satisfactory when this writer compares it with Warren Zevon's now definitive cover, which, of course, he recorded shortly after being diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer in 2002.

Finally, "All Along The Watchtower" will receive mixed reactions as it chooses to abandon the more guitar-driven approach that many consider to be the heart of the classic track. Even so, it is able to close out the album in dramatic fashion.

Dylanesque includes 11 interesting interpretations. It should serve as the perfect alternative for those who've never been able to digest the arguably abrasive vocals of Mr. Dylan. Ferry's smoother crooning might make it easier for non-Dylan fans to sit back and admire the inimitable quality of his breathtaking songwriting, enabling them to appreciate what it truly means to be Dylanesque.

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