Dylanesque

Bryan Ferry

I have been a Bryan Ferry fan going back to the Roxy Music days. “Love Is The Drug” being one of those great all-time songs, Ferry’s impact on that era goes without saying. The singer managed to create a sound that, to this day, is all his own. I think of Robert Palmer and Tom Jones in the same vain. You may not think about them, but as soon as you hear one of their songs, you recognize them immediately. And I’m sure, like me, you get transported back to some great memories when you hear that song. Dylanesque, Ferry’s latest musical adventure, conjures up those sort of memories too.

How many people have covered Bob Dylan? Maybe it would be easier to think of the people who have not covered Dylan. During his early years, I was not a big Dylan fan. How can you compare Dylan with Led Zeppelin? But I changed my opinion when I realized how many of my favorite songs were actually written by him. One favorite is Eric Clapton’s version of “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door.” Actually, there may not be any bad versions of this song. It’s hard to imagine anyone could ruin it. Ferry’s take definitely stands out on Dylanesque.

Ferry’s arrangements make this an easy-listening CD that feels good all the way through. Kicking off the CD with “Just like Tom Thumb’s Blues” almost feels like you’re listening to the Traveling Willburys. It might have been interesting to hear Ferry fill in for Roy Orbison on the second Willburys record. If “Simple Twist of Fate” was released today, you just might here it on a modern country station. “Make You Feel My Love” seems a bit out of place, but I guess everyone has to put one of those really slow songs on their CDs. The production is somewhat lackadaisical compared to the tempo of the rest of the disc. “Positively 4th Street” also drags a bit, but other then other tracks like “Gates of Eden” pick up the slack. The arrangement, the texture and haunting piano up to the harmonica solo and soulful back-up vocals absolutely clinch it. Having not heard this song before, it sounds like a great Bryan Ferry song, maybe even a hidden Roxy Music gem. “All Along The Watchtower,” the CD’s finale, doesn’t quite hold up to the standards of the original or Jimi Hendrix’s immortal rendition. While these are Dylan’s songs, this is clearly a Bryan Ferry record. Dylan fans should enjoy these interpretations; Ferry fans will simply enjoy new music from a legend of a subsequent era. Either way, it’s a winner no matter how you look at it.

~ John Minichiello

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