A NOD TO BOB - A TRIBUTE TO BOB DYLAN ON HIS SIXTIETH BIRTHDAY
Red House (RHRCD154)
Greg Brown, Guy Davis, Martin Simpson, Rosalie Sorrels, Suzzy & Maggie Roche, The Paperboys, Guy Davis, Cliff Eberhardt, Lucy Kaplansky, Hart Rouge, John Gorka, Norman Blake & Peter Ostroushko, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, John Koerner & Dave Ray, Eliza Gilkyson.
Usually, I'm of the opinion that you should leave songs of a certain standard well alone. For instance, I'm not a big fan of musicians who endlessly fool around with Robert Johnson material. What's the point? You can't improve on perfection. My head told me I ought to feel the same way about these Red House ‘Nod to Bob' CDs - but my heart made me think again.
I've been enjoying this first ‘Nod To Bob' for over ten years now, especially treasuring Greg Brown's gutbucket version of Pledging My Time with it's bar-room backbeat, chilling slide guitar from Bo Ramsey and Greg's voice that could peel the chrome off a trailer hitch. Then there's Martin Simpson adding his own particular genius to the haunting version of Boots Of Spanish Leather. His conversational style of singing is perfect for this tender love song and his guitar playing, as always, is sublime. Tom Landa & The Paperboys turn All Along The Watchtower it into a highly charged Celtic reel of a thing with tons of explosive fiddles, banjos and driving drums; a million miles from Dylan's original gothic version and Hendrix's hard rock hit. My real favourite though is Suzzy and Maggie Roche's deliciously wry Clothes Line Saga. They've achieved the almost impossible by making this low key classic from ‘The Basement Tapes' absolutely their own, playfully filling it with sly humour performed with their impeccable harmonies. Dare I say that it surpasses Bob's original? Yup! Just did.
All the musicians on this CD pay tribute Bob Dylan's songs with respect and a degree of admirable adventurism. I could mention other worthy performances like Lucy Kaplansky's luscious vocals on It Ain't Me Babe, Norman Blake and Peter Ostroushko's brilliant fingerpickin' on Restless Farewell and Ramblin' Jack's quirky but compelling arrangement of Don't Think Twice It's All Right but space is running out so all I can do recommend you get a copy and investigate it for yourself.
Review Date: July 2011