The Legends of Laurel Canyon
1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die
It’s So Hard To Tell Who’s Going To Love You The Best
Transfiguration of Vincent
Christmas in the Heart
Glitter and Doom Live
Let It Roll: The Best of George Harrison
Secret, Profane & Sugarcane
Playing for Change
Bryan Ferry has always been a fairly confounding character. His youthful days with the original Roxy Music seem light years removed from the music he made with the latter-day version of the band. Meanwhile his solo material displayed a similar range of ideas, veering from whacky cover versions to recycled Roxy tunes to original compositions that easily could have fit onto a Roxy Music collection (and often did). Taking all of this into context, “Dylanesque” is no big surprise, and neither is its haphazard approach to Dylan’s catalog of tunes.
From the start, “Dylanesque” is a wild ride, handling some songs as precious gems, while tearing through others with an oddball slant that could only have been topped by Dylan himself. “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues” is a perfect album opener, not only because Ferry nails it dead on, but also because the lyrical theme addresses how it feels to be lost and alone with “sweet Melinda”, and how hard it is to find your way back home. When the going gets tough, the tough get weird (thanks for the paraphrase, Dr. Thompson…), and Ferry proceeds to do just that. He bends “Simple Twist of Fate” into a melancholy rocker, and sings “All I Really Want to Do” as if he were channeling the Turtles. For the way Ferry handles it, “The Times They Are a-Changing” might be a sardonic commentary on how nothing ever really changes. “Baby Let Me Follow You Down” is another strange choice, mostly because Dylan didn’t write it, but also because Ferry’s interpretation sounds dated on arrival.
“Make You Feel My Love” does nothing that Dylan’s version didn’t already do (or Billy Joel’s, for that matter), nor does “Knocking on Heaven’s Door.” His versions are both straightforward and predictable. He also drains all of the anger out of “Positively 4th Street,” making it feel more like the sad lament of a hurt lover than the vicious diatribe of a friend betrayed. “Gates of Eden” may be the second best interpretation here, full of spooky atmospherics that suggest just the right amount of otherworldly presence, only to lapse into the world’s 500th version of “All Along the Watchtower.” The world may not need this, but Ferry’s album is just weird enough to survive beyond what is essential. You don’t need to hear it, but nevertheless, “Dylanesque” will probably make you wonder why you want to hear it all over again.
Buy it now! -