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Bryan Ferry - Dylanesque

Bryan Ferry, Dylanesque

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

BRYAN Ferry is no stranger to albums of cover songs but his latest marks one of his most ambitious undertakings, given Bob Dylan’s stature within the music industry.

But while ardent Dylan fans might lament the spin Ferry has put on some classic cuts, Ferry fans will doubtless be lapping it up.

I’ve always thought that cover versions work best when adopting a slightly different approach. It’s possible to be reverant as well as innovative. Take The Vines’ cover of OutKast’s Miss Jackson or even M Craft’s take on The Cult’s She Sells Sanctuary as prime examples.

Ferry’s Dylanesque is a mostly successful collection of Dylan’s finest hits, including the likes of Times They Are A Changin’, All Along The Watchtower and Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door.

It was cut in a week with the help of his touring band behind him and provides a fitting showcase for Ferry’s love of Dylan’s writing and the blues. He has long been a fan of the way Dylan’s songs resonate with stories and ruminations of a town and country troubador.

“As far as the worlds are concerned, it’s a bit like an actor tackling Shakespeare,” he says. “I like finding the melodies that Dylan’s hidden away in there. I sat down with pianist Colin Good and worked out keys, tempo, the feel of the thing. No demos. We just did it.

“Most of the recording was done inside a week. Then we did a couple of days at 4th Street Recording, a funky old studio in Santa Monica where the Beach Boys used to record. I wanted to get away from that locked-in-the-studio feeling. We were doing live vocals, harmonica, live everything.”

The result throws up many highlights and several surprises – most striking of which is Ferry’s take on the protest record Times They Are A Changin’. Some may describe it as a missed opportunity given that there’s still plenty to protest about today, but Ferry has always been a firm believer in the jazz idea that you can do a song in many different ways.

He opted for “an olde world feel, almost like a medieval ballad” that also tips its hat to The Byrds’ version. And it’s a fine re-interpretation in its own right; identifiable yet distinctly different in its own pleasing way.

Also worth noting are his take on All Along The Watchtower, which sounds very different from the more traditionally guitar driven incarnations of the track (most notably revisited by Hendrix). It’s interesting rather than excellent but still a worthwhile interpretation.

Make You Feel My Love is re-tailored to classic Ferry singing style (a la Roxy Music), while All I Really Wanna Do is a little charmer that sounds as though Ferry is having fun. And Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door succeeds in putting forth another spin on a much imitated recording. It’s a slick, sombre recording that’s passionately delivered by Ferry.

In short then, Dylanesque is a consistently intriguing collection of Dylan covers that pays respectful homage to the work of a musical master, while being confident enough to stamp its own identity. The pleasant surprises far outweigh some of the disappointments.

Download picks: Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues, The Times They Are A Changin’, Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door, All Along The Watchtower, All I Really Want To Do.

Track listing:

  1. Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues
  2. Simple Twist Of Fate
  3. Make You Feel My Love
  4. The Times They Are A-Chaingin’
  5. All I Really Want To Do
  6. Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door
  7. Positively 4th Street
  8. If Not For You
  9. Baby, Let Me Follow You Down
  10. Gates Of Eden
  11. All Along The Watchtower

  1. Very good review, some really good tracks, even better sounding live

    neil brownsell    Mar 19    #