Bryan Ferry CD review by Nick Blakey
Jul 25, 2007, 05:31
BRYAN FERRY Dylanesque CD
It was probably inevitable that Bryan Ferry would record an entire album of Bob Dylan tunes, seeing as how, way back La Ferrari did one of the single best Zimmerman covers of all time: "A Hard Rain's Going To Fall" on 1973's These Foolish Things. Ferry's ability to turn a song inside out, especially one that is not his own, is one of his most brilliant aspects (such as his take on Ramsey Lewis' "The 'In' Crowd") and Dylanesque is a guilt-free modern adult contemporary listening experience.
Despite the fact that Ferry skips over the possibilities of doing some truly interesting choices for Dylan tunes (like how about something off of New Morning? Street Legal? Saved? Oh Mercy? Hell, even Self Portrait?) and also inexplicably does some obvious ones ("Knockin' On Heaven's Door,” which is still outshined by both the Television and, I'm very sorry to say, the Eric Clapton takes on the same song, and "All Along The Watchtower,” which many folks still think either Jimi Hendrix or Andy Partridge wrote), all in all the album is light years better than those albums of covers that Rod Stewart has been doing as of late. Regardless, there are some brilliant interpretations here, particularly "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues,” which is sung in a near lackadaisical and quite delicious near slur, "Simple Twist Of Fate" (great choice), "Gates of Eden" (simply devastating), and "Positively 4th Street" which is given a sort of ambient Music Hall treatment which only makes the cutting nature of the words that much more harsh.
Disappointingly, though, despite the presence of such awesome players as Brian Eno and Chris Spedding, the band is often soul-less, semi-cardboard and strictly by the numbers. Ferry's version of Dylan's arrangement of Rev. Gary Davis' "Baby Let Me Follow You Down" (here credited to "Trad.") is simply screaming out for Robbie Robertson's white hot leads and the late Rick Danko's more cheerful and bouncy bassline. Guy Pratt's bass on this simply sounds as if he is sight reading a chartâ€¦which he probably was. All the same, though, it only makes Ferry sound that much better and down to Earth.
Dylanesque only makes me wish Ferry would do more records like it, as 1999's As Time Goes By, which found him aping not only Bobby Short and Cole Porter but also giving a tip of the hat to Carly Simon's Torch (now that's class for you), which was equally quirky and good. Uh, so if I could put in a request Mr. Ferry, how about some platters of Warren Zevon and Gene Clark next time around, if you don't mind? [Virgin]