Blues on Blonde on Blonde

Blues on Blonde on Blonde

Various Artists

Telarc

Bob Dylan has worn plenty of hats during his long career, from folkie to rocker to bad actor, so this interpretation of what many call his masterpiece (the epic Blonde on Blonde from 1966) in a blues idiom works pretty well. Far better than Telarc’s last attempt at this sort of thing, blues versions of the Beatles’ White Album. Dylan’s songs are more fluid and less reliant on a rigid arrangement than the works of Paul and John, and because of this, artists such as the great Duke Robillard can let it loose on a number such as “Pledging My Time,” and it works. Of the twelve cuts here, only one doesn’t really gel, that being a sort of neo-blues/hiphop take on “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35” ( you know, the “everybody must get stoned” party-pleaser•). Brian Stoltz hams it up with a wretched Billy Bob Thornton-“Slingblade” vocal intro that certainly sounds like he took the song’s directive to heart, but sadly, didn’t share it with the listeners.

The rest of the record, from a restrained Walter Trout on “Leopard-Skin Pillbox Hat” to Atlanta’s Sean Costello on a great “Obviously 5 Believers,” works rather well, with most songs being backed up by the former Double Trouble fellows, Tommy Shannon on bass and Chris Layton on drums. Joe Louis Walker raises “Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again” to a new level and C.J. Chenier makes “Absolutely Sweet Marie” into a zydeco toe-tapper. It is a testament to the strength of Bob Dylan’s songwriting that, even almost three decades later, people still find new ways to perform his music — and more importantly, the desire to do so.

Telarc Blues: http://www.telarc.com/

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