Saturday, July 21, 2007

A lot of nerve

Besides his own excellent work as a solo artist and with Roxy Music, Bryan Ferry has always been one of the most gifted interpreters of other songwriters' work, his smooth and subdued lounge-lizard vocals bringing an air of world-weary melancholy to everything from The Velvet Underground to "You Are My Sunshine". From the blistering version of "A Hard Rain's A Gonna Fall" that opened his first solo album, 1973's "These Foolish Things" to the pairing of "It's All Over Now Baby Blue" and "Don't Think Twice It's All Right" on 2002's "Frantic", Ferry has revealed a surprising affinity for the work of Bob Dylan, culminating in what seems in retrospect like an inevitable event, his latest album "Dylanesque". Browsing through the Dylan catalog, Ferry explores everything from light-hearted pop to Hendrix-inspired noise to make even such familiar and inimitable songs as "Simple Twist of Fate" and "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues" into a personal cabaret. The highlight is this poignant, haunting resetting of one of Dylan's most bitingly angry songs, "Positively 4th Street".

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