Thursday, June 28, 2007

Thursday Quick Fixes

[the latest in a continuing series of short takes on interesting or alarming new CDs that have crossed our desk recently]

BRYAN FERRY: Dylanesque

Speaking as somebody who has never forgiven Bryan Ferry for a ludicrously low camp version of "A Hard Rain" (on his absurdly foppish 1973 solo debut), I came to Ferry's new album of Dylan covers with, shall we say, rather limited expectations. Well, surprise, surprise: it's pretty damn fantastic. There's barely a hint of Ferry's signature lounge-lizard suavity here; either through the ravages of age or design his vocals sound -- who'd have thunk it? -- haunted and human, and the backings -- including turns by old collaborators Chris Spedding on guitar and (on a rampage through "Baby Let Me Follow You Down" that rivals the master's "Albert Hall" version) Brian Eno on electronics -- drip atmosphere and (when appropriate) menace, in particular on a take on "All Along the Watchtower" that channels its composer channeling Jimi Hendrix. Damn near revelatory stuff and one of the absolute best things Ferry's ever done.

THE SMITHEREENS: Meet the Smithereens

Well, as tribute CDs go, this one at least has a certain novelty, it being not just a collections of Beatles covers but rather a recreation of the Beatles American debut LP in its entirety. The question before the court, of course, is whether it adds up to anything more substantial than what you'd hear from a good Beatles tribute band on an average night at a bar near you; speaking as a Smithereens fan from way back I'm glad to say that the answer is not much more but just enough to make it worth your time. The 'Reens, 60s revivalists non pareil that they are, have also always owed as much to the guitar crunch of AC/DC as they do to the Fabs, and as a result, there's an interestingly dark edge to their otherwise note-perfect recreations of the performances and production touches on these 12 slices of early Beatlemania. It raises some interesting possibilities, though; in fact, what I'd really like to hear now is Pat DiNizio and company blowtorching their way through the less innocent strains of "Revolver."


Kid Charlemagne said...

I love Bryan Ferry and can't wait to pick this up.

Foppish. Sheesh...;>

steve simels said...

You have no idea how much I hate that "These Foolish Things" album.

I like some of his moonlight-and-roses stuff post Eno, but that album is an abomination. Dylan AND Lesley Gore on the same album?

Sorry -- too clever and too fabulous by half.

steve simels said...

KC --

Don't buy the Ferry album. Shoot me your home addy and I'll burn you a copy.

Gummo said...

steve, I've heard most of the Smithereens album and while I can admire the skill in what they did, I still come back to: what's the point? The original still exists if I want to hear it, and a note-for-note copy will never be better than the original. And I liked the Smithereens back in their heyday, but this seems like a really cheap ploy to get some baby boomer attention to their comeback attempt.

But I'm definitely interested in Bryan Ferry doing Dylan. Saw Chris Spedding play with John Cale back in the late 80s -- he's goooood.