-We've had Dylan blues, gospel and bluegrass tribute CDs, and now, in the
same genre-tribute mould, the Eurotrend label has released a volume called
'Blowin' in the Wind: A Reggae Tribute to Bob Dylan' (CD 153.056, 2003).
The 12 tracks are:
THE ABYSSINIANS - Blowin' in the Wind
MANKIND - The Times They Are A-Changin'
MIGHTY DIAMONDS - I Shall Be Released
FOURTH STREET SISTERS - Mr Tambourine Man
LEHBANCHULEH - Just Like A Woman
SUGAR BLACK - You're A Big Girl Now
MELLO - Silvio
CHALICE - Lay Lady Lay
REGGAE ROCKERS with BRADLEY BROWN - Don't Think Twice, It's All Right
BRADLEY BROWN - Forever Young
REGGAE ROCKERS with SUGAR BLACK and BIGGA STAAR - The Mighty Quinn
JUDY MOWATT - Knockin' on Heaven's Door
This is of course a fairly obvious song selection, with the predictable
emphasis on earlier Dylan (six pre-1968 songs, five from 1968-1974, plus
'Silvio' as the most recent). All the versions are perfectly listenable,
none is outstanding, and the whole CD sounds quite pleasantly homogeneous.
The versions of 'The Times They Are A-Changin'' and 'The Mighty Quinn' are
more reggaefied, and more distinctive, than most. It is dubious - by
contrast with blues, gospel or bluegrass - whether reggae or Jamaica have
ever been major influences on Dylan's songwriting or music, though there has
been, admittedly, his work with Harry Belafonte and Sly and Robbie, an
obvious reggae track like 'Dead Man, Dead Man', live reggae arrangements of
some songs, e.g. 'Don't Think Twice, It's All Right', plus, lyric-wise,
'Caribbean Wind' and the mention in 'Sara' of Savannah-la-Mar (Jamaica).
Some of the songs on this album, e.g. 'Blowin' in the Wind' and 'Knockin' on
Heaven's Door', have received earlier reggae covers, and here this bunch of
artists certainly show that it can be done. The third-worldisation of
Dylan's music may seem a useful venture to some (as in Youssou N'Dour's
Africanised 'Chimes of Freedom'), but, while this album is be a pleasant
addition to the lengthening list of Dylan tributes, I do beg leave to doubt
whether performing these songs in this particular genre adds much to
anyone's appreciation of Bob's work.
"And do not think of the fruit of action.
Fare forward. (...)
So Krishna, as when he admonished Arjuna
On the field of battle."
T.S. Eliot, 1941
Dr Christopher Rollason
M.A. (Cambridge), Ph.D. (York)
Editorial board member, The Atlantic Literary Review (Delhi) -
Editor and contributor, Atlantic Publishers (Delhi) - see
Co-editor, Bob Dylan Critical Corner site:
Bibliography of writings: www.seikilos.com.ar/biblio.pdf
VISIT the Walter Benjamin Research Syndicate site:
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