on May 17, 2014
Some very good stuff here including unusual (and enjoyable) versions of Dylan stuff you'll never hear elsewhere (Los Lobos cover is a great take). I had heard 'about' Charlie Sexton's guitaring many, many years ago - he was fronting his own band and earning accolades from guitar gods, and then he kind of disappeared somewhere for a decade (from my little world at least). So, I'm watching this engaging film that has some great actors and, I keep thinking.. the main character looks alot like Bob Dylan (who I've never been a fan of and therefore don't follow). I figure out 1/3 of the way into the film it is Dylan and the tight, funky band in the movie is his road band- with Sexton driving the tone - and a guitar lesson ( Note: the film is not about Dylan, nor Dylan's road band. It's an engaging, twisting, comedic tale that happens to have Dylan as the main, unassuming lead (next to some powerhouse actors) and just happens to showcase his rip band).
Most musicians don't age gracefully. They try to be what they once were and end up looking and sounding pathetic. We can all think of several that quickly come to mind. Not so with Dylan and this band. While they are all different ages, they all gel like the 'whole that is greater than the sum of its parts', and there is nothing remotely ostentatious, redundant, or gratuitous. This is a visual and sonic lesson that evolving well can be done. It's worth seeing the film and buying the CD.
on April 16, 2004
Since almost every known band (famous and not) has recorded some cover version of a Dylan song this compilation (and movie soundtrack)contains
the most experimental,curious and particular ones
Music style varies from Tribal,Hip Hop,Rap,Country,Folk,Rock,psych
and others..Even if most of readers here,myself included, do not
know some of the artists who play on this CD,the first intention could be not to buy the album ,but after listening to the whole
thing you'll agree with me when I say these cover songs are extremely good,in few words Dylan Songs in a different point of view.
It's a pity the man himself has excluded "My Back Pages" by punk Metal band Ramones or "This Wheel's on fire" by Siouxie and the Banshees in that case i should have given 5 stars .This is not a Best of Bob Dylan,there are alread 100 -best of- cd around here,some reviewer misunderstood the meaning of this album
altough the rating is not 5 stars,Masked and Anonymous is worth buying then most of the releases of these modern years.cya
on March 5, 2004
As a serious - probably too serious - Dylan fan, I feel that for the sake of my credibility, I should immediately concede that the movie was perfectly dreadful. Confused, poorly staged, and boring as hell. The only moments of drama came in Bob's scenes. His discomfort was so palpable, it was nearly impossible to watch without growing queasy. In other words, a terrible experience... for which our greatest songwriter is largely responsible.
The accompanying soundtrack of "Masked & Anonymous" does, I think, go a great distance towards making up for the disaster of the film. Dylan and Co.'s super-tight performances of "Down In The Flood" and "Cold Irons Bound" are proof of what dedicated fans realized long ago - in the last 12 or so years, Bob has been performing at the highest level, a real golden era of touring.
Meanwhile, the Italian version of "If You See Her, Say Hello," translates beautifully, Los Lobos does a bang-up "On A Night Like This," and Jerry's "Senor (Tales of Yankee Power)" is very nice.
One does wonder at the absence of the outstanding version "I'll Remember You" featured in the movie, but we'll have to hope it emerges elsewhere.
on January 25, 2004
Disclaimer: I have not seen the movie. Which probably puts me in the same category as most here (the movie played exactly 1 week in Cincinnati--I guess the DVD rental will have to do).
The "Masked and Anonymous" soundtracks (14 tracks; 66 min.) is a hodge podge of Dylan songs and Dylan covers by notable and less-known (if not to say, anonymous) artists. The 4 tracks from Bob are excellent: new versions of "Down in the Flood" and "Cold Irons Bound", and also new songs "Diamond Joe" and "Dixie". Bob's songs were recorded live (on the movie set, in a matter of 2 days!) with Bob's current back-up band, which, if you have seen Bob in concert in the last couple of years, is simply excellent. All 4 songs sound like outakes from the "Love & Theft" sessions, and I mean that as a compliment.
The covers are a mixed bag. The Dead's "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue" is pleasant enough, as is "Senor" from the Jerry Garcia Band (lifted from their 1990 double live album). The best cover is the gospel take on "Gotta Serve Somebody" by Sherley Caesar. There are some real misses as well, for example the Italian "rap" version of "Like a Rolling Stone".
Interestingly, the liner notes make clear that Dylan recorded 8 songs for the movie, but only 4 are on here. Where are the other 4 songs? Why are they not included on the soundtrack? Ot do we have to wait for the "deluxe" edition of the soundtrack in a few years (and fork over more money...)?
on November 26, 2003
[Note: this is part 2 of a 2-part review. Since I want to rate the album 3 stars, I'm giving it 2 stars here and 4 stars there, to average out to 3 stars.]
8. Come Una Pietra Scalciata (Like A Rolling Stone) (performed by Articolo 31): An Italian rap. I don't know what the hell the lyrics to this song are, but I'm pretty darn sure they're not the lyrics to "Like a Rolling Stone" (the fact that this is the only song on the album for which Dylan shares writing credits seems to give credence to this hunch). Basically, there's a hint of the organ from that song sampled in the background of the rap, and the verses are separated by a sample of the chorus from the version Dylan recorded for Highway 61 Revisited (which is itself broken up by Italian echoes). This song has yet to grow on me, but I'm not excluding the possibility that it might eventually.
9. One More Cup Of Coffee (performed by Sertab): An English-language version with a Middle-Eastern flair. Like a few other songs on Desire, the original version of this song already had a Middle-Eastern feel, but this version makes that feeling more explicit. The Turkish vocalist has a beautiful voice, but I actually would have liked to hear her sing the song in her native language, since her inflections are already halfway there.
10. Non Dirle Che Non E' Cosi' (If You See Her, Say Hello) (performed by Francesco De Gregori): A beautiful Italian version of one of my favorite Dylan songs. The music for this track sounds like it was lifted directly from Dylan's recording on Blood on the Tracks (sort of like Italian karaoke), which is a good thing. I also like the fact that the vocalist sings the song straight, without embellishments or gimmicks. It sounds beautiful, even if you can't understand the lyrics.
11. Dixie (performed by Bob Dylan): Just plain silly. This sounds like Dylan was secretly recorded goofing off backstage.
12. Senor (Tales Of Yankee Power) (performed by Jerry Garcia): A fine effort on a forgettable (in my opinion) song. Garcia's performance on this collection is better than The Grateful Dead's, though his song choice is worse. This mediocre song has never really done it for me, but if you like the song you'll like this version.
13. Cold Irons Bound (performed by Bob Dylan): Another new version of a song previously released by Dylan. This one's not as successful as the version of "Down in the Flood" on this album, though perhaps this is only because the original version of this song was recorded too recently. He seems to not have anything new to add to the song, save flashes of music (the auditory version of periodic pyrotechnics on stage) that occur throughout the song. Cruising along at the same pace as the original, to the same infectious beat, these intrusive crashes of sound become quite distracting fairly early in the song. Other than that variation, this track sounds too much like the one on Time Out of Mind to warrant a new version, in my opinion.
14. City Of Gold (performed by The Dixie Hummingbirds): Ugh. Ick. Ack. Dylan was wise to never record (or at least release) this song himself, but he would have been wise to have left it in the vault and disallowed anyone else to record it either. (Disclaimer: I actually have never had the stomach to make it to the end of this song, so it's possible that something extraordinary might happen in the middle of the song that makes the recording worthwhile. The unlikelihood of this possibility has kept me from holding out enough hope to give it a chance of happening.)
So, would I recommend this album? Yes, but with reservations and only for the Dylan fanatic who feels the need to complete his collection. And even that completist is going to be disappointed with much of the album. That said, if you're looking for a few solid tracks to beef up an eclectic Dylan mix for a friend, this album is worth a look if you find it on sale.
on November 26, 2003
[Note: this review is part 1 of 2. Since my final score for the album is 3 stars, I'm giving it 4 stars here and 2 stars in the second installment, to average out to 3 stars.]
I don't know if it's hip anymore (or again, or whatever) to like Bob Dylan, but I've been an unapologetic fan for ages. I even considered taking in his latest movie after seeing his embarrassing performance in Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid. Though the universally negative reviews kept me from seeing Masked & Anonymous in the theater, I had heard that at least the soundtrack was good (as was the soundtrack to PG&BTK), so I decided to give it a listen. Here's my review, track by track.
1. My Back Pages (performed by the Magokoro Brothers): An interesting Japanese take on a Dylan staple. At first listen, this seems like a throwaway novelty from a variety act, but after listening to it a few times I really appreciated it. It sounds great and works well. The only negative thing about this track (but it's a big negative) is the annoying and embarrassingly stilted preaching (imploring the listener to ask himself, "ARE YOU HUMBLE BEFORE GOD?") that begins the track. Every time I begin this album, I have to mute my CD player for about 20 seconds. I'll never be able to use this track on a mix disc. (Aside: it's amazing how many syllables it takes, in Japanese, to get out the words "But I was so much older then; I'm younger than that now." The syncopation adds to this version's charm.)
2. Gotta Serve Somebody (performed by Shirley Caesar): A compelling gospel version, performed with passion and flourish. This is one of Dylan's few religious songs that I actually like (another is "Every Grain of Sand"), and this interpretation smoothes out some of the edges. While Dylan's rasp sounds more like a warning against serving the devil, the beautiful voice on this version feels like a more positive opportunity to serve the Lord, if that sort of thing interests you. (Aside: whenever someone covers this song, I always wonder how they'll handle the line: "You may call me Bobby, you may call me Zimmy." This version handles it well and actually improves upon the original verse, I think.)
3. Down In The Flood (performed by Bob Dylan): A good example of how Dylan can reinvent himself and reinterpret his own songs. He takes this old chestnut and polishes it up with his current sound. This track would fit comfortably on either Time Out of Mind or "Love and Theft". In my humble opinion, this version improves on the version released on Greatest Hits, Vol. 2, but it's not as good as the version on The Basement Tapes (where it's titled "Crash on the Levee").
4. It's All Over Now, Baby Blue (performed by The Grateful Dead): Such a pretty song, it's hard to ruin. But The Grateful Dead give it a shot anyway. This isn't meant as a criticism of the Dead in general. It's just that the vocals fall flat throughout most of this track. That said, it still sounds okay. It might cause you to cringe a couple times, but I don't think you'll feel the need to skip ahead.
5. Most Of The Time (performed by Sophie Zelmani): An interesting take. It's quiet and slow, and the spoken-word feeling of most of it gets a little old (though the same might be said for Dylan's own version), but when she starts singing she adds some emotional weight to it. This song grew on me, I must admit.
6. On A Night Like This (performed by Los Lobos): A fun, dual-language version of a fun song. Alternating verses between English and Spanish works well on an album with so many non-English tracks.
7. Diamond Joe (performed by Bob Dylan): A fun, up-tempo rendition of a traditional bluegrassy number. This song will quickly have you singing along. (Note: this is a completely different song than the traditional "Diamond Joe" on Good As I Been to You).
on November 1, 2003
Like a lot of soundtracks, "Masked and Anonymous" plays it a little cheap by not including all of the performances to be heard in the film. This is probably a way to encourage those who like the music but are less enthralled with the film to shell out money for the DVD. This disc contains four Dylan performances, the standout being his version of the traditional "Dixie," but the movie gave us a few more, including the studio rendition of "Blind Willie McTell." I know it's already available on "The Bootleg Series Vol. 1-3," but having been more appropriate to the theme of the movie than any of the other selections, it should have been included here, too. The rest of the disc, devoted to covers of Dylan classics by everyone from Shirley Ceasar to Francesco De Gregori, is certainly interesting, but may not warrant too many repeat listenings for Dylan fans who would prefer to hear the man himself sing "Gotta Serve Somebody" and "If You See Her, Say Hello."
on September 21, 2003
How many cover version tributes have there been to Dylan over all the years? Do you go back to Peter, Paul & Mary and Joan Baez? Have you heard Mary Lee's Corvette? This brings it all back home, with Bob (i.e. Jack Fate) singing cover versions of Dylan himself (just two of his songs) along with two old American folk tunes - including Dixie which will take your breath away even if you are from the North- track to track with a diverse international covers collection (Japan, Italy, Turkey, Sweden, East L.A.). Kind of like Radio Bob International, with each cut coming from some other musical style, different country, but it's all Bob all the time. The Dixie Hummingbirds sing a great Dylan gospel song that has never been recorded before. Missing is the incredible a capella version of The Times They Are A-Changin' sung by a young black girl in the film. There's enough more wonderful music in the film to easily fill a second Masked And Anonymous disc. And more Jack Fate sings Dylan covers too.
on August 13, 2003
I suppose I'm typical in the sense that I have friends who, like me, appreciate Bob Dylan as a singer/songwriter, and others who grudgingly acknowledge his songwriting ability, but can't stand to hear the man sing. Indeed, the latter group will enter into heated debate about whether Dylan's vocals even qualify as singing. This CD offers a bridge between the two camps. Dylan's patina-tinged vocals are unabashedly front and center on four tracks, all of which the pro-vocal camp will enjoy. For the oh-God-please-make-him-stop crowd, there are the remaining 10 tracks, each with its own interpretation of those masterful lyrics. Yes, there is a multi-national flavor to these interpretations, and I admit to being somewhat surprised that they all work. I should have realized, perhaps, that good music transcends language, but My Back Pages in Japanese, or a hip-hop version of Like A Rolling Stone was, frankly, beyond my imagination. This soundtrack is, I think, much like the man himself: bristling with talent, hard to define. Take a cue from Jack Fate and don't try to figure it all out. Just enjoy it on whatever levels present themselves to your sensibilities.
on July 31, 2003
I like the album. The alternate versions of previously released stuff is good, but Dylan's voice obviously wasn't in tip top shape for them. Either way, he makes the best of what he has. Diamond Joe is the only one you'll understand completely if you don't already know the words (like me). If you are looking for an album full of people re-singing Dylan in Dylan's style, this album isn't gonna give it to you. There's a song that samples Rolling Stone and the rest of the lyrics are rapped in Italian. It's doesn't have the same gravity as Dylan, but it's fun to listen to and catchy. The Japanese cover of My Back Pages is good- really angry sounding. I thought Sophie Zelmani's cover of Most of the Time was excellent. It's quiet, she's got a pretty voice and she let's the desperation of the song into her voice. The Los Lobos track's was nice. The Dead track and Garcia track I found to be a little too slow and drab for me to appreciate. One more cup of coffee was pretty wild - very gypsyesque. City of Gold was OK - reminded me of a song Joe Cocker would do. It didn't sound like a Dylan song.