Bryan Ferry's Dylanesque

A dandified tribute comes neither to bury nor to compete

Image-wise, few male singers have less in common with Bob Dylan than Bryan Ferry. The former Roxy Music crooner's dandified stagecraft, elegant decadence, gleeful irreverence, scrappy irony, and consistent refusal to anchor his art in politics, religion, or any other formal belief system would seem to put him at irreconcilable odds with the Dylan mystique. Yet the tribute album Dylanesque reveals that this seeming incompatibility actually inspires Ferry's insightful deconstructions. Initially a feathery shadow of Bob's growly diction, Ferry's throaty quaver throughout "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues" gives way to a greater vocal flexibility that has Ferry channeling rockabilly, doo-wop, lounge pop, and country personalities alongside Dylan's looming swagger. The sultry sway of "Gates of Eden" and the bouncy two-step of "Baby Let Me Follow You Down" enjoy similar success; elsewhere, Ferry croons "Make You Feel My Love" like Randy Newman and slyly evokes Elvis on "The Times They Are a-Changin'," intentionally a far more earnest reading than his punky remake of "A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall," recorded for 1973's These Foolish Things.

"All I Really Wanna Do" telegraphs Bryan's true intentions toward Bob: " I ain't lookin' to compete with you." And it's precisely the fact that their artistic motivations are so inherently different that gives this musical collision the energetic potential of cold fusion—a semantic clash of titans.

 
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