Words by Nigel Williamson. Photo of Alain Webber by Sabelle Gruet
Great songs are like good bones – you can hang anything on them. What excites most about this collection of 13 well-known Dylan compositions rendered by a diverse collection of musicians from around the globe is that it doesn’t sound or feel like an album of covers at all. Dylan’s poetry is translated into the languages of the singers and the music is tailored to the rhythmic and harmonic patterns of the musicians’ own local genres and styles. Eliades Ochoa’s moody Cuban trovador take on ‘All Along the Watchtower’ sits felicitously between ‘Chan Chan’ and Jimi Hendrix. The ecstatic Bengali folk of the Bauls perfectly fits the wide-eyed wonder of ‘Mr Tambourine Man’, although the melody has been transformed beyond recognition. The Musicians of the Nile take ‘Tangled up in Blue’ on a similarly unrecognisable and mysterious trip down river. The Hungarian band Kek Lang give ‘Blowin’ in the Wind’ a delightful Gypsy skiffle makeover; Lhamo Dukpa’s a capella Himalayan Buddhist interpretation of ‘With God on Our Side’ has a fairy-tale quality and the Aboriginal People of Arnhemland turn ‘Father of Night’ into a hymn to the spirits of the Dream Time. The result is a heady, bohemian homage that stands as perhaps the most original tribute that can ever have been paid to Dylan in his long and glittering career.
Track to Try: ‘Mr Tambourine Man’ by Purna Das Baul & Bapi Das Baul