Bryan Ferry is, without question in my opinion, a great singer.
I think that his powers of interpreting great songs are a natural gift not at all unlike that of the great singers he so clearly emulates like Frank Sinatra. Still, the proposition of Ferry doing an entire album interpreting the songs of Bob Dylan was, in my mind at least, a very difficult proposition.
There is no doubt that Ferry did a great job of reinventing Dylan's "A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall" back in 1973. Which by the way, is included here on the DVD.
That fact notwithstanding, my doubts about Ferry doing an entire album interpeting Dylan lingered hard. I mean, how exactly does one reconcile the cool, suave sophisication of Ferry's persona with the gritty realism of Dylan's best protest songs like "Just Like Tom Thumbs Blues"?
Still, to my ultimate surprise and amazement, Bryan Ferry pulls it off quite convincingly.
But here is where we have to backtrack somewhat.
You see, as an artist Bryan Ferry has led something of a double life. Along with Brian Eno, Phil Manzanera, and Andy Mackay, Bryan Ferry led the futuristic glam-rock band Roxy Music throughout the seventies. With albums like For Your Pleasure and Country Life, Roxy Music mined itself through several levels of decadence in songs like "Do The Strand." Meanwhile, Ferry was busy reinventing himself as an interpeter of song with solo albums like The Bride Stripped Bare.
If there ever was a musical double life, this was it.
Eventually, the sophistication that Ferry displayed on his solo albums caught up to Roxy Music itself. With the album Avalon, Roxy Music became the darling of audiophiles the world over, who jizzed over that album's Steely Dan-like sheen.
Personally, I still prefer the rougher edges of that band's earlier life. But no matter. Bryan Ferry for the most part does a great job of interpreting Dylan's best songs here like "Knocking On Heavens Door" and "Positively 4th Street." I mean you really can't go wrong with great songs like these right?
For my money, I think Dylan himself is vastly underrated as a singer. Whatever you may think of the man's tonal quality, his sense of phrasing is positively beyond equal.
All preconceived notions to the contrary, I think Bryan Ferry pretty much nails the songs. But then again, he had some great material to work with.