DVD Review ? Bryan Ferry: Dylanesque

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Bryan Ferry
Eagle Vision (EV 30216-9)
Grade: ****

BryanFerry-01-01.jpgIt ought to be noted at the outset that any attempt to interpret or reinvent Dylan is bound to give cause for criticism.

Indeed, Bryan Ferry?s fixation on the Bobster, manifest in his latest album, Dylanesque, has stirred a wide range of reaction among scribes and critics. This artfully shot, softly gauzed performance video may actually help temper the criticism it has received, if for no other reason than to dissuade any notion of sterility or dispassion that occasionally intruded on the CD.

Less a behind-the-scenes documentary than a series of soundstage sessions, ?Dylanesque? the DVD shows Ferry a bit wizened but still ruggedly handsome, as befitting an artist who?s fashioned himself as a cool crooner for the baby boomer generation. Infused with the studio sheen afforded by a no-nonsense supporting cast of singers and musicians (including veteran guitar ace Chris Spedding and crack drummer Andy Newmark), the results, as was the case with the CD, are generally more muted than the Dylan originals.

Indeed, the emotion evident in ?Just Like Tom Thumb?s Blues,? ?Gates Of Eden? and ?All Along The Watchtower? pales compared to Dylan?s prototypes. At one point, Ferry remarks that the songs sometimes seem only like sketches which allow varied interpretations, and while his reworked versions aren?t all that radical, those that take the greatest artistic liberties are generally the most effective. His take on ?Positively 4th Street? finds him replacing the bitterness of Dylan?s diatribe with his own weary resignation. Conversely, a celebratory ?Simple Twist of Fate? dispels the scornful irony originally imbued.

Four bonus tracks, including a campy 1973 video of ?A Hard Rain?s A Gonna Fall? from Ferry?s first solo album, are of limited interest, but the occasional interspersion of archival Dylan clips ? and identification of the albums from which these tracks were taken ? add cohesion to the concept. Ultimately, it?s the mesh of gifted interpreter and a bedrock of classic material that earmarks these sessions as a set that?s truly special.

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