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43 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Bob Dylan covers comp that I've heard
There are a few multi-artist Dylan comps on the market, notably A Nod to Bob: An Artists' Tribute to Bob Dylan on His Sixtieth Birthday and the decent 30th anniversary concert soundtrack, the latter recorded long before his late 90's artistic revival when his new recordings again became as indispensable as his 60's and 70's output. Then there's compilations by individual...
Published on November 15, 2007 by The Last Person You'd Expect

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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars substance over quality reigns supreme
While I freely admit that imitation is a high form of flattery, and along that vein, so is re-interpretation, I have to also confess that once again I find myself disappointed with another spineless tribute album to a great artist. While there are some great covers here, no doubt, for my money they are the covers by existent sages, not the rabble clamoring around studio...
Published on December 7, 2007 by Eric R. Hendrix


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43 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Bob Dylan covers comp that I've heard, November 15, 2007
By 
The Last Person You'd Expect (Seattle, WA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: I'm Not There (Audio CD)
There are a few multi-artist Dylan comps on the market, notably A Nod to Bob: An Artists' Tribute to Bob Dylan on His Sixtieth Birthday and the decent 30th anniversary concert soundtrack, the latter recorded long before his late 90's artistic revival when his new recordings again became as indispensable as his 60's and 70's output. Then there's compilations by individual artists like the Byrds, the Hollies, Richie Havens, Joan Baez, the Dead, and recently Brian Ferry, which aren't always spectacular either. Joan Baez, in my mind, is the greatest interpreter of Dylan's work; she can make each song her own like no one else.

Baez doesn't appear on this album, and neither do the remaining members of the Band. Perhaps they've developed and have been developed to such an extent by Dylan that an interpretation by either would be almost worthless. It's far more interesting to see an artist with an entirely different style, like Sonic Youth, Steve Malkmus or Cat Power, come along and modernize an old Dylan song.

Cat Power covered Dylan on her first Cover's Album, but her version of 'Stuck Inside a Mobile..' is not only recognizable, but up-tempo and very non-Cat-Power-like (almost happy). Former Pavement front-man Steve Malkmus has three songs on the album, as do Calexico. Both sets of contributions are outstanding; Steve Malkmus channels Dylan's vocals without leaving his own Lou Reed-influenced delivery far behind and Calexico may be an ideal backing band for Dylan himself if he didn't work so much in country and rockabilly; instead they play behind Willie Nelson, Roger McGuinn, Iron & Wine, and Jim James (of My Morning Jacket). Sonic Youth's cover of the title track, an obscure song, presumably off the basement tapes, with the original included at the very end of the second disc, sets the tone of the album along with a pretty good Eddie Vedder take of (the Jimi Hendrix interpretation of) All Along the Watchtower.

Other surprises include Yo La Tengo's profoundly gorgeous take of the early gem, Fourth Time Around, the Hold Steady's cover (not that great, but entertaining) of the early B-side "Can You Please Crawl Out My Window?", Jeff Tweedy's passionate delivery on Simple Twist of Fate, and perhaps the most profoundly moving cover on the album was done by an actor in the movie, a young african-american kid named Marcus Carl Franklin, one of the several actors who portray Dylan.

There aren't any big disappointments. Tom Verlaine's (of Television) cover of Cold Irons Bound comes to mind as one that could have been reworked a little so that it wouldn't drag as much. I skipped past Jack Johnson on my last couple listens, so I can't say much about that. Antony (of Antony & the Johnson's) sing Knockin on Heaven's Door just as you'd expect, but without adding much to note.

After all that, there's still a lot of artist contributions to comment on, but the nicest thing about the collection is that it doesn't sound like a bunch of disparate recordings patched together on one album. The arbitrary differences in production on most movie soundtracks and collections can cause them to fall apart if not well-sequenced. These songs all sound like they were recorded in the same studio under the same conditions, and the result is largely a sense of cohesion and purpose that's lacking on most tribute albums (even including Dylan's own tribute to Jimmy Rogers).

So, if you're going to get one collection of Dylan covers, this would be it. Now I can't wait to see the movie...
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47 of 53 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Weird............but in a good way, October 30, 2007
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This review is from: I'm Not There (Audio CD)
Bob Dylan is the greatest and most influential songwriter in rock history. Like Shakespeare before him, artists and poets will reinvent and replay his music. Even though Bob is still with us, this is one of the first real examples of the future of Dylan's music. It is strange hearing various artists and bands play music heard hundreds if not thousands of times. Each artist here tweaks and reworks the song in a way to make it their own while keeping the spirit of the song intact. I would recommend this album to hardcore Dylan fans like me and to those who never got into Dylan's music because they didnt care for his voice. This album makes you look at Dylan from a different angle and the result is still absorbing, frustrating but ultimately supremely rewarding.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great covers album, October 30, 2007
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This review is from: I'm Not There (Audio CD)
Bob Dylan's material has always been popularly when interpreted by other artists. Witness the works of The Byrds, Jimi Hendrix, and Judy Collins among many others. This collection of Dylan covers is stellar. In particular, the Calexico collaborations stand out. "One More Cup of Coffee" featuring Roger McGuinn and Calexico is a real highpoint. These two artists should sit down in a studio and do a full album together - a match made in heaven! Also, the Tom Verlaine interpretation of, "Cold Irons Bound" is brilliant. I highly recommend this collection to all Dylan fans, as well as fans of the many artists featured.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Million Dollar Bash, November 2, 2007
By 
K to the BBC (New York, NY USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: I'm Not There (Audio CD)
I think the critical review posted on here is a bit over the top. This is a fantastic collection of Dylan songs - both famous and more obscure ones - by some of the most relevant artists working today. It's a loving homage to the master songwriter. Each artist brings his/her/their own interpretation of the song to the table, but they also keep his sensibilities in mind (with a few exceptions). Some of the covers are obvious love letters to their songwriting hero (e.g. those by Cat Power, Jeff Tweedy, Stephen Malkmus), but there are also many artists on this collection that I previously wouldn't have associated with Dylan, but now I'm happy to see the connection. My advice is simple: take a look at the artists who appear on this collection. If you like them, and you love Dylan, I think it's a safe bet you'll enjoy this soundtrack.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My Favorite Record of the Fall/Winter, December 10, 2007
This review is from: I'm Not There (Audio CD)
I just looked over some of the reviews for this album, and I can't believe how many old hippies have posted on here about how "only Bob can do Bob" (one old-timer even insisted that the list of great artists to cover him begins with the horrible, uninspired noodlings of the Grateful Dead!). These songs are reinterpretations of great songs, and yes, many of them are quite different than the originals. One reviewer suggested that these versions are "too modern," which says a great deal about that person's closed-mindedness when it comes to music produced after the 1960s. Most of the other negative reviews are clearly unfamiliar with the bands on this album (most of whom are pretty popular among music fans, by the way). I don't know why anyone would want these songs to sound just like Dylan, or why anyone would say he'd rather hear Dylan do them when all he'd have to do is pop a Dylan album in.
This is an excellent soundtrack full of excellent versions of excellent songs. It's really interesting, too: halfway through my first listen to Ramblin' Jack Elliott's version of "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues," I was about to dismiss it as a cheap Dylan imitation, only to realize that hey, early, acoustic Dylan is really a cheap Ramblin' Jack impression, as he's the first to admit, so it's really almost like hearing 1963-era Dylan covering 1965-era Dylan, if you catch my drift, which is really awesome. Other highlights include Sonic Youth doing a great job with the title song; Jim James and Calexico absolutely killing "Going to Acapulco"; Malkmus's unbelievable "Ballad of a Thin Man, in which his slacker-drawl somehow turns the song into something that I can't help dancing to; Yo La Tengo's "Fourth Time Around" with Georgia on vocals; Malkmus again on "Maggie's Farm"; Mason Jennings's versions of the folkie stuff; and the excellent backing by Calexico and the supergroup Million Dollar Bashers. Even Jack Johnson, whom I normally find too vanilla, does a really good job with "Mama, You've Been on My Mind." Only Sufjan Stevens stinks up the joint, doing a limp-wristed, Lawrence Welk-ified version of "Ring Them Bells" that doesn't fit in at all with the rest of the record (but then again, in my opinion Stevens ruins everything he touches).
This is exactly the right kind of soundtrack for this movie: it's smart, artistic, and challenging, and the kind of people who want to see their hero preserved in a time capsule like some sort of psychedelic Vladimir Lenin will undoubtedly be frightened out of their tie-dye. Plus, the vinyl version is four LPs, which is pretty cool.
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I'm Not Displeased, November 13, 2007
This review is from: I'm Not There (Audio CD)
It's rare that a Dylan cover is better then the real Dylan. That's the case here; none of the songs are better then the orignal.

I would buy the album for one reason: Dylan singing "I'm Not There." It's a mystery why it's taken so long for this song to make it on a record! I would pay 20 bucks for this song alone. It's that good. It's classic Dylan, and it now ranks in my Top 20 of best Dylan songs.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Museum Pieces v. the Living Word, December 18, 2007
By 
Music Omnivore (Middle o' the States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: I'm Not There (Audio CD)
This is a wonderful collection of new takes on Bob Dylan songs. Although I am of a certain age that would know most (but not the very earliest) of the original Dylan songs in their original contexts, I do not worship the canon nor believe "The Times They Are a Changin' " was inscribed on stone tablets. "Blood on the Tracks" is my favorite album of his, so that should give you some idea of where I'm coming from.

But the comments here bring up an interesting dichotomy that resembles the classicist/romantic split that often comes up when performed art is discussed. The classicists tend toward the "Dylan does Dylan best," or even "only Dylan can do Dylan correctly." The romantic would throw the doors open to anyone performing a Dylan work in any manner he or she wishes. Of course, most people fall somewhere in the middle. Does anyone not appreciate The Byrds' version of "Mr. Tambourine Man?"

This isn't just a technical exercise, but rather has practical implications. Classical music pieces have become something akin to (pre-Modern) museum pieces. The vast majority of the classical music audience wants to hear Beethoven's 9th Symphony performed "correctly." Granted, conductors and musicians interpret the classics during performances, but within a narrow range. Of course, there are exceptions, such as the bright young violinist Carla Kihlstedt, who is building an amazing repertoire across several musical genres.

Do we want Bob Dylan's work to always be performed "correctly?" In 200 years (yes, I think his work will still be performed then and later) will we want to dress up to hear Dylan performed correctly in a concert hall by a performer in period costumes?

There will be a place for this type of performance, but keeping the songs fresh is mandatory. Without reinterpretations from contemporary performers, any music gradually becomes relevant only as history. When songs become museum pieces they lose their vitality and wither away, eventually known only to connoisseurs and members of the academy.

People may not like all of the interpretations here, but none of the performances sounds like it was "phoned in." Most of the artists here have probably lived with these songs during their careers and respect them greatly. The group of musicians making up "the house band" also provide a coherence that is lacking in many multi-artist compilations.

All-in-all, an outstanding collection, as long as you don't expect a completely deferential approach to the material.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars substance over quality reigns supreme, December 7, 2007
This review is from: I'm Not There (Audio CD)
While I freely admit that imitation is a high form of flattery, and along that vein, so is re-interpretation, I have to also confess that once again I find myself disappointed with another spineless tribute album to a great artist. While there are some great covers here, no doubt, for my money they are the covers by existent sages, not the rabble clamoring around studio mics. While Dylan didn't live the vagabond lifestyle he so aptly portrayed in his music, his chameleonic nature allowed him to empathize to the point of true artistry: he became his creation. I've only been able to listen to this album once since I purchased it (with great anticipation, mind you), and fully expect it to litter CD sales boxes at Roses in the near future. Save your money; go out and purchase a remastered Dylan album (any one will do, particularly Blonde on Blonde), or try the Masked and Anonymous soundtrack. Shirley Caesar hits "Gotta Serve Somebody" on the nail (no pun intended).
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars NOT MUCH THAT BETTERS THE ORIGINAL - BUT STILL INTERESTING, June 20, 2008
This review is from: I'm Not There (Audio CD)
As I look through my i-tunes collection, I realize that I already have six versions of "Highway 61 Revisited" saved digitally on my computer. A few are various Dylan recordings and the remainder are covers by other artists. I have eight versions of "All Along the Watchtower," nine versions of "Just Like a Woman," and over a dozen renderings of "Knockin' on Heaven's Door." All of this overkill begs the question; Does the world need another album of artists covering Bob Dylan songs? The simple answer is `Of course not", but the soundtrack for "I'm Not There" is not quite so simple.
Over the course of two disks, thirty-four recordings by almost as many artists veer wildly all over place. Some are faithful to the original recordings, while others are incredibly imaginative recreations. For my money, it's the reinvented tracks that may help this collection become something more than a novelty. Perhaps the most surprising thing is how many of the most iconoclastic artists are the very ones who play it safest. Eddie Vedder sounds great on "All Along the Watchtower," but he does nothing that hasn't been done hundreds of times before. Cat Power and Karen O created virtual carbon copies of Dylan's own recordings, leaving me to wonder why they would even bother, since any cover band could have done the same thing. Even Jeff Tweedy disappointed, with a true-to-form but straightforward reading of "A Simple Twist of Fate."
The most successful stuff here are the acts who chose obscure material, or have rendered the song into something new and interesting in its own right. The Los Lobos version of "Billy 1" is totally cool, and casts an obscure gem in an entirely new light. Iron and Wine teamed up with Calexico to create as moody an interpretation of "Dark Eyes" as I could imagine. You'll have to listen twice before you even recognize it. I also have to give props to Yo La Tengo - a band that usually does not impress me much - for choosing "I Wanna Be Your Lover." This may the hardest-rocking song this band has ever stumbled upon. I don't even know where Stephen Malkmus found "Can't Leave Her Behind," but I'm glad he did, while Sufjan Stevens turns "Ring Them Bells" into a Van Dyke Parks-style show tune.
I guess everybody will read this collection in their own way, but I doubt that anyone would consider it to be indispensable. As for myself, I intend to load a dozen or so tracks into my i-tunes, but I'll skip the recordings that bring nothing new to the table. B Tom Ryan
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dylan's Second Oscar?, November 3, 2007
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This review is from: I'm Not There (Audio CD)
It's true. Nobody does Dylan like Dylan. I have listened to Dylan so much, both studio, live and bootleg, and I know every song, every arrangement and every nuance due to the change in musicians over the years. So...it's good to get a fresh take on his songs. There is some amazing work on this collection including Roger McGuinn on One More Cup of Coffee and an amazing Senor by Willie Nelson. It's all good.

And I for one think Dylan should qualify for an Oscar for I'm Not There. After all, it's never appeared on an official release. Does it qualify as a newly written song for a film? How many artists are there with this kind of stuff in the can from 40 years ago? He is the man.
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I'm Not There
I'm Not There by Various Artists (Audio CD - 2007)
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