I never was a Roxy Music fan, but I've always kind of admired Bryan Ferry. He seemed to embody class and style in a distinctly English way, and few modern singers have quite the way with a cover that he does. So, when I saw Dylanesque, his CD of Bob Dylan covers, I knew I had to give it a spin.
Well, having done so, I must report a mixed bag. Ferry has lost none of his skill or style, and none of the songs here are bad ... exactly. What is true, at least for me, is that about half of them are right on the money, and half are so jaw-droppingly wrongheaded, it's a wonder the studio didn't explode. For every winner like "Positively 4th Street," where his bourbon-and-smoke tones blend with a simple piano arrangement to beautifully highlight the heartbreak in the lyrics, there's a tremendous bomb like "Simple Twist of Fate," which gets turned into a bouncy jazz fest completely at odds with the lyrical content. Actually, I should revise my earlier assessment. About a third of the songs are not different enough from the originals to warrant a yea or nay, a third are wonderful and a third blow chunks. There's not much even Ferry can do with stinkers like "Knockin' on Heaven's Door," one of the most overrated songs in the Dylan canon, and "Make You Feel My Love" is virtually bulletproof. Even Garth Brooks couldn't mess it up.
With that in mind, what it really comes down to is which songs fall into which categories, and after listening to the whole album, it's a draw. Everybody falls down once in a while, and while Dylanesque eventually cancels everything out to mediocre, Ferry is one of those guys that listeners expect better of, and should.