Moscow Times Article - Fri 2nd Nov

Moscow Times Article
02 November 2007
From The Moscow Times:
By Sergey Chernov
Published: November 2, 2007

In Dylan's Footsteps

For 30 years, Roxy Music star Bryan Ferry has been performing covers of Bob Dylan songs. He's bringing his new album, 'Dylanesque,' to Moscow.

The careers of Bryan Ferry and Bob Dylan don't have much in common -- Britain's Ferry achieved success in the early 1970s as a singer with the glam-rock band Roxy Music, whose biggest hit was a John Lennon cover, while Dylan, from the United States, began by performing folk music in the early 1960s and is considered one of the most talented songwriters of the 20th Century.

But there are similarities between the two, reckons Ferry, who in Moscow concerts on Wednesday and Thursday will introduce his new album, "Dylanesque," his homage to the musician.

"Although we seem very, very different stylistically from each other, it seems to me that we've had a lot of the same musical influences -- American blues signers and this kind of thing," Ferry said by telephone from London last week. "I think we both come from similar kind of blue-collar, quite hard, working-class environment also."

Released in March, "Dylanesque," Ferry's 12th solo album and the follow-up to 2002's "Frantic," was recorded in a few days when Ferry took a break from recording sessions with a reunited Roxy Music. It includes 10 songs recorded by Dylan between 1962 and 1975, including such classics as "The Times They Are A-Changin'," "Gates of Eden" and "All Along the Watchtower," as well as "Make You Feel My Love," taken from Dylan's 1997 album, "Time out of Mind."

Ferry said he didn't think too hard about which songs to use. "It was just based on my feelings of the song, sometimes you don't analyze too much -- you just say, 'I love this song, I feel it,' and when I feel the song, I can perform it."

In Moscow, Ferry will perform six or seven Dylan tracks as well as a selection from his own solo and Roxy Music careers, he said, backed by a rock 'n' roll band featuring three guitarists.

Ferry began performing Dylan covers back in 1973, when the then-frontman of the rebellious Roxy Music came up with an outrageous glam-rock version of Dylan's apocalyptic "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall."

Dylan songs have since been a constant part of his repertoire. "At that time I did my first solo album, 'These Foolish Things,' and I thought I'd choose 10 different songs from different musical genres, perhaps an interesting selection, a cross-section of musical tastes," he said.

"The title track was a song from the 1930s, from the golden period of pop songs, which is still being performed as a classic song by many people. And I thought, 'Dylan is such an important character in the history of popular music.' I thought, 'I must do a Dylan song.' It was a big hit, it was my first solo single.

"So since then, I did one or two Dylan songs on different albums, and I thought, 'One day I must do a complete selection of Dylan songs for the album.' Because they're such beautiful songs, very poetic, he uses a very good vocabulary, they're intelligent songs."

However, it took time for Ferry to come round to Dylan's sound, which was "too folky" for him when he was a student of fine art at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne. "When I was at the university, I remember people carrying Dylan albums, his early acoustic records. For me, they were not so interesting at that time. I was very much into rhythm and blues and electric guitar, I liked the noise and energy of black American music, and it wasn't until later, perhaps when he did [his 1966 "electric" album] 'Blonde on Blonde' and he played with The Band -- certainly I found it very interesting, and since then I was a very big Dylan fan."

Over the years, Ferry's approach to covering Dylan songs has changed. Although Ferry's personality is unmistakably felt in his interpretations, the songs are not such a radical departure from the originals as his "Hard Rain" cover was.

"On this album I think I haven't really tried too hard to change the songs. I didn't want to make it a difficult album at all," Ferry said.

"It was just a kind of celebration of Dylan songs. I suppose the one that is quite different is 'Positively 4th Street,' as I used strings on it. It's quite beautiful and quite different from his original version."

Ferry, who has never met Dylan and had not seen him playing live until last year, said he had no idea what the singer thinks of his remakes.

"But it doesn't matter. I'm sure he must be pleased that people like his work so much."

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