Sunday, November 02, 2008

Album Of The Day #103: GOOD AS I BEEN TO YOU - Bob Dylan

Title: Good As I Been To You
Artist: Bob Dylan
Label: Columbia
Released: 1991
Songs: Frankie & Albert/Jim Jones/Black Jack Davey/Canadee-I-O/Sittin’ On Top Of The World [Lonnie Chatmon & Walter Vinson]/Little Maggie/Hard Times [Stephen Foster]/Step It Up And Go/Tomorrow Night [Sam Coslow & Will Grosz]/Arthur McBride/You’re Gonna Quit Me [Public Domain]/Diamond Joe/Froggie Went A Courtin’
Traditional, arranged by Bob Dylan, except where noted
Production Supervised by Debbie Gold for The Gold Network
Thoughts: I think making this album had to be one of Dylan’s best decisions. It’s such a lovely piece of work, highlighting songs no one could possibly be familiar with today. Before I bought this, the only thing on here I had heard of before was “Froggie Went A Courtin’”. Dylan put the track on the end of the album, almost as if to say “Ha, I’m going to give you a lesson and you’re going to have to sit through it in order to get to the fun part.” My favorite track is “Tomorrow Night”. It feels like a predecessor to the crooning on Modern Times and it’s just a nice song. Most of these are which makes listening to this album an easy task. It’s not hard on the ears at all. Yes, it’s not much of a creative statement, but it is a very enjoyable record. Also, Dylan’s selection of songs allows for a nice balance of up-tempo and slower tracks. For example, “Hard Times” is followed by the quick, happy “Step It Up And Go”, while the long story, “Artur McBride” is sandwiched between “Tomorrow Night” and “You’re Gonna Quit Me”.
When you listen to it, the big thing to keep your ear glued to is his guitar playing. He is amazing…It sounds as if he hasn’t lost a beat in the thirty years since Bob Dylan and The Freewheelin’. His voice is also well suited for these tracks. Listen to “Step It Up And Go” and “Black Jack Davey”, particularly. I love his vocals on those.
There’s really not much to say about this other than it is impressive. His guitar playing, for me, is the highlight and you have to commend Dylan for putting this out. At a time when his career was so fragile (if you take away Oh Mercy, he hadn’t really had a successful studio LP since Infidels) he put this on the market. Possibly, Dylan could be saying he had nothing left, or he could just be saying that he wanted people to hear these great old folk tunes. I think he really wanted people to be talking about these old tracks, especially since we know he isn’t all washed up.

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