Hugo Montenegro

Dawn of Dylan

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Imagine a rock & roll version of the Ray Coniff Singers put together by the composer of the soundtrack to the film Hurry Sundown, covering the ten tunes by Bob Dylan which the public found his most recognizable at this point in time. That's the product of the man who had a number one hit with The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, the tune from the 1968 Clint Eastwood film. The singers and musicians are not listed; only the producer, arranger, conductor, album coordinator, and engineers. Great art it is not, but as a piece of pop history it is pretty intriguing. "Lay Lady Lay" is ridiculous, but they do it all straight-faced. This isn't Patty Duke attempting to sing on her Valley of the Dolls album, nor is it Mrs. Miller being a total farce, but it inadvertently comes off just as whimsical. Songs like "The Times They Are a Changin'" call for grit and a rough edge, and what they have here is the complete opposite. If Montenegro was going to be this bold why didn't he include "Masters of War"? Or take it a step further and follow this album up with an early-'70s tribute to Black Sabbath? A lone flower adorns the front and back cover, and it looks like one of those Pickwick budget deals, but the shame of it is "The Good, the Bad & the Ugly" was a monster hit with unique and thought provoking sounds. There is none of that here. The name Hugo Montenegro splashed on this cover makes it appear like the listener is going to get stunning original re-creations of Bob Dylan's music. Now had they given "The Mighty Quinn" and "Like a Rolling Stone" that deep, dark, mysterious music which burst out of the Clint Eastwood film instead of this second rate attempt to cop Ray Conniff's riffs, this would be a masterpiece. Liz Damon's Orient Express does it much better on "1900 Yesterday," and they don't prostitute Bob Dylan's name in the process to try to sell some records. Could've have been much more, but it isn't.

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