Various Artists

Is It Rolling Bob? A Reggae Tribute to Bob Dylan

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The music of Bob Dylan has long been highly valued in Jamaica (the Wailers recorded an odd, eerie version of "Like a Rolling Stone" as early as 1966), and given the amazing elastic mutability of his songs (and the equally elastic adaptability of reggae rhythms), it should come as no surprise that a collection of reggae covers of his compositions should pop up now and again. Is It Rolling Bob? presents 14 reggaefied versions of Dylan songs, and while nothing is patently awful, the truth is that most of these tracks are more curious than inspiring or memorable. The fact that Jamaica was once essentially an island slave plantation (and given that Toots Hibbert could sing the want ads and make them stick) gives "Maggie's Farm" an added poignancy here, while "Mr. Tambourine Man" makes an amazingly fluid transition to reggae in the hands of the great Gregory Isaacs, but tracks like "Lay Lady Lay" by the Mighty Diamonds mostly just sound strange, even slightly off-kilter. The disc closes with a remix of Dylan's vocal version of "I and I" done by Doctor Dread, and aside from being a bit more atmospheric than the version from Infidels (which already had the great Jamaican rhythm section of Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare on it), it is surprisingly close to the original mix. For the casual listener, these versions will simply be mildly interesting curios.

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