Various Artists

Is It Rolling Bob? Dub Versions

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Bob Dylan has long been held in high regard in Jamaica, and although his influence isn't front and center in reggae or dancehall, it is easy to see the political and compositional lessons that artists like Bob Marley drew from Dylan, and if you lean in closely, you'll realize it's a much shorter drive from the rhythmic structure of "Subterranean Homesick Blues" to contemporary Jamaican dancehall than one might first assume. This collection was originally the dub half (the first half consisted of straight vocal versions) of a two-disc Jamaican tribute to Dylan released in 2004, most of which was recorded in early June, 2003, at Anchor Studios in Kingston (additional vocal work was done at Harmony House in Kingston, Ariwa Studios in London, and at Lion & Fox Studio in Washington, D.C.). Truthfully, although these dub mixes are certainly jarring and interesting, in the end they are really more odd than anything else, and after the initial shock of hearing Dylan lyrics drift into focus and then echo off into the sonic ether, these mixes tend to draw on the stock tricks of the dub trade, rendering them fairly clich├ęd. The one exception is Toots Hibbert's version of "Maggie's Farm" which, after being fed into the dub blender, comes out sounding like the frenzied confession of a field hand gone crazy and speaking in tongues while leading a spooky gospel choir through a battle hymn. Or something like that. The track here that will ultimately draw the most attention is the dub mix of "I and I," which was mixed from the original tapes for Dylan's Infidels album, and thus features the guitars of Mark Knopfler and Mick Taylor, a rhythm section of Sly & Robbie, and the voice of Dylan himself, all echoing into infinity. It's certainly interesting, worth hearing, and memorable, but when all is said and done, the dub mix of "I and I" ends up being mostly a curio. The same can also be said for the rest of this album, which raises that old question, just because you can, does that mean you should?

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