Red House Records has released A Nod To Bob 2, a new tribute to Bob Dylan to commemorate his 70th birthday on May 24, 2011. A Nod To Bob 2 is the 10th anniversary sequel to A Nod to Bob, the best selling title in Red House Records’ history, and features performances from some of the label’s top artists like Jimmy LaFave, The Pines, Hot Tuna, Guy Davis and more.
Bob Dylan’s music has always been eclectic, encompassing pop, folk, blues, gospel, rock & roll, R&B and more. Through his passion for music, wordplay, philosophy, and art he has forged a category all his own and shown the limitless possibilities of a fertile imagination. Often, when others cover his songs, definitive versions are created. Bob Dylan has provided the framework for some truly amazing musical creations like The Byrds’ version of “Mr. Tambourine Man” that virtually created the folk-rock movement. After working with Bob Dylan, The Band presented the world with “Music From Big Pink” that included a heart-wrenching version of “I Shall Be Released.” The album inspired a roots-rock/Americana movement that continues to this day, and motivated Eric Clapton to change his musical direction. There’s also Jimi Hendrix’ cover of “All Along The Watchtower” that is a master class in arranging, mixing, and guitar playing with no less than three distinct and equally astounding guitar solos.
There are no definitive versions to be found on A Nod To Bob 2, but the performances are exquisite. This birthday gift for Bob Dylan does not sound celebratory, or even enthusiastic, at first. The pace of the music is slow and relaxed. Many mellow songs were chosen and it gives the album an overall sleepy feel. There’s a danger that it can become background music after a few songs if the listener becomes distracted. It lacks excitement. But not all gifts need to be animated and effervescent. Some gifts are subtle. The true gift of A Nod To Bob 2 lies in the care with which the artists treat the compositions. They love this music and treat it as an extension of themselves.
There are some energetic moments on the album. Hot Tuna’s rendition of “Mama, Let Me Lay It On You (Baby, Let Me Follow You Down)” grooves nicely and Spider John Koerner lays an earthy vocal performance over a rumbling bass and ritualistic drum beat on “The Days Of ’49.” Guy Davis puts a gospel inflected Delta Blues spin on “House Of The Rising Sun” with some intricate guitar picking and a swirling organ.
A Nod To Bob 2 succeeds most by featuring unexpected song choices. It isn’t just a rehashing of his greatest hits, although there are a few widely known songs here like “Just Like A Woman” and “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues.” Overall, it is the artists’ appreciation for Bob Dylan’s catalog that makes this collection successful. Unfortunately, the collection as a whole focuses too much on the somber quiet side of Bob Dylan’s music and would have fared better as an album with more diverse styles covered.
If you like your Bob Dylan music to have a warm glow and the lazy shuffle of a hot august afternoon then this is a perfect choice. Personally, I’ll fore-go the slow train coming and head out on highway 61.
A Nod To Bob 2 track list:
1. What Good Am I? – The Pines (originally from Oh Mercy)
2. Just Like A Woman – John Gorka (originally from Blonde On Blonde)
3. Mama, Let Me Lay It On You (Baby, Let Me Follow You Down) – Hot Tuna (originally from Bob Dylan)
4. Every Grain Of Sand – Lucy Kaplansky (originally from Shot Of Love)
5. Lay Down your Weary Tune – Storyhill (originally from Biograph)
6. The Days Of Forty-Nine – Spider John Koerner (originally from Self Portrait)
7. Dirt Road Blues – Pieta Brown (originally from Time Out Of Mind)
8. Buckets Of Rain – Danny Schmidt (originally from Blood On The Tracks)
9. House Of the Rising Sun – Guy Davis (originally from Bob Dylan)
10. Jokerman – Eliza Gilkyson (originally from Infidels)
11. Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues – Cliff Eberhardt (originally from Highway 61 Revisited)
12. It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry – Ray Bonneville (originally from Highway 61 Revisited)
13. Born In Time – Meg Hutchinson (originally from Under The Red Sky)
14. Not Dark Yet – Jimmy Lafave (originally from Time Out Of Mind)
15. Mozambique – Peter Ostroushko (originally from Desire)
16. Walkin’ Down The Line – Robin & Linda Williams (originally from Bootleg Series Vol. 1-3)
Or Maybe a Download? A Nod To Bob 2: An Artist’s Tribute To Bob Dylan