Saturday, November 5, 2022

Bob Dylan Uncovered Vol. 3 (2022) CD Review

Bob Dylan is obviously one of the most talented and prolific and revered songwriters of all time. He’s written hundreds of songs, which have been covered by hundreds of artists (thousands, if you count all the unrecorded renditions that have happened in every coffeehouse and folk club since the 1960s). The year 2006 saw the release of Bob Dylan Uncovered, a compilation of Dylan covers by artists such as Cadillac Moon and Russ Seeger. A decade later, to celebrate Bob Dylan’s 75th birthday, Bob Dylan Uncovered Vol. 2 was released. That one featured recordings by The Hideaways and Claudia Jacobs. Dylan has written enough excellent material to justify many more volumes in this series. Just take a look at the track list of Bob Dylan Uncovered Vol. 3, which includes such gems as “She Belongs To Me” and “When I Paint My Masterpiece” (both of which were covered by the Grateful Dead, by the way). This volume in the series is different from the previous two releases, in that certain musicians play on most of the tracks, including Chris James on vocals, guitar, bass, organ and pedal steel; Pete Mancini on vocals, acoustic guitar, and bass; and Bill Herman on drums and bass.

The album gets off to a great, lively start with a rocking, grooving rendition of “Watching The River Flow,” a song Dylan released as a single in 1971. Chris James provides the vocals, and plays guitar, bass and organ on this track. He is joined by Roger Murdock on drums. I particularly like the guitar work on this track. Then Pete Mancini delivers a sweet, heartfelt version of “Shooting Star,” a song from Dylan’s 1989 LP Oh Mercy. Chris James delivers some nice work on organ, and Lynn Herman adds some pretty work on flute. Michael Korb is on electric guitar, delivering a really good lead in the second half, and Bill Herman is on drums. That jam toward the end is wonderful, with each of the musicians getting a chance to shine. I wish it went on a little longer. This is one of my personal favorites. Chris James follows that with a soulful, moving version of “Going, Going, Gone,” a song from Planet Waves, again delivering some excellent work on guitar. Bill Herman is on drums and bass, and Pete Mancini provides backing vocals.

Pete Mancini sings lead on “Precious Angel.” This is a song from Bob Dylan’s Christian phase, originally appearing on his 1979 album Slow Train, and it contains religious imagery and references. But it is also a love song, and Pete Mancini seems to focus on that aspect of the song in his vocal performance. Dave Wise joins him on electric guitar, adding some good work. Mark Mancini’s work on piano is warm, and at the heart of this rendition. I also like the backing vocals by Annie Mark, Donna Domingo and Chris James. That’s followed by another of the disc’s highlights, “Señor (Tales Of Yankee Power)” (here titled simply “Señor”), with Pete Mancini again on lead vocals, guitar and bass. But here he is joined by Jon Preddice on cello and Brian Chabza on violin, and their presence adds to the great emotional impact of this rendition. This is such a good song, and this is a powerful version. Jerry Garcia Band used to do a great job with this one too.

Speaking of Jerry Garcia, the disc’s next two tracks are ones the Grateful Dead used to cover (and which Bob Weir still performs). The first is “She Belongs To Be,” a song from Bringing It All Back Home, one of my favorite Bob Dylan albums. This track is a solo effort by Chris James, who sings and plays guitar, organ and bass on it. And, partly because of the lack of drums, it has a somewhat raw and immediate feel, which I like. It sounds like he adds the word “red” (or possibly “wedding”) to the line “She wears an Egyptian ring, it sparkles before she speaks.” Then Annie Mark sings lead on “When I Paint My Masterpiece,” delivering an unusual rendition with a hopping country sound. Chris James once again delivers some seriously good work on guitar. Tom Hopkins is on upright bass, and Mark Pohl plays drums on this one. The lines from this song that pop in my head frequently are “Someday everything is gonna be different/When I paint my masterpiece.” In this version, Annie Mark sings, “Someday it’s gonna be different.”

Things then get moving with “Got My Mind Made Up,” a song from Knocked Out Loaded. Chris James delivers an energetic version, and on this track he is joined by Scotty Micciche on harmonica, and Roger Murdock on drums. It feels like it fades out a bit too soon. I want these guys to jam on this one a little more. The album then switches gears, going back to country with “On A Night Like This,” a song from Planet Waves. Pete Mancini sings lead on this one, and plays both acoustic guitar and bass. This is the first of two tracks to feature Chris James on pedal steel. I love his work here. Mark Mancini delivers some delightful work on piano. The second track to feature Chris James on pedal steel is “If Not For You,” with Peter Mancini on vocals. This is a slow version, which feels right for the song. I’ve always preferred slower renditions of this one.

Then Bill Scorzari delivers a solo rendition of “High Water (For Charley Patton),” a song from Dylan’s 2001 album Love And Theft, here listed as “Highwater.” Bill Scorzari delivers a passionate performance here, playing acoustic guitar. This song contains lines from “The Cuckoo” and “I Believe I’ll Dust My Broom.” This rendition gets more powerful as it goes, and interestingly some of its most powerful moments are its softest, as near the end when he repeats, “It’s bad out there.” The disc then concludes with “I’d Have You Anytime,” a song written by Bob Dylan and George Harrison, and included on Harrison’s All Things Must Pass. (Harrison also included his own version of Dylan’s “If Not For You” on that release.) Here it is sung by Rorie Kelly, who gives us an excellent performance. Lynn Herman again delivers some beautiful work on flute. Kenny White is on piano and organ, and Stephan Crump plays bass on this track.

CD Track List

  1. Watching The River Flow
  2. Shooting Star
  3. Going, Going, Gone
  4. Precious Angel
  5. Señor
  6. She Belongs To Me
  7. When I Paint My Masterpiece
  8. Got My Mind Made Up
  9. On A Night Like This
  10. If Not For You
  11. Highwater
  12. I’d Have You Anytime

Bob Dylan Uncovered Vol. 3 was released on July 14, 2022 on Paradiddle Records.

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