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World Music CD Reviews Reggae & Caribbean

VARIOUS ARTISTS

By JEFF TAMARKIN
Published January 25, 2006

IS IT ROLLING BOB? A REGGAE TRIBUTE TO BOB DYLAN, VOL. 1
Ras RASSP-89914-2

Topicality and spirituality are at the core of both the most righteous reggae and the music of Bob Dylan, so one can only wonder why it took so long for the bard’s songs to be given the full-on reggae treatment. If Luciano’s transformation of one Zimmy classic into “Knockin’ on Zion’s door” or Nasio’s injection of Selassie I into the Christian-period Dylan’s “Gotta Serve Somebody” seem obvious, then so be it: those songs were made to be reggae-fied. Same for “Maggie’s Farm,” which Toots Hibbert converts into a treatise on slavery, and Michael Rose’s contemporizing of the Civil Rights-era “The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll.” Gregory Isaacs’ smooth delivery was custom-built for the heady imagery of “Mr. Tambourine Man,” and Beres Hammond aches and breaks just like the woman of “Just Like A Woman.” Most surprising, perhaps, is Sizzla’s sizzling “Subterranean Homesick Blues,” one of few tunes here that toys with the original Dylan arrangement. Even the man himself makes the cut, his “I And I” receiving a funky reggae mix. One complaint: with the exception of JC Lodge’s “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right,” Is It Rolling Bob? is a boys’ club all the way. One praise: the cover art is a brilliant takeoff on Dylan’s own Bringing It All Back Home.