Nob Dylan and the Nobsoletes
Positively 12 Stiff Dylans! (2005)
Now, I'm a big Dylan fan. I've got twelve of his albums, and they find themselves in heavy rotation. So how do I feel about this release? Good and bad. I mean, Nob Dylan himself is none other than Rev. Norb from Boris the Sprinkler, of which I'm aware of by name only. These kinds of albums appeal to two types of people: Fans of the original work, and fans of the artist doing the covering. I would be the former. So this album is marketed as a punk take on Dylan, and the essay inside being sort of a declaration of the good Rev. Norb's love of mid-`60s Dylan. Unnecessary? Completely. Horrific? Only slightly, only slightly.
It starts with a local car dealer commercial take on "Rainy Day Women #12 & 35," titled "Rainy Day Women #138 & -3." After that, the rest of the album is basically an electric guitar-heavy take on all the Dylan songs selected. The bass and drums are played like any general upbeat Dylan song form the mid-`60s; you know, heavy on tambourine and open hi-hat. Norb's vocals are, well, Norb-ish. He's either doing his Weird Al goofiness, or his Joey Ramone-inspired mumbled drone.
While this is an awesome way to play "Tombstone Blues," tracks like "Highway 61 Revisited" and "I Wanna Be Your Lover" just sound like amped up Dylan songs. "Absolutely Sweet Marie" is another one that seems to work great, but "Outlaw Blues" and "Maggie's Farm" and "Subterranean Homesick Blues" differ from the Dylan versions seemingly only in the fact that the electric gutiar has taken charge of the track. "Motorpsycho Nitemare" works brilliantly, since the original version was acoustic and the Nobsoletes take is a blistering fast rager. Though "Desolation Twist" is an upbeat, fast take on "Desolation Row," the translation to a fast "punk" song makes it lose its feeling.
So how do I feel about this release? In the end, it's worth getting for the hardcore Dylan addict or anyone who wants more from Rev. Norb. Anyone in between just won't care about it. Some of these songs are sweet, some of them aren't. All in all, it's just not too different from an actual Dylan album, and I'd recommend one of those before this. But when it comes down to it all, I have to respect that a man loves Bob Dylan, and just had fun recording Dylan songs for an album.