Wednesday, 22 August 2018

Bob Dylan - Good As I Been To You (1992)




Released November 1992

This was Bob Dylan's first all-acoustic album, just him and a finger-pickin' guitar (and occasional harmonica), since 1964's "Another Side Of Bob Dylan. It is certainly no commercially-appealing album, being full of traditional folk material, but, taken in its proper context, it is a very good album. As someone who enjoys this sort of music, it suits me fine, albeit every now and again. It is a breath of fresh air to hear him doing this sort of material. Bruce Springsteen was not averse to doing these type of songs and Dylan was becoming increasing interested in America's musical history. Some of these songs are UK/Celtic in derivation but some are old US folk songs and blues songs.

"Frankie & Albert" is a bluesy, evocative opener, while "Jim Jones" is a song about deportation to Australia's Botany Bay. "Black Jack Davey" is a song concerning marital infidelity, covered in the seventies by Steeleye Span on their "All Around My Hat" album. Here. Dylan delivers it in a quiet, mournful croak, which carries considerable homespun appeal, actually. "Canadee-I-O" is an appealing melody from the days of emigration to Canada, again delivered by Dylan most fetchingly. He is exploring his roots and appears to be enjoying doing so. It is an understated, unassuming album from an artist who was quite happy to plough his own furrow.

The often-covered blues "Sittin' On Top Of The World" is delivered in a pure blues, sittin' on the porch, fashion, complete with a killer harmonica enhancing the authenticism. "Little Maggie" is a folky lament from a over to his hard-drinking woman, while "Hard Times" was written by US songwriter Stephen Foster in 1854 and is a well-known protest against extreme poverty. "Step It Up And Go" is a rockabilly type upbeat song and is as lively as it gets on this album. It would sound good given a full rocking band treatment. "Tomorrow Night" is a gentle folky ballad and "Arthur McBride" is an old Celtic folk song about being forcefully conscripted into the army, it has been covered by many folk singers over the years. Dylan is returning here to the old "protest song" tradition that shot him to fame all those years previously.

"You're Gonna Quit Me" is an old spiritual-style blues delivered authentically once again. "Diamond Joe" is an old West song about a corrupt landowner and the traditional children's song "Froggie Went A-Courtin'" is nowhere near as bad as you may imagine it to be. If you want a quick blast of traditional folk, nostalgic rural US-style, give this a listen.

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