Monday, February 28, 2011

Dylan Cover #4 Rage Against The Machine "Maggie's Farm"

In this ongoing Monday Series we will be exploring various artists versions of Bob Dylan song's. Today's tune comes from rage Against The Machine and it is their take on "Maggie's Farm"

Thoughts on Dylan's Original:
"Maggie's Farm" is classic Dylan, everyone thinks they know what it's about and they are sure they are right, but they all think different things.  I will confess I like the sped up Electric version from Newport Folk Festival that caused the end of popular folk music (in theory) and really solidified Dylan's pop music career.  It is a great tune and really flows in lots of forms... 

Thoughts on Cover Artist:
I have always liked Rage Against The Machine, granted the fact that they inspired nu metal is pretty weak, however I can't deny their first 2 albums were favorites of mine.  Live they were top notch and their show at Roseland back in 96 is still a huge highlight for me, they opened with "Killing In the Name Of" and the crowd exploded for the remaining 2 hour concert.  I don't think I ever heard their third album in it's entirety as I kinda fell off on them, but todays song comes from their cover album Renegades

Thoughts on Cover:
Conceptually I love it, in practice this version only generates mixed feelings.  Morello's screech kicks off the 7 minute tune, the length is part of the issue as things seem repetitive towards the end.  Zack's take on the lyrics is more smoldering then screeching which works for the tune. The groove holds well, but the electric flourishes like the slides and long notes should have been more frequent.  Their switch to "She's 68 but she says she's 24" in the lyrics is a nod to the first electric version and a nice touch.  The first guitar solo around the 3:50 mark is a bit underwhelming, returning with a siren like sound to the verses, but the outro instrumental part that kicks off the last 2 minutes is heavy and stomping.   Maybe a bit of excess at two minutes and could have been spiced up, but not a bad way to end a tale of rebellion.        

Grade:  C
I wanted to like this one more as I usually enjoy unique cover versions but I doubt I come back to it all that often.

Wilson's Take-
This week Wilson decided to riff more on the album cover from The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan...Enjoy...

News of Suze Rotolo’s death on February 24th isn’t going to cause much of a ripple on the contemporary music scene. After a few “Who’s Suze Rotolo?” someone with far too much time on their hands will note that she’s that girl locking arms with Dylan on the cover of 1963’s The Freewheeling Bob Dylan – half (or more) of that iconic mid-century image of happiness.

Her death has sparked chatter among the Dylan faithful, as Ms. Rotolo proved to be the muse of all muses. For any artist, the right woman at the right time is everything. She can either be the lit match that sets off a propane tank or the tidal wave that quenches the blaze before it really gets going. Rotolo wasn’t like the people Dylan knew up in Hibbing. He described her as “the most erotic thing I’d ever seen.” As the child of communists, she introduced him to new books, old ideas, Avant-Garde film and all of that beautiful Greenwich Village bullshit that isn’t, in itself, useful to any end; but saturates the mind like a casserole of intrigue and, by instilling a lust for ideas, does its job.

Historians note that Freewheelin' is when Bob Dylan became Dylan – which makes the famous album cover all the more amusing. An album that in one stroke birthed "Masters of War", "Blowin in the Wind", "A Hard Rains A-Gonna Fall", "Don’t Think Twice", "It’s All Right Ma" called for an acrid cover. It should have offered doom, gloom and the high flames of hell. It should have been abstract or conceptual…something deeply obvious that beats you over the head like The BeatlesSargent Peppers. But it didn’t. The album that put the 1960s on notice offered the one thing more inviting than genius – a walk through the Village at 21 with a girl who puts a smile on your face.

It has been a wild half-century since that photo was shot. We all know how things turned out for Bob Dylan. But something tells me he’d roll the dice on those 50 years for another walk down Great Jones with Madame Rotolo circa 1963.

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