The month of August always brings to mind Saratoga, last year RtBE focused on Dead shows from Saratoga, this year we are going to focus on covers of songs from the first Bob Dylan show Wilson and I saw together which happened to be at SPAC. It was a gorgeous summer night on July 23rd 2000 when the show took place, each Monday we will pick a cover of a song played on this night...this is the first one....
In this ongoing Monday Series we will be exploring various artists versions of Bob Dylan song's. Today's tune is a live cover by The Rok Boms of "Highway 61 Revisited"
Thoughts on Dylan Original:
A great blues rock number that has a touch of silly from Bob with the "Siren Whistle". The original version of this tune found on the album of the same name strikes me as a bit of a put on, Bob obviously loves the historic feel and the bizarre middle American heritage but the lyrics and whistle soften the blow. The track gets increasingly better in the live versions where Dylan's backers can rev up the honky-tonk and boogie down south as the group did for us up in Saratoga back in 2000. Tony Garnier the bass player for the group lead things on a thumping rollick in the encore and the band all hopped on board as Dylan sang about God/Abraham. It was the last rocker the group played that night putting fourth a ton of 6-string energy. (They would go on to finish with the crowd singing along to "Blowing in the Wind").
Thoughts on Cover Artist:
I caught The Rok Boms as they opened for Ryan Scully and the Rough Seven this year down in NOLA, and I have said it before here, but that was my favorite show of the year (and I doubt it will be topped). One of the things that made it special was the surprising power that the duo of The Rok Boms managed to put out and their cover of "Highway 61" was a definite high point in their set. Granted this quality of the recording isn't the top of the pops, but the energy and rolling noise is apparent. Sure, comparisons to The White Stripes and Black Keys are inevitable, but the band is talented as all hell. (Hope to have more regarding the band for you soon on RtBE)
Thoughts on Cover:
They nailed it. No whistle, no silliness just a raucous take on the blues boogie as the group plows ahead. Excellent drumming from Hutch keeps things moving while Neil Christian riffs and rolls around. The tempo change towards the end is a nice touch and the raw feel of the crashing cymbals and strums suits this classic perfectly. Sometimes less is more and that is the case with The Rok Boms live cover of a classic.
(As an added bonus, here is a free MP3 of the group nailing this cover raw in the studio)