Monday, August 22, 2011

Dylan Cover #24 The Black Keys - "The Wicked Messenger"

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 Black Keys of "The Wicked Messenger"

Thoughts on Dylan Original:
A breezy musical number (only 2 minutes long) with some biblical lyrics that actually would foreshadow Dylan's religious musical phase that would arrive in the late 70's/early 80's "The Wicked Messenger" has a cool bass line to match the acoustic guitar.  Like most of John Wesley Harding there is a mellow mood that tends to play down the lyrics, I find it interesting that at this show Dylan would play multiple selections from this album and that (along with the covers) speaks to Dylan feeling at home with his "Country Rock" period for this tour.  I am sure playing with Larry Campbell helped this out as the man can play anything and give a good feel, he played mandolin on 2 numbers this night and pedal steel on one.  This track was the "rocking highlight" of the show, with the 3 guitars dueling and rising.  The song has seemed to pop up every few tours and can usually be found towards the ends of sets, playing the roll of up-tempo-get-down track.  Live versions certainly have improved the tracks standing in my mind from the original. 
Cover Tune:

Thoughts on Cover Artist:
I have written about The Black Keys numerous times here in the past, so I won't go too much into them, but safe to say I dig them.  Brothers was my favorite album of 2010 and Rubber Factory is an all time great as well.  I have seen them live a bunch and while they aren't my favorite act out there they are a solid group and I am really excited to see where they go in the future.   
Thoughts on Cover:
This should be a slam dunk for this group, and while the song is solid there seems to be something just off about it.  Not bad by any stretch, but not mind blowing great either, frankly I expected a bit more bite from the Akron Duo.  There is a feeling of going through the motions, as opposed to crackling vitally.  The tone is perfect and fuzzy from the guitars, but I am not sure, maybe I just had higher hopes over all but to me it just seems like a standard cover.

Grade: C

Wilson's Take:

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