Now that all the days madness has run it’s course, I’m settling down in my EZ-Boy with my book (The Age of Daredevils by Michael Clarkson) , one more pint of Brimstone Brewing Last Ride and one more record (okay, two…maybe), the ‘50 Years of Blonde on Blonde‘ by the Old Crow Medicine Show.
So how did this all come about?
Well, originally OCMS performed a pair of ‘Blonde on Blonde‘ concerts at the Country Music Hall of Fame’s theater in May of 2016, celebrating the 50th anniversary of Bob Dylan‘s double album. Nearly a year later, this album arrived as their first release on Columbia Records.
Can I get a “hell, yeah!”
Containing cherry-picked highlights from the two concerts, this album finds the Americana group running through the entirety of Dylan’s masterwork, and what makes the performance work is that they play with gusto and verve, not respectful reverence. Certainly, the group knows the album backwards and forwards, but that familiarity also means that they’re free to turn some songs inside out. ‘One of Us Must Know (Sooner or Later)‘ is performed as a ballad, ‘Obviously 5 Believers‘ turns the blues song into bluegrass and they treat ‘Pledging My Time‘ in similar fashion, plus they give ‘Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands‘ a strong backbeat.
Even when sticking largely to the original arrangements, the group performs with a giddiness that gives the music a fresh kick, and that energy is what makes this record something a little bit more than a run-of-the-mill tribute. Old Crow Medicine Show perform Dylan’s songs as if they belonged to the band and, in a sense, that might be true: any album that survives 50 years belongs to the world at large, and what’s fun about ‘50 Years of Blonde on Blonde‘ is hearing how Old Crow Medicine Show hear an album you know by heart.