Album: Bob Dylan & Various Artists

Music From The Motion Picture 'Masked And Anonymous', Sony
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The Independent Culture

Not content with having Todd Haynes film his life-story utilising seven different characters in the lead role, Bob Dylan further clouds his enigmatic personality by playing imprisoned "rock legend" Jack Fate in Larry Charles's film Masked and Anonymous. As if that weren't enough refracting of a legend already splintered by the cinematic parables of his own Renaldo & Clara movie, Dylan and Charles have compounded the confusion by electing to have most of the soundtrack of Dylan songs performed by singers from around the world. Which is fine when it's Los Lobos rolling through "On a Night Like This" like a well-upholstered sedan, or Turkish chanteuse Sertab negotiating the Arabic-flavoured melody of "One More Cup of Coffee", but something else entirely when it's Japan's Magokoro Brothers unravelling "My Back Pages". The most striking reinterpretation is Italian hip-hoppers Articolo 31's "Come Una Pietra Scalciata" ("Like A Rolling Stone"), which uses scratched elements of the original backing-track beneath rapped verses, resolved periodically through Dylan's own chorus refrain. Elsewhere, Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead chip in a couple of covers, and The Dixie Hummingbirds deal majestically with a previously unrecorded Dylan gospel original, "City of Gold"; but the album's biggest attraction is the four new performances by Bob himself - tough, assured live versions of "Down in the Flood" and "Cold Irons Bound", a less assured jaunt through "Dixie", and a folksy "Diamond Joe" which, confusingly, is not the one on Good As I Been to You. All in all, a pretty perplexing affair - which is probably what Dylan was after.