Engelbert Or Bob – It’s All Good

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I use that ubiquitous modern cliché in homage to Dylan himself, of course – the last, brilliant song on his 2009 album Together Through Life.  (He skewers the cliché, of course, in that song.)  But what about Englebert?

I mention Engelbert Humperdinck in a review of a Bob Dylan album because the first time I heard Dylan’s “I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight,” I was hearing it sung by Engelbert on one of my mom’s records (1971’s Sweetheart).  And I liked it – though, once I heard Dylan`s version, I never went back.  It`s the last track on one of my favourite (and – can I even say this about a sixties Dylan record? – I think perhaps underrated) of Dylan’s early albums, 1967’s John Wesley Harding.

How Could It Be Underrated?

I’ve read a lot of Dylan criticism, and sometimes I think I’m the only person around who genuinely likes “The Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest.”  Sure, it’s a shaggy-dog story (that’s the way it is often described by people who dislike it); sure, the music is simple and repetitive; sure, it’s kind of a downer (despite the bounciness of that simple music).  But it’s still one of my favourite Dylan story-songs.  However, a lot of people seem to think it lowers the tone of the album – hence my “perhaps underrated.”

What Else?

Well, of course this is The One With “All Along the Watchtower” On It.  But it also has the terrific title track; “I Am a Lonesome Hobo”; “I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine”; and “As I Went Out One Morning” (which features the immortal lyric “As I went out one morning/To breathe the air around Tom Paine’s” – say what?) – and it ends with, yes, “I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight,” a pop song so delightful that even Engelbert can do it some kind of justice.  This is simply one great album.




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