Review: Mountain - Masters of War
Label: Big Rack Records
Released: July 24, 2007
Recording a whole album of Dylan covers is about as bad an idea as getting Ozzy to be a guest vocalist on your album. Leslie West makes both mistakes on Mountain's latest album, Masters of War.
The problem with this album is that West's arrangements are dull, with little hint of Dylan or the Leslie West that played Woodstock. His intent is clearly to show how Dylan's music crosses both time (which it doesn't need West to prove) and genre (which West fails to prove). Capturing Dylan's spirit and therefore successfully covering his music requires taking some chances on innovations. With two exceptions, Mountain never strays from straightforward and safe hard rock, which doesn't have much to do with Dylan. They do try something new on "Like a Rolling Stone," turning it into a percussive affair with only drums and spoken vocals. Unfortunately, other than showcasing some interesting drum work, it fails. The acoustic cover of "Blowin' in the Wind," not to be confused with the numbingly dull electric version, may not innovate, but at least has some nice guitar work and passionate bluesy vocals so it succeeds on some level.
The effort to show Dylan's music as relevant today may show that West's heart is in the right place, but it also shows his own delusions, because he would have to be relevant himself to prove this and he's not. Still, it's better than Bryan Ferry's effort earlier in the year, if only slightly.