Sunday, September 23, 2007

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.

Rating: 3/10



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Blogger Metal Mark said...

I thought it was dull too, but more forgettable than bad. I was more confused by the whole concept. What's it been like five years since Mountain did an album? Then their return is a whole album of just Dylan covers, what's the point? It sounds like it was more Leslis West's idea. He may have had better luck doing one of those "all-star" tributes that gathers bunch of hasbeens together to do a tribute album. Having different artists take a stab at different tracks would have at least allowed the album to have a better a chance of someone doing something a little different. Instead many of the songs have the same approach and after a while it all just blends together. Too be honest, is there anyone under 30 who really knows who Mountain is?

3:05 PM  
Blogger Jeff said...

I love Mountain and I definitely want to check this out, but I really don't like a band taking a full album to pay tribute to another artist. I probably won't like it much but whatever.

8:29 PM  
Blogger taotechuck said...

Mark brings up an interesting point in wondering whether anyone under 30 listens to Mountain. Why are people like Leslie West and Bryan Ferry doing Dylan albums, when their fanbases already know that Dylan is good? Why isn't someone like Damien Rice or Josh Ritter doing a Dylan album? Hmmmm... I guess it's because those guys still have something original to say musically, while West and Ferry are both clutching desperately at their past glory.

11:54 PM  

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