ALBUM REVIEW: The Charlie Daniels Band “Off The Grid ~ Doin’ It Dylan”

Charlie Daniels is a legend in his own right, so news of a tribute CD would lead one to believe that other artists were paying tribute to him. Instead, he is paying homage to Bob Dylan, who gave Daniels his first “real” job in Nashville, playing guitar on three of Dylan’s albums.
Dylan’s music was the voice of the 60s and 70s, so my first thought was that these songs would all feel stale and old…I was, happily, quite wrong. These songs, for the most part, are timeless classics; well written lyrically and musically sound. Daniels himself may be seventy-seven years young, but his voice is as strong as ever, and his musical ability on guitar, fiddle and mandolin has never been sharper.Both the songs and the singer prove that classics never go out of style.
The Vietnam war time anthem “Hard Rains Gonna Fall” has lyrics that seem to fit in with what we see on the news, daily:
“I saw guns and sharp swords in the hands of young children
And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, and it’s a hard
It’s a hard rain a-gonna fall”
The same is true with “Times They Are a-Changin
“Come senators, Congressmen, please heed the call
Don’t stand at the doorway, don’t block up the hall
For he that gets hurt, will be he who has stalled
There’s a battle outside, and it’s ragin’
It’ll soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin'”
Wow…for a song that is somewhere in the neighborhood of fifty years old, those lyrics still hit home, as does Daniels’ delivery of them.
Also included are “Mr. Tambourine Man“, “I Shall Be Released” and “Gotta Serve Somebody“, a song that fans of “The Sopranos” will recognize. Notably missing is “Lay, Lady, Lay“, which has always been my favorite of Dylan’s prolific career. I guess I will only have to imagine how Daniels’ southern drawl  would have handled those smoky lyrics.
Daniels instead included a little known number called “Country Pie“, and it is the cream of a quite tasty crop. This is more fun that Dylan normally had, and Charlie has just as much fun covering it. The fiddle and guitar laced melody will have your toes tapping, and you will quickly forget that this is a cover-Daniels OWNS this song.
Don’t let the fact that this a tribute to a 60s icon fool you; “Off The Grid~ Doin’ It Dylan” is as relevant now as when these songs were originally recorded. That is why they cal them “classics”, after all.
Off The Grid~ Doin’ It Dylan is scheduled to hit store shelves on April 1.

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