The Heptones' were the first Jamaican artists who did a cover version of a Bob Dylan song. Their stunning eye-opening cover of Dylan's "I Shall Be Released" - produced by Lee Perry and included on their 1977's "Party Time" album - showed how Reggae could intersect with other genres. Some 27 years after The Heptones recorded that song there's this remarkable "Reggae meets Dylan" project, initiated by RAS Records founder and album producer Gary Himelfarb a.k.a. Doctor Dread who says.. "As a major fan of both Bob Dylan and Bob Marley, I believe this record really addresses the commonality between their audiences; Dylan was a voice of the oppressed in the 1960s just as Bob Marley was a voice of the oppressed in 1970s". The album's title, a reference to a bit of studio chatter captured on Dylan's "Nashville Skyline" album, is also an allusion to these two prodigiously influential Bobs.
Teacher & Mr. T.
"Is It Rolling, Bob? ~ A Reggae Tribute to Bob Dylan" is a decent re-imagination of songs of one of the World's most noted songwriters by some of the most celebrated reggae artists. Jamaica's best known and international successful stars such as Toots Hibbert, Beres Hammond, Gregory Isaacs, Luciano and Sizzla perform Dylan material ranging from "Blowin' In the Wind" (1963) to "Gotta Serve Somebody" (1979). And even Bob Dylan himself appears on this compilation set with "I and I Reggae Mix", actually the first authorized remix of a Dylan tune featuring the legendary riddim twins Sly & Robbie. The original song is included on Dylan's 1983 album "Infidels".
All riddims are laid by an all-star backing band, a group of veteran musicians - including Sly Dunbar on drums, Dean Fraser on sax and Earl "Chinna" Smith on guitar - who have played with Bob Marley & The Wailers, Peter Tosh, and others. Each riddim is well arranged and above all sound crisp and clear. Being familiair with the originals it's striking to witness that these songs maintain their strength even when they get a reggae flavor and aren't performed by the master himself. No weak effort to be found, only solid to excellent renditions around. Truly notable efforts are delivered by Toots Hibberts, Beres Hammond, Luciano, Michael Rose and Nasio with Drummie Zeb & The Razor Posse, the latter's "Gotta Serve Somebody" definitely belonging to our personal favourites. In the record's liner notes, Roger Steffens outlines Bob Dylan's relationship to Bob Marley and his influence on contemporary reggae musicians. According to Steffens, "Jamaica was into Bob Dylan and Bob Dylan was into Jamaica as well… It should come as no surprise that, given the opportunity to salute one of the world's most profound and poetic composers, the heirs of Bob Marley should leap at the chance... They have joined the sultry, soulful sound of their sun drenched island to the timeless lyrics of America's finest writer, renewing his vision and prophecies for the next generation."
Artwork and packaging has been designed by Dylan's art director and the first 15,000 copies include a Limited Edition Dub Disc!