Bob Dylan – A Fool Such As I (DY-FOO-1)

A Fool Such As I (DY-FOO-1)

(73:19) Lily Of The West (Flora), Can’t Help Falling In Love, Sarah Jane, Ballad Of Ira Hayes, Mr. Bojangles, Mary Ann, Big Yellow Taxi, A Fool Such As I, Spanish Is The Loving Tongue.  Dylan / Cash Sessions:  I Still Miss Someone, One Too Many Mornings, Careless Love, Matchbox, That’s Alright Mama, Big River, I Walk The Line, You Are My Sunshine, Ring Of Fire, Guess Things Happen That Way, Just A Closer Walk With Thee, Blues Yodel.  Bonus Track:  Yesterday (w/G.Harrison)

The 1973 Dylan album is something that could exist only for someone of Bob Dylan’s legendary stature.  After he left Columbia for Asylum Records and in the hype of his upcoming reunion tour and album with The Band, Columbia released this set of outtakes without the artist’s consent or participation.  Dylan was released in November 1973, two months before Planet Waves and the start of his first tour in eight years.  The timing lead to speculation that it was either a cash-in or an act of revenge.  Despite it being almost universally panned by critics, it did well enough on the charts.

It was pressed on CD for the European market.  The songs are now available on itunes, but the CD has never been issued in the US.  A Fool Such As I was produced several years ago featuring a transfer from pristine vinyl capturing the warmth of the release.   Dylan contains cover tunes mostly recorded during the sessions for the New Morning LP between June 1st and June 4th. 

The original intention was for the album to have both originals and covers with “Ballad Of Ira Hayes,” “Spanish Is The Loving Tongue” and “Mr. Bojangles” given serious consideration.  (The plan was scrapped when Dylan withdrew his songs “New Morning,” “Time Passes Slowly,” and “Father of Night” from the Archibald MacLeish production of “Scratch.”)  Although he sung these songs intentionally wrong and bad, the results are interesting and, except for “Sarah Jane,” enjoyable.  “Lily Of The West,” recorded on June 3rd, is a faced paced country song with excellent use of harpsichord and backing singers. 

The best song in the collection is the cover of Peter La Farge’s “Ballad Of Ira Hayes,” recorded in the first New Morning session and one of the few songs given serious consideration for official release.  There are many covers of this tragic song about the drunken Indian Ira Hayes.  He was one of the Marines who is in the famous picture of the raising of the flag on Iwo Jima (he’s on the far left).

Since Dylan is only thirty-three minutes long, the manufacturers fill the disc with Dylan’s session with Johnny Cash on February 18th, 1969.  This tape dates from Columbia’s Row Studios in Nashville about the time he appeared on Cash’s television program.  The sound quality is again excellent and offers a fascinating slice of Americana as Dylan and Cash sing their own songs plus cover classic tunes.  O

f particular interest is the straight country-western arrangement of “One Too Many Mornings” in which they trade verses.  Singing Carl Perkins’ “Matchbox” is also a wonderful moment as is the gospel traditional hymn “Just A Closer Walk With Thee.”  As a bonus Dylan and George Harrison’s cover of The Beatles’ “Yesterday” is included.  This dates from Columbia Studio B, May 1, 1970 and is interesting in its absurdity. 

It sounds as if they’re making fun of the song.  A Fool Such As I is packaged in a tri-fold digipack with a plastic holder for the disc and the album’s artwork replicated on the front cover.  It is a good way to obtain an excellent transfer of the deleted album plus the rare Cash sessions. 

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