Instances like this are why I wish fire sharing was not such a crap shoot. I'd love to hear this song, performed at the Bob Dylan tribute concert. I'd even pay for it, at eMusic or somewhere similar.
village voice > music > by Rob Harvilla: Pulling Dylan Out by the Roots An otherwise sleepy tribute gets ambushed by “Machine Gun” ... And then, oh my God, “Masters of War,” performed by the Roots, consisting in this iteration of Questlove on drums, Captain Kirk on guitar and vocals (no Black Thought this eve), some dude on tuba, and the entire Thursday-night Lincoln Center crowd on jaws-dropped-to-floor percussion. What the fuck. The first two verses were mashed up with “The Star-Spangled Banner,” “And you turn and run farther/When the fast bullets fly” thus replacing “And the land of the free/And the home of the brave,” Captain Kirk bellowing faux-theatrically and quite impressively. (Mistook him for old Roots pal Cody Chesnutt at first, but his voice is much wobblier.) Then the actual “Masters of War” melody started, the tuba largely inaudible, and by the time the soundman cranked it up Questlove was pounding on his kit so angrily it was inaudible again. Before each verse's leering one-chord dirge finally broke, Quest and Kirk held the pause for 10 to 15 seconds, almost smirking at each other, before bashing through the four chords propping up the last two lines—“You ain't worth the blood that runs in your veins,” etc. Meanwhile, they kept violently breaking into other songs. The tuba guy hyperventilated through “Taps.” Captain Kirk shredded through what we all slowly realized (to our absolute delight) was “You Drop a Bomb on Me.” And as a finale, “Machine Gun,” Quest bashing the snare in bullet time while Kirk unleashed a vicious solo obliterating a fine Warren Hayes/some roadie effort not 15 minutes ago. Just a shocking, volatile, incredible 10 minutes of carnage. “Masters of War” has always seemed to me more like a possibly futile prayer than an inevitable blood oath, the warmonger's funeral described in some hypothetical future Bob can only hope will come soon. The Roots just killed it.
and these tunes as well:
Jazz dude Jamie Saft, resplendent in a full-blown ZZ Top beard, led his trio through “Ballad of a Thin Man,” his icicle-sharp upper-register piano stabs replicating Bob's voice actually better than most of the singers. Lee Renaldo and some bros (great organ work by some guy in a hoodie) lumbering through “Positively 4th Street,” Lee strumming his shrill, trebly guitar and raising his fists in triumph periodically and crowing about “the election vote.”
...Yes, but a Dylan tribute with no bird-flipping audacity just wouldn't have made any sense. Cat Power, Patti Smith, and Ramblin' Jack Elliott took turns capably wrapping it all up, but the necessary and glorious damage had been done. As the never ending parade of Dylan homage marches onward—Modern Times' best-of-2006 critical accolades are next—let us be reminded why we deify him so: He inspires stuff like the Roots' incredible rendition of “Masters of War,” a version nothing like him and exactly like him, finishing the fight he started and starting 10,000 new ones. We shall be released.
So, I obviously was not at Avery Fisher Hall last night, but I would still like to play these songs on my iPod every once and a while. If somebody snuck in, perhaps there will be some MP3 floating around the internet tubes, but maybe not, or maybe I'll never find it. Bleh.
More prosaic NYT review here
Music Review | 'The Music of Bob Dylan': Rolling Across the Decades With Dylan
“The Music of Bob Dylan” presented 22 Dylan songs performed by 21 different lineups on Thursday night at Avery Fisher Hall.