Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Bob Dylan: Good As I Been to You [Columbia, 1992]
Dylan's last cover album confused his followers mightily, not least because he called it Self-Portrait. And maybe he tossed this one off as per contract too--his boyish tenor and nimble acoustic guitar don't rescue "Frankie and Albert" or "Sittin' on Top of the World" from the taxidermist, and though "Tomorrow Night" could be a mean parody of Lonnie Johnson's sour-voiced original, it probably just sucks. But most of these old tunes he gooses or caresses to some kind of arousal--he clearly knows the sensitive spots of Stephen Foster's "Hard Times" and the antiredcoat jig "Arthur McBride." Not that he thinks such intimacy yields a self-portrait. Older than that now, he merely explores a world of song whose commonness and strangeness he knows he'll never comprehend. B+