Published May 14, 2020Daniel Romano does it again, in a pandemic that's been gasoline to his recording output. He's now released a full-length tribute to Bob Dylan's Infidels, originally recorded in 1983.
There's some history to tease apart here, with an album that reimagines Dylan's album, a relatively laidback affair, as it could have been — injected with the flair of Latino punk band the Plugz. Other than a singular performance of "Jokerman" with Dylan on Late Night with David Letterman, it never happened: Dylan and the Plugz was an unfinished sentence.
Romano's Outfit are the perfect ones to finish it.
Daniel Romano's Outfit Do (What Could Have Been) Infidels By Bob Dylan & the Plugz is a fantastic homage to a pillar of rock who undoubtedly shaped Romano's own songwriting. The highest praise someone could give this album is that Dylan's words sound remarkably like Romano's own songwriting.
But musically? Romano and his crew rip up Dylan's infidels with an unorthodox verve that pumps laidback (arguably lethargic) tracks like "Jokerman" with feisty electric riffs and speed. It would be a sin to call Romano's treatment of "Neighbourhood Bully" or "License to Kill" covers. They're more than that: each a tribute to Dylan's journey back to secularism while retaining every ounce of what makes Romano's Outfit great. In "Union Sundown," Romano spits out Dylan's cynical prose about a world down the drain with a practised flair: "This world is run by violence, though I guess that's better left unsaid."
Dylan's Infidels is an album crafted after three excursions into the evangelical world — many say it was a return to form. It's a beautiful album full of soul and classic Dylan lyricism; a mind weary of the world. Romano imagines that world rendered with the flair of the Plugz in an album that fires on all cylinders and blasts into your ear holes with delicious rock'n'roll that pairs with Dylan's original like bread and butter.
After countless recordings since January, Romano's Outfit would be forgiven for taking a break; thank God they're not. Romano asks what could have been if the Plugz had recorded Infidels with Dylan. But with this recording, there's little left to the imagination — we have it all here, masterful songwriting injected with the energy of a band at the top of their game.