I'd heard of Tim O'Brien before. Indeed D and I went to see him play at the Memorial Hall in Sheffield in about 2001 when he was leading a kind of folk supergroup called The Crossing. Members of that incarnation of the group included John McCusker, Máirtín O'Connor, Danny Thompson and Kate Rusby. Kate commiserated with Danny "having to look at my arse all evening", to which the latter responded, "Your arse, compared with Richard Thompson's all evening? Hmmm." At another point, Máirtín O'Connor asked if anyone in the audience had been to Clifden in Galway. I and a few others raised hands. "Oh, good, so you successfully negotiated the deadly road that leads to it, then," he said. I wanted to explain that I arrived in Clifden in the back of ambulance, having written off M's dad's car and nearly written off M on that road — but extended dialogue was not the order of the day.
Anyway, where was I? Ah, yes, Red on Blonde. It starts well with an uptempo version of Señor, one of Bob's great songs that often gets forgotten about. Tim O'B's version lacks the smokey sax and guitar solos of the original, but gains… something else. And the album doesn't really set a foot wrong from there, stepping lightly between other lesser-known songs like Father of Night from New Morning, stuff from the later years like Man Gave Names to All the Animals and Everything is Broken, and stalwarts like Masters of War and Maggie's Farm. Every bit as individual and sure-footed as Barb Jungr's selection. Buy it, if you haven't already, because you'll like it.
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