Colin Henderson,
Highway of Diamonds:
The Songs of Bob Dylan

(self-produced, 2003)

This CD has a great title -- an image taken from Bob Dylan's classic "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall," among the selections -- and I'm surprised that this may well be the first time anybody's used it. It would make a striking title for a book. Maybe it will someday.

Beyond that, this CD leaves me with not a lot to say. It's all Dylan songs, mostly his more obviously folk-oriented material -- though very little of Dylan's writing is without some sort of folk reference, of course. Colin Henderson is not a name familiar to me, and nothing in the CD packaging enlightens me on that score. I don't even know where this album was recorded, though two backing musicians (Andy Jones, assorted stringed instruments, backing vocals) and Joe Topping (same, plus harmonica) are mentioned. Henderson plays acoustic guitar and sings -- in a thin, quavering voice -- his favorites from the Bard of Hibbing's deep catalogue.

The results are not embarrassing, but they're not much else. Nothing here makes clear why this album was recorded or perceived to need to exist. While not unpleasant, Highway of Diamonds seems barely there. The performances sound like something best enjoyed in the most casual and undemanding of environments, for example a genteel house party where the singer/guitarist is both friend and capable-enough amateur, in whose company all present spent a nice evening. Maybe that's the explanation: you just had to be there.

- Rambles
written by Jerome Clark
published 25 September 2004