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|1. Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum|
|3. Summer Days|
|4. Bye And Bye|
|5. Lonesome Day Blues|
|6. Floater (Too Much To Ask)|
|7. High Water (For Charley Patton)|
|9. Honest With Me|
|10. Po' Boy|
|11. Cry A While|
|12. Sugar Baby|
So here it is, and it's already drawn some scathing press. It seems the weight of four years anticipation has produced what is now being termed "The Radiohead Effect", and the disappointment seems to spring from the fact that Mr Zimmerman has cheered up a bit. Yes, the bleak observations of cynicism and distrust still linger in lines such as: "I see ya loverman coming, coming across the barren fields. He's not a gentleman at all, he's rotten to the core, he's a coward and he steals." ("Lonesome Day Blues") and " Well, I'm stranded in the city that never sleeps. Some of these women they just give me the creeps. I'm avoiding the south side the best I can. These memories I got they can strangle a man" ("Honest With Me"), but this is a chirpier beast indeed - as if the old Jokerman has just decided that, well, life is rubbish, so let's just play. This means that, at times, he becomes disarmingly honest. "The girls all say, 'You're a worn out star!' My pockets are loaded and I'm spendin' every dime" ("Summer Days")
Gone is the swampy ambience of the last album's Daniel Lanois production, and what we get instead is a band that rocks and swings with verve, swagger and Nashville clarity. Ranging from Country ("By And By"), Blues ("Lonesome Day Blues") and Rockabilly ("Summer Days") to a jazzy swing worthy of The Hot Club of France ("Floater (Too Much To Ask)") - Bob treats us to a, frankly, sprightly jog through just about every style available to a man of his experience. Sure, the voice is now barely more than a croak and the words don't have the weight that used to be termed...well, Dylanesque, but only a churl would begrudge the pleasures to be had in songs as bouncy as "By And By" and the nonsensical opener "Tweedle Dee". Dylan, himself, has described the album as "...a greatest hits album, volume one or volume two. Without the hits - not yet, anyway." It's good to see the funny side again, Bob. --Chris Jones
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This is a back-to-basics album produced with clarity by Mr. Dylan himself in the guise of Jack Frost. The arrangements are more song-focused than Daniel Lanois' atmospheric production on Time Out of Mind, a move that suits these rootsy up-beat songs, which are peppered with surreal, playful, jokes and literary and Biblical allusions.
Musically, this is a journey through the 'Old Weird' America last heard on the Basement Tapes, with splashes good ole' country music of the Nashville Skyline model and flourishes of Chicago electric blues and swing ballads.
The first indication of the penchant for latter of these musical forms was Bob's resurrection of If Dogs Run Free and the similarly jazzy re-invention of Time out of Mind's Trying To Get To Heaven, both recently performed in concert. Dylan sings jazz, nice.
Each of the 12 songs are minor gems and a few are true classics destined to stand alongside A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall, Tangled Up in Blue, Blind Willie McTell, Man in the Long Black Coat and Its Not Dark Yet.
Mississippi is a re-worked song left off the last album because of musical differences with the producer. From the evidence here, Bob was right to seek a more straightforward reading of the track.Read more ›
I cannot single out favourite tracks as I feel that as a set this hangs together as well as any of the great Bob albums. Top quality writing - the bitter humour is back - and a very very tight band. Looking forward to hearing some of this live!
Only down side - sounds like Bob is playing one note guitar solos again a la his live shows.
Now quite five stars but almost
Whether he's recycling his 'Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat' riffs with his great touring band (the best I've ever seen him with, since 'The Band'), or sounding like Tom Waits circa 1977, Dylan's having a ball, and I defy you to do otherwise when you listen.
On the back of some of his best shows ever over the past 4 years, the band is great, the singing is astonishing, and the songs, for once, deserve the 'Written by Bob Dylan' tag. 'Mississippi' is worth the price of admission alone.
A magnificent piece of work. The extra tracks are a couple of expendable outtakes from the early 60's, but that's not the point.
Buy this record if you've ever been moved by Dylan, The Band, any of the Library of Congress recordings, the Broadside Box Sets, Tom Waits, Springsteen' s Nebraska and Tom Joad material, any record that came from Sun Studios...... The list goes on.
Dylan may be a cantererous old man, but watching him smile on stage last time round in the UK, and listening to this record make me believe that we truly are sometimes in the presence of genius. Moving people - isn't that what it's all about?
Fabulous - buy this CD!