Top positive review
14 of 14 people found this helpful
This album may well change your life!
on 22 January 2003
I find it hard to fault this album. Slide it into your CD player, and press play. The sublime guitar-strums start, and begin to speed up. The experience has begun. The drums cut in, then the gentle violin, and then Dylan : "Pistol shots ring out in a bar-room night..." Cymbals crash, and Bob's voice grows in urgency, a storyteller singing the plaintive song of protest. "If you're black, you might as well not show up on the street, unless you wanna draw the heat..." The beat, and the indignancy, grow until the triumphant yet pleadingly desperate ending - "It won't be over until they clear his name, and give him back the time he's done..." Enough for a whole album, but eight more blistering tracks await... A song about marriage, and one which is steeped in mystery. The fifth of May was the traditional festival of the goddess Isis across the Roman Empire. Bob is not unaware of this, and weaves this into his winding tale... Imagery marries the feeling in his voice to create a sound that washes over you. The sliding bass in Mozambique creates the background for the playful lyrics and feel to the third song. The raw feel to One More Cup of Coffee, and the exquisite rise and fall of the lead singing and backing by Emmylou Harris, added to the laid-back feel of the session, build to a peak, then fall to an oasis of calm... "And your pleasure knows no limits - your voice is like a meadow-lark, but your voice is like an ocean - mysterious and dark..." Oh Sister comes next. "Do a protest song" cried someone when he did this on the 1975 tour. In a way this is a protest - a cry for honesty and tenderness. The violin screams for rebirth, as do the lyrics. The timing on this song is immaculate. And then Joey. A song that begins so languidly... "Born in Red Hook, Brooklyn, in the year of who knows when. Opened up his eyes to the tune of an accordion" amd it carries on in the same languorous tone. One of Dylan's greatest prickly puns follows - "'What time is it?' said the judge to Joey when they met. 'Five to ten,' said Joey. The judge says, 'That's exactly what you get.'" He really loves this guy. Soon we arrive at Romance in Durango - a cheery number with a sunny banjo-like opening and a great evocative lyric beginning - "Hot chilli peppers in the blistering sun..." Plenty of Spanish and unhurried, well-chosen lyrics later, it's time to slide seamlessly into Black Diamond Bay - the piece with the harmonica played in such a human way that vocals are almost bypassed, and then words that are sewn so wholesomely that the join is barely noticed. The Soviet Ambassador sits comfortably with a loser in a gambling room, and Dylan goes from Spanish to French. So on to Sara - a surprisingly honest song written to Bob's wife - for whom he admits he also wrote Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands. Lament and yet also celebration, contemplation yet also off-the-cuff emotion, this is a beautifully complex and hauntingly simple song which (again!) is worth the fee on its own. BUY THIS ALBUM. THEN GET YOUR FRIENDS TO GO AND BUY IT. THEN BUY IT FOR THOSE FRIENDS WHO DON'T WANT TO BUY IT. THEN LISTEN TO IT. A LOT. It really will make you a happier person. I promise.