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Dylan shows an unlikely innocence and a greater sense of the world around him on this 1976 follow-up to the more cynical and introspective Blood on the Tracks. Working with lyricist Jacques Levy, Dylan offers a work with rougher edges and greater urgency that is distinguished by the prominence of Scarlet Rivera's melancholy violin and Emmylou Harris's bare harmonies. The album features two of Dylan's famous wrongly accused-and-misunderstood-criminal sagas but truly peaks elsewhere. Exotic imagery meshes with simple melody on "Isis," one of Dylan's most appealing rambles. The droning piano and plodding drums propel a mystical journey that contains some of his most insightful (and most ridiculous) lyrics about paranoia, trust, betrayal, and, of course, desire. ("What drives me to you is what drives me insane.") In the end Dylan shows no signs of being jaded by love's fickleness. Delicate and heartbreaking, the finale "Sara" is a gift to his ex-wife that eloquently recounts the wonders of a relationship, perhaps in an attempt to revive it. --Marc Greilsamer
Top Customer Reviews
Dylan's music. Of course, I had heard of him and was aware that he had written a number of classic songs, but I had never heard his music.
Anyway, 'Desire' is now one of the best albums in my collection, and is unfairly overshadowed by 1975's 'Blood on the Tracks', the second Dylan album I heard.
'Desire' features some original violin from Scarlet Rivera, and haunting harmonies from country singer Emmylou Harris. But it is Dylan's songs that stand out. He certainly does not have the most conventional of voices, but he works around this and produces a stellar collection of songs - I wouldn't want it any other way.
"Hurricane" and "Joey" tell of gangster land and murders, both apparently true stories and both told with Dylan's opinions (he strenuously protests boxer Hurricane Carter's innocence after he was accused of a triple murder back in the 1960s) in mind. "Mozambique" and "Oh, Sister" are both highly pleasant songs and highlights, but they aren't as powerful or immediately awe-inspiring as the rest of the material.
"One More Cup of Coffee (Valley Below)" is haunting and sounds mildly Eastern, with great harmonies from Emmylou Harris. "Black Diamond Bay" is upbeat and breathlessly tells a story set in Greece, while the Latin-flavoured "Romance in Durango" shows how diverse Bob Dylan can be.
"Isis" is a major highlight of the record, with some mystical imagery and a lingering melody. Finally, "Sara" features some of Dylan's most tuneful vocals and is a heartfelt ode to his wife, whom he separated before the making of 'Desire'. The album also carries a gypsy vibe, in part thanks to the Rolling Thunder Revue of 1975, a travelling medicine show with a number of highly regarded musicians including Dylan, Joan Baez and Joni Mitchell.
'Desire' is certainly one of Bob Dylan's greatest records and just as good, if not better, than 'Blood on the Tracks'.
Point the CD back a few tracks and you're once again in movie land, this time at the hapless hotel/casino on Black Diamond Bay (the twist in the last verse is done with such amazing eloquence it really does take you aback).
Lie back and listen to Mozambique (one of Bob's happy songs - an art of his that is often criminally over looked) and you can almost feel the sun beating down on you and hear the beach bar calling.
Then there is Sara - one of the most heart rending songs you'll ever hear and a rare glimpse right through the mist at what lies beneath the songs.
The bottom line is any one of these songs could have made it as a movie (the Hurricane famously did, although this isn't really Bob's own story). But hey - why dilute these gems on the screen when the songs tell you all you need to know.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It's not often I agree with the critics, however, I do when it comes to this album. This is fantastic. Read morePublished 2 months ago by 70's rock lover!
Bought this as I'd heard a couple of tracks on Biograph. Well worth it as it includes Emmylou singing with Dylan - another of my favourites.Published 8 months ago by gretsch1james
One of my favourite albums by Dylan and a replacement for the vinyl copy I had.Published 8 months ago by S. A. Short