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3.9 out of 5 stars
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3.9 out of 5 stars
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on 10 June 2012
I can only assume that some of the reviewers on here listened to this album on a cheap, portable cd player, while sitting in a doorway and drinking meths. Some say this is a worse album than 'Infidels' and 'Empire Burlesque'!! Have you gone stark raving mad or just plain bonkers? While not one of Bob's greatest albums, it still contains a solid collection of old time rockers and blues numbers to satisfy any Dylan fan. Listen to the record a few times and let the vibe sink in and hopefully you'll see what I mean. The stand out track for me is 'Shake Shake Mama'.
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on 8 June 2009
A stunning record that has the kind of atmosphere that you would recognise from some of the simpler acoustic recordings on the later Johnny Cash American recordings. We all enjoyed growing up listening to Dylan the innovator, Dylan the poet and Dylan the masked magician. This is Dylan the old man, sat on his porch, watching the sun go down, playing the kind of songs he grew up listening to.

Bob Dylan has got nothing left to prove to anybody. So to be able to unwind of an evening, enjoying a glass of something good, listening to him sing songs from the old days is both a pleasure and a privilege and absolutely what he should be doing. 'Feel a change coming on' brought a tear to my eye and a smile to my lips at the same time. The classic Dylan effect as far as I'm concerned!

Don't worry about the critics Bob. They've been attacking you for 50 years for not being what they expect or want you to be, or for not being what you were yesterday. They are as wrong today as they have always been.
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on 28 April 2009
First, a quick summary of what you might need to know:
1. Bob is in good voice
2. The sound (featuring accordian and mandolin) differentiates it successfully from other Dylan albums.
3. Whilst none of the songs may be in Dylan's absolute best category, all have their place, with little or no filler.

Now to flesh out these points in a little more detail

The aging process has altered Dylan's voice with the effect that it has lost much of the nasal component that detractors have often found difficult to cope with. On the blues flavoured tracks, he is beginning to sound a little like Howlin Wolf. On this album, even when the words lack inventiveness, he is singing them with authority.

With regards to sound, as ever, Dylan changes with from one album to another. However, what is noticable on this album and its predecessor is the tightness of the band. for most of his career Dylan has had the reputation of just turning up and expecting his band accompany whatever new song he'd just written. They were lucky if he first told them what key he was playing in! More recently, it sounds as though the band have been given the luxury of rehearsing first. Perhaps, now that the record producer Jack Frost (aka Bob Dylan) has got his hands on the controls , he has persuaded Bob Dylan (the performer) to change his ways!

And lastly the important matter of the songs. It has to be admitted that there's precious little that's new about them musically. Beyond Here Lies Nothing is a close relation of All Your Love, whilst Jolene sounds as though it might have been written by Chuck Berry. However, there is a variety of styles on offer and one can make a case for saying that Dylan is openly acknowledging the importance of his sources in popular music history (as, for example he does on his radio show). Moreover, in many cases the lyrics do still offer a distinctively different point of view. The best example is My Wife's Home Town the tune for which is derived from Muddy Waters' I Just Want to Make Love to You (Willie Dixon is acknowledged in the writers' credits). You can be pretty sure that Dylan deliberably selected this, the most sexually passionate titled blues song available, to juxtapose his own observations of the effects of time on relationships through life: "Hell's my wife's home town".

There are a couple of disappointments. Shake Shake Mama is so similar to 10,000 Men (from the album "Under the Red Sky") that it is hard to see what value it adds to Dylan's output. The other frustration is that the most interestingly constructed song musically (This Dream of You) has lyrics that are uncharacteristically shot through with cliches. Still, you can't have everything. I, for one, am grateful that, at 68 Dylan can still produce something with energy and insight.
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on 8 May 2009
As a long-time Dylan fan who enjoys almost all of his work this is his most disappointing effort for years. It's not a patch on Love and Theft or Modern Times. Both Dylan and his band sound laid-back to the point of being horizontal. Granted there are some good lines but it takes more than this to make a good album, never mind a great one, and I really wanted to like it after reading the reviews.
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on 12 May 2009
The litmus test I guess, is: Is your life the better for having heard this album?; and the answer here is 'yes'. It's clearly not a classic, it's not all good, but when it is good - it's really good.

There are a number of lazy blues shuffles on the album that really add nothing to what Love & Theft and Modern Times gave us. Hence the three stars. That said though, even on these tracks Dylan and his band seem to be enjoying themselves.

When the album does deliver, the songs are as good as anything on the previous two albums.

The opener, Beyond Here Lies Nothing, immediately shows the quality of the musicians used on this album. Life Is Hard is a great song, and like a previous reviewer, I can't help thinking that we haven't yet heard the best version of this. In a similar vein This Dream of You is a tender and bitter-sweet contemplation of (lost) love.

But, the best is to be found near the end, and I Feel A Change Comin' On is an absolute gem. The melody and time signature are interesting, but above all, Dylan's voice and phrasing make this song. Rhyming 'east' with 'village priest' Dylan holds onto the first syllable in a way only he can; making it so reminiscent of its use in I Shall Be Released.

A solid album overall, and as good as Love & Theft and Modern Times. Rated as 3* simply because for me it doesn't move too far away from the previous releases; but it remains enjoyable none the less.
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on 1 May 2009
So the guy is 68, 30-40 albums down the road, and I'm still, after all these years, full of anticipation when a new album is announced. So I bought it took it home, listened, listened again, and I love it.

The guy captures the essence of everything that's gone into American music in the 20th Century and maybe some of the 19th as well, cooked it up and bought it simmering nicely into the 21st.

This time he's added a touch of Tex-mex (think Ruy Cooder Chicken Skin Music) to that rootsy country blues sound, it grooves, it moves, and unlike so much music today it swings and its real, not sanitised, not over produced, but real. No its not new, it is simply 'timeless' music, you could be listening to the sound of 2009, 1969, or 1949 or even 1929. Its all there to hear ifyou have ears to hear and Well worth five stars. Amen to a truly great artist
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on 1 May 2009
The latest instalment of the Never Ending Tour is underway. The tickets are sold and the people are in their seats. Anticipation is in the air as the publicity machine comes out in force once again. Yes, each of these things (plus a back catalogue not to be sniffed at) will no doubt propel this new Dylan opus to the higher reaches of the charts on both sides of the Atlantic. Yet, Together Through Life may just be the album which brings his recent love affair with the wider public to a halt (for a short time at least). Lazy and just a tad lumpy on occasion, yet foot tappingly tremendous at others, this Cajun/Tex Mex fuelled album is a hit and miss affair (just as Love And Theft was - let's be honest about it). Still, when all is said and done it gives the fans something to chew over for the next few months and that's no bad thing. The casual fan may wish to give the album a play before buying. As for the kids contemplating that first Dylan purchase . . Go for it. This is just one indifferent chapter in a much larger book.
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on 31 May 2009
There're different ways to approach reviewing this album. I could come at it as an avid Bob-worshipper, which I happen to be, and thereby rate it in the context of his whole body of work. In which case, you cannot expect it to rival Highway 61, Blonde on Blonde, Blood on the Tracks, Time Out of Mind etc...Nor would you be disappointed if it fails to stand alongside a lower level of brilliant albums like Desire, John Wesley Harding or Planet Waves. But, do you know what, its pretty close to that level and therefore a lot better than a lot of his albums! Sometimes it takes time to see how a new Bob album settles before even trying to place it against other albums that you might be over-familiar with; so perhaps the best way to measure its worth is when set against the previous two studio albums Modern Times and Love and Theft. In which case, I'd say it was better. I never found myself able to love the more waltzy and whimsical tracks from those albums, and TTL pretty much avoids such fayre and has a much bluesier feel. It doesn't disappoint in terms of classics either and I believe that I Feel a change comin' on will feature on future "Best of..." cds, whatever volume they happen to be. It is also a more cohesive album than its predecessors in that the accordian (usually the instrument of the devil, but here played by an angel) is utilised on most tracks and gives the album a distinctive sound much like the violin of Scarlet Rivera does for Desire. Bob's vocals, so often painful heard live thse days, benefit from his own production and compliment the stark minimalism of the instrumentation like some of those old (black, rather than white) bluesmen always did. If you love Bob, you should have bought it already. If you merely like him, buy it. If you like blues music add it to your cannon, because it deserves a place in Blues history.
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on 1 April 2014
This is one of those Bob Dylan albums that for me gets better over time. It is a warm and affectionate album with a few killer songs such as "Forgetful Heart", "This Dream of You" and "I Feel A Change Comin' On". The fact that nine of the ten songs lyrics were co-written with Robert Hunter has obviously made the songs lyrics less Dylanesque and less poetic. I was rather dismissive of his singing on initial playings of the album but I now love his singing on the album which goes from highly melodic on the bittersweet "Life Is Hard" to soulful on the compelling " I Feel A Change Comin' On". The band are superb with the addition of the brilliant Mike Campbell on guitars and David Hildalgo on accordian,etc.The musicianship is as good as the wonderful playing on the Christmas album which really is saying something. This is the Dylan album together with "Tempest" that I play most often at present. I am not always in pursuit of songs of great depth and I love all sides of Dylan's enormous talent...his so-called minor albums hold great joys when taken on their own terms. The album opens with the great sound of "Beyond Here Lies Nothing" which really grabs you by the throat and ends on the driving, unrelenting sound of "It's All Good". The album has ,of course, a number of beautiful and aching melodies and there is also a contrast between the stomping, uptempo numbers with their tip of the hat to the Chess and Sun sounds and the lovely lilting beauty of the reflective,pensive numbers.The album is a delight and I often keep it on repeat and let the wonderful feel and music absorb me.
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on 5 June 2009
Guess why there are already 60 odd 2nd hand copies of this on Amazon? Bob does it again: another throwaway album of half meant ditties with clever couplets and semi decent tunes. He can write these in his sleep.
I don't expect the great man to change the face of music every time he releases a new one, but maybe he could wait until he has a stock of very good songs. Disappointing, mediocre, humdrum, and thank God I didn't fork out a fortune for the triple.
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