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Customer Review

60 of 69 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Roll on, Zimmy! (His best since at least '78), 11 Sept. 2012
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This review is from: Tempest (Deluxe) (Audio CD)
Only 48 hours since I got my mitts on it and I've already played Tempest through at least two dozen, magnificent, times. Both nights so far I've stayed up late, into the small hours, just to hear it once more before bed! I simply don't feel compelled to do that kind of thing with records by anyone else... which surely says more than any review can. Some people, here and elsewhere (see Alexis Petridis' review in the Guardian) have decried the already growing conventional critical wisdom that says Tempest stands comparison to some of Dylan's finest work. I say they're contrary for the sake of it and, for once, the conventional wisdom is dead right. Ok, in the grand scheme of Bob Cats I'm in the lower-leagues, but I've still heard 95% of everything he's done and am familiar enough with the official output to try and weigh up Tempest relative to what's come before. And I REALLY struggled to think when he last made a better album. In fact, I traced straight back to Time Out Of Mind, a great record and a close run thing but initial impressions are that this is the superior album. Oh Mercy (1989)? A personal favourite, but Tempest has the edge. In the end, I went back to Street Legal (1978) and got stuck, but that's probably got more to do with my own disproportionate affection for that particular LP. In any case, my way of thinking is that Tempest is Dylan's best album in at least thirty years, which sounds quite ludicrously hyperbolic given the calibre of what he's done in that time... but there you have it, that's my opinion. The critics are all going predictably nutzoid in full, analytic detail so I'll spare you any song-by-song breakdown save for saying that, for me, "Long And Wasted Years" (a bitter little song about a dead marriage) is the best of the shorter tracks here and "Tin Angel" is the cream of the five songs which exceed the 7 min. mark (this one being particularly chock-full of classic Dylan symbolism and hidden meanings). But the glorious truth of the matter is that each and every song here is extremely strong and not once have I found myself skipping forward. Which is a rare thing in itself. Conversely, what I have done -and this is surely one of those unofficial acid tests of a record's greatness- is find myself falling so immediately head-over-heels for a song after just one listen that as soon as it's ended I've hit repeat... and then I do it again, and again until its seared into my brain within only 2 days of owning the record. Very seldom indeed does that happen, but here it's true of about half the songs, which is just nuts. A final point about the voice... I remember with Love & Theft my dad joking that Dylan's voice was now "just phlegm". Well, it's sooooo much phlegmier now. But I can't help but just totally love it. I think I like it better than when he actually had an unspoiled larynx. It suits these latterday songs so well - all wry and world-weary. And when on "Long And Wasted Years" he sings: "What you doing out there in the sun anyway/Don't you know the sun can burn your brains right out?" he delivers that line like ... I dunno.... a 100 year old rattlesnake, and it's just... perfect. Oh boy, what a record!
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Showing 1-10 of 10 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 12 Sep 2012 21:39:23 BDT
Arthurly says:
Best in 30 years? What an absolute load of cobblers. Four good tracks, I've already booted out the dreadful, interminable, awful title track.

Posted on 13 Sep 2012 18:30:40 BDT
David says:
I liked your review Andrew and very much agree. Its initial pleasure may decline a little after loads more plays we'll see. I like all Bob's bitter songs, Positively 4th et al but was earlier told off in no uncertain terms for admitting to liking Self Portrait, Bob's voice on Lightfoot's Early Morning Rain takes some beating in my view. My preference is music and lyrics, Bob is great at both.
P.S. There are some on here who believe that those old 12" black dinner plates with their inevitable surface noise which detracts from ones listening pleasure actually sound better than 44.1 kHz sampled CDs. MP3s are good enough for poddies and phones.

Posted on 14 Sep 2012 17:55:45 BDT
TomCat says:
I agree mostly. Stayed up all nite to hear it just like you! As for 'best since 78', I would say Modern Times is pretty much as good as Tempest, with maybe more variety of mood and sound palette. I also think the story songs on Tempest have a family relationship to Over the Green Mountain, a mesmerizing unreleased cut from Time Out of Mind period, it's on the Telltale signs collection.

Posted on 15 Sep 2012 09:28:59 BDT
nice review - your enthusiasm was infectious - good on you. Roll on Bob.

Posted on 15 Sep 2012 16:52:31 BDT
That line about the sun has hooked me in. I've always loathed sunshine. Why does everyone want to fry in it? Obviously - I must buy the album now.

In reply to an earlier post on 18 Sep 2012 01:20:08 BDT
[Deleted by the author on 18 Sep 2012 01:22:01 BDT]

In reply to an earlier post on 18 Sep 2012 01:23:56 BDT
Mr. Jollies says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

Posted on 18 Sep 2012 16:24:13 BDT
Mr. Jollies says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

Posted on 18 Sep 2012 20:09:44 BDT
Elston Gunn says:
I can usually tell which Dylan albums I like most by how often I want to play them. I don't know why this is, it just seems to make sense. There are some records that I really admire, but just don't feel like listening to that much. Also, certain tracks stand out on albums that don't excite much as a whole. As a result I can assume that, 30 years since I first it heard it, Highway 61 Revisited still tops the list. Love & Theft comes close behind. Oh Mercy is quite high up, but the album itself is missing key tracks. Infidels is too, and that may be why Street Legal is a logical sticking point because it's not lacking anything. After a couple of weeks Tempest is still playing, but that's because it's new. Maybe it'll turn out to be an equal of L&T, but I doubt it will surpass it. It *does* have some superb tracks, best for me is Long & Wasted Years - which has a vocal performance that proves the voice is still capable of bending and phrasing words as well as it ever has, and a timeless quality in the words and music, like a follow up to Brownsville Girl crossed with Sign On The Cross - along with Pay In Blood and Soon After Midnight, but there's something a little overblown about the epic songs that I haven't quite come to terms with yet. I actually preferred listening to the album when it was streamed on itunes, it felt more like watching a film and that suited the songs somehow. There are enough good songs to place it above TTL (which I like, but is kind of lightweight) and Modern Times, which is growing on me, but sounds kind of lifeless compared to this. Bob certainly sounds full of life on Tempest , despite the songs being (lyrically) quite the opposite.

In reply to an earlier post on 2 Oct 2012 00:34:58 BDT
Why are you sorry? It is one of his best albums and can't stop listening to it.
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