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 Post subject: Re: Dylan
PostPosted: Tue June 02, 2020 7:53 pm 
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 Post subject: Re: Dylan
PostPosted: Wed June 03, 2020 1:23 pm 
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Together Through Life - I would agree with KD here that this album doesn’t reach the heights of the prior three albums, but continues to exist in the same general discussion. It feels at this point that Dylan’s exploration into this set of forms, sitting nicely in some line between blues, rock, folk, and overall lounginess has sort become more of a science to him than a deep dive, which may be why this feels a bit shorter. Nonetheless, it’s still a great great album with a lot to take away. Thematically, it seems like almost a hard luck love letter to a long time spouse or significant other. I will go ahead and pick probably about half the album or more as favorites this time through but I still think everything is pretty well done - Beyond Here Lies Nothing, My Wifes Home Town, Jolene, Shake Shake Mama (I mean of course), It’s All Good stick out on an initial listen. The larger issue is sort of comparison shopping since I still take this Dylan among my favorite iterations.


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 Post subject: Re: Dylan
PostPosted: Wed June 03, 2020 2:13 pm 
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Christmas in the Heart - so there needs to be a preamble, which is that I have never cared for Christmas music. It’s just not my thing - I tend to find it cloyingly cheesy, or alternatively imposingly religious. Sorry, folks - I am generally open when it comes to taking in music, but this is a genre where I just can never get myself into that frame of mind. This is no exception and I would place this squarely at the bottom of my Dylan list. It really is mostly standard recitation of Christmas songs with his gravely voice providing the only source of uniqueness. I actually really love Dylan’s latter career voice on record, but he’s no Satchmo. I am content to just move on from this, which doesn’t shave off any of the campiness from the million other versions of these songs, or add much of anything to them to me. Releasing a Christmas album in October leading into the holiday season seems below a Dylan famously operating on his own terms. Next please.


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 Post subject: Re: Dylan
PostPosted: Wed June 03, 2020 2:18 pm 
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I love Christmas albums and love the idea of Dylan making one in this mold, but I wish his performances were stronger. That 2009-2010 period was kind of a low for him vocally, where a few years later he'd move into something smoother and more controlled (as with the Sinatra covers albums -- looking forward to your takes on those!) which I think would have better suited this material. Nonetheless, at worst it's one of my favorite artists performing a bunch of sentimental favorites from my childhood, so there's an automatic appeal to Christmas in the Heart that I can't deny. It's definitely among the most divisive albums in his canon though -- people either tend to love it for the reasons I just described, or hate it for the reasons I just described. Or for the reasons you just described.


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 Post subject: Re: Dylan
PostPosted: Wed June 03, 2020 11:14 pm 
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Tempest - this is sort of the 5th of a series of albums steeped in blues, folk, and a host of other influences, and yet again Dylan and his increasingly weathered voice deliver on a twisted and dark album. The title song itself to me delivered the only difficult part of the album, even though the song is well constructed - it’s just too long to be doing the same thing for 13 minutes. Tin Angel and Roll On John we’re both longer songs that seemed to have a stronger arc. Early Roman Kings was awesome blues. Pay in Blood was perfect for this album. I came in sensing I would do as the other albums in this vein and not go into specific songs due to the cohesive nature of the album but these were too hard not to resist. Another triumph.


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 Post subject: Re: Dylan
PostPosted: Thu June 04, 2020 12:50 pm 
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Shadows in the Night - So after what was predominantly one of Dylan’s best set of 15 years of releases (save for the Christmas album, sorry), next up is the first in a set of covers inspired by Sinatra. Dylan’s voice has lost quite a bit of the gravely sound that has been his recent touchstone. In a way, I wish he kept it here because that could have added more character to what seems like a ho hum set of covers - maybe something a hardcore fan can really sink its teeth into, but really not something immediately accessible to a casual fan. For me, the sameness of the covers makes it sort of boring and dragging, even with the shortened run time.


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 Post subject: Re: Dylan
PostPosted: Thu June 04, 2020 1:11 pm 
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I am now in the midst of Fallen Angels and just have to say that I don’t know if I am recalibrated for it or if the song selection is far better, but this one sounds so much better...review to come when I finish this, but where I couldn’t tell or care about anything on the last one I am so far really liking every song on this one.

Fallen Angels - this is the second in a set of covers mostly recorded by Sinatra. Whether it was my familiarity with the style that I managed to miss on the first of these, this second one seems far improved. Young At Heart, Polka Dots and Moonbeams, All the Way, Sklylark, All or Nothing at All, On a Little Street in Singapore, Melancholy Mood, and That Old Black Magic (personal favorite) all hit the spot.


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 Post subject: Re: Dylan
PostPosted: Thu June 04, 2020 1:51 pm 
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Fallen Angels has a more diverse song selection, tempo-wise, and probably more familiar/accessible titles. It doesn't surprise me that listeners with a rock background (which isn't meant to sound condescending -- I think it's probably true of most Dylan fans) would take more from it than they would from Shadows, nor does it surprise me that it would be more likely to stand out in an exercise like this.

That said, I think Shadows is superior in every possible way; in my opinion it's Dylan's single greatest work since Love and Theft. As a long time standards/jazz/Sinatra fan in general, as well as someone with a predilection toward Dylan's late voice, I think that what he brought to those songs -- as well as his band's capacity for replicating with pedal steel what Sinatra's arrangers (Gordon Jenkins in most cases, Nelson Riddle in some) had prepared for orchestra -- is stunning, and the focus of mood and commitment to nuance is unprecedented in his body of work. I think Fallen Angels and Triplicate are both solid cover albums, but I think Shadows is a cohesive work of art and a statement -- on par with all but the very best Dylan work.

I know it's not generally the taste of most folks on RM, but I think the Sinatra albums Where Are You and No One Cares are excellent touchstones for someone approaching Dylan's recent cover albums, as -- to my ears -- those are the albums after which most of his arrangements are most obviously modeled (and indeed many of the songs on those records appear in the tracklistings of Dylan's albums as well).

Looking forward to your take on Triplicate -- if you can get through it!


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 Post subject: Re: Dylan
PostPosted: Thu June 04, 2020 2:25 pm 
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I am sure I will get through it. Don’t worry, I don’t hide from my limitations as a fan of rock music limiting my reach otherwise. I think it comes down to what you noted, which is varying tempos and hitting the more accessibility of Fallen Angels. I really liked the 5 albums I reference, with the admission of taking all that in within 2-3 days it started feeling repetitive. But in the context of nearly two decades, those 5 albums have a brilliance that I would put near the top.

I think you also hit the point that these albums we’re in now focus into a more particularized audience, and really I think an audience of one (Dylan) with an invitation to whomever wants to ride along. For me, some places it works and some places it gets monotonous. But I am glad you more extensively followed that journey because if there’s one thing I think I can say about Dylan in the larger context, it is that all these branches off the root of his sound in 60 years have purpose and meaning, whether they all hit you or not.


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 Post subject: Re: Dylan
PostPosted: Thu June 04, 2020 2:44 pm 
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I think the sort of blues/jazz/Americana pastiche that began with Love and Theft even started to feel a little tiring to fans in real time, especially as the wait times between some of those albums was pretty significant. Among the fans I interacted with, Modern Times was hated the way Lightning Bolt is around here -- its name was uttered whenever anyone wanted a stand-in for all that was wrong with "modern Dylan." But over time, for me anyway, it's been the differences rather than similarities that have endured. Each of those albums has its own distinct flavor, its own spirit -- Love and Theft, despite being released on 9/11 and containing a few lines that are seen as prophetic of that time, feels buoyant and in love with the senses; Modern Times, post-9/11 and five years deep into wartime, has a lot of darkness and foreboding to it that is in a lot of ways the complete antithesis of Love and Theft, despite them sonically occupying a lot of similar territory; Together Through Life comes back around feeling breezy and punchy, full of that hope so characteristic of the early Obama era ("I feel a change comin' on," and whatnot), not conceptually unlike Springsteen's Working on a Dream, which came out earlier that year. Tempest is the first one that felt like "just a collection of songs" to me, albeit a fine one, probably because the lengthy pieces on the second half are so hard to take together in any kind of coherent context (and because a 15 minute song about the Titanic just seemed random even by Dylan's standards).

The Sinatra stuff was such a welcome change of pace from all that, and as someone who has long loved a lot of the material he performs on those records, Shadows felt so incredibly on point -- an expression of something that Dylan had been trying to get out through the jazzier material on Love and Theft et al. but just couldn't quite put into his own words, and in a lot of ways the other side of the coin that he was flipping with Good As I Been to You and World Gone Wrong, in a style of music equally as important to his background, if less iconically representative of it on the surface. I was ecstatic when he released Fallen Angels, and thought I'd never tire of Dylan in that mode. So, to prove me wrong once again, he released a triple album of it, and by then I'd had my fill. But I'm thrilled those albums exist, and suspect time will vindicate them. I think he really pours his heart into them. But, I'm really looking forward to a new album of original material -- in just three weeks now!


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 Post subject: Re: Dylan
PostPosted: Thu June 04, 2020 11:41 pm 
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Triplicate - this, the third and potentially last album of old standard covers, is a triple set though a half hour each, in a themed order - 10 songs each. If there’s a visual to accompany this one, as I laid out in Time Out of Mind, this is instead stuffs in tuxedos during dinner hour at a wedding. While there are certainly highs on this album where my 1930s and 40s hip grandpas could cut a rug, like on Braggin’, or Day In Day Out, there’s a lot of sleepiness here too. Some of it I quite enjoyed, particularly the second “disc”, but again over 94 minutes it gets too drag too long. Somehow on this release though, I can really hear a lot of the Jazz elements more than just background dinner music. So I guess the result for me is an okay, I am still not completely sold on this journey but I would probably enjoy it in places and in small doses.


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 Post subject: Re: Dylan
PostPosted: Thu June 04, 2020 11:49 pm 
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...and that’s a wrap until a few weeks from now.

At the end of this road, I will say that this has been the most satisfying journey of any of the ones I have done so far. I went from a place of tremendous respect for Bob Dylan to a real appreciation. A man who could never sit in one place too long, who thwarted expectations because he was always on his own plain, really plateau, approaching this musical life on his terms. Sometimes it was stratospherically great, sometimes weird, sometimes crazy...but he mostly did it the right way and put his best foot forward on all of his journeys. It’s impossible to ever rank these albums or tell you where they fit because they are all so different. I would easily say 10 to 12 of these albums are among the best I have heard and with that I promise you I’ll be back for repeat listens and the occasional deep dive. The quantity over a 60 year career is amazing, but it’s the quality that truly takes you to another place. Thanks for being on this journey with me. I’m excited for the album to come.


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 Post subject: Re: Dylan
PostPosted: Thu June 04, 2020 11:50 pm 
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thank you


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 Post subject: Re: Dylan
PostPosted: Fri June 05, 2020 2:04 am 
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Really enjoyed following your journey, liebzz -- it definitely inspired a lot of Dylan listening of my own! Looking forward to having you on board when the new album drops in a few weeks.


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 Post subject: Re: Dylan
PostPosted: Fri June 05, 2020 7:28 am 
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I enjoyed that, liebzz. Thanks for all the posts.

Time Out Of Mind to "Love and Theft" was probably my peak Dylan fandom period. I was quite obsessive, obtaining boots, vids, fanzines, going to conventions, amassing a tonne of books. I saw him 5 times in this period too. I miss having the time to obsess about getting and listening to every show from 1966 and having a favourite version of "Just Like a Woman" from those shows (Melb btw. There's a slight vocal melody variation on the bridge that kills me).

This liebzz tour hand in hand with the Dylan podcast (Bob Dylan: Album by Album) has made me revisit a few albums that I'd written off and that makes me happy. That there is still some Dylan rocks to turn over after all these years please me greatly.

Bring on the newie.


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 Post subject: Re: Dylan
PostPosted: Fri June 05, 2020 3:37 pm 
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I still haven't had a chance to listen to the whole Live 1966 box set; it's the only big Dylan set I haven't launched myself head first into yet. One of these days.

The 2003-05 years were the height of my fandom, but I've never really fallen off. Dylan is one of a very few artists where I still really enjoy diving ever deeper into bootlegs, outtakes, more and more live shows, fan compilations, etc. -- I've never stopped finding new things that intrigue me, and unlike many artists Dylan still comes across very well on audience recordings, tapes with dodgy quality, etc.


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 Post subject: Re: Dylan
PostPosted: Sun June 07, 2020 3:00 pm 
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Dylan took song writing to a new place and mastered it. He has spent the latter part of his career "showing his work" so the next person can take what he has mastered somewhere else.


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 Post subject: Re: Dylan
PostPosted: Sun June 07, 2020 3:10 pm 
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Couple of links here for a few essential listening items. This is mainly for liebzz.

First is a compilation that Uncut Magazine did about Dylan’s Bootleg Series. There a few tracks that must be heard like Blind Willie McTell and Pretty Saro. It’s a nice taste of each of the Bootleg volumes.

https://open.spotify.com/playlist/6CmSqtkblBj8lDqX5uNpju?si=8KjNtFBYQGOCa8QxQ_WTIA

Second is a link to Side Tracks. There’s a handful of tracks here that must be heard too. 4th St, Series Of Dreams, Carribean Wind, George Jackson, Things Have Changed. Good shit all round.

https://open.spotify.com/album/74zwXmPZbbH7YGVXHbP3E3?si=XdLm35nbSKmYhIZWd2KkWw


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 Post subject: Re: Dylan
PostPosted: Mon June 08, 2020 12:32 am 
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I will have to check these out. Perhaps on a break between runs (flying through the Black Crowes right now).


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 Post subject: Re: Dylan
PostPosted: Mon June 08, 2020 7:52 pm 
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I definitely recommend checking both of those playlists out. Some essential stuff on there.


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