Tag Archives: Bob Dylan

Today: The late Bill Monroe was born in 1911 – 101 years ago

I’m a farmer with a mandolin and a high tenor voice.
~Bill Monroe

From Wikipedia:

Birth name William Smith Monroe
Also known as Bill Monroe
Born September 13, 1911
Origin Rosine, Kentucky, USA
Died September 9, 1996 (aged 84)
Genres Bluegrass, Bluegrass gospel
Occupations Bluegrass artist
Instruments Mandolin
Years active 1930s–1996

William Smith Monroe (September 13, 1911 – September 9, 1996) was an American musician who created the style of music known as bluegrass, which takes its name from his band, the “Blue Grass Boys,” named for Monroe’s home state of Kentucky. Monroe’s performing career spanned 60 years as a singer, instrumentalist, composer and bandleader. He is often referred to as The Father of Bluegrass.

From allmusic.com – Stephen Thomas Erlewine:

Bill Monroe is the father of bluegrass. He invented the style, invented the name, and for the great majority of the 20th century, embodied the art form. Beginning with his Blue Grass Boys in the ’40s, Monroe defined a hard-edged style of country that emphasized instrumental virtuosity, close vocal harmonies, and a fast, driving tempo. The musical genre took its name from the Blue Grass Boys, and Monroe‘s music forever has defined the sound of classical bluegrass — a five-piece acoustic string band, playing precisely and rapidly, switching solos and singing in a plaintive, high lonesome voice. Not only did he invent the very sound of the music, Monroe was the mentor for several generations of musicians. Over the years, Monroe‘s band hosted all of the major bluegrass artists of the ’50s and ’60s, including Flatt & ScruggsReno & SmileyVassar ClementsCarter Stanley, and Mac Wiseman. Though the lineup of the Blue Grass Boys changed over the years, Monroe always remained devoted to bluegrass in its purest form.
Read more @ allmusic 

Awards & Legacy:

  • made an honorary Kentucky colonel in 1966
  • inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1970
  • inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1971
  • inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (as an “early influence”) in 1997
    (Jimmie RodgersBob WillsHank Williams Sr., and Johnny Cash are the only other performers honored in all three)
  • As the “father of bluegrass,” he was also an inaugural inductee into the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Honor in 1991.
  • In 1993, he received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award
  • he was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 1995
  • His well-known song “Blue Moon of Kentucky” has been covered not only by bluegrass but also rock and country artists, most notably Elvis Presley, Paul McCartney, and Patsy Cline.
  • In 2003, CMT had Bill Monroe ranked No. 16 on CMT 40 Greatest Men of Country Music.

Artists that claimed to be influenced by or to be playing the bluegrass genre were often bullied by Bill Monroe. He always considered himself the father and caretaker of bluegrass. He would often say of new bands that did not perform to his standards, “That ain’t no part of nothin’.” Even those who question the scope of bluegrass refer to Monroe as a “musical giant” and recognize that “there would be no bluegrass without Bill Monroe.”

“Uncle Pen” from 1956 at the Ryman Auditorium:

“Blue Moon of Kentucky” – live:

Album of the day: The Essential Bill Monroe and His Blue Grass Boys (1945-1949) (1992):

Other September 13:

Continue reading Today: The late Bill Monroe was born in 1911 – 101 years ago

Today: Bob Dylan released “Love And Theft” in 2001 – 11 years ago

” ‘Love & Theft’ is not an album I’ve recorded to please myself. If I really wanted to that, I would have recorded some Charley Patton songs.”
~Bob Dylan

The old Chess records, the Sun records. . . I think that’s my favorite sound for a record . . . I like . . . the intensity The sound is uncluttered. There’s power and suspense. The whole vibration feels like it could be coming from inside your mind. It’s alive. It’s right there.
~Bob Dylan, to Bill Flanagan, 2009

 

From Wikipedia:

Released September 11, 2001
Recorded May 2001
Genre Folk rock, blues, roots rock,Americana
Length 57:25
Label Columbia
Producer Jack Frost (Bob Dylan’s pseudonym)

Love and Theft is the thirty-first studio album by American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, released in September 2001 by Columbia Records. It featured backing by his touring band of the time, with keyboardist Augie Meyers added for the sessions. It peaked at #5 on the Billboard 200, and has been certified with a gold album by the RIAA. A limited edition release included two bonus tracks on a separate disc recorded in the early 1960s, and two years later, on September 16, 2003, this album was one of fifteen Dylan titles reissued and remastered for SACD hybrid playback.

The album continued Dylan’s artistic comeback following 1997’s Time Out of Mind, and was given an even more enthusiastic reception. Though often referred to without quotations, the correct title is “Love and Theft”. The title of the album was apparently inspired by historian Eric Lott’s book Love & Theft: Blackface Minstrelsy and the American Working Class, which was published in 1993. “Love and Theft becomes his Fables of the Reconstruction, to borrow an R.E.M. album title”, writes Greg Kot in The Chicago Tribune (published September 11, 2001), “the myths, mysteries and folklore of the South as a backdrop for one of the finest roots rock albums ever made.”

…. “Love and Theft is, as the title implies, a kind of homage,” writes Kot, “[and] never more so than on ‘High Water (for Charley Patton),’ in which Dylan draws a sweeping portrait of the South’s racial history, with the unsung blues singer as a symbol of the region’s cultural richness and ingrained social cruelties. Rumbling drums and moaning backing vocals suggest that things are going from bad to worse. ‘It’s tough out there,’ Dylan rasps. ‘High water everywhere.’ Death and dementia shadow the album, tempered by tenderness and wicked gallows humor.”

In an interview conducted by Alan Jackson for The Times Magazine in 2001, before the album was released, Dylan said “these so-called connoisseurs of Bob Dylan music…I don’t feel they know a thing, or have any inkling of who I am and what I’m about. I know they think they do, and yet it’s ludicrous, it’s humorous, and sad. That such people have spent so much of their time thinking about who? Me? Get a life, please. It’s not something any one person should do about another. You’re not serving your own life well. You’re wasting your life.”

Reception:

4 important opinions……

  • Clinton Heylin (from “Still On The Road…”):
    … Not for the first time, his ambition proved greater than his artistry – “Love and Theft” was a patchwork quilt of borrowed ideas, and Dylan knew it. Hence, the little in-jokes with which he littered the lyrical trail. On the other hand, one has to acknowledge the bravura with which he approached his task. Previously, the editing process – before and during sessions – had generally expunged more derivative, less interesting debts. The reverse was now true. This time, Dylan positively celebrated every aspect of his cut-up canvas, even taking the album title from a 1993 book, Love & Theft: Blackface Minstrelsy and the American Working Class by Eric Lott. He even bookended the collection with two tracks that copped not only their melodies, but also their arrangements from earlier recordings.
  • Paul Williams (from “Bob Dylan: Performance Artist 1986-1990 And Beyond”):
    Language. I’ve read close to a hundred reviews of “Love And Theft” by now, and yet Bob Dylan sums it up best, puts into words how I feel about this new and fabulous verbomusical experience. Says what I wanna say to you on this 7th day of November, 2001: “I know a place where there’s still somethin’ going on.” Yeah! Wow. He does, when so few seem to, and he takes me there. Over and over, whenever I listen to this album. And now I too know such a place, thank you very much. And then how about this (not just the words but the sound of his voice and the music that floats around it) as a description of the L&T experience?: “Another one of them endless days …” Oh yes.
    It’s such a listenable record. The sound, the melodies, the feel, the variety, the connectedness of it all. Each song, I find myself lingering in the car or wherever it’s playing so I can hear it to the end. I get caught by each of ‘em again and again in quite a number of pleasing and satisfying ways. And like I say, I like the wholeness, the connectedness, of the album, the way it all hangs together and becomes a single experience, single narrative, in some mysterious and pleasing way that’s not easily pointed to or articulated.
  • Michael Gray (Bob Dylan Encyclopedia):
    The Dylan world seemed at once to divide into those finding it much less substantial and those taking to it far more wholeheartedly. All agreed that the two albums differ in nearly every respect.
    DANIEL LANOIS’ fingerprints are nowhere on ‘‘Love and Theft’’; the musicians used are, for the first time, Dylan’s Never-Ending Tour Band of the day, augmented by AUGIE MEYERS and his brother; there are no obviously great songs—no equivalent
    of ‘Not Dark Yet’ or ‘Highlands’. But on ‘‘Love and Theft’’ a tumult of generously packed minor songs bump up boisterously against each other, like tuba players in a charabanc bouncing off on the excursion of a lifetime, calling to and fro amongst themselves in excited dialogue about everything under the sun. Dylan’s voice is almost completely shot here, yet what he does with it is most subtlely nuanced and shrewdly judged. And he is in such a good mood! This is the warmest, most outgoing, most good-humoured Bob Dylan album since Nashville Skyline, if not The Basement Tapes.
  • Robert Christgau:
    Before minstrelsy scholar Eric Lott gets too excited about having his title stolen–“He loves me! Honey, Bob Dylan loves me!”–he should recall that Dylan called his first cover album Self-Portrait. Dylan meant that title, of course, and he means this one too, which doesn’t make “Love and Theft” his minstrelsy album any more than Self-Portrait’s dire “Minstrel Boy” was his minstrelsy song. All pop music is love and theft, and in 40 years of records whose sources have inspired volumes of scholastic exegesis, Dylan has never embraced that truth so warmly. Jokes, riddles, apercus, and revelations will surface for years, but let those who chart their lives by Dylan’s cockeyed parables tease out the details. I always go for tone, spirit, music. If Time Out of Mind was his death album–it wasn’t, but you know how people talk–this is his immortality album. It describes an eternal circle on masterful blazz and jop readymades that render his grizzled growl as juicy as Justin Timberlake’s tenor–Tony Bennett’s, even. It’s profound, too, by which I mean very funny. “I’m sitting on my watch so I can be on time,” he wheezes, because time he’s got plenty of. A+


In 2012, the album was ranked #385 on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, while Newsweek magazine pronounced it the second best album of its decade. In 2009, Glide Magazine ranked it as the #1 Album of the Decade. Entertainment Weekly put it on its end-of-the-decade, “best-of” list, saying, “The predictably unpredictable rock poet greeted the new millennium with a folksy, bluesy instant classic.”

Track listing:

All songs written and composed by Bob Dylan.

1. “Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum” 4:46
2. “Mississippi” 5:21
3. “Summer Days” 4:52
4. “Bye and Bye” 3:16
5. “Lonesome Day Blues” 6:05
6. “Floater (Too Much to Ask)” 4:59
7. “High Water (For Charley Patton)” 4:04
8. “Moonlight” 3:23
9. “Honest With Me” 5:49
10. “Po’ Boy” 3:05
11. “Cry a While” 5:05
12. “Sugar Baby” 6:40

Personnel

  • Bob Dylan – vocals, guitar, piano, production
Additional personnel

Mississippi – Live 2002:

High Water (For Charley Patton) – Orlando – 10/10/10:

Album of the day:

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Continue reading Today: Bob Dylan released “Love And Theft” in 2001 – 11 years ago

Today: Bob Dylan released “Under The Red Sky” in 1990 – 22 years ago

Anyway, Leadbelly did most of those kind of songs. He’d been out of prison for some time when he decided to do children’s songs and people said oh, why did Leadbelly change? Some people liked the old ones, some people liked the new ones. Some people liked both songs. But he didn’t change, he was the same man! Anyway, this is a song called …, It’s a new song I wrote a while back. I’m gonna try and do it as good as I can. there’s somebody important here tonight who wants to hear it, so we’ll give it our best …  – preface to ‘Caribbean Wind’, Warfield Theatre, San Francisco, November 12, 1980

From wikipedia:

Released September 10, 1990
Recorded Early 1990
Genre Rock
Length 35:21
Label Columbia
Producer “Jack Frost” (Bob Dylan), Don Was, and David Was

Under the Red Sky is the twenty-seventh studio album by American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, released in September 1990 by Columbia Records.

The album was largely greeted as a strange and disappointing follow-up to 1989’s critically acclaimed Oh Mercy. Most of the criticism was directed at the slick sound of pop producer Don Was, as well as a handful of tracks that seem rooted in children’s nursery rhymes. It is a rarity in Dylan’s catalog for its inclusion of celebrity cameos, by SlashElton JohnGeorge HarrisonDavid CrosbyStevie Ray Vaughan and Bruce Hornsby.

 Reception:

Dylan has echoed most critics’ complaints, telling Rolling Stone in a 2006 interview that the album’s shortcomings resulted from hurried and unfocused recording sessions, due in part to his activity with the Traveling Wilburys at the time. He also claimed that there were too many people working on the album, and that he was very disillusioned with the recording industry during this period of his career.

  • Dylan critic Patrick Humphries, author of The Complete Guide to the Music of Bob Dylan, was particularly harsh in his assessment ofUnder the Red Sky, stating the album “was everything Oh Mercy wasn’t—sloppily written songs, lazily performed and unimaginatively produced.
  • The album did have some critical support, particularly from Robert Christgau of The Village Voice, who wrote “To my astonishment, I think Under the Red Sky is Dylan’s best album in 15 years, a record that may even signal a ridiculously belated if not totally meaningless return to form…It’s fabulistic, biblical…the tempos are postpunk like it oughta be, with [Kenny] Aronoff’s sprints and shuffles grooving ahead like ’60s folk-rock never did.” 
  • Paul Nelson, writing for Musician, called the album “a deliberately throwaway masterpiece.” 

More opinions:

  • Clinton Heylin (from “Still On The Road…”): 
    under the red sky seems to oppress an awful lot of Dylan fans. Some particularly infantile criticism has been directed at its self conscious use of nursery rhyme-like constructions, largely from people entirely ignorant of nursery rhymes’ centuries-old role in the folk tradition. Dylan certainly received little credit for daring to make a gut-bustin’ R&B record less than a year after leaving the swamplands of Lanoisville. Whatever its failings, the album conveys a real unity of purpose. What it lacked was one song that raised things to a higher plane, preferably at the expense of an album-opener that went, ‘Wiggle wiggle wiggle, like a bowl of soup.’
  • Robert Christgau:
    This Was Bros. pseudothrowaway improves on the hushed emotion, weary wisdom, and new-age “maturity” of the Daniel Lanois-produced Oh Mercy even if the lyrics are sloppier–the anomaly is what Lanois calls Oh Mercy’s “focused” writing. Aiming frankly for the evocative, the fabulistic, the biblical, Dylan exploits narrative metaphor as an adaptive mechanism that allows him to inhabit a “mature” pessimism he knows isn’t the meaning of life. Where his seminal folk-rock records were cut with Nashville cats on drums–Kenny Buttrey when he was lucky, nonentities when he wasn’t–here Kenny Aronoff’s tempos are postpunk like it oughta be, springs and shuffles grooving ever forward. The fables are strengthened by the workout, and as a realist I also treasure their literal moments. I credit his outrage without forgetting his royalty statements. I believe he’s gritted his teeth through the bad patches of a long-term sexual relationship even if he still measures the long term in months. And when he thanks his honey for that cup of tea, I melt. A-
  • Michael Gray (Bob Dylan Encyclopedia):
    The first Dylan album after Oh Mercy shows Dylan characteristically retreating from that album’s mainstream production values and safe terrain, and refusing to offer a
    follow-up. Nevertheless his penchant for recently modish producers has him turn this time to DAVID & DON WAS of Was Not Was, who offer a rougher and less unified sound. It’s a pity Dylan pads out the album with some sub-standard rockism(‘Wiggle Wiggle’ and ‘Unbelievable’) and the ill-fitting, foggy pop of ‘Born in Time’, because the core of the album is an adventure into the poetic
    possibilities of nursery rhyme that is alert, fresh and imaginative, and an achievement that has gone largely unrecognised.

  • Paul Williams (from “Bob Dylan: Performance Artist 1986-1990 And Beyond”):

    It’s a magnificent album, really, and I love every performance on it. Oh, there have been times over the years when I’ve had my doubts about “10,000 Men” or “2×2,” but as with a good concert, each performance in sequence opens doors in listener and singer and musicians and, because the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, the parts are elevated in dignity and expressive power just by their connectedness to that whole. So I find myself getting into the groove of “10,000 Men,” the easy flow of the language, the surprising shouts and whispers of the vocal, the irrepressible Under the Red Sky humor that chugs along throughout (and catches my attention at different moments every time I listen).

  • Stephen Thomas Erlewine (allmusic.com):
    Dylan followed Oh Mercy, his most critically acclaimed album in years, with Under the Red Sky, a record that seemed like a conscious recoil from that album’s depth and atmosphere. By signing Don Was, the king of mature retro-rock, as producer, he guaranteed that the record would be lean and direct, which is perhaps exactly what this collection of simplistic songs deserves. Still, this record feels a little ephemeral, a collection of songs that Dylan didn’t really care that much about. In a way, that makes it a little easier to warm to than its predecessor, since it has a looseness that suits him well, especially with songs this deliberately lightweight. As such, Under the Red Sky is certainly lightweight, but rather appealing in its own lack of substance, since Dylan has never made a record so breezy, apart from (maybe) Down in the Groove. That doesn’t make it a great, or even good, record, but it does have its own charms that will be worth searching out for Dylanphiles. 

Track listing:

All songs written by Bob Dylan.

  1. “Wiggle Wiggle” – 2:09
  2. “Under the Red Sky” – 4:09
  3. “Unbelievable” – 4:06
  4. “Born in Time” – 3:39
  5. “T.V. Talkin’ Song” – 3:02
  6. “10,000 Men” – 4:21
  7. “2 × 2” – 3:36
  8. “God Knows” – 3:02
  9. “Handy Dandy” – 4:03
  10. “Cat’s in the Well” – 3:21
Personnel

  • Bob Dylan – acoustic and electric guitar, piano, accordion, harp, vocals, production
Additional musicians
Technical personnel
  • Dan Bosworth – assistant engineering
  • Marsha Burns – production coordination
  • Ed Cherney – engineering, mixing
  • Steve Deutsch – assistant engineering
  • Judy Kirshner – assistant engineering
  • Jim Mitchell – assistant engineering
  • Brett Swain – assistant engineering

Under The Red Sky:

Album of the day:

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Continue reading Today: Bob Dylan released “Under The Red Sky” in 1990 – 22 years ago

Great song: Tin Angel by Bob Dylan

Just a few thoughts on the song Tin Angel.

For me, after listening to it for two days, the most obvious masterpiece on Bob Dylan’s new album is the murder ballad, Tin Angel. It’s a story-song, the kind Dylan has done so magnificently many times before. Cross the Green Mountain, Tweeter and the Monkey Man and  Brownsville Girl springs to mind. They are extremely cinematic songs and they tell a story over many verses.  Another song that pops up in my head is the wonderful story of Spanish Jack by Willy DeVille, not very like in sound but in tone.

The music on Tin Angel is repetitive, but not in a bad way, it’s an hypnotic rhythm and a bass that sucks the wind straight out of you. It transcends ordinary music and serves as a enhancement of the fascinating story that is told over the 28 verses.

I could try to analyze the song, but I don’t think we should. It is straightforward ballad of three doomed lovers, told in a dark, dark song, and it sounds like Bob Dylan is having a hell of a time when he tells it.

Here’s the spotify link:

 

It is a bit difficult to see who says what in the story, I have put who I think delivers the lines after each line of dialogue in the song.

The “playas”:

The Boss
The Wife
Henry Lee
Servant

The story starts at home at the mansion:

It was late last night when the boss came home
To a deserted mansion and a desolate throne
Servant said: “Boss, the lady’s gone
She left this morning just ‘fore dawn.” (Servant)

“You got something to tell me, tell it to me, man
Come to the point as straight as you can” (The Boss)
“Old Henry Lee, chief of the clan
Came riding through the woods and took her by the hand” (Servant)

The boss he lay back flat on his bed
He cursed the heat and he clutched his head
He pondered the future of his fate
To wait another day would be far too late

“Go fetch me my coat and my tie
And the cheapest labour that money can buy
Saddle me up my buckskin mare
If you see me go by, put up a prayer” (The Boss)

The Boss is determined to “set things straight” and rides off to get his wife and to kill Henry Lee. Henry Lee is a name that we know from an old song on the Harry Smith collection (the first on the first cd). Covered by Bob Dylan earlier (as Love, Henry), also covered by Nick Cave on the album Murder Ballads. An album where Tin Angel would fit very naturally.

The next 6 verses tells us about his journey and how he sneaks up on the unknowing lovers. Dylan really sets a terrifying scene for what is about to happen. The Boss really gets into a killing mood, “he renounces his faith, he denies his lord”:

Well, they rode all night, and they rode all day
Eastward, long down the broad highway
His spirit was tired and his vision was bent
His men deserted him and onward he went

He came to a place where the light was dull
His forehead pounding in his skull
Heavy heart was racked with pain
Insomnia raging in his brain

Well, he threw down his helmet and his cross-handled sword
He renounced his faith, he denied his lord
Crawled on his belly, put his ear to the wall
One way or another put an end to it all

He leaned down, cut the electric wire
Stared into the flames and he snorted the fire
Peered through the darkness, caught a glimpse of the two
It was hard to tell for certain who was who

He lowered himself down on a golden chain
His nerves were quaking in every vein
His knuckles were bloody, he sucked in the air
He ran his fingers through his greasy hair

They looked at each other and their glasses clinked
One single unit, inseparably linked
“Got a strange premonition there’s a man close by” (Henry Lee)
“Don’t worry about him, he wouldn’t harm a fly” (The Wife)


As we hear, the wife is not very worried or affraid of her husband.

A small snippet seems to be taken from The Fire-King by Sir Walter Scott:  “He has thrown by his helmet, and cross-handled sword, Renouncing his knighthood, denying his Lord”. I’m sure there are a lot of other small “thefts” as well.

Love and theft, baby, love and theft.

Continue reading Great song: Tin Angel by Bob Dylan

Today: Bob Dylan released “Tempest”

Shine your light
Movin’ on
You burned so bright
Roll on, John

Finally….. it’s here!

Although it’s way too early to pass judgement.. this has to be a classic!

We got “Early Roman Kings” a couple of weeks ago, and “Duquesne Whistle” ~1,5 weeks ago. Both songs bore witness of greatness. iTunes have been streaming Tempest all week.. but now it’s finally available for everyone.

I’ve burned through it 3 times today.. still rolling as I write this.. GREAT stuff!

It is surely way better that “Together Through Life& feels better than “Modern Times” as well. Comparison with L&T & TOOM will have to wait…

 Some facts from Wikipedia:

Released September 10, 2012

September 7, 2012

Recorded January–March 2012 at Groove Masters Studios in Santa Monica, California
Genre Rock, folk rock
Length 1:08:31
Label Columbia
Producer Bob Dylan

Artwork:

The cover art for Tempest incorporates a red tinted photograph of a statue located at the base of the Pallas-Athene Fountain in front of the Austrian Parliament Building in Vienna. The statue is one of four figures on the intermediate platform of the fountain bowl personifying the main rivers of Austria-Hungary: the Danube, the Inn, the Elbe, and the Moldau. The figure shown on the album cover represents the Moldau. The sculpture was created by Carl Kundmann between 1893 and 1902 based on architect Theophil Hansen’s original plans.

Critical reception:

  • In his review in Rolling Stone magazine, Will Hermes gave the album five out of five stars, calling it “musically varied and full of curveballs” and “the single darkest record in Dylan’s catalog.” According to Hermes, the album draws upon elements common throughout Dylan’s career—especially the last three albums—with music that is “built from traditional forms and drawing on eternal themes: love, struggle, death.” Hermes continues:

    “Lyrically, Dylan is at the top of his game, joking around, dropping wordplay and allegories that evade pat readings and quoting other folks’ words like a freestyle rapper on fire. “Narrow Way” is one of Dylan’s most potent rockers in years, and it borrows a chorus from the Mississippi Sheiks’ 1934 blues “You’ll Work Down to Me Someday”. “Scarlet Town” draws on verses by 19th-century Quaker poet and abolitionist John Greenleaf Whittier; and allusions to Louis Armstrong and the Isley Brothers pop up elsewhere.” ~Will Hermes
    According to Hermes, the two most powerful songs on the album are “Tempest” and “Roll On, John”. The title track, about the sinking of the RMS Titanic, is a 14-minute epic consisting of 45 verses and no chorus, with an Irish melody supported by accordion and fiddle. The song depicts a series of horrifying scenes—of passengers falling into the icy waters, dead bodies “already floating”, men turning against other men in murderous acts—presented against acts of bravery, such as one man “offering his lifeboat seat to a crippled child.” The closing track, according to Hermes, is a “prayer from one great artist to another”, and stands as a reminder that “Dylan now stands virtually alone among his 1960s peers. His own final act, meanwhile, rolls on. It’s a thing to behold.”
  • In his review for American Songwriter, Jim Beviglia gave the album four and a half out of five stars, calling it “the kind of meaty offering that his most ardent fans desire most.” The deceptively gentle instrumental passage at the start of “Duquesne Whistle”, Beviglia observes, is a perfect opening to an album of “sudden juxtapositions and mood shifts that occur not just within songs but sometimes within verses.” Through the easy tempo of “Soon After Midnight”, the grinding blues of “Narrow Way”, the soulful guitar lines of “Long and Wasted Years”, and the remorseless biting lyrics of “Pay In Blood”, Dylan captures “humanity, in all of its flawed glory, at every turn.” The musical antecedents of some of these songs are transparent: “Duquesne Whistle” from “Thunder on the Mountain”, “Scarlet Town” from “Ain’t Talkin'”, “Tin Angel” from “Man in the Long Black Coat”, “Early Roman Kings” from the blues classic “Mannish Boy”, and “Pay In Blood” from “Idiot Wind” or “Like a Rolling Stone”.  Dylan’s singing is strong on the album, especially on songs like “Long and Wasted Years”, where he toys with the phrasing of each line, teasing out “every bit of hurt in this tale of love gone wrong.” “His voice may be shredded,” Breviglia observes, “but he can still interpret a song like no other.”
  • In his review in the Los Angeles Times, Randall Roberts wrote, “Few American writers, save Mark Twain, have spoken so eloquently and consistently at such a steady, honest clip, and the evidence continues on Tempest.”  According to Randall, the album reveals a “master storyteller” at work as Dylan “continues to explore the various strands of early American roots music that he internalized as he matured.”

    “At their best, new songs such as “Scarlet Town,” “Tin Angel” and “Roll On, John” show an artist swirling in musical repetition and the joy of longevity. Each is longer than seven minutes and each deserves to be heard again the moment it ends. He mixes these longer narratives with a few four-minute, expertly crafted gems that float like whittled wooden birds come to life—especially “Long and Wasted Years,” a bitter song about a dead marriage.” ~Randall Roberts
  • In his review in The Guardian, Alexis Petridis gave the album four out of five stars, but downplayed some of the superlatives offered by other reviewers who have compared Tempest to some of Dylan’s finest work. 
  • In his review in The Sun, Simon Cosyns gave the album five out of five stars, calling it “a magnificent beast of an album”. According to Cosyns, the album “continues Dylan’s rich vein of late-career form” and in some ways surpasses his recent albums based on “sheer lyrical and vocal power while managing to stretch the familiar old timey sonic palette in all sorts of unexpected ways.”
  • In his review in The Telegraph, Neil McCormick called the album “among his best ever”.  According to McCormick, the songs on Tempest reveal a Dylan “genuinely fired up by the possibilities of language” and that the entire album “resounds with snappy jokes and dark ruminations, vivid sketches and philosophical asides.” McCormick continued:

    “Tempest is certainly his strongest and most distinctive album in a decade. The sound is a distillation of the jump blues, railroad boogie, archaic country and lush folk that Dylan has been honing since 2001’s Love and Theft, played with swagger and character by his live ensemble and snappily produced by the man himself. A notoriously impatient recording artist, Dylan seems to have found a style that suits his working methods. Drawing on the early 20th-century Americana that first grabbed his attention as a young man (and that he celebrated in his Theme Time Radio Hour shows) and surrounding himself with slick, intuitive musicians capable of charging these nostalgic grooves with contemporary energy, his late-period albums.” ~Neil McCormick

  • Allan Jones in Uncut Magazine gives 10/10 & writes:

    Bob Dylan’s fantastic new album opens with a train song. Given the wrath to come and the often elemental ire that accompanies it, not to mention all the bloodshed, madness, death, chaos and assorted disasters that will shortly be forthcoming, you may be surprised that what’s clattering along the tracks here isn’t the ominous engine of a slow train coming, a locomotive of doom and retribution, souls wailing in a caboose crowded with the forlorn damned and other people like them. …

    …the sheer tenderness of the closing “Roll On, John” is as much of a shock as a mere surprise. A belated tribute to John Lennon, the song’s as direct and heartfelt as anything Dylan’s written probably since “Sara”, whose occasional gaucheness it recalls, as Dylan roams over Lennon’s career, “from the Liverpool docks to the red-light Hamburg streets”, quoting from Lennon and Beatles’ songs along the way, including “A Day In The Life”, “The Ballad Of John And Yoko” and “Come Together”. The affection expressed for Lennon in the song is tangible, makes it glow like a force-field, and by the end is totally disarming. “Your bones are weary, you’re about to breathe your last,” Dylan sings to his dead friend. “Lord you know how hard that bit can be,” before moving onto a spine-tingling elegiac chorus: “Shine a light/Move it on/You burned so bright/Roll on, John”.

    Read more over @ uncut -> Allan Jones – Tempest 

Track Listing:

  1. “Duquesne Whistle” (Dylan, Robert Hunter) 
  2. “Soon After Midnight”  
  3. “Narrow Way” 
  4. “Long and Wasted Years” 
  5. “Pay in Blood” 
  6. “Scarlet Town” 
  7. Early Roman Kings” 
  8. “Tin Angel” 
  9. “Tempest” 
  10. “Roll on John

All the lyrics: -> @ expectingrain.com

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