Bob Dylan - CD review (4 stars)

Bob Dylan

Modern Times (Columbia)


Dylan’s long-gestating 32nd studio album may not, as the man pointed out in a recent, much publicised interview, sound half as good on CD as it did in the studio, but there is plenty here to warm the hearts of those who rallied behind 1998’s Time Out of Mind and 2001’s Love and Theft. Recorded with Dylan’s current touring band, including bassist Tony Garnier, drummer George G Receli, guitarists Stu Kimball and Denny Freeman, plus multi-instrumentalist Donnie Herron.

Dylan produced the effort under the name ‘Jack Frost’. With the opener ‘Thunder on the Mountain’ Dylan kicks up the dust of the now familiar musical scrubland he has come to inhabit in his last half dozen albums. The honky-tonk rhythms he perfected way back when he hung around subterranean dives with The Band and the nursery rhyme lyrics he honed on his 1985 album Empire Burlesque are present and correct and greatly improved upon. Things move at a pleasing pace from here on in - impassioned tales of crime, corruption and governmental failure (‘When the Deal Goes Down’, ‘The Levee’s Gonna Break’) cross fertilise with bluesy ballads of love and regret (‘Someday Baby’, ‘Beyond the Horizon’). Tunes that appear gauche and simplistic at first (‘Rollin and Tumblin’’, ‘Ain’t Talkin’’) blossom with repeated listening. This is a rewarding conclusion to a remarkable trilogy for modern times.

Bob Dylan & His Band

Country/folk/rock from the living legend, now in his 70s but still going strong.

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