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Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Bob Dylan - Tempest

Dylan is back, and as sure as night follows day, the plaudits are rolling in.
The best album since his last album.
A career defining blast of classic Dylan.
Blah blah blah blah ad infinitum!
If the maestro farted into a bottle, sampled the sound and talked over the noise of the wind echoing around the receptacle then some critics and fans would be forming a line to praise his ground-breaking genius rather than his mundane wind breaking talents.
(Not that I know if his wind breaking talents are mundane. It's entirely possible that he can whistle Dixie note perfectly from his anus in private)
It's this sort of fundamentalist, no quarter given, praise that acts as a massive turn off for me.
I don't dislike Dylan, and I consider that he is an artist who has certainly paid his dues.
He's undoubtedly an iconic artist of his generation, and has influenced a great many artists over literally decades.
He's even written a good song or two. (joke)
It's arguably true that the current musical landscape probably wouldn't sound the same if it wasn't for him, but I seriously baulk at giving anyone a free pass for their current output on the basis of their past endeavours.
Yet similar to the theory that if you had enough monkeys hammering on enough typewriters over a long enough period of time then one would rattle out a Shakespearean line the critics with their unlimited and feverish reviews have hit the spot this time.
Tempest is the album that will reignite a love for Dylan that some have lost, it will equally serve as a gateway album and introduce many more fans to his canon of work.
It's quite literally the exceptional album that people are saying it is.

However it doesn't sound new.
In fact it's a very traditional sounding album, but not specifically old fashioned if that makes sense.
Some material floats in as if it's coasting ghost like on the ether from another period in time, but there's no snap, crackle or pop that normally accompanies the sound that swells out from the speakers when any of us dip into the sounds of the past.
It's as if Dylan is reworking it with a more modern interpretation.
Paying homage I suppose..
It's sort of similar to how Tom Waits warped the sound of the drunken jazz clubs ivory tinkler to express his own version of the oeuvre.
He's coming at something familiar, but from a slightly different angle, and it works to great effect.

Much has been said about the epic nature of the nearly fourteen minute title track that tells the tale of the demise of the Titanic to its watery grave.
It's true that it would probably make Homer blush with pride that here in 2012 people will still try and emulate his prose story telling in such a long winded fashion.
Yet it doesn't for a second feel long winded at all.
It's as if Dylan has crafted each utterance to engage, and it does.
The fourteen minutes fly by and as the song closes it leaves you wanting to skip back to the beginning and appreciate it all over again.
Now that is genius.

I doff my cap. No seriously. If I had a cap on right now I'd be doffing it.

Here's the album that isn't just for Dylan aficionados.

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