If you chart time by Bob Dylan albums, it looks something like this -- a deep, smoldering hole from 1978 to 1988 (okay, we’ll give you Infidels, but that’s it), followed by a slow-but-steady ascent that began with ’89’s Daniel Lanois-produced Oh Mercy, ran through two trad-folk/blues releases, caught fire with Time Out of Mind and peaked with 2001’s Love and Theft. Unfortunately, it seems like things have been heading on a gradual slope back down since then. Modern Times felt like a Time Out of Mind sequel without the spark, and now Together Through Life takes that process one step further.
The good news is that Bob Dylan, working under his “Jack Frost” alias, remains the best producer he’s ever had. Working with his longtime road band, bolstered by Tom Petty’s axeman Mike Campbell and Los Lobos’ David Hidalgo, Dylan works up greasy, grinding grooves that tip their hat to the ‘50s Chess discography. At one point, Dylan even offers an odd homage to Willie Dixon’s “I Just Want to Make Love To You,” rewriting it as “My Wife’s Home Town” (and giving Dixon composer credit). The trouble is, however good a blues record Together may be, it’s also a Dylan album, and people rightly expect more from him in the lyrical department than they do from, say, Keb’ Mo’. When Dylan fails to improve on Dixon’s lyrics, it’s indicative of a problem that runs throughout the album. Even in a historic pairing with Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter, who shares writing credit with Dylan on nine out of 10 tunes here, there are very few remarkable (or even interesting) lyrical moments. In the end, this is a Dylan album you listen to mostly for the music, so if that’s your idea of time well spent, dig in. Otherwise, pray that Bob lives long enough for that aforementioned slope to reverse itself yet again.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Friday, January 9, 2009
U2 is looking out for you. The band has posted a statement on its website warning against "tickets" being sold for a nonexistent tour. Bogus ticket offers have apparently been making the rounds online, purportedly for a U2 summer tour that was never on the band's agenda. "Please don't get stung by buying tickets for a show that doesn't exist," says the band, adding the assurance that any legitimate tours will be announced on the site "as soon as details are confirmed.
So, now that the band has stepped up and put the lie to this scam, surely we can expect it'll just be a matter of time before they put those other scurrilous rumors to rest, the ones about writing songs for a Spider-Man stage musical, right? Um...right, Bono? Edge? Guys?
Monday, September 8, 2008
It's a party at Animal Collective's house! No, it's a musical based on that episode of the Twilight Zone where the dying rich guy forces a masquerade on his family. Okay, it's just the new video from Kaiser Chiefs, wherein a bunch of folks in funny wildlife masks dance around and make like West Side Story: The Barnyard Years. "Never Miss A Beat" is the single from the band's forthcoming album, Off With Their Heads, due out on October 13, and the song's sense of visceral fun is effectively translated to the kooky antics of the aforementioned characters (though the Chiefs remain conveniently unmasked throughout). For a band that started out so promising and got too big for its britches on its outsized second album, its encouraging to hear them getting back to the proper, punchy, tight-as-a-drum approach in the hands of superproducer Mark Ronson.
Thursday, September 4, 2008
Well it's about freakin' time. In the wake of deluxe-reissue treatement for the '80s catalogs of everyone from Depeche Mode to Haysi Fantayzee (okay, we were just kidding about the second one, but you never know...) New Order is going the expanded-edition route for their classic, enormously influential '80s output. Movement, Power, Corruption & Lies, Low-Life, Brotherhood, and Technique are all set to greet the 21st century on September 28, complete with bonus discs of alternate versions, b-sides, and other esoterica, and the accompanying booklets will include interviews with all the band members. Here's hoping that A) revisionism will be on the side of justice this time, and all those who gave the woefully underrated Movement short shrift until now will soon be eating their words, and B) the same process will not occur 20 years hence with the deluxe reissue of 2001's Get Ready.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Thank God the Feds are finally doing something in the public interest. F.B.I. agents arrested Kevin "Skwerll" Cogill yesterday for leaking tracks from the long-awaited Guns N' Roses album Chinese Democracy. Apparently, the dutiful Feds had already gotten up in Gogill's grill in June after he initially posted nine tracks from the album online, at which point he admitted to his treasonous act and took down the offending material. So it's unclear why such an overzealous action was taken at this time, but Cogill wound up in court, where his bail was subsequently set at $5,000.00
So remember, folks, if you see something, say something. Make sure you've got the F.B.I. on speed-dial in case you detect the goat-like whine of Axl Rose braying an unfamiliar song, and don't hesitate to alert the authorities. By banding together as one, we can all help to prevent the arrival of Chinese Democracy. Power to the people.
Thursday, July 31, 2008
In a move that we can only hope will inspire every other major label (not to mention the indies) to do something similar, Universal UK has gone spelunking into the sonic caverns of the past with a digital pick and shovel. The company has launched www.losttunes.com , a download store that spotlights the most esoteric areas of their back catalog, including some selections that are available exclusively on LostTunes. The amount of albums on offer is still fairly small at the moment, but they'll undoubtedly expand as they go along. And they do go impressively deep; you can stay one jump ahead of the psych-folk archivists with Sunforest and Mike Absolom, impress your post-punk-geek pals with Dalek I, or get your blue-eyed soul fix with Dusty Springfield's complete BBC sessions. Now all they need is a virtual snob behind the counter to berate you for not having all this stuff already.
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
OK, all you classic-rock guitarists manque, your moment is nigh. A batch of Who songs are set to be made available for Rock Band on July 15. "Oh, boy," we hear you shout, "now I can get my game on with 'Won't Get Fooled Again,' and 'Pinball Wizard!'" Actually not. "'Magic Bus' and 'The Kids Are Alright?'" Nope, sorry. "'Substitute' and 'Can't Explain?'" Uh uh. "Freakin' 'Squeeze Box?'" No, let's just put the facts on the table right now.
Admittedly, the dozen Who tracks set for RB do include several bona fide classics ("Baba O'Reilly," "Behind Blue Eyes," "My Generation," "Who Are You," the live version of "Summertime Blues"). But not only are there many key songs conspicuous in their absence, there are some conspicuous by their presence. "Real Good Looking Boy?" "Sea & Sand?" "Leaving Here?" Is this curious state of affairs the result of licensing issues? Aesthetic considerations? Sheer pique? We're imagining a meeting where Daltrey and Townshend told Rock Band "You can't have these, but if you take those, we'll give you this." Let the games begin!