I shared your concern re the lack of juice/oomph for the first few plays until I realised I was falling into the trap of comparing it to L&T. I wanted Thunder to change gears and sound like Summer Days live circa 2002 for example. Then a breakthrough- a glass of red wine, feet up and an acceptance that MT is a more relaxed, refined, smoother animal altogether. The "L&T lite" criticism may be coming from folk who subliminally or otherwise want "L&T 2". Accept it on its own terms and the album works just fine. This baby sails rather than motors. If you want coughs, splutters and the rough roar of an engine (and I often do), L&T and TTL are the way to go. MT is a more civilised ride and there's plenty of room for both styles.
This is good advice indeed. I never had a problem with 'Thunder' as recorded and I'm really surprised to find that people do. It's not supposed
to be a mad blues rave-up like Lonesome Day Blues. It's more of a sauntering number. This polished, relaxed vibe is absolutely a key to MT in general. Take 'Spirit on the Water.' Has Dylan ever sounded gentler, less compelled to strain and push the song, just letting it be itself? I love the easy spirit he brings to it.
If the album has a problem, it's less in the sound than - frankly - in the writing. There's a raft of strong compositions on here (Thunder and Someday are great fun, WMB and AT are just tremendous songs, and most people consider Nettie Moore a great song, notiwthstanding my own reservations about it). But 'Spirit' meanders and survives mostly on its sonic pleasures; 'Horizon' plods along at about twice the appropriate length; 'Rollin'' somehow manages to be less than the some of its parts, some of which are quite neat; 'Levee' is banal filler; and although I enjoy 'Deal,' there's no denying that it walks very, very close to the edge of bad poetry. To my mind, Dylan is pushing his late-era songwriting formula as far as it can go on this album and the cracks are definitely starting to show. Funnily enough, I find that this is a rare Dylan album whose lyrical limitations are redeemed
by the music and the sound -it's ear candy; most of the time, it works the other way around. In that sense, my reaction to MT is just the opposite of the post that started this thread.