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PostPosted: Tue August 21st, 2012, 21:59 GMT 

Joined: Mon March 16th, 2009, 10:46 GMT
Posts: 860
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 alomg the tracks here isn't the ominous engine of a slow train coming, a locomotive of doom and destruction, souls wailing in a caboose crowded with the forlorn damned and other people like them.
'Dunquesne Whistle' instead, and at odds it will shortly transpire with much we go on to encounter, joyfully evokes the jubilee train of gospel legend, bound for glory; a salvation express full of hopeful halelujahs, its destination somewhere better than here, this sickly place and its trampled sadness, unceasing strife and grief everywhere you look. In ways some distance removed from the things waiting on the rest of the album, Duquesne Whistle is passably carefree, possibly even best described as rambunctious.
It begins fabulously, with a jazzy instrumental preface, reminiscent of 'Nashville Skyline Rag', guitarists Charlie Sexton and Stu Kimball briskly exchanging Charlie Christian licks. It's like turning on the radio and tuning into the past, nostalgically evocative of a more sunlit innocent time. There is too the impression that we have joined the album, somehow, after it's already started and eerily like this music has been playing on a disk that never stops spinning. Then the whole group blows in, the magnificent road band that's backed Dylan, most of them anyway, on everything he's recorded since 'Love and Theft', and so includes Modern Times, Together Through Life and Christmas in the Heart.
They are ablaze here and on fire throughout, and at their jitterbugging point of entry. 'Duquesne Whistle' takes on an upstoppable momentum that may remind you of, say, 'Highway 61 Revisited' or 'Tombstone Blues' (I was also freetingly reminded of Cat Power's swinging version of 'Stuck inside of Mobile' from the I'm not Here soundtrack. Even as the song is apparently celebrating what's good in the world, something more awry is stirring, clouds gathering. 'Can't you hear that Duquesne Whistle blowin? Blowin like the sky's gonna blow apart' Dylan sings in intimation of shadows about to fall on paradise. In other words, Tempest is not dark yet, but it will be soon enough.
When Dylan convened with his band at Jackson Browne's Groove Masters Studio on Santa Monica, he's said it was his intention to make a 'religious ' album, though he wasn't specific about quite what he meant by this and whether there was any connection between the record he had in mind and his so-called Born Again albums, that trio of disks including Slow Train Coming, Saved and Shot of Love that 30 years ago shocked and confounded his audience, when they were also alarmed by the vengeful sermonising that puctuated his concerts of the time. There are perhaps inklings, though, of the album Dylan originally envisioned on, for instance, the devotionally inclined 'Long and Wasted Years', and the gospel influenced 'Pay in Blood', which follows. The testing of belief in extreme circumstances is a recurring theme.
Long and Wasted Years finds Dylan almost talking his way through the song, in the manner of 'Three Angels' from New Morning, over a slightly churchy organ and a lovely bluesy guitar refrain. 'I think that when my back was turned, the whole world behind me burned', Dylan recites at one point, the charred landscape that so much of Tempest occupies coming into full focus, a forlorn sort of place, populated by the displaced and the lost, to who Dylan gives poignant voice. 'I ain't seen my family in 20 years', he reflects wearily in one of the verses 'They may be dead by now. I lost track of them after they lost their land'. The bereft hopelessness that is evident in many instances on the album is particularly well articulated here, especially in the song's chastening final image: 'We cried on a cold and frosty morn.' Dylan mourns, and there's no other word for it. 'We cried because our souls were torn/So much for tears, so much for these long and wasted years'.
Pay in Blood opens with guitars, piano and a little Tex-Mex swagger over a vaguely menacing chord sequence reminiscent of those great declamatory Warren Zevon songs that Dylan so admires, like 'Lawyers, Guns and Money', 'Boom Boom Mancini' (which Dylan covered in concert several times as a tribute when Zevon died in 2003). There's a hint, too, in the arrangement, of the song's gospel roots, and something of the Stones in Sexton's admirable guitar riff. It's a song in part about the futile notion of suffering being in any way ennobling. 'How I made it back home, nobody knows/Or how I survived so many blows/I've been through hell, what good did it do?' Dylan asks, a bitter question, asked perhaps of God, since he then adds 'You bastard, I'm supposed to respect you? I'll give you justice'. The singer's anger is anger palpably rising, and he is prone to reject communal solace for a life apart, lonely and slightly terrified. 'This is how I spend my days/I take my fear and sleep alone' Dylan sings, following it with the chilling pay-off line, several times repeated 'I pay in blood, but not my own'.
'Soon After Midnight', meanwhile, sounds at first like a touching, funny country love song, gently crooned, with the languid melody lope of Mississippi. It gives way suddenly, however, to a similar distress-'My heart is fearful/It's never cheerful/I've been down on the killing floor'-and an incrementally vengeful mood that surfaces several times elsewhere, with even greater malevolence. 'Narrow Way', for instance, is seven minutes of wrath, driven by the kind of scalding guitar circulations that propelled 'Dirt Road Blues' on Time Out Of Mind and Modern Times' 'Rollin and Tumblin', both of which also were indebted to Muddy Waters. 'This is a hard country to stay alive in' Dylan sings, in condemnation of the people who have made it thus, adding in warning 'I'm armed to the hilt'.
'Early Roman Kings' is equally livid, an accusatory tirade, again directed at the same people Dylan has pretty much railed against since he first put plectrum to guitar string and started having his say about things. The 'kings' of the song are vividly seen in 'their sharkskin suits, bow-ties and buttons and high top boots' as shyster bankers, corrupt money men who have bankrupted nations, impoverished millions. As Dylan put it, 'The meddlers and peddlers, they buy and they sell/They destroyed your city, they'll destroy you as well'. What Dylan feels about them is akin to the savage hate expressed on 'Masters of War', say 'I could strip you of life, strip you of breath/Ship you down to the house of death' he sings with hostile contempt, nothing particularly equivocal about his point this point of view, which is in a word merciless.
'Early Roman Kings' is the closest thing here to the kind of roadhouse blues that has been a signature of a lot of recent Dylan, especially Together Through Life. David Hidalgo from Los Lobos adds typically gutsy accordion to the band's robust vamping and the track's lurching gait is an absolute gas, it's vicious sentiment notwithstanding. The blues continues to be a vital part of Dylan's music, but Tempest on key songs also marks a return to a folk tradition that has latterly not been as much in evidence. 'Scarlet Town' is notably set to a melody that sounds like it's been passed down the ages and has a courtly mien reminiscent of the Gillian Welch song from last year's The Harrow & The Harvest with which it shares a title. Fiddle and banjo take the lead here, creating a mysterious swirling atmosphere. There are flashes of bawdy humour, too, but the pervasive mood, here as elsewhere, is ultimately of turmoil and unrest. Towards the end of its 7 minute running time, the track is further interrupted by a wraith-like guitar solo that rises out of the mix like something emerging from a fog and adds a particular creepiness to things.
'Tim Angel' sounds similarly as if it could have been lifted wholesale from an anthology of traditional folk songs, where hundreds of such tales must lurk. It's a revenge ballad, nine minutes long, with no chorus, banjo and fiddle again to the fore. The setting is vague. References in one of the latter verses to a helmet and a cross=handed sword suggest a chivalric age. But soon after that, there's a gunfight, the kind of point-black shootout set-piece you used to find in Walter Hill movies, which suggests Dylan at one point may have had a Western setting in mind, perhaps inspired by a recent tour bus viewing of something like 'Duel in the Sun', a torrid oafer starring Dylan favourite Gregory Peck.
What happens, anyway, is that someone called 'The Boss', which is not a name you probably come across too often in the Child Ballads, one day comes home from wherever to find his wife has gone missing. Whither the Missus? Has she simply left him, or been adbucted? Boss upon investigation is tipped off by a faithful retainer that the errant spouse has in fact made off with one Henry Lee, leader of an unindentified clan. Boss ceders his men to horse and off they gallop in hot pursuit, his men deserting him along the way. Dogged Boss continues alone. After presumably much travail, Boss tracks down Henry Lee and his wife, bursts in on their amorous coupling and after declaring his love for his wife starts blasting away. Henry Lee's the better shot and soon Boss is dying in his own blood. The missus takes this surprisingly badly and stabs Henry Lee before plunging a dagger into her own heart. The final image of the three of them tossed into a single grave 'forever to sleep' is chillingly unforgettable.
And so to the title track: 45 verses over 14 minutes about the sinking of the Titanic, inspired by Dylan's musing on the Carter Family's 'The Titanic', but at times as much in debt to James Cameron's blockbuster movie (whose leading man, Leonardo DiCaprio, is name-checked twice). The piece starts with what sounds like a string quartet, after which brief overture the song settles into a long unwinding waltz, progressing with stately resolution, verse following verse, like a latter-day 'Desolation Row'. The song vividly describes the panic and confusion as the great ship flounders, a metaphor for the folly of over-reaching ambition; mankind again brought low by God's intervention.
The scale of the disaster is enormous, contains 'every kind of sorrow'. Dylan dramatically capturing the dark panic of the moment-the blown hatches, the water pouring everywhere, the ship's smokestack crashing down, hunbler passengers trapped below decks-and as in the film, certain characters are given their own scenes, each verse then a gripping vignette. There's for instance someone called Wellington, holed up in his cabin. 'Glass and shattered crystal lay shattered round about/He strapped on both his pistols/how long could he hold out?' And here's Jim Backer: 'He saw the starlight shining/Streaming from the east/Death was on the rampage/but his heart was now at peace.' 'Davy the brothel-keeper' meanwhile 'came out, dismissed his girls/Saw the water getting deeper/saw the changing of his world.' The ship's captain at the moment of its sinking catches his reflection in the glass of a compass and 'in the dark illumination, he remembered bygone years/He read the book of Revelation/filled his cage with tears'.
After such calamity, 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 is 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 on to a spine tingling elegaic chorus: 'Shine a light, Move it on, You burned so bright/Roll on, John'.
We must address, I suppose, in closing, the similarity of this album's title to Shakespeare's The Tempest, widely regarded as his last play, and the idea that follows is that this record is likewise some farewell, a summation of sorts, a final rallying of waning creative energies, perhaps the closing act in Dylan's storied career. The idea of Bob as a kind of riverboat prospero is hugely appealing, and he remains, supremely, a story-telling sorcerer, but Dylan has already dismissed the comparison as simply wrong-headed and therefore pointless. And for all its evident pre-occupation with death and the end of things, Tempest is in many respects the most far-reaching, provocative and transfixing album of Dylan's later career. Nothing about it suggests a sawnsong, adios or fond adieu.
'I ain't dead yet, my bell still rings' he sings on 'Early Roman Kings', and how loud and bright and strong that clariod toll yet sounds.


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PostPosted: Tue August 21st, 2012, 22:13 GMT 
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I hope you are not offended, but I added some breaks. I can't read when all the text is jumbled together. It's my problem, there's nothing wrong with your post.


gerardv wrote:
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 alomg the tracks here isn't the ominous engine of a slow train coming, a locomotive of doom and destruction, souls wailing in a caboose crowded with the forlorn damned and other people like them.


'Dunquesne Whistle' instead, and at odds it will shortly transpire with much we go on to encounter, joyfully evokes the jubilee train of gospel legend, bound for glory; a salvation express full of hopeful halelujahs, its destination somewhere better than here, this sickly place and its trampled sadness, unceasing strife and grief everywhere you look. In ways some distance removed from the things waiting on the rest of the album, Duquesne Whistle is passably carefree, possibly even best described as rambunctious.


It begins fabulously, with a jazzy instrumental preface, reminiscent of 'Nashville Skyline Rag', guitarists Charlie Sexton and Stu Kimball briskly exchanging Charlie Christian licks. It's like turning on the radio and tuning into the past, nostalgically evocative of a more sunlit innocent time. There is too the impression that we have joined the album, somehow, after it's already started and eerily like this music has been playing on a disk that never stops spinning. Then the whole group blows in, the magnificent road band that's backed Dylan, most of them anyway, on everything he's recorded since 'Love and Theft', and so includes Modern Times, Together Through Life and Christmas in the Heart.


They are ablaze here and on fire throughout, and at their jitterbugging point of entry. 'Duquesne Whistle' takes on an upstoppable momentum that may remind you of, say, 'Highway 61 Revisited' or 'Tombstone Blues' (I was also freetingly reminded of Cat Power's swinging version of 'Stuck inside of Mobile' from the I'm not Here soundtrack. Even as the song is apparently celebrating what's good in the world, something more awry is stirring, clouds gathering. 'Can't you hear that Duquesne Whistle blowin? Blowin like the sky's gonna blow apart' Dylan sings in intimation of shadows about to fall on paradise. In other words, Tempest is not dark yet, but it will be soon enough.


When Dylan convened with his band at Jackson Browne's Groove Masters Studio on Santa Monica, he's said it was his intention to make a 'religious ' album, though he wasn't specific about quite what he meant by this and whether there was any connection between the record he had in mind and his so-called Born Again albums, that trio of disks including Slow Train Coming, Saved and Shot of Love that 30 years ago shocked and confounded his audience, when they were also alarmed by the vengeful sermonising that puctuated his concerts of the time. There are perhaps inklings, though, of the album Dylan originally envisioned on, for instance, the devotionally inclined 'Long and Wasted Years', and the gospel influenced 'Pay in Blood', which follows. The testing of belief in extreme circumstances is a recurring theme.


Long and Wasted Years finds Dylan almost talking his way through the song, in the manner of 'Three Angels' from New Morning, over a slightly churchy organ and a lovely bluesy guitar refrain. 'I think that when my back was turned, the whole world behind me burned', Dylan recites at one point, the charred landscape that so much of Tempest occupies coming into full focus, a forlorn sort of place, populated by the displaced and the lost, to who Dylan gives poignant voice. 'I ain't seen my family in 20 years', he reflects wearily in one of the verses 'They may be dead by now. I lost track of them after they lost their land'. The bereft hopelessness that is evident in many instances on the album is particularly well articulated here, especially in the song's chastening final image: 'We cried on a cold and frosty morn.' Dylan mourns, and there's no other word for it. 'We cried because our souls were torn/So much for tears, so much for these long and wasted years'.


Pay in Blood opens with guitars, piano and a little Tex-Mex swagger over a vaguely menacing chord sequence reminiscent of those great declamatory Warren Zevon songs that Dylan so admires, like 'Lawyers, Guns and Money', 'Boom Boom Mancini' (which Dylan covered in concert several times as a tribute when Zevon died in 2003). There's a hint, too, in the arrangement, of the song's gospel roots, and something of the Stones in Sexton's admirable guitar riff. It's a song in part about the futile notion of suffering being in any way ennobling. 'How I made it back home, nobody knows/Or how I survived so many blows/I've been through hell, what good did it do?' Dylan asks, a bitter question, asked perhaps of God, since he then adds 'You bastard, I'm supposed to respect you? I'll give you justice'. The singer's anger is anger palpably rising, and he is prone to reject communal solace for a life apart, lonely and slightly terrified. 'This is how I spend my days/I take my fear and sleep alone' Dylan sings, following it with the chilling pay-off line, several times repeated 'I pay in blood, but not my own'.


'Soon After Midnight', meanwhile, sounds at first like a touching, funny country love song, gently crooned, with the languid melody lope of Mississippi. It gives way suddenly, however, to a similar distress-'My heart is fearful/It's never cheerful/I've been down on the killing floor'-and an incrementally vengeful mood that surfaces several times elsewhere, with even greater malevolence. 'Narrow Way', for instance, is seven minutes of wrath, driven by the kind of scalding guitar circulations that propelled 'Dirt Road Blues' on Time Out Of Mind and Modern Times' 'Rollin and Tumblin', both of which also were indebted to Muddy Waters. 'This is a hard country to stay alive in' Dylan sings, in condemnation of the people who have made it thus, adding in warning 'I'm armed to the hilt'.


'Early Roman Kings' is equally livid, an accusatory tirade, again directed at the same people Dylan has pretty much railed against since he first put plectrum to guitar string and started having his say about things. The 'kings' of the song are vividly seen in 'their sharkskin suits, bow-ties and buttons and high top boots' as shyster bankers, corrupt money men who have bankrupted nations, impoverished millions. As Dylan put it, 'The meddlers and peddlers, they buy and they sell/They destroyed your city, they'll destroy you as well'. What Dylan feels about them is akin to the savage hate expressed on 'Masters of War', say 'I could strip you of life, strip you of breath/Ship you down to the house of death' he sings with hostile contempt, nothing particularly equivocal about his point this point of view, which is in a word merciless.


'Early Roman Kings' is the closest thing here to the kind of roadhouse blues that has been a signature of a lot of recent Dylan, especially Together Through Life. David Hidalgo from Los Lobos adds typically gutsy accordion to the band's robust vamping and the track's lurching gait is an absolute gas, it's vicious sentiment notwithstanding. The blues continues to be a vital part of Dylan's music, but Tempest on key songs also marks a return to a folk tradition that has latterly not been as much in evidence. 'Scarlet Town' is notably set to a melody that sounds like it's been passed down the ages and has a courtly mien reminiscent of the Gillian Welch song from last year's The Harrow & The Harvest with which it shares a title. Fiddle and banjo take the lead here, creating a mysterious swirling atmosphere. There are flashes of bawdy humour, too, but the pervasive mood, here as elsewhere, is ultimately of turmoil and unrest. Towards the end of its 7 minute running time, the track is further interrupted by a wraith-like guitar solo that rises out of the mix like something emerging from a fog and adds a particular creepiness to things.


'Tim Angel' sounds similarly as if it could have been lifted wholesale from an anthology of traditional folk songs, where hundreds of such tales must lurk. It's a revenge ballad, nine minutes long, with no chorus, banjo and fiddle again to the fore. The setting is vague. References in one of the latter verses to a helmet and a cross=handed sword suggest a chivalric age. But soon after that, there's a gunfight, the kind of point-black shootout set-piece you used to find in Walter Hill movies, which suggests Dylan at one point may have had a Western setting in mind, perhaps inspired by a recent tour bus viewing of something like 'Duel in the Sun', a torrid oafer starring Dylan favourite Gregory Peck.


What happens, anyway, is that someone called 'The Boss', which is not a name you probably come across too often in the Child Ballads, one day comes home from wherever to find his wife has gone missing. Whither the Missus? Has she simply left him, or been adbucted? Boss upon investigation is tipped off by a faithful retainer that the errant spouse has in fact made off with one Henry Lee, leader of an unindentified clan. Boss ceders his men to horse and off they gallop in hot pursuit, his men deserting him along the way. Dogged Boss continues alone. After presumably much travail, Boss tracks down Henry Lee and his wife, bursts in on their amorous coupling and after declaring his love for his wife starts blasting away. Henry Lee's the better shot and soon Boss is dying in his own blood. The missus takes this surprisingly badly and stabs Henry Lee before plunging a dagger into her own heart. The final image of the three of them tossed into a single grave 'forever to sleep' is chillingly unforgettable.


And so to the title track: 45 verses over 14 minutes about the sinking of the Titanic, inspired by Dylan's musing on the Carter Family's 'The Titanic', but at times as much in debt to James Cameron's blockbuster movie (whose leading man, Leonardo DiCaprio, is name-checked twice). The piece starts with what sounds like a string quartet, after which brief overture the song settles into a long unwinding waltz, progressing with stately resolution, verse following verse, like a latter-day 'Desolation Row'. The song vividly describes the panic and confusion as the great ship flounders, a metaphor for the folly of over-reaching ambition; mankind again brought low by God's intervention.


The scale of the disaster is enormous, contains 'every kind of sorrow'. Dylan dramatically capturing the dark panic of the moment-the blown hatches, the water pouring everywhere, the ship's smokestack crashing down, hunbler passengers trapped below decks-and as in the film, certain characters are given their own scenes, each verse then a gripping vignette. There's for instance someone called Wellington, holed up in his cabin. 'Glass and shattered crystal lay shattered round about/He strapped on both his pistols/how long could he hold out?' And here's Jim Backer: 'He saw the starlight shining/Streaming from the east/Death was on the rampage/but his heart was now at peace.' 'Davy the brothel-keeper' meanwhile 'came out, dismissed his girls/Saw the water getting deeper/saw the changing of his world.' The ship's captain at the moment of its sinking catches his reflection in the glass of a compass and 'in the dark illumination, he remembered bygone years/He read the book of Revelation/filled his cage with tears'.


After such calamity, 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 is 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 on to a spine tingling elegaic chorus: 'Shine a light, Move it on, You burned so bright/Roll on, John'.


We must address, I suppose, in closing, the similarity of this album's title to Shakespeare's The Tempest, widely regarded as his last play, and the idea that follows is that this record is likewise some farewell, a summation of sorts, a final rallying of waning creative energies, perhaps the closing act in Dylan's storied career. The idea of Bob as a kind of riverboat prospero is hugely appealing, and he remains, supremely, a story-telling sorcerer, but Dylan has already dismissed the comparison as simply wrong-headed and therefore pointless. And for all its evident pre-occupation with death and the end of things, Tempest is in many respects the most far-reaching, provocative and transfixing album of Dylan's later career. Nothing about it suggests a sawnsong, adios or fond adieu.
'I ain't dead yet, my bell still rings' he sings on 'Early Roman Kings', and how loud and bright and strong that clariod toll yet sounds.


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PostPosted: Tue August 21st, 2012, 22:15 GMT 

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Even though Jones was guaranteed to give a rave review it does seem as if this is going to be a remarkable album!


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PostPosted: Tue August 21st, 2012, 22:16 GMT 

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thanx rg!


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PostPosted: Tue August 21st, 2012, 22:21 GMT 
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Great work! Thank you very much :D


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PostPosted: Tue August 21st, 2012, 23:33 GMT 
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Tin Angel is obviously the much vaunted sequel to Sweetheart Like You.


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PostPosted: Wed August 22nd, 2012, 00:34 GMT 
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Thanks. This line, "I think that when my back was turned, the whole world behind me burned," gave me chills, but that could because I was listening to the 1975 version of Never Let Me Go at the same time.


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PostPosted: Wed August 22nd, 2012, 00:46 GMT 
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I'll never forgive Allan Jones for the 5 star review he gave Together Through Life...left me slightly disappointed.


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PostPosted: Wed August 22nd, 2012, 02:53 GMT 
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For comparison's sake, here it is:


Bob Dylan had the devil of a time working on the soundtrack for Sam Peckinpah’s Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid, caught up in the director’s typically tempestuous war with the film’s producers over a movie they didn’t understand and eventually butchered, Dylan’s musical contributions suffering a similar fate in the fragmented version originally released in 1973.

Hollywood, though, has been kinder since to Bob. Asked in 2000 to write something for LA Confidential director Curtis Hanson’s Wonder Boys, he came up with “Things Have Changed”, his first new song since 1997’s Time Out Of Mind. It duly won him an Oscar and a Golden Globe – awards that could have as easily gone to “Cross The Green Mountain”, a sombre Civil War epic full of gloomy portent he wrote for 2003’s Gods And Generals. The song, however, was played over the closing credits of a film no-one went to see and before it was rehabilitated on last year’s Tell Tale Signs collection, was available only on a soundtrack CD hardly anyone had heard.

Now apparently we have another movie project to thank for not just a single song, but an entire album.
Last year, French filmmaker Olivier Dahan, director of Edith Piaf biopic La Vie En Rose, invited Dylan to write some songs for his new film, My Own Love Song, a romantic road movie of sorts starring Renée Zellweger and Forest Whitaker. Dylan responded with “Life Is Hard”, an aching ballad, mandolin, pedal steel and Dylan’s dark and wounded voice to the fore. Suddenly inspired, Dylan, as legend now insists, kept on writing and the next thing anyone knew he had nine more new songs and not long after that had finished the album, which is now upon us in all its rowdy glory.

It sounds pretty much like you hoped it would – like something recorded and written quickly, not quite on the hoof, but close to it, Dylan apparently eager to get these new songs down with a raw immediacy, which he largely has. My immediate opinion, since it seems that’s what’s required here, is that Together Through Life is in many respects as raffishly ebullient as any record Dylan has put his name to since The Basement Tapes. It was great to hear him sounding so wry and playful on, say, “Love And Theft”, an album of bountiful humour. But here Bob sounds like he’s having a ball in different ways, the joint jumping with him, everybody digging the groove, Dylan’s redoubtable touring band augmented by David Hidalgo from Los Lobos, whose accordion is featured just about everywhere, and Heartbreakers guitarist Mike Campbell. The album’s a gas, a riot, a hoot.

And this despite the disconsolate mood of key tracks and the hard look the album takes at what’s left of the world at the time of writing (“Widows cry, orphans bleed/Everywhere you look, there’s more misery”). There’s an inclination to see Dylan’s late songs – let’s say from Time Out Of Mind on – as largely preoccupied with mortality, principally his own, the general passing of things, among them youthful vigour, and the bad bits life has waiting for us, licking their chops. This is perhaps because of Time Out Of Mind’s “Not Dark Yet”, a great song that yet casts a somewhat distorted shadow over a lot that’s followed, as if it alone defines his later repertoire.
Much of Together Through Life can be seen as further unflinching reflection on life’s transience, it’s true, as Dylan dwells on time doing nothing but running out fast and the hostility of an unfriendly world, from whose clutches, repeatedly, the singer wants to escape – into dreams, memories, a past that haunts him, the arms of those he’s loved now lost to him.

The lyrics allude frequently to sinking suns, chilly winds, eternal loneliness, twilight reveries, final voyages to unspecified destinations, the seeping away of the day’s last light. But despite the admittedly bereft mood and musical voicings of songs like, say, “Life Is Hard” (the only example of the crooning vocal style latterly favoured by Dylan), “Forgetful Heart” (its stalking tempo reminiscent of “Ain’t Talkin’”), “This Dream Of You”(a fiddle-led waltz), or the gorgeous “I Feel A Change Coming On” (passingly reminiscent of “Workingman’s Blues #2”), the album can barely be described as mordant or particularly downbeat.

The record, you could say, in fact is characterised by a kind of boisterous fatalism, a stoic swagger that may remind you of the old blues dictum: “You might get better, but you’ll never get well.” By which is meant, I suppose, that while what’s waiting for us is nothing we’ll be especially happy about, there may yet be adventure and high old times in the getting there. In other words, if life is something we lose, the least we can do is make the noisy most of it.

Thus, blues romps like “Jolene” and “Shake Mama Shake” share a carnal jauntiness, full of rollicking good humour, sound more sulphuric, less formal than their comparatively more stately equivalents on Modern Times, “Rollin’ And Tumblin” and “Someday Baby”. Opener “Beyond Here Lies Nothing” does much to set the rambunctious tone of a lot that follows, Hidalgo’s accordion fronting a flurry of horns, tumbling drums and a wonderfully lithe instrumental groove, Dylan’s vocal gloriously growly.

The sardonic “My Wife’s Hometown”, meanwhile, is another stripped down blues, at once wry and exclamatory, as cracked and leathery as an old saddle or the nag it sits upon. On the sheerly irresistible Texas jump of “If You Ever Go To Houston”, the band are uncommonly lively company, powered by Hidalgo’s riffing accordion and kicking up the dust like people who turn up at a party and before you know it are blowing doors off their hinges, juggling cats and running around with their hair on fire, that kind of crowd. “If you ever go to Austin, Fort Worth or San Anton’,” Dylan sings, “Find the barrooms I got lost in and send my memories home”.
The album’s inclination towards bleak humour finds its most vivid expression on darkly ironic closer, “It’s All Good”, a litany of personal and national woe on which Dylan takes a jaundiced look at the republic – “Big politician tellin’ lies/Restaurant kitchen all full of flies” – and finds little to admire, much that draws his contempt.

More scholarly types than myself are already hovering over Together Through Life, no doubt to tell us from which obscure blues or classical source Dylan has imported lyrics (“Beyond Here Lies Nothing” is apparently a quote from Ovid, a very funny couplet in “My Wife’s Hometown” is evidently derived from Chaucer). I’ll cheerfully leave them to it, turn the record up real loud and shake this mama one more time.

ALLAN JONES


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PostPosted: Wed August 22nd, 2012, 03:08 GMT 
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smoke wrote:
For comparison's sake, here it is:


Bob Dylan had the devil of a time working on the soundtrack for Sam Peckinpah’s Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid, caught up in the director’s typically tempestuous war with the film’s producers over a movie they didn’t understand and eventually butchered, Dylan’s musical contributions suffering a similar fate in the fragmented version originally released in 1973.

Hollywood, though, has been kinder since to Bob. Asked in 2000 to write something for LA Confidential director Curtis Hanson’s Wonder Boys, he came up with “Things Have Changed”, his first new song since 1997’s Time Out Of Mind. It duly won him an Oscar and a Golden Globe – awards that could have as easily gone to “Cross The Green Mountain”, a sombre Civil War epic full of gloomy portent he wrote for 2003’s Gods And Generals. The song, however, was played over the closing credits of a film no-one went to see and before it was rehabilitated on last year’s Tell Tale Signs collection, was available only on a soundtrack CD hardly anyone had heard.

Now apparently we have another movie project to thank for not just a single song, but an entire album.
Last year, French filmmaker Olivier Dahan, director of Edith Piaf biopic La Vie En Rose, invited Dylan to write some songs for his new film, My Own Love Song, a romantic road movie of sorts starring Renée Zellweger and Forest Whitaker. Dylan responded with “Life Is Hard”, an aching ballad, mandolin, pedal steel and Dylan’s dark and wounded voice to the fore. Suddenly inspired, Dylan, as legend now insists, kept on writing and the next thing anyone knew he had nine more new songs and not long after that had finished the album, which is now upon us in all its rowdy glory.

It sounds pretty much like you hoped it would – like something recorded and written quickly, not quite on the hoof, but close to it, Dylan apparently eager to get these new songs down with a raw immediacy, which he largely has. My immediate opinion, since it seems that’s what’s required here, is that Together Through Life is in many respects as raffishly ebullient as any record Dylan has put his name to since The Basement Tapes. It was great to hear him sounding so wry and playful on, say, “Love And Theft”, an album of bountiful humour. But here Bob sounds like he’s having a ball in different ways, the joint jumping with him, everybody digging the groove, Dylan’s redoubtable touring band augmented by David Hidalgo from Los Lobos, whose accordion is featured just about everywhere, and Heartbreakers guitarist Mike Campbell. The album’s a gas, a riot, a hoot.

And this despite the disconsolate mood of key tracks and the hard look the album takes at what’s left of the world at the time of writing (“Widows cry, orphans bleed/Everywhere you look, there’s more misery”). There’s an inclination to see Dylan’s late songs – let’s say from Time Out Of Mind on – as largely preoccupied with mortality, principally his own, the general passing of things, among them youthful vigour, and the bad bits life has waiting for us, licking their chops. This is perhaps because of Time Out Of Mind’s “Not Dark Yet”, a great song that yet casts a somewhat distorted shadow over a lot that’s followed, as if it alone defines his later repertoire.
Much of Together Through Life can be seen as further unflinching reflection on life’s transience, it’s true, as Dylan dwells on time doing nothing but running out fast and the hostility of an unfriendly world, from whose clutches, repeatedly, the singer wants to escape – into dreams, memories, a past that haunts him, the arms of those he’s loved now lost to him.

The lyrics allude frequently to sinking suns, chilly winds, eternal loneliness, twilight reveries, final voyages to unspecified destinations, the seeping away of the day’s last light. But despite the admittedly bereft mood and musical voicings of songs like, say, “Life Is Hard” (the only example of the crooning vocal style latterly favoured by Dylan), “Forgetful Heart” (its stalking tempo reminiscent of “Ain’t Talkin’”), “This Dream Of You”(a fiddle-led waltz), or the gorgeous “I Feel A Change Coming On” (passingly reminiscent of “Workingman’s Blues #2”), the album can barely be described as mordant or particularly downbeat.

The record, you could say, in fact is characterised by a kind of boisterous fatalism, a stoic swagger that may remind you of the old blues dictum: “You might get better, but you’ll never get well.” By which is meant, I suppose, that while what’s waiting for us is nothing we’ll be especially happy about, there may yet be adventure and high old times in the getting there. In other words, if life is something we lose, the least we can do is make the noisy most of it.

Thus, blues romps like “Jolene” and “Shake Mama Shake” share a carnal jauntiness, full of rollicking good humour, sound more sulphuric, less formal than their comparatively more stately equivalents on Modern Times, “Rollin’ And Tumblin” and “Someday Baby”. Opener “Beyond Here Lies Nothing” does much to set the rambunctious tone of a lot that follows, Hidalgo’s accordion fronting a flurry of horns, tumbling drums and a wonderfully lithe instrumental groove, Dylan’s vocal gloriously growly.

The sardonic “My Wife’s Hometown”, meanwhile, is another stripped down blues, at once wry and exclamatory, as cracked and leathery as an old saddle or the nag it sits upon. On the sheerly irresistible Texas jump of “If You Ever Go To Houston”, the band are uncommonly lively company, powered by Hidalgo’s riffing accordion and kicking up the dust like people who turn up at a party and before you know it are blowing doors off their hinges, juggling cats and running around with their hair on fire, that kind of crowd. “If you ever go to Austin, Fort Worth or San Anton’,” Dylan sings, “Find the barrooms I got lost in and send my memories home”.
The album’s inclination towards bleak humour finds its most vivid expression on darkly ironic closer, “It’s All Good”, a litany of personal and national woe on which Dylan takes a jaundiced look at the republic – “Big politician tellin’ lies/Restaurant kitchen all full of flies” – and finds little to admire, much that draws his contempt.

More scholarly types than myself are already hovering over Together Through Life, no doubt to tell us from which obscure blues or classical source Dylan has imported lyrics (“Beyond Here Lies Nothing” is apparently a quote from Ovid, a very funny couplet in “My Wife’s Hometown” is evidently derived from Chaucer). I’ll cheerfully leave them to it, turn the record up real loud and shake this mama one more time.

ALLAN JONES




couldnt have said it better myself, mr jones strikes gold once again, :wink:


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PostPosted: Wed August 22nd, 2012, 03:16 GMT 
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Thanks to the efforts of the posters for making the review possible to read.


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PostPosted: Wed August 22nd, 2012, 03:56 GMT 
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goombay wrote:
smoke wrote:
For comparison's sake, here it is:


Bob Dylan had the devil of a time working on the soundtrack for Sam Peckinpah’s Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid, caught up in the director’s typically tempestuous war with the film’s producers over a movie they didn’t understand and eventually butchered, Dylan’s musical contributions suffering a similar fate in the fragmented version originally released in 1973.

Hollywood, though, has been kinder since to Bob. Asked in 2000 to write something for LA Confidential director Curtis Hanson’s Wonder Boys, he came up with “Things Have Changed”, his first new song since 1997’s Time Out Of Mind. It duly won him an Oscar and a Golden Globe – awards that could have as easily gone to “Cross The Green Mountain”, a sombre Civil War epic full of gloomy portent he wrote for 2003’s Gods And Generals. The song, however, was played over the closing credits of a film no-one went to see and before it was rehabilitated on last year’s Tell Tale Signs collection, was available only on a soundtrack CD hardly anyone had heard.

Now apparently we have another movie project to thank for not just a single song, but an entire album.
Last year, French filmmaker Olivier Dahan, director of Edith Piaf biopic La Vie En Rose, invited Dylan to write some songs for his new film, My Own Love Song, a romantic road movie of sorts starring Renée Zellweger and Forest Whitaker. Dylan responded with “Life Is Hard”, an aching ballad, mandolin, pedal steel and Dylan’s dark and wounded voice to the fore. Suddenly inspired, Dylan, as legend now insists, kept on writing and the next thing anyone knew he had nine more new songs and not long after that had finished the album, which is now upon us in all its rowdy glory.

It sounds pretty much like you hoped it would – like something recorded and written quickly, not quite on the hoof, but close to it, Dylan apparently eager to get these new songs down with a raw immediacy, which he largely has. My immediate opinion, since it seems that’s what’s required here, is that Together Through Life is in many respects as raffishly ebullient as any record Dylan has put his name to since The Basement Tapes. It was great to hear him sounding so wry and playful on, say, “Love And Theft”, an album of bountiful humour. But here Bob sounds like he’s having a ball in different ways, the joint jumping with him, everybody digging the groove, Dylan’s redoubtable touring band augmented by David Hidalgo from Los Lobos, whose accordion is featured just about everywhere, and Heartbreakers guitarist Mike Campbell. The album’s a gas, a riot, a hoot.

And this despite the disconsolate mood of key tracks and the hard look the album takes at what’s left of the world at the time of writing (“Widows cry, orphans bleed/Everywhere you look, there’s more misery”). There’s an inclination to see Dylan’s late songs – let’s say from Time Out Of Mind on – as largely preoccupied with mortality, principally his own, the general passing of things, among them youthful vigour, and the bad bits life has waiting for us, licking their chops. This is perhaps because of Time Out Of Mind’s “Not Dark Yet”, a great song that yet casts a somewhat distorted shadow over a lot that’s followed, as if it alone defines his later repertoire.
Much of Together Through Life can be seen as further unflinching reflection on life’s transience, it’s true, as Dylan dwells on time doing nothing but running out fast and the hostility of an unfriendly world, from whose clutches, repeatedly, the singer wants to escape – into dreams, memories, a past that haunts him, the arms of those he’s loved now lost to him.

The lyrics allude frequently to sinking suns, chilly winds, eternal loneliness, twilight reveries, final voyages to unspecified destinations, the seeping away of the day’s last light. But despite the admittedly bereft mood and musical voicings of songs like, say, “Life Is Hard” (the only example of the crooning vocal style latterly favoured by Dylan), “Forgetful Heart” (its stalking tempo reminiscent of “Ain’t Talkin’”), “This Dream Of You”(a fiddle-led waltz), or the gorgeous “I Feel A Change Coming On” (passingly reminiscent of “Workingman’s Blues #2”), the album can barely be described as mordant or particularly downbeat.

The record, you could say, in fact is characterised by a kind of boisterous fatalism, a stoic swagger that may remind you of the old blues dictum: “You might get better, but you’ll never get well.” By which is meant, I suppose, that while what’s waiting for us is nothing we’ll be especially happy about, there may yet be adventure and high old times in the getting there. In other words, if life is something we lose, the least we can do is make the noisy most of it.

Thus, blues romps like “Jolene” and “Shake Mama Shake” share a carnal jauntiness, full of rollicking good humour, sound more sulphuric, less formal than their comparatively more stately equivalents on Modern Times, “Rollin’ And Tumblin” and “Someday Baby”. Opener “Beyond Here Lies Nothing” does much to set the rambunctious tone of a lot that follows, Hidalgo’s accordion fronting a flurry of horns, tumbling drums and a wonderfully lithe instrumental groove, Dylan’s vocal gloriously growly.

The sardonic “My Wife’s Hometown”, meanwhile, is another stripped down blues, at once wry and exclamatory, as cracked and leathery as an old saddle or the nag it sits upon. On the sheerly irresistible Texas jump of “If You Ever Go To Houston”, the band are uncommonly lively company, powered by Hidalgo’s riffing accordion and kicking up the dust like people who turn up at a party and before you know it are blowing doors off their hinges, juggling cats and running around with their hair on fire, that kind of crowd. “If you ever go to Austin, Fort Worth or San Anton’,” Dylan sings, “Find the barrooms I got lost in and send my memories home”.
The album’s inclination towards bleak humour finds its most vivid expression on darkly ironic closer, “It’s All Good”, a litany of personal and national woe on which Dylan takes a jaundiced look at the republic – “Big politician tellin’ lies/Restaurant kitchen all full of flies” – and finds little to admire, much that draws his contempt.

More scholarly types than myself are already hovering over Together Through Life, no doubt to tell us from which obscure blues or classical source Dylan has imported lyrics (“Beyond Here Lies Nothing” is apparently a quote from Ovid, a very funny couplet in “My Wife’s Hometown” is evidently derived from Chaucer). I’ll cheerfully leave them to it, turn the record up real loud and shake this mama one more time.

ALLAN JONES




couldnt have said it better myself, mr jones strikes gold once again, :wink:


There's nothing wrong with that review.


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PostPosted: Wed August 22nd, 2012, 04:20 GMT 

Joined: Mon January 28th, 2008, 22:49 GMT
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Mr_matt wrote:
I'll never forgive Allan Jones for the 5 star review he gave Together Through Life...left me slightly disappointed.


Mr. Matt,

When I read that Jones gave TTL a "5 star review" I presumed, naturally, that the rating was 5/5. However, I read the review at the Uncut site and there the scale is specified as being out of 10. 5/10 hardly seems like an over-the-top review. Can you elaborate why you would never forgive Jones for what he wrote?


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PostPosted: Wed August 22nd, 2012, 04:26 GMT 
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I think that this has been pointed out a few times now, but the 5/10 on the site is incorrect. Allan Jones gave TTL a 5/5 review in the magazine when first published, so it has simply been entered wrongly into the website since they have changed their grading system to out of 10.

I like TTL and think for the most part it's a fun record, but by no means is it 5/5 material. 3/5 seems fair.


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PostPosted: Wed August 22nd, 2012, 04:27 GMT 

Joined: Mon January 28th, 2008, 22:49 GMT
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Nappy wrote:
I think that this has been pointed out a few times now, but the 5/10 on the site is incorrect. Allan Jones gave TTL a 5/5 review in the magazine when first published, so it has simply been entered wrongly into the website since they have changed their grading system to out of 10.


Thanks for the clarification, Nappy.


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PostPosted: Wed August 22nd, 2012, 07:26 GMT 
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As a fan of the album, I found myself agreeing with most of Jones' review.


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PostPosted: Wed August 22nd, 2012, 11:13 GMT 
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As Nappy said, I like the record but it's not a 5/5 - I think most would agree, or am I wrong? I mean 5/5 is top of the scale, what one would give Blood on the tracks or Love and Theft. He does seem even more enthusiastic about Tempest, but it's good to have some perspective. I'm in serious danger of being let down by this album even if it's really good, such have been the reviews.


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PostPosted: Wed August 22nd, 2012, 13:00 GMT 

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Just how accurate this Tempest review proves to be remains to be seen.

What is crystal clear, however, is that Allan Jones is a dream come true for marketing types at Sony BMG, in terms of the first cab off the rank with a fully fledged review. For example, unless I overlooked it, there is simply no mention whatsoever of the quality of Bob Dylan's voice. It is true that ERK and the snippet of Scarlet Town offer some glimmers of hope that his singing is as good as can be expected, however, it just seems odd not to mention such a basic matter as voice.

I want to believe this review is a fair reflection of the album, but I am girding myself against the possibility that raised expectations will be shot to pieces when all is revealed.


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PostPosted: Wed August 22nd, 2012, 13:13 GMT 
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Hatmatter wrote:
Mr_matt wrote:
I'll never forgive Allan Jones for the 5 star review he gave Together Through Life...left me slightly disappointed.


Mr. Matt,

When I read that Jones gave TTL a "5 star review" I presumed, naturally, that the rating was 5/5. However, I read the review at the Uncut site and there the scale is specified as being out of 10. 5/10 hardly seems like an over-the-top review. Can you elaborate why you would never forgive Jones for what he wrote?


Up until recently Uncut used to review albums using 'stars' from 1 to 5, much like Q and Mojo still do, so yeah he basically gave the album a ridiculous 10/10.


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PostPosted: Wed August 22nd, 2012, 13:38 GMT 
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a) Advertising is part of his job.

b) Many here, when listening to a new Dylan record only once and for the first time, would likely be equally impressed. I liked it the first time around, because it was new and fresh Dylan. It didn't last long, but....


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PostPosted: Wed August 22nd, 2012, 14:02 GMT 
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I wonder if he admits as freely that his job is to provide ad copy.


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PostPosted: Wed August 22nd, 2012, 15:12 GMT 
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smoke wrote:
I wonder if he admits as freely that his job is to provide ad copy.



its not like everybody gets 10 stars, besides there is a strong possibility that if hed given the record one star, circulation would have exploded :shock:


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PostPosted: Wed August 22nd, 2012, 15:15 GMT 
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smoke wrote:
I wonder if he admits as freely that his job is to provide ad copy.


They all want to remain on the list. It's a pretty big list this time around.


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PostPosted: Wed August 22nd, 2012, 15:24 GMT 

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That TTL review is OK except for one thing: he fails to mention that this is a very minor and flawed (if enjoyable) Dylan album. To his credit, he does implictly damp down expectations by citing its throwaway origins and presenting it as a rave-up. But that doesn't excuse 'Jolene,' the tiresome accordion on 'Houston,' or the mediocre writing at key points of 'All Good' and 'Change Coming On.' One looks in vain for a bluntly critical remark despite there being ample grounds for a few.

What this suggests is that, based on this review, we'd be best to dial back expectations for Tempest from great Dylan album (which his review gushingly says it is) to a 'merely' good Dylan album. If this guy makes you think it's BOTT, then it's really Desire, so to speak.


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PostPosted: Wed August 22nd, 2012, 15:44 GMT 
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Quote:
Lone Pilgrim wrote:
That TTL review is OK except for one thing: he fails to mention that this is a very minor and flawed (if enjoyable) Dylan album. To his credit, he does implictly damp down expectations by citing its throwaway origins and presenting it as a rave-up. But that doesn't excuse 'Jolene,' the tiresome accordion on 'Houston,' or the mediocre writing at key points of 'All Good' and 'Change Coming On.' One looks in vain for a bluntly critical remark despite there being ample grounds for a few.


maybe he failed to mention because what he wrote is what he felt. :shock:
i know that i agree with his insights and may have even gone as far as giving TTL a couple of extra stars and i aint getting paid or getting any ad copy. :wink:


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