It used to be that I would give my ‘60’s musical icons lots of leeway in regards to anything they would release in the present day. McCartney, Wilson, Stones, you get the picture. My reasoning being that they gave us enough great stuff, so that anything else they do should be looked at as if we’re lucky to still have them around. Around 10 years ago or so, Bob Dylan laid waste to that line of thinking by releasing a run of albums that arguably approach the quality and timelessness of even his best work. Although Time Out Of Mind suffered in my opinion from the broad brush strokes of Daniel Lanois’s production, it was still the best batch of Dylan songs in a dog’s age. Plus it won a “Best Album” grammy, so what the hell do I know. Proving this was no fluke, Bob followed up with the immaculate Love And Theft, and then the beautifully bluesy Modern Times. This trilogy of records proves that ‘60s icons can in fact create vital works of art if they decide to get off their ass and do so.
I’m embarrassed to say while writing a Dylan piece that I have not heard his latest, Together Through Life, as of yet, but I have heard that it’s solid, if not spectacular. Off the heels of this, Bob’s next move is to release a Christmas album towards the middle of next month. With all the proceeds going to charity, and his recent run of solid records it would be more than ok for Dylan to “mail this one in”. Fat chance. If the 30 second sound clips recently uploaded onto Amazon.com are any indication, this record is destined to be a Christmas classic. What shines through here initially is a steadfast loyalty to THE SONGS. All of the arrangements are traditional, all instruments organic. No attempt is made to try and put forth a musical style. By taking this approach, Dylan appears to have created something timeless in a vein where timelessness is all too often the exception and not the norm. Honestly, we shouldn’t be surprised.