176 of 192 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dylan's roadhouse blues--dark, rowdy, haunting, and among his latter-day best
There's been no singer-songwriter in the near 60-year history of rock music who's a better storyteller than Bob Dylan. He proved it with his (now legendary) humble folk beginnings, and he continues to prove it today, as evidenced by the very dark, very epic 'Tempest,' an album that can proudly stand next to the best of his post-'Blood on the Tracks' repertoire...
Published 23 months ago by Jack Tripper
75 of 107 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not a wild, but rickety, ride
Bob Dylan is on cruise control. At the age of 71, he still tours relentlessly. And he records new albums about as quickly as your great-grandfather can peruse his collection of pre-prohibition vinyl records. He's like an old, rickety car making its way down the highway on fumes, puttering on with no sign of what'll give first: the engine, or that old tape-deck...
Published 23 months ago by Amazon Customer
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176 of 192 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dylan's roadhouse blues--dark, rowdy, haunting, and among his latter-day best,
There's been no singer-songwriter in the near 60-year history of rock music who's a better storyteller than Bob Dylan. He proved it with his (now legendary) humble folk beginnings, and he continues to prove it today, as evidenced by the very dark, very epic 'Tempest,' an album that can proudly stand next to the best of his post-'Blood on the Tracks' repertoire.
After a somewhat lean 1980's and even leaner early-mid 90's as far as quality output from Dylan, he's now in the midst of a pretty remarkable 15-year renaissance beginning with 1997's near-perfect 'Time Out of Mind.' Every album in that span has been extremely well-received and critically-acclaimed--with only '09's 'Together Through Life' receiving even the mildest of criticisms--and I have a pretty strong feeling this trend will continue with his latest. As someone who's been slightly burnt-out on Dylan over the past few years, I think it's safe to say he won't be coming out of my rotation anytime in the foreseeable future.
Right out of the gate his larynx sounds utterly destroyed on the swingin,' country-jukebox dance-floor number, "Duquesne Whistle," but that doesn't take anything away from the song. In fact, it adds a certain kind of charm, giving Dylan a swagger that's been wholly earned through his 50 years of musical storytelling and lessons. His voice is one that demands to be listened to--now as much as ever. And I dare you to stay still in your seat during this track.
After bringing it down a notch with the tender ballad, "Soon After Midnight," Dylan kicks it back into first with the rowdy Chicago blues stomp of "Narrow Way," and when his weary, gravelly voice spouts "It's a long road, it's a long and narrow way," you believe him wholeheartedly. And later, when he sings "I pay in blood, but not my own" on "Pay in Blood," you almost wish you didn't believe, so convincing are his words. "Scarlet Town" is one of Dylan's most haunting, most beautifully hypnotic songs of his career, and even at seven-plus minutes, it feels too short.
"Early Roman Kings" is another blues number, copping the oft-used and instantly recognizable "Mannish Boy" riff that Muddy Waters made famous six decades ago, and to good effect, but the centerpiece of the album is undoubtedly the 14-minute title track, a 45-verse waltz recounting, in Dylan's inimitable way, the Titanic disaster of 1912. He does justice to the victims of that tragedy, putting his heart and soul into each and every verse, even while slyly dropping "Leo" and "Rose" into the song, obvious references to James Cameron's 1997 blockbuster. The first time I heard it, I thought it ran a bit long, and had to control my urge to skip ahead. The next time I just drifted off and let Dylan bring me into his world, into HIS version of the event, and the result was powerful--even moving.
The album, while mostly filled with revenge and redemption-themed songs, closes on a much prettier note with "Roll On John," a loving tribute to John Lennon. Being the last of three straight epic, somewhat meandering tracks, one would think the listener would grow weary by this point, but that could not be further from the truth. This was another one that had to grow on me--as it initially seemed directionless and weirdly sung--but I soon viewed it to be one of the most beautiful, touching moments of Dylan's entire oeuvre, even quoting Lennon himself with "I heard the news today, oh boy," referring to his 1980 assassination.
It's a fitting, perfect end to what could be argued is his most impressive and consistent effort since 2001's 'Love and Theft,' possibly even since 'Time Out of Mind' from four years prior, though not quite on the level of that, or his 60's and 70's classics, imo. But that would be asking too much. There aren't many artists who've remained as relevant as he has for fifty years and thirty-five albums, while at the same time continually putting out such strikingly original work.
My hope is that he'll continue to do so for another decade, at least. But I count myself--and the world at large--as fortunate to have had him around for any length of time at all.
4.5 out of 5
50 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars When the curtain falls, all on the stage lie dead,
It seems possible that Bob Dylan will gain new fans with this album. Roll on John, the last track, is a highly accessible tribute to John Lennon, mixing-in some lines closely associated with John both as a solo artist and as one of the Beatles. The tune too, and Bob's rendering of it on piano are reminiscent of John's style. The track before that, Tempest, about the sinking of the Titanic, also has easy appeal through its theme and a tune that reflects the triumph of "All the lords and ladies heading for the eternal shore". The tune of course also serves to counterpoint the tragedy of those who "drowned upon the staircase of brass and polished gold" and the "dead bodies floating in the double bottomed hull".
Now you've got a taste for it, start the CD from the beginning and enjoy Duquesne Whistle, with its distinctive old-style intro and an absolutely first rate shuffle arrangement that clearly the musicians themselves found a lot of fun. Continue to Soon After Midnight, a gentle ballad with some truly beautiful words, and some that might puzzle at first ("I've been down on the killing floors" and "I'll drag his corpse through the mud"). Explanation (maybe): Bob's in the Deep South; New Orleans, perhaps, or Atlanta? Both these tunes pass the old grey whistle test - i.e. are catchy enough for the old chap on the door to be heard whistling them.
While we're picking out the pretty tunes, let's try the descending scale of Long and Wasted Years. As ever, though, beware of the pretty tune. Behind this one is as bleak a picture of failed marriage as was ever put in song.
There are two twelve bar blues songs on the album, Narrow Way and Early Roman Kings. The key to Early Roman Kings is not Romulus and his 8th to 6th Century BCE successors, but a 1960's New York City gang. The words of Narrow Way remind me of From a Buick 6 on the Highway 61 Revisited album; Bob seems to have hit on another junkyard angel. The words at first seem inconsequential - not a lot more than something to fit the music - but then they coalesce and do after all have meaning.
Scarlet Town again has a very full and interesting instrumental backing, even including an instrumental break, which most of the songs here do not. The words describe a place that certainly isn't heaven, "The streets have names that you can't pronounce. Gold is down to a quarter of an ounce", but it doesn't seem to be Hell either, just another wretched place here on earth. This is the song in which the lyric police have found lines that owe something to the 19th Century 'Fireside' poet John Greenleaf Whittier. I have no argument with that; it adds to the richness of Bob's work and the experience of not only listening to it but following-up the many leads to other music and literature. (In amongst the Lennon quotes in Roll on John, by the way, is some William Blake.)
I have left Pay in Blood and Tin Angel until last. In Pay in Blood, Bob has come to bury, not to praise:-
"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?
You bastard! I'm suppose to respect you?
I'll give you justice, I'll fatten your purse,
Show me your moral virtues first."
Those are mighty tough words, and yet "I pay in blood, but it's not my own" and more than a few other lines are surely Christian New Testament references (with a renewed visit to Bob's earlier theme - in Foot of Pride - of the uncertain or mixed parentage of Jesus). It's deep, very deep.
And so, as a total verbal and musical experience, is Tin Angel. Again Bob is dredging the depths of human experience; this time betrayal in love, confrontation, murder and suicide. When the curtain falls, all on the stage lie dead.
I won't go down the road of comparison with other Bob Dylan albums. All are different, and in my view he never yet made a bad one (Yes, really!). Tempest stands on its own, and it most certainly does stand, not fall. Some may be easier to get in to, but, as I have written, there is much here that will be attractive to those who have not previously been touched by Dylan. There is also an absolute feast for those of us who have already travelled a very long way with him.
129 of 151 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great CD, But...,
Great Music but don't waste your money on the "Limited Edition" All you get for the extra $7.00
is a cheesy booklet.Not even glossy photos.
Buy the basic CD. If you like Dylan you will like it.
59 of 71 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars AT 71, DYLAN IS THE COOLEST GUY ON PLANET,
This review is from: Tempest (Deluxe Limited Edition) (Audio CD)
This is one of Dylan's best albums. It rates up there with the best of his later works - TOOM, L&T, MT and easily rates up there with HW61, BOOT and BOB. Every cut on this album is great. 'Duquesne Whistle' is a great Bob Wills type of country swing - 'Soon After Midnight' sounds like a 1930's crooner song, but if you listen closely - the singer is stalking this woman. Narrow Way takes a Bo Carter/Mississippi Sheiks line "You'll Work Down To Me Someday" and builds a rocking cut that will definitely be played in many concerts of his Never Ending Tour. 'Long and Wasted Years' is talked by Bob and seems to me to be the couple from Brownsville Girl, 30-years later. 'Pay In Blood' is as angry as other Dylan classics such as "...Rolling Stone" or "Idiot Wind". One of the best songs on this album! Next is 'Scarlet Town'. I will say nothing about this song except listen to his voice and the lyrics. Haunting. An instant Dylan classic. 'Early Roman Kings' is Muddy Water's 'Mannish Boy' tune - but wow - what a great cut. Rocking, electric blues - again, destined for many Dylan concerts. 'Tin Angel' is another haunting killing song. His voice never sounded better (the rougher his voice is - the better). "Tempest' is 48 verses with no hook, telling the story (Dylan's version) of the sinking of the Titanic. It's a horror story - but his voice almost seems happy. It's one of those great Dylan curveball songs. Last cut on album is 'Roll On, John'. If you are a Lennon fan - Bob's voice and lyrics will give you chills. TEMPEST is a classic.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Songs from the Twilight,
This review is from: Tempest (MP3 Music)
There's so much more we know and think about when we get older. At 20, we are idealistic and hopeful. In our 40's, we know a little more how the world works with it's gifts and disappointments. At 71, Bod Dylan embodies a man in his twilight years reflecting on what most people do in that stage; life, death, and memories of lost friends. I enjoy recent Dylan as much as early Dylan, for the mere reason that he is still getting it done. On a completely different level, yes, but it is still good; a soundtrack for life. On the song "Long and Wasted Years", he sounds like an older man rambling about things gone by, relationships wasted; just like he's rattling off random thoughts to an old friend - it is one of the real charmers for me on this record. Dylan is not trying to sound like anything or anyone - he just tells stories from where he is right now. I wonder what would happen if The Rolling Stones made a record that sounded like where they are in life now, as opposed to trying to sound like the fresh faced rockers who invaded this country in the 60's? "Tempest" is something you have to buy and invest time in - just listening to the samples and making judgements won't work for this great collection of songs.
22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For True Believers Only,
Tempest is, admittedly, for those who Joan Baez calls "True Believers" only. If this is your first exposure to Bob, the odds of your becoming an instant fan are a million to one. This album is for those of us who have never heard a 1 or 2 star Dylan album. Even his arguable "worst" albums offered up gems like Brownsville Girl and Silvio.
My very first reaction was, "Why all this gratuitous violence?" but I got over that in no time. I think it's at least as good as Love & Theft, perhaps better. Then again, my "favorite" Dylan output changes all the time.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that Duquesne Whistle might be, lyrically, the weakest song on the entire album. And it didn't take long to figure out that the bizarre video had more to do with the album than that song. Narrow Way is about, I read elsewhere -- his critics? Maybe, but as always he speaks on many levels. The If-I-can't-get-up-to-you, you-have-to-come-down-to-me line is just as much about all of his relationships - Critics? Yes. God? Yes. Lovers? Absolutely. Expectations be damned. This is a reminder that he's "got nothing more to live up to." And speaking of critics, and his voice, I think his biggest slap at them is the satisfaction on his face as he sucks his stogie on the inside cover, bringing his tobacco and whiskey drenched throat to the level of perfection they so despise.
The melodies generally go where I would not expect. I'm no musician, but the songs are performed in unusual keys. Flat notes. Minor chords. High notes where you expect low and vice versa. Clapton once said that was Dylan's genius, and it shows here. Not much you can dance to here unless you want to waltz along with Tempest or jerk awkwardly to Whistle. Listen to Muddy Waters' Mannish Boy. Then listen to Early Roman Kings. Love or Theft? Probably both, except he returns to the scene of an earlier crime. This is the song where Muddy growled, "I'm a rolling stone."
Lyrically, he swipes not obscure, but classic lines from Paul Simon's Feelin' Groovy, and from the Beatles: Twist & Shout, A Day in the Life, The Ballad of John and Yoko, and Come Together. Three of these are in obvious homage to Lennon, and I am sure there are several more that I missed.
Women. These are not the same creatures in his earlier works who ache and have warehouse eyes and are mystical children and who he splits with on dark sad nights or make him lonesome when they go. Nope. Tempest is populated with wenches and bitches and hags and flat-chested junky whores. And murderers. By the way, I wonder what the body count is when you put all these songs together?
Tempest, the song, is both a waltz and an Irish sea chantey; he even chops off his words like an Irish troubador every time he brings up the dreamin' watchman. Soon after Midnight is baffling; I'm not sure who killed Two-Timing Slim ("whoever heard of him?") but his corpse was dragged through the mud. I LOVE Long and Wasted Years. The repetitive seven note descent into complacency. They cried. Therapeutic? Healing? Nope. "So much for tears." Pay in Blood ("but not my own") is vicious, disturbing, vengeful - in fact my adult son said he would not like to meet this psychopath in real life, the song is as close as he wants to get to the narrator of this madness.
Finally, at first listen I thought Roll on John was contrived and out of time and place on this album. Too gentle and saccharine. On second listen I appreciated the melody, but assumed this must be a decades-old outtake, rerecorded in his "new" voice (sarcasm intended). On third listen, I thought it was the most remarkable use of his voice on the album. Now it's the one song that is stuck in my head. Go figure.
If you've made it this far, I thank you. Now, if we can just get Tom Waits and Bob to sing some harmony at the next Grammies we're all set.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well Worth the Effort,
You never know what to expect from a new Dylan CD. That's good. Typically, I was a little lost in this one at first. The "hooks" are not your obvious radio type. But as others have said here, the more you listen to Tempest, the more hooked you may become. Subtleties of the music and the impressionistic-like lyrics start to settle in your brain as you listen. You carry them around. Such CDs for me are the best, the ones that take some time and effort.
Dylan in his last several works alludes often to earlier artists, particularly the old bluesmen, their styles and phrases. His creativity is not mere derivation, though. He makes the allusions work for him as tools to create his distinct and memorable own.
My favorites (as I write this) are "Duquesne Whistle," "Soon After Midnight" and "Narrow Way," the first three tracks. But the longer tracks that follow have begun to work for me too. Tempest is a little dark and severe through most, but with Dylanesque whimsy. It's not fluff. It's substantial. It's different, and well worth the effort - his and yours.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully inarticulate,
As a songwriter, this CD shows that Dylan is still among the very best. However, you will have to look for the lyrics online to catch what the lyrics are. The lyrics are not included with this CD and it will take some concentrated effort to figure out what they are from Dylan's vocals.
As to Dylan's singing, his apocalyptic mumble is perhaps both the best and worst thing about the album. There is something inherently enjoyable about Dylan's barely decipherable voice in this latter part of his career, but that voice hides the power of his amazing lyrics.
This CD begins with a little intro that belongs in one of Dylan's "Old Time Radio Shows", and then proceeds to sound like some ancient blues record that is so scratchy as to be barely understandable (and, again, it is not the recording but the voice that is barely understandable here).
Once you tease out what the lyrics are, you will find a wide range of subjects and metaphors worthy of Dylan's best. For me, "Pay in Blood" and the title track are the highlights of the album. The album closes with "Roll on John": Dylan's musings on John Lennon's life and death.
As to there only being 10 songs on this CD, the songs are long and there is no feeling of this being a `short' album.
This CD is both frustrating and fascinating, but after listening to it several times now, I have come to love it. Five Stars.
17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ....a storm still raging....,
In preparing myself for Bob Dylan's new album Tempest, I decided to re-run all his albums from Good As I've Been To You thru the present. Among other reasons, it helped display a consistency of standard throughout, a development into the present and a way to tune my hearing towards how Bob's voice is gradually aging. He's meticulous in how he chooses to use his voice as an instrument, well weathered and a bit rough hewn, a cross in approach between Howlin' Wolf, Pee Wee Russell's clarinet style and a midnight movie that takes place amid the cigar smoke and cognac of a leather backed lounge in black satin. Setting the placemat, we move forward:
First off, it is well commented how much death and carnage is displayed on this album. It starts off somewhat lighthearted and overtured in a quiet bit of western swing and then..WHAM! Into the dark undertones of Duquesne Whistle and the train is on one heckuva ride. A David Lynch style of a train tribute blues as backed up by the video...and we're off on a journey that takes us into dark corners of Scarlet Town, the atmosphere after Midnight, a bad romance that would leave Gaga quaking in her boots, nattily dressed Roman Kings that could be vampiric, mafioso, a combination thereof or just working for the Union. The country has an icon burning, a lover's trio is cut up and entombed....and Desolation Row becomes a quaint country lane. I have to admit that the title track of Titanic Tempestuation left me feeling lighthearted and feeling I was in an Irish pub where the Guinness pints were flowing freely and Gordon Lightfoot was off taking notes in a shade of humility. I enjoyed the scenescape thoroughly at the underlying overlying but not necessarily outright lying metaphors and the script they were playing from at work. That's part of the key....the song is almost like Bob Dylan's production of how he'd want a movie of the story to go...and why not? Everyone else including James Cameron has done so, so why not Bob? As far as I know, he's the only major music artist to tackle the ship's story on its centennial.
The closer and elegaic tribute to John Lennon was heartfelt and not maudlin and has brought a knot to my throat on each listen thus far. It is Bob at his most vulnerable and personal side, which isn't something a lot of people know what to do with. It is in keeping with the rest of the album and I vehemently disagree with all those who say the last two tracks kill the album. Sometimes things take 32 years to process, sometimes a 100,...sometimes 11 or various cominations within. Go figure Bob would take it upon himself on the 100th Anniversary of the fated White Star Liner to include his own particularly unique take on the saga and release the collection of songs on the 11th anniversary of another horrific day in our current timeline.
Scarlet Town sounds like a well hewn folk song....amazing. Tin Angel too....the story is horrifying in a way and it is almost a relief when Bob with a smile in his voice starts to regale the tale of the Titanic.....as I said, think Irish pub. There's a lot in this that is midnight music...to be sure. Roll On John could be playing over the closing credits to this CD, or being done at a dimly lit piano with a smoky haze. It all fits and regarding the length of the song Tempest...if Cameron can do a 3 hour story on the Titanic, a 15 minute song is right on par with it all, metaphorically and otherwise. Great album and well played overall. Kudos to the keyboard work by Bob on either piano or organ on the bulk of the album.
One last comment...I found it interesting that Bob in interviews mentioned his original impetus to do a religious album...and that does surface...not obviously, but thoroughly throughout too....and on almost every song, even if some of it is the darker aspect of spirituality and consequences therein. Lots of layers, but it is Dylan, so....you get more to chew on with each pass...and that's what makes it fun. :)
An amazing if dark toned odyssey....and I wish Bob many more years, many more albums and the enjoyment of the gift of his time to us....and kudos on the great band he's been honing as well. Bravo!
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best albums of the 21st century so far -- better than 'Together Through Life' and 'Modern Times,' if that is possible,
When I'd heard that Bob Dylan was releasing an album in September this past summer, I was stoked. Ecstatic. This was already a great year for music (with The Beach Boys, Van Halen, and Neil Young all releasing great albums this year), but it got a whole lot better when Columbia announced the release of 'Tempest.' I immediately pre-ordered my copy here on Amazon without thinking twice -- this was an album I was going to listen to for the duration of the year and really get into.
So the day came, and I received the album. I had heard 'Duquesne Whistle' and snippets of a few other songs, and I had really liked what I heard. So, my expectations were relatively high for the album -- surely it wouldn't be as good as 'Together Through Life' or 'Modern Times,' but it was in all likelihood going to be a good album. I put the album on my speaker, shut my eyes, and just listened.
"Wow" was the only word I could mutter when the album had ended. I sat in silence, stunned at the musical forcefield that was just bestowed upon me. Was it possible? At 71 years of age, has Dylan *really* created one of his best albums of his career? Maybe I was just so excited and so eager to have a new Dylan album to listen to that my judgment was being clouded. So I walked away and put the CD back into its cardboard sleeve and walked away for the night.
The next day, I listened to it again. Same setting -- a dark room, eyes shut, and the speaker aimed directly towards me. Wouldn't you know it but I liked the album better the second time around than I did the first, which is really saying something. And I would continue to play it day after day after day after day. It then hit me -- Dylan HAS released an album that is on par with his best albums.
Dylan's growl is as powerful and as moving as it has ever been. Here, Dylan tackles some great upbeat songs ('Early Roman Kings' is an incredible, Chicago-blues influenced piece of music -- it even "nicks" a bit or so from 'Mannish Boy,' the classic Muddy Waters cut) as well as some amazing slower songs ('Soon After Midnight' is the best ballad Dylan has done since 2006's 'Spirit on the Water').
But the highlight on this album is most definitely the 13+ minute title track. 'Tempest' was written about the Titanic, and includes some great references to the 1997 James Cameron film (with Leonardo DiCaprio, the film's star, having a few subtle namechecks thrown in). 'Tempest' is right up there with some of the great Dylan epics -- 'Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands,' 'Idiot Wind,' 'Highlands' and obviously 'Brownsville Girl,' and the poetry used on this track is classic Dylan.
A tribute to John Lennon is also featured. 'Roll on John,' not to be confused with the old folk song that Dylan covered very early on in his career (1961-1962, namely), is an extremely well-written tribute to the legendary Beatles member and it also features a few subtle references (namely a few lyrics from 'A Day in the Life'). The track is nearly 8-minutes, and Dylan's growl is on full display here.
Part of what makes 'Tempest' interesting are the song lengths. Only two songs clock in under 5 minutes on the entire album, and half of the songs are over the 6-minute mark. The total time for the album is 68 minutes -- quite impressive for a man that is over 70-years old and is concluding his 51st year as a recording artist. The tracks are so well-performed, however, that they don't feel long. And that's what makes 'Tempest' great. It doesn't feel like a long album -- you'll get so immersed in the songs that before you know it, 68 minutes has come and gone. That is a testament to just how great an artist Bob Dylan is.
Overall, if you have been hesitating to buy 'Tempest' (and I honestly have no idea why you would hesitate), get it immediately. This album (and I know this is a bold statement, but I sincerely believe it to be true) is a better album than 'Modern Times' and 'Together Through Life.' While both of those albums are masterpieces, this album is, hands down, among the best Dylan has ever recorded. And while I personally prefer "Love & Theft" (and judging how I feel about this album less than a month after its release, that could quickly change), that's not knocking this album in any way. 'Tempest' belongs in that elite group of Dylan albums -- 'Bringing it All Back Home,' 'Highway 61 Revisited,' 'Blonde on Blonde,' 'John Wesley Harding,' 'Blood on the Tracks,' 'Oh Mercy,' 'Time out of Mind,' etc. -- in essence, the "all-time classics."
Even if you are a casual fan of Bob Dylan, I can almost guarantee you you'll find something you like in 'Tempest.' There's something here for all Dylan fans. I cannot recommend 'Tempest' enough. I've got tickets to see Bob Dylan in Philadelphia on November 19 with Mark Knopfler (a long-time Dylan collaborator and Dire Straits' frontman), and boy, this CD has got me feeling pretty good about the quality of that show. Needless to say I'm psyched.
Highly, highly recommended. Not only one of Dylan's best albums of the 21st century (like I said, only "Love & Theft" beats it and only by a small margin), but one of the best albums to be released in the 21st century so far. Get this album immediately. You won't be sorry.
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