114 of 128 people found the following review helpful
Hardly 'modern' but it's another good one,
This review is from: Modern Times (Audio CD)
Since Time Out Of Mind, us Dylan fans can be proud again to admit that we're fans of the new stuff, not just classic Dylan. Modern Times is his third in a streak of impeccable releases. The latest is a return to the styles Dylan introduced in Love and Theft-- country-blues and smart rockabilly. As with the most recent album, Dylan (aka Jack Frost) produced Modern Times; as such its feeling is closest to Love and Theft-- warmly personal, like listening to the band in a small nightclub.
The songs are longer, the lyrics arguably more memorable and there's a few more down-tempo ballads. Contrary to the popular notion that Dylan's voice is incomprehensible (probably owing to his horrible performance at his 30th anniversary concert), the singing is so clean you can understand everything without the benefit of a lyric sheet.
As I said, the songs are longer: the shortest is 4:58, the longest over eight minutes. Dylan borrows from blues standards on Rollin' and Tumblin' and The Levee's Gonna Break (no, he doesn't cover Led Zeppelin :), but liberally infuses a brilliant mess of his own lyricism. When the Deal Goes Down and Workingman's Blues, especially the latter, are his best ballads in decades. All in all, its not as forceful as Love and Theft. It's not as surprising as that album was, but hardly less of a masterpiece. His lyrics have gotten sharper and wittier, jumping out at you at odd moments with silly innuendos, jokes about getting old, an Alicia Keys name-drop, countless thought-provoking one-liners and an all-around optimistic glow. Altogether, it's friendlier and more fun that the last two releases; it might be Dylan's most 'personable' album since, well, 'Another Side...' or 'Self-Portrait.' The last track, Ain't Talkin' is reminiscent, stylistically, of Time Out of Mind's opener, though it's probably coincidental. Dylan sings, 'Ain't Walkin', Ain't Talkin' in the same tone as Love Sick's lyric 'I'm Walkin', bringing what Columbia's been labeling a 'trilogy', full-circle.
Though reviewers elsewhere have said that Modern Times is unlikely to impress non-fans, I can't imagine how anyone couldn't enjoy the heart-wrenching warmth and sagacious wit flaunted by Dylan and his band. Dylan's last two albums and his live shows, on the other hand, are denser affairs, more tuned to the mind of the familiar fan, but, similar in appeal to, but greater in quality than, Johnny Cash's later recordings for American Records, Modern Times is Bob Dylan singing for everybody. And just as well, those who've stuck with Dylan over the years and listened with awe to Time Out of Mind are going to keep Modern Times out next to the CD player for quite awhile.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Feb 15, 2007 3:10:04 AM PST
Stephen Ebrey says:
I disagree that Dylan's recent recordings are better than Cash's American ones. Cash's voice became warmer and deeper as he aged, which combined with Rick Ruben's phenomenal production on those CDs made them his best outside of the classic prison concerts. Dylan's voice, on the other hand, has always been raspy and did not need age to make it more interesting. Rather, his voice has become thinner in old age. I don't agree with people who say Dylan has always had a bad singing voice, but the complaint is partly true nowadays.
In reply to an earlier post on Mar 21, 2007 8:54:41 PM PDT
Just to clarify, I loved all five of those American discs. I guess I need to clarify my position to myself as much as to you: the vocal qualities are beside the point; I'm referring more to the creative nuances of Dylan's recordings in comparison to Cash's. Cash's recordings 'were what they were', but they wouldn't stand up as well outside of Cash's legacy. They were, in large, contemporary music seen through the unlikely eyes of our grandfather's (or father's) contemporaries who, we would think, would never give U2 and Nine Inch Nails a second glance. On the other hand, on a large portion of those tracks, you're definitely correct-- his voice was warmer and more sympathetic to the meaning of the music than even the original artists were (e.g. Bonnie Prince Billy's 'I saw a darkness') and they were some really mindblowing performances. So I guess my criticism stems entirely from the vantage point of Dylan's intention, which is to stay fresh and innovative, while embracing the old music they both loved and knew really well. Cash wasn't trying to innovate, just make a great recording, which he did, but Dylan did both.
Anyway, that's my opinion....
Posted on Jul 4, 2007 3:14:57 PM PDT
D. Ashton says:
"Though reviewers elsewhere have said that Modern Times is unlikely to impress non-fans.."
I must disagree with the reviewers that make the above statement. I am in no way a Dylan fan. Although I know his voice, I could not name a single song title.
After hearing 'Thunder on the Mountain" the first time, I had to hear the whole CD. And the whole CD is excellent. The music, lyrics and Dylans voice are excellent.
And as a point of referance, I usually listen to hard rock and metal. So 'Modern Times' is a great CD even to me.
EVERYONE should give 'Modern Times' a listen.
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