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ISSN 1409-6900 | UDK 82+7     Blesok no. 50 | volume IX | September-October, 2006



                     Peer-reviewed journal
Blesok no. 50September-October, 2006
Sound Reviews

Bob Dylan – Modern Times

p. 1
Joe Levy

    The new Dylan album starts with the voice of God in the mountains and the sound of pistols in the streets. Bad things are happening, and the ladies in Washington, D.C., are scrambling to get out of town. Dylan has ladies on his mind, too— Alicia Keys, who's forty years younger than he is yet worth chasing through the Tennessee Hills just the same, but also good women who do just what you say, and the wicked women who drain your heart and mind. War and love are in the air. It's time to get right with the Lord, maybe go back up north and try his hand at farming. But the pitchfork is on the shelf. The hammer is on the table. And from the sound of things, the hammer is coming down.
    That's “Thunder on the Mountain,” the first song on Modern Times, Dylan's thirty-first studio record and his third straight masterwork. Modern Times was cut in New York over the course of a little more than a month with Dylan's road band, which had a mere 113 shows of the Never Ending Tour under its belt. The songs are almost evenly divided between blues ready-mades, old-timey two-steps and stately marches full of prophecy. The band—seasoned by night after night of responding to the spontaneous reinvention that makes Dylan's shows the longest-running miracle in rock & roll—jumps at the master's call, bringing rockabilly twang, Chicago street muscle, cowboy swing or le jazz hot languor. In sound and feel, Modern Times recalls the kind of music working bands—Muddy Waters' bluesmen or Hank Williams' Drifting Cowboys—would cut on the fly between gigs, a mixture of unique inventions and variations on hand-me-downs touched by the leader's genius. Almost every song retraces the American journey from the country to the city, when folkways were giving way to modern times. The mood is America on the brink—of mechanization, of war, of domestic tranquillity, of fulfilling its promise and of selling its dreams one by one for cash on the barrelhead.
    Since even before he asked for permission to forget about today until tomorrow, Dylan has said that time means nothing to him. During the past ten years, he has been making music that shows just this. There is no precedent in rock & roll for the territory Dylan is now opening with albums that stand alongside the accomplishments of his wild youth. Love and Theft,

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