“Together Through Life” – ‘Bob Dylan’ [Joint Review]
I know, deep down in my heart somewhere…
[stares at the emotionless, black pile that is The Enantiomorphic God’s heart]
… that I’m going to cop from someone, somewhere, some flack for reviewing such a legend as this. Since the announcement of ‘Dylan’s’ latest, “Together Through Life”, thrust into my arms was a metre-high pile of albums. Basically it was the old: “Here you go, sonny – brush up on your Bobby; here’s his greatest, here’s his worst.” A master of thirty-three studio albums, fifty-eight singles, thirteen live albums, fourteen compilation albums, and a partridge in a pear tree, basically.
And my first impressions?
“S*@!, he’s aged…”
I can sort of understand where other reviewers are coming from, when, overall, there are some mixed opinions of “Together Through Life”. I’m not a particular fan of ‘Dylan’ myself, I’ll have to admit – there is the odd catchy song in his repertoire, and I adore his flaring harmonica. But he’s never really struck a spark, sadly, with too many of today’s generation, including myself. And I think that’s a shame – dedicated die-hard fans shouldn’t find themselves too disappointed, but. It’s a solid compilation, it doesn’t shift from much in any major circumstance. It’s got enough boundaries…
So we’ll start the old discussion about ‘Dylan’ himself – now, referring back to my remark before with the naughty word, I hadn’t realised until now how ‘Dylan’s’ voice has changed so much, compared to, say “Desire”. Where it was quite vibrant and full of life before, ‘Dylan’ seems to be on the verge of becoming ‘Tom Waits’. I’m serious, folks, it’s raspy as all hell.
Is this what they call… ageing???Damn, and I thought he was immortal.
The instruments that surround ‘Dylan’ resonate quite well with this new-found vocal-appeal. The album, genre-wise, has almost gone a little backwards: in that I expected something a little more to do with rock. But I was surprised how folk-like this album actually is, in some regards. When we’re not surrounded by keyboard and guitar, out pop the violin and acoustics. The album combines the two genres, I suppose, successfully. But I’m totally bummed – no harmonica!!!
I’ve, like, scanned through all the songs. Bah! Not a single ‘humph’!
So, now you’re supposing what else I could possibly write about a man beyond my years? Well, there is something noir-esque about this album on the whole. It’s opening track “Beyond Here Lies Nothing”, has to be the favourite. Listeners are thrust into this album with some guitar, some trumpet, bass, a French accordion. And, famously, on part of ‘Dylan’ himself: “Oh, well I love you pretty baby, you’re the only love I’ve ever known, just as long as you stay with me, the whole world is my throne, beyond here lies nothing…”
Unlike, say, a minority of bands, where the lyrics are totally un–hearable– either their bloody music is awful, and it’s just a screeching guitar with lots and lots and lots of percussion or they’re just terrible to begin with – ‘Dylan’ manages to piece together, even after all those albums, some pretty memorable lyrics. So I’m congratulating him on that, he’s still got the Midas-touch, my friends, and he’ll be doing it ’til-the-day-he-dies. You’ll be half expecting yourself to appear in some back street alleyway, some French cafe in Paris, by the end of the first track. But suddenly, following this, a slow down in the pace by the second. And by the third, we’re in full-on folky-blues with “My Wife’s Home Town”. After listening, we find out, it’s appropriately named, Hell.
And the rest?
Well, I don’t want to let-on too much about the album. I think ‘Dylan’s’an acquired taste, but you can’t judge him solely on any one of his albums, and I’ve probably gone through about five, or so. There a ton of them, as stated previous. It’s been proved, he’s had his ups and downs, his goods and bads, and of late, his newer releases haven’t struck as much of a chord as his earlier work. But he’s still got it, peoples, and I think “Together Through Life” is not only a fine album, but a well-conceived title that reflects well on part of ‘Dylan’ himself. He’s been-there-done-that since the ’60, introduced pot to the “Beatles”, had some of the most influential music and lyrics, has won awards, and probably will in the future to come. And, well, together through life, ‘Dylan’ is as much of the people as the people are of him…
And now that that’s off my chest, it all comes down to this. You’ve been waiting for my rating, haven’t you? Well, I’ve been through this album about ten times since me and my fellow blogger, Michael Hodder, came across its leak. And I have to say, I’m on the verge of four-stars. If I had to liken it, the elements present within this are reminiscent of “Time Out Of Mind”, but I don’t think it’s quite as good. I’m actually going to rate it out of ten, I think ‘Dylan’s’ earned it, and I think a very modest seven should just about do the trick…
Mark it in the calendars, April 28th, pick it up – and if you can manage to get its specialised edition, with the bonus Theme Town Radio Hourtrack, you’ll definitelybe getting your moneys-worth, with your host, ‘Bob Dylan’. Fans won’t care about the price, but if you’re a newcomer to ‘Dylan’, I suggest you go back to where it all started, lest you spoil it for yourself.
To this, I say Adieu!
The Enantiomorphic God