Saturday, June 7, 2008

Bob Dylan - "No Direction Home: The Soundtrack" 2xCD

There's probably nobody in the history of American music more responsible for inspiring generations of aspiring songwriters than Robert Zimmerman, better known as Bob Dylan. A true literary genius, this prolific poet has had his fair share of artistic ups & downs, sure. That's entirely forgiveable, though, as he's been at it for 45 years now. Personally, I am most fond of his early-to-mid 60's work. This lengthy and exhaustive 150 minute set, compiled to accompany Martin Scorsese's documentary of the same name, embraces this period wholly. This is Dylan in his younger, leaner, and more hungry years, from 1962 to 1966. Certainly, much of his formative work owed a great debt to old-time folksters, namely Woodie Guthrie. Nonetheless, this era of Dylan's work carried a charmingly rough and pure was wise, literate, clever, politically aware, and definitely packed with self-deprecating humor. 'No Direction' reprises many classic cuts from the man's anthemic canon (see 'Maggie's Farm', 'Hard Rain', 'Mr.Tambourine Man', etc.), albeit in previously-unheard live or demo form. Also included are home recordings, all sounding surprisingly crisp and clear. Really, this is a treasure trove of world-class songwriting (and performing), and it's astounding how very timeless this stuff sounds. Disc A is more streetwise and fiery (read: Dylan and his guitar with little embellishment), while disc B is more orchestrated (read: fleshed-out songs, more backing). All of it, however, is world class and completely worth owning for anyone who yearns to hear some music that lasts, and that has something to say. Wow. And to think that this man is still touring (quite exhaustively, too), and he's coming to both Louisville and Evansville later this year. Maybe I'll have to go. (Columbia) More info

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