Saturday, December 22, 2007

album of the day

Desire by Bob Dylan.

A bit of an anomaly in the Dylan canon, this, for a number of reasons. Most of the songs were co-written (unusually for Dylan who was never much of a collaborator) with lyricist Jacques Levy, and prominently feature violinist Scarlet Rivera, and backing vocals from Emmylou Harris. It's very much a studio-bound version of his legendary Rolling Thunder Revue from 1975, and it doesn't really sound like any other Dylan album.

It's probably most famous for a couple of lengthy protest songs: the terrific Hurricane (about boxer, possibly wrongly convicted murderer and biopic subject Rubin Carter) and the somewhat dirge-y 11-minute Joey (about, slightly less defensibly, gangster Joey Gallo), but there's some great other stuff as well: Isis, One More Cup Of Coffee, Romance In Durango and the slightly desperate Sara, where Dylan spends five and a half minutes begging his wife not to dump him (unsuccessfully, as it turns out).

This was the second half of Dylan's mid-1970's renaissance (it followed Blood On The Tracks), and, since he hasn't done anything as conveniently Hendrix-esque as die since, one has to observe that he's spent the last 31 years not releasing anything that's as good.

Here's Dylan and band giving Mozambique a good kicking in concert in 1976.

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