To compare the Bob Dylan of now to the Dylan of yesteryear is pointless – “Blonde on Blonde” and “Blood on the Tracks” are two records which have stood the test of time and regularly feature in ‘Greatest Albums of all Time‘ lists. However, on his latest offering, “Tempest”, Dylan’s voice is shot to shit – ravaged by time and exacerbated by the man himself, to the point of derision.
Worse still is that “Tempest” is Dylan the indulgent folklorist, rather than the political and social commentator, reminiscing about the Titanic, the death of John Lennon and the War of 1812. There’s an unfamiliar anger, displayed in the video for Duquesne Whistle, directed by Nash Edgerton, who previously directed The Square, a neo-noir Australian thriller, and features in Zero Dark Thirty, an action thriller due for release later this year, billed as “the story of history’s greatest manhunt for the world’s most dangerous man” – for which, read Osama bin Laden. As well as the anger, there’s an obsession with his own mortality (I suppose he is 71) and perhaps, sexual prowess – I’m not dead yet/my bell still rings.
The Tempest is thought to be the last play Shakespeare wrote, although Dylan has been quick to make the distinction. The album itself is bleak and frankly unmelodic – for the last 12 years or so we’ve suffered Dylan the Jazzman, except for snippets of real beauty on “Together through Life” – as we’re forced, once again, to pretend he’s produced a masterpiece.
But then Dylan has always fought against fan opinion.