One thought on “Real Life Rock Top 10 (1/11/18)

  1. Greil’s take on the new Dylan set (“Trouble No More”) is a nice antidote to the showering of praise, and his original reviews on “Slow Train Coming” and the Nov. 16, 1979 Fox Warfield show are even better for the level of detail. It’s tiring to hear reviews that praise the music and downplay the lyrical content as if its inconsequential. (The Chicago Reader even published one where their reviewer says he didn’t notice the religious nature of these songs for quite a while – regardless of whether you like or dislike the music, that seems pretty dense.) There are things to enjoy on the box set, but the praise for them is overblown – the band is good, but they’re not nearly as good as the Hawks/the Band or the NET groups (particularly the group with Charlie Sexton and Larry Campbell on lead guitars). There are great songs (the “Caribbean Wind” from its sole live performance is a masterpiece), but a lot of poor ones, and you can only go so long without ignoring the lyrics. There are wonderful exceptions like “Pressing On” but so many of the songs are puerile and sour. Greil’s mentioned Van Morrison, and I agree, Van makes far better music than Dylan out of religious faith, but listen to Al Green’s “The Belle Album” – two years before “Slow Train Coming,” Al Green left behind commercial music altogether for the spiritual “The Belle Album,” and it is one of THE great albums of his career. I still remain in awe of that album, but every time I give Dylan’s evangelical period another chance, it’s mostly grating.

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