Dylan – The Nineties
How relevant were any of the Sixties heroes in the nineties. Whole generations had grown up considering them to be their parents music; most could not name The Beatles or The Stones, let alone know who Dylan was. And yet still a hard-core fanbase existed, determined to keep faith with a very erratic Messiah. And Bob started the Nineties on a high after Oh mercy – and yet he released only a year later probably his worst album of all – though that is debatable. Under The Red Sky was pretty dire – childish lyrics, lazy delivery and no real focus. Oh dear. No notable songs either. How much worse could it get…
Well it depends on your opinion. Bob released two albums of old folk and blues songs in the early nineties. He has admitted he had writers block and went back to America’s roots. The albums are completely acoustic, which is just Bob, his guitar and harmonica – and the voice is okay too – it is just that the songs (for me anyway) are so boring. And samey – the albums just drone on with nothing waking me up. The first was called Good As I Been To You. Even re-listening now nothing springs to mind about this record. A year late he brought out World Gone Wrong, very similar but at least a couple of half-decent songs this time. But really they are barely Dylan albums at all. Later in 93 CBS released what was advertised as a Dylan album – The 30th Anniversary Concert Celebration. This was a concert organized the previous year to celebrate 30 years of Dylan and featured many, mostly American, artists singing Dylan songs. Bob sings three songs at the end of the ‘concert’. It is a nice record, but hardly a Dylan album, although it is credited to Bob. Anyway – it is part of my collection; some good renditions of Dylan songs but Bob himself was in poor voice really. Oh Well.
Then another live album MTV Unplugged. And this time it was brilliant . superb (sort of) acoustic versions of a greatest hits selection including ‘Dignity’ a song left off Infidels but which is better than that whole album. This really is the best live Dylan album to own.
But just as we were once again beginning to give up on him – would he ever return to something like his old self – he produced out of nowhere another classic album Time Out of Mind 1997. This was again recorded with Daniel Lanois (see L) who seemed to be able to get the best out of Bob. Great songs again – especially ‘Love Sick’, ‘Tryin’ to get to Heaven’ and ‘Make You Feel my Love’ (later covered by Adele among others. The album finishes with another of his strange rambling songs which are long and almost impenetrable, and yet are hypnotic too ‘The Highlands’ All in all a great record and a great way to end the decade and the Century. What awaited us in the 21st Century none of us knew but with Dylan you had to be prepared for anything