Album Review: Bob Dylan in the 80s, Volume 1

Album Review: Bob Dylan in the 80s, Volume 1

Leigh MichaelTuesday,1 April 2014

The Snap:

Bob Dylan in the 80s, Volume 1 is an homage to an artist that has permeated the music industry for more than five decades. But instead of focusing on half a century of music, the album focuses on the songs produced in a ten year span: 1980 to 1989.

The collaboration drew in big name artists from across the wide spectrum of sounds that is modern music today, featuring songs from Blitzen Trapper, Built to Spill, Elvis Perkins, Deer Tick and more.

You can order the album on iTunes or Amazon.

The Download: 

Bob Dylan has gotten under our skin. This is hardly a revolutionary statement: There’s a reason that “Vision of Johanna,” “Tangled Up in Blue,” “Like a Rolling Stone,” and a reel of other tracks are as popular today as they were five decades ago.

But for a man possessed by such profound — and prolific — talent, the 1980s might as well be known as the “dark period.”  In plain, unadulterated English: He sucked. As Vanity Fair daintily puts it, “The mid- and late-80s saw him grappling with various styles and an ark’s worth of collaborators as he tried to regain creative and commercial traction.”

From the outset, I wasn’t jazzed about this album simply because I have never been jazzed about any of the songs that are featured on it. Still, I think that is was, overall, a pleasant surprise: Built to Spill, for example, offered a poppy, light rendition of “Jokerman” that feels like a completely different song from the Bob Dylan original (listen below). Deer Tick’s “Night After Night” feels like it has a home on one of Dylan’s raw outtakes albums, and Blitzen Trapper puts a delightfully original spin on “Unbelievable.” “Series of Dreams,” crooned by the Yellowbirds feels dreamy and beautiful, and Dawn Landes’ “Dark Eyes” is delectably simple.

Ultimately, these are not Bob Dylan’s best songs. But this album has made me realize that that doesn’t mean that they’re bad songs.

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Bob Dylan, Bob Dylan in the 80sVanity FairImage Credit: Flickr

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