Thursday, October 22, 2009

467. "Love and Theft"- Part two of Dylan’s fourth comeback.

Album: "Love and Theft"

Artist: Bob Dylan.

Year: 2001.

Genre: Late career Dylan.


  1. Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum
  2. Mississippi
  3. Summer Days
  4. Bye and Bye
  5. Lonesome Day Blues
  6. Floater (Too Much to Ask)
  7. High Water (For Charley Patton)
  8. Moonlight
  9. Honest with Me
  10. Po' Boy
  11. Cry a While
  12. Sugar Baby

At 467 "Love and Theft" marks Dylan’s first appearance in the top 500. There will be another 9 before the count ends. He manages 10 albums in the list which means 2% of this countdown belongs to Bob. That’s a fair achievement but it’s made even better when you consider the fact that this album was recorded almost 40 years after his debut. None of his living contemporaries who dominated the 60’s (McCartney, Young, Mitchell, Clapton, The Stones) have any of their later releases in the list but Bob was still putting out highly regarded albums in 2001 and beyond. Name me another artist who was churning out classic albums in the 60’s and in their 60’s?

I’ll try and keep this review somewhere on planet earth but it’s difficult because for me, Dylan occupies a realm outside any other artist in the known stratosphere. I know that’s a wanky thing to say but it’s true. He influenced popular music more than any other person who ever lived with no exceptions. He wrote so many good songs that they could compile a three disc best-of a few years ago and left off at least three further discs worth of magnificent tracks. He is Bob Dylan and as you may have gathered I’m a massive fan. I’m the sort of guy who doesn’t just love his albums and his officially released outtakes collections I enjoy listening to the unofficial outtake bootlegs- not the tracks he decided to release, not even the unreleased tracks he decided to release but the unreleased, unrealeased tracks. That’s the extent of my love for the guy.

So with that in mind I’ll try and review "Love and Theft" without going over the top… It’s fantastic!

Well I tried.

The problem is that I really do like this album. It’s not just my pathetic Bob-love blinding me to its faults, I can accept that he's capable of releasing less than perfect albums that I never need to hear again, but this is really great, and it sounds unlike anything else going around at the moment.

The strength of Late Era Bob is that Dylan isn’t trying to be anyone to anything except himself. In his early career Bob often suffered from people’s expectations and his own desire to break away from the boxes they wanted to put him in. People wanted to give him labels and judged his releases based on what they wanted him to do. By the time "Love and Theft" was released the music world regarded him as a national treasure and were prepared to take whatever he released on his own terms. He knew it and felt free to release an album of what he regarded as his music.It's the sound of someone synthesizing their musical influences into something new and unique. It takes into account everything that made up the musical landscape up to 1962 when Bob stepped onto the scene and changed music forever.

"Love and Theft" shows off Dylan's ability to take a song and lay down a definitive version which he then takes to new places when performed life. On the record High Water (For Charley Patton) is a great song performed acoustic with a banjo and a bluegrass feel. It sort of romps along with a light touch from the band which contrasts nicely with the darker tone Dylan lets permeate his vocal performance. A live version released a few years later showcases the great man's ability to transform his vision when performed live. While Dylan has given his vocal a more playful tone that dances along with the tune he's given the band a hard edge- the beat kicks along with dueling guitars turning the song into some outstanding Rock and Roll. Throughout his long and illustrious career Bob has always reinvented himself on his records and then reinvented those reinventions when it comes to the live stage.

"Love and Theft" owes a debt to folk-pioneer and Dylan hero Woody Guthrie but also to those who went before. Music from the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s permeate this disc and not just the music of the delta but white music as well. As well as being a great writer Dylan has an encyclopedic knowledge of American music and "Love and Theft" allows us to see his record collection filtered through the life of Bob. It rocks, it swings, it croons and waltzes and sways and boogies and it’s just plain great music with lyrics worthy of the greatest lyricist of the last 50 years.You didn’t hear any of these songs on the radio and you missed out. Go and buy it now.

(By the way, I said I would reserve the word “genius” for only one artist on this list. Bob is not that artist. Genius is not a word I use lightly and while I respect Bob above all else he doesn’t fit my definition of the G-word. That guy comes later on.)

Highlights: High Water. A great track and even better live (check out the version released on Tell Tale Signs)

Lowlights: None. Really, honestly, not a dud track.

Influenced by: Bob’s incredibly extensive knowledge of early American music.

Influenced: Bands who wanted their music to stand outside genres.

Favourite Amazon Customer review quote: “i have already written one review but i have not seen it on this site yet. dylan is prophesying, he's preaching the glory of god in the person of jesus cannot really understand his true meaning, although there are certainly many layers of thought involved, unless you ara a true christian and studying the word of god like dylan is and i am. for instance dweedle dum and tweedle dee are death and hell. not one reviewer of 280 knows this. this includes the self ordained professors. now plug in death and hell and see how the song makes perfect sense.mississippi is d. living on a fleshly level instead of walking in the spirit. he only did one thing wrong, stayed in the flesh a lifetime to long. bye and bye, moonlight, honest with me, are the lord jesus speaking to his church, thru dylan. the lord loves us so very much he wants to meet us all alone so we can have fellowship with him just like two lovers. he's breathing a lovers sigh because we don't understand it, his feelings[love]for us, we'd be honest with him if only we[could get a revelation of it]knew.dylan can't know when it's time to strike[die].he can't take us across the river of death, only jesus knows the things we truly should like.only jesus can baptize in fire so we can sin no more.summer days of peace and joy are gone from this earth. but d. knows in the kingdom of god there is peace and joy, and in the lords kingdom [the highlands] its still and now going on. po boy is the prodigal son.the love of god- and the theft of this truth- is truly the correct understanding of the title. false teachers, prophets, have corrupted this truth and d. is setting it right, you always knew he was a true prophet captain, who is well decorated is jesus. the loverman is the devil.high water is analogy of noahs flood. as it was in the days of noah so shall it be when the son of man returns.floater is the holy spirit. for the wind listeth were it will,and you here the sound there of, but you can,t tell where it came from nor where its going, so is everyone born of the spirit.if a child asks for bread will you give him a stone. how much more will the father give you the spirit to those who it to much to ask,no.i'll stop here.i would like to do a word analysis of all the songs. most everyone raves about this album.d. got it all from god.last night the wind was whispering,i was trying to make out what it was.dylan did a great job of hearing what the spirit sayeth to the churces. this is the most incredible album ever done, ever.why, because d. is preaching the glory and love of god to a truly needy world.this is my only praise and worship album. may it now bless you as you hear it in the spirit.

-Okay. Interesting point of view, Thanks for sharing.

So what do you think- Is Dylan the greatest artist of all time or just of the last 100 years? Let me know below.


  1. First off, I am a fan of Dylan (not CRAZY, but I am certainly a fan). I absolutely love Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde On Blonde is one of my all time faves. So this one I actually got recently because it was the SACD-hybrid version of this album (which was an odd reissue, because it was reissued merely two years after it was first issue). I must say, I really enjoy listening to this album, and tbh I think that Dylan's late 90s-2000s comeback will be revered over time as the greatest true comeback in the history of modern music. The fact that he, as of now, has made it into the spotlight once more, is marvellous and shows his true potential for talent. His songwriting has been very strong, as shown on his album, and I love the fact that he makes the sounds of pre-rock music accessible, and puts on his own amazing Bob twist on it! It is not only for our generation, but also for everybody. You see, I am not even 18 yet, but I have always been turned off of pre-rock music, because it is just so raw and incomplete. Albums like this make me like it that much more, and I actually thank Robert Zimmerman for that.

    So, I am actually wondering a few things that have intrigued my interest:

    1) What do you personally think of his singing voice? I personally love(d) it (seriously, like not jokingly, I actually liked the tone of his voice), but now he really he sounds like a walking anti-smoking ad. To give some perspective, my mom likes Bob Dylan, and, while she can tolerate his voice from his older albums, well, let me put it to you this way: when I played this album to her in the car, she wanted me to change discs (to The Cars s/t!) halfway into the second song (Mississippi), because she found Bob's voice so abrasive and harsh, and just plain unpleasant, even though she liked the songs themselves(!) So what do you think of Bob's voice, not only in his comeback period, but overall and in general, because you rave about him, but I have not noticed a solid opinion on his vocal abilities.

    2) Second, is what is your favourite Dylan comeback album out of them all? If you had to choose your favourite album between Time Out of Mind, "Love and Theft", Modern Times, or even the underdog Together Through life, what would it be? Or, even better, how would you rank them?

    3) Did you know Bob is coming out with a new album sometime soon? And did you know that it is rumoured to have a 14-minute long track dedicated to the Titanic? I'm wondering what your thoughts are on that, because I think it looks pretty awesome.

    1. I love Dylan's voice. I really do. I'm a huge fan of his first album which is really raw but just fantastic. As Clapton is fond of saying- he sounded old and world-weary at the age of 21. I also love his voice now because I think he really understands how to use it to convey what he's singing about. It would be dire if he tried to sing modern pop but he knows his voice is a time-weathered beast and he uses it to give extra emotion to songs that are supposed to sound timeless. I've always liked Dylan's voice throughout his career with the exception of his "Country Muppet" phase which I still have trouble with.

      2. If I had to pick one I'd probably pick Modern Times but I can't really tell you why. Having said that I'd list 1989's Oh Mercy as one of his comeback albums and that's among my favourite albums of his ever. Oh Mercy is just fantastic.

      3. I knew another album was on the way but hadn't heard the Titanic rumour. I really hope that's true because it's a brilliant concept. I think Dylan could say more about the Titanic in 14 minutes that James Cameron could in 2 and a half hours.

    2. Literally as I was typing that comment last night, an official press release announcing the new album came out: it is called Tempest, and it is due on the unusual date of September 11 (it's funny, because this album "Love And Theft" also came out on 9/11 (but on the REAL 9/11)). You can check it out online. The cover art, and the track list, has been revealed. It's really exciting! There is no explicit mention of a Titanic song, but you never know.

      And btw, what do you like so much about Modern Times, in your opinion? (because I am thinking of getting that one)

    3. I noticed the announcement about Tempest when I logged in this morning. Not sure about the cover art but excited about the album. It's possible Dylan recorded the Titanic song but left it off (he has a track record of leaving great songs off albums).

      Modern times is my favourite of the return albums but it's a close thing and it's certainly not head and shoulders above the others. I can't really put my finger on why, it just seems like a stronger set of songs that speaks well to where I am now. Ask again in ten years and I might give a different answer.