Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Album Of The Day #105: "LOVE AND THEFT" - Bob Dylan

Title: “Love And Theft”
Artist: Bob Dylan
Label: Columbia
Released: 2001
Songs: Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum/Mississippi/Summer Days/Bye And Bye/Lonesome Day Blues/Floater (Too Much To Ask)/High Water (For Charley Patton)/Moonlight/Honest With Me/Po’ Boy/Cry A While/Sugar Baby
Written by: Bob Dylan
Produced by: Jack Frost
Thoughts: This album is so much fun! The best thing about it is that Bob feels so relaxed and you can easily sense it straight from the beginning with the hilarious “Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum”. “Mississippi” is so much better suited for the stripped-down approach Bob has here than the Daniel Lanois over-produced version found on Tell Tale Signs. (I’m talking about #2, since #1 is beautiful.) It is such a delicate song that required Dylan’s new “I’m in the middle of the Great Depression” mentality. “Floater (Too Much To Ask)” and “High Water (For Charley Patton)” are both awesome, as is “Po’ Boy”, this wonderful track about a poor boy and his adventures.
To me, though, the masterpiece of this album is “Sugar Baby”. At 6:40, it is the longest song on the LP, but it just amazes me. I love this verse:
Every moment of existence seems like some dirty trick
Happiness can come suddenly and leave just as quick
Any minute of the day the bubble could burst
Try to make things better for someone, sometimes,
You just end up making it a thousand times worse

I guess the whole point of the song is that this ‘sugar baby’ has realized that there are all these problems, but Bob is ushering him/her to continue anyway and not try to fix it. The chorus is pretty intense, too:
Sugar Baby, get on down the line
You ain't got no brains*, no how
You went years without me
Might as well keep going now

[*“sense” on last chorus]
Perhaps Bob himself is this sugar baby and he has decided to just keep going and that there’s no use in fixing anything.
Also, as the first album with his touring band, musically this album is very strong. They get better on Modern Times, but they are awesome here. Considering how long these guys had been with Dylan, the sense of comfort is definitely there. These songs are all brimming with life and there isn’t a single musical section to question. You get the feeling that Bob had a strong idea for every song and wanted them recorded as fast as possible. The great thing about this is that sometimes it works, but the bad thing about it is that sometimes it leads to a rushed, weak album. Thankfully, the case with “Love And Theft” is that it turned out to be not just a good album, but a great one.

I already did Modern Times, which was only the second review I ever wrote for this blog. That was way back in 2006, so maybe down the road I should do another write-up, looking at it from a 2008 perspective! This isn’t the end for Dylan, though. I’ll have a write-up on Live 1975, the only other Bootleg album I have besides Tell Tale Signs, in a day or two. Also, I managed to get tickets to see Dylan at the bobdylan.com exclusive concert at the United Palace Theater in New York on November 21st. So, as you can guess, there will be something on my blog about that!

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