Time Out of Mind

CD Cover Bob Dylan

Review by Gary 'pigboy' Swartz

45-second excerpt from "Love Sick" (various formats)

I suspect there's a lot of old blues greats up in heaven sitting around, sucking back on a few cold ones and chuckling. With Time Out of Mind, Bob Dylan has done to the blues what only the rare ones do: he's bent substance, style and structure in an indelible, distinctive and very personal way -- but kept it all, well, bluesy.

This is an album that demands, and deserves, a lot of listening, and not simply because it runs some 72 minutes. In his oft imitated style, Dylan fills those minutes with more words than the average rock and roller has in his or her entire songwriting vocabulary. (Not to mention ideas and images.) At almost 17 minutes, "Highlands" runs almost as long as many Country albums -- and is overall more interesting.

Musically, the arrangements and accompaniments are packed full of neat little riffs, some that jump out immediately and some that will slip past you half a dozen times before you realize they are there. Guitarists and bands looking for embellishments to steal (Dylan will be the first to admit stealing is an honoured and honest blues tradition) will find this a motherload, thanks to a great extent to Daniel Lanois' production sensibilities.

But, be warned, what you won't find is extended solos. Other than Dylan's vocals, things tend to have been kept simple and understated. Something else you won't find is that one song or two that jump out above the rest and scream "PLAY ME! PLAY ME!" There is a clarity of vision throughout, here, that is as consistent as it is rare. Which is something else well-deserved of imitation.

First published in Drop-D Magazine on December 22, 1997

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