The biggest disappointment here is that Modern Times is probably Dylan's least-surprising release in decades-- it's the logical continuation of its predecessor, created with the same band he's been touring with for years, fed from familiar influences, and sprinkled with all the droll, anachronistic bits now long-expected.
Whereas Chaplin's sharply drawn social comment is rightly considered a modern classic, Dylan's Modern Times -- sung in a strangely affected croak you'd expect to hear from Leon Redbone's grandfather -- comes off like a feeble anachronism in which our man cynically attempts to pass off public-domain blues and folk tunes as his own by changing a few words.
Apr 26, 2012This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. In creating 'Modern Times' Dylan has drawn upon traditional American music and has created a conservative album similar to his two previous studio albums. Despite misgivings that may arise from Dylan fanatics who have yet to hear the album and fear that its preservative nature renders the album irrelevant or worst of all boring, it takes just one listen to disprove this. 'Modern Times' is an attempt to make an observation about the state of the current world (hence the title) without making any specific references (except for the infamous mention of Alicia Keys in the opening track that says more about the 64 year old's music from his zenith era than it does of Keys and contemporary popular music ) to society. The lyrics are typical of Dylan in that they are cerebral and in fused with religious themes. However this album is not the mind bender of Dylan's landmark 1965-1966 albums and the lyrics and tunes are more simplistic. The relative simplicity of the lyrics makes this album more commercially appealing than a majority of Dylan's former albums but this doesn't mean that the lyrics have been dumbed down for the sake of a cheap and easy sell to the masses. Instead this means that the album is more accessible than is common with Dylan recordings and that the messages have merely been sugarcoated. Of course not all of the songs on this album detail Dylan's impressions of the world. This album is a combination of songs that are a loose commentary on the world ('Thunder on the Mountain', 'Workingman's Blues #2', 'The Levee's Gonna Break' and 'Ain't Talkin'), songs about relationships ('Spirit on the Water', 'Someday Baby'), a combination of both ('Rollin' and Tumblin', 'Nettie Moore') and a theme that must be close to Dylan's heart at the time of recording; aging and death (Beyond the Horizon). Although all of these themes seem to be entwined with one another across the album particular songs give particualy themes more prevalence than others.The affect that the album impresses upon the listener is that it is expertly done.The tone, the spirit, the singing, the music and above all the lyrics are as engaging and exciting as some of the man's best work.
My rating: A+ (Perfection)
Strongest song: Workingman's Blues #2
Weakest song: When the Deal Goes Down… Expand
Jan 29, 2014An accessible record with master class song-writing, Dylan has never failed at writing a great song. His vocals are painfully gruff, and commands your attention with each track. It's a patient listen, took me a few times to really feel it, and delve my way through each track.
All In All, Modern Times is a great record, and another one of Dylan's masterpieces. A-… Expand
Nov 9, 2011Spirit on the water says all what this album is about - "You think I'm over the hill, You think I'm past my prime,Let me see what you got..."
Dylan emphatically proves he's still got plenty in the locker here. Following on strongly from Modern Theft, this is up there with the master songwriters best work. 10 tracks of the highest calibre. Country blues at it's best. His vocals are surprisingly good on this and the backing band he has here play a stormer as well.… Expand
Jul 15, 2011Bought this album while living in California. Every time "Spirit on the Water" comes on, I'm taken right back to those highways that flow into San Francisco Bay. From beginning to end, this is what you've come to love about Dylan. His homage to earlier music is dead on and some of these gems could have been pulled from the 1920s. "Workingman Blues #2" is another highlight and "Ain't Talkin'" is already being hailed as another great Dylan work. Pick it up.… Expand
Published: December 15, 2009Our best of the decade coverage begins with a look at the top-rated albums and artists of the past 10 years. Who finished on top? A band from Austin, and a record that was 37 years in the making.
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