With all of this great work so far in the past, you'd feel like giving in too.
For a writer who has specialised in oblique lyricism, it’s an unusually frank statement. “I used to care but things have changed”, buzzes [a]Bob Dylan[/a] on ‘Things Have Changed’, the loyalty bonus for long-term fans buying this compilation. As his voice decays from the authoritative rasp of old to something akin to an angry wasp trapped in a plant pot, that sounds like an admission of defeat.
Dylan‘s arch sneer from the front cover of ‘Bringing It All Back Home’ has followed pop down the decades like the Mona Lisa’s eyes; he scowls out like he expects something of you. Tidied-up versions of his early works glower down the ages from this CD; ‘A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall’ and ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’ still sound threatening, accusatory and provocative.
That the compiler has cruelly arranged these relics in chronological order suggests a challenge to the composer; 1997’s ‘Time Out Of Mind’ was a return to form of sorts for old Bob, but the fact that the 25 years since ‘Simple Twist Of Fate’ (the sole offering from ‘Blood On The Tracks’ which really is as good as people tell you) fly by in the space of six tracks speaks magnitudes of the burden of unfulfilled expectations that still weigh on Dylan‘s shoulders.
With all of this great work so far in the past, you’d feel like giving in too.