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Late Bob Dylan & Opinions on My Morning Jacket

Sound Opinions concludes its 70th birthday series on Bob Dylan by looking at the singer/songwriter's career renaissance. Jim and Greg learn about Dylan in the studio from engineer and producer Mark Howard.

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Greg calls Gil Scott-Heron one of the most profound artists of the last half-century, and last week he died at age 62. The man behind "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" began as a poet, but was attracted to the way music could reach a larger audience. However, even after signing with Clive Davis, he never abandoned his politics. Scott-Heron fused biting commentary with powerful beats and arrangements. It was a sound that inspired many hip-hop artists, though he rejected that association. To remember Gil Scott-Heron, Jim and Greg play one of his near-hits called "Johannesburg" from 1975.

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Bob Dylan

moderntimes During this episode Jim and Greg wrap up our series on Bob Dylan and bring it up to "Modern Times". How, you may ask, can they gloss over the '70s and '80s so cavalierly? Trust that it was difficult to narrow down Dylan's entire canon to three episodes. And it's important to note that Dylan is one of those rare artists who emerged in the '60s and was still making great, new music into his sixties. So that's why our hosts decided to bring it up to Act III: 1989-2006. Dylan was in amazing form live and released a string of impressive albums including Oh Mercy, Time Out of Mind and Modern Times. He collaborated with producer Daniel Lanois and also worked with Jim and Greg's guest this week, engineer Mark Howard. Howard gives us a sneak peek into what it's like to record with Dylan.

As always Jim and Greg like to round out these features by highlighting significant tracks. Greg chooses an unreleased version of "Mississippi," later put out on The Bootleg Series Vol. 8. A highly produced version appears on 2001's Love and Theft, but Greg prefers the more stripped down recording, calling the performance fascinating. And he notes that Dylan draws from older material for inspiration just like he did when he was starting out as a folkie.

Jim admits that he prefers Dylan live during these years. But "Ain't Talkin'" from Modern Times in 2006 is perfectly simple and spooky–just a fiddle, percussion and that signature voice. This is a song Dylan couldn't have given justice in his younger days.

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My Morning Jacket Circuital

My Morning Jacket's new album is Circuital, a nod to the band's desire to return to its roots. The Louisville quintet has a huge touring fan base these days, but their experimentation has sometimes taken them away from their original Neil Young-influenced sound. Greg appreciates their attempt to make a more cohesive album, and he really thought they got it…until he got to side two. Things totally fall apart there, so Greg can only recommend that people Burn It. Jim thinks even that rating is kind. He wonders how cartoonish music has to be to get passed up by the makers of the new Muppet movie. Jim says Trash It.

JimGreg

Featured Songs

  1. Gil Scott-Heron, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, Bluebird, 1988
  2. Gil Scott-Heron, Johannesburg, From South Africa To South Carolina, TVT Records, 1976
  3. Bob Dylan, Love Sick, Time Out of Mind, Columbia, 1997
  4. Bob Dylan, Political World, Oh Mercy, Columbia, 1989
  5. Bob Dylan, 'Til I Fell in Love With You, Time Out of Mind, Columbia, 1997
  6. Bob Dylan, Highlands, Time Out of Mind, Columbia, 1997
  7. Bob Dylan, Man in the Long Black Coat, Oh Mercy, Columbia, 1989
  8. Bob Dylan, Tears of Rage, Not Dark Yet Live, Vol. 2, Sony, 2001
  9. Bob Dylan, Can't Wait, Time Out of Mind, Columbia, 1997
  10. Bob Dylan, Not Dark Yet, Time Out of Mind, Columbia, 1997
  11. Bob Dylan, Tryin' to Get to Heaven, Time Out of Mind, Columbia, 1997
  12. Bob Dylan, Mississippi, The Bootleg Series Vol. 8, Columbia, 2008
  13. Bob Dylan, Ain't Talkin, Modern Times, Columbia, 2006
  14. My Morning Jacket, Holdin' On To Black Metal, Circuital, ATO, 2011
  15. My Morning Jacket, Outta My System, Circuital, ATO, 2011
  16. Ubon Pattana, Lam Sarawan, Siamese Soul: Thai Spectacular 1960s-80s 2, Sublime Frequencies, 2009
  17. Yoko Ono, Mindweaver, Season of Glass, Geffen, 1981
  18. The Minutemen, Corona, Double Nickels On The Dime, SST, 1984
  19. Ratatat, Grape Juice City, LP4, XL, 2008

Footnotes

nytimes.com Gil Scott-Heron obit bobdylan.com Bob Dylan soundopinions.org Sound Opinions on Bob Dylan, Part 1: Early Dylan soundopinions.org Sound Opinions on Bob Dylan, Part 2: Dylan Goes Electric mymorningjacket.com My Morning Jacket