Thursday, October 04, 2007

Bob Dylan - Theme Time Radio Hours #s 23 and 24

Bob Dylan, Theme Time Radio Hour #23 (Water)
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Bob Dylan, Theme Time Radio Hour #24 (Time)
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I feel like we've slacked this week on the music, so I'm going to deluge you with more than you'll ever need to assuage my guilt. Actually, these three episodes were requested by Paul a few weeks ago and I wanted to make sure that I filled that finally and let everyone enjoy the tunes. Two more episodes of Bob Dylan's Theme Time Radio Hour, from right around the midpoint, episodes 23 and 24.

Episode 23 deals with water and the many songs that discuss that natural resource that can do so much harm and benefit. This show focuses the most on the old stuff, lots of blues and early roots music from the likes of Charley Patton, Howlin' Wolf and Tommy Johnson. In other words, lots of crackling vinyl pops. Dylan tells an interesting story about Patton's "High Water Everywhere Part 1," which got the Part 1 tag because any song that was more than 3 minutes had to be put onto both sides of the 45. Only the most important songs got this treatment, when someone had something to say. Most of the songs here were completely new to me, as Mr. Dylan continues to push me to check out the pre-50s American musical world.

Episode 24 discusses an even more valuable resource, time. So much good music, starting off with Irma Thomas' "Time Is On My Side," which you may remember from a version done by a UK band called The Rolling Stones, after they heard her version. From there, you get a great Kurt Weill cover from Lou Reed, a Dr. John classic, Etta James, Willie Nelson, Patsy Cline and much more. So many great stories too and little tidbits, won't give any of those away.

I tend to describe these episodes and go on tangent with them, usually don't rate them as an episode. It's not that I don't find some better than others; it's more that I can always find something great, so much music I haven't heard of, that I forget to rate them as a radio show. Well, these two are the perfect chance to do so; this one on Time is one of the best I've heard, an hour and 20 minutes, a great mix of music covering everything from r&b to jazz to rockabilly to ska to rock, Dylan is talkative and adds great details and the whole thing flows. Episode 23, on the other hand, ends up being one of my least favorites, as the music covers too little ground. For me, that's the key, a good mix, as it gives the show more of an entertaining feel as opposed to an educational one. Someone commented previously that Dylan only sounds great in the first episode, that he becomes more scripted and less spontaneous. I'd be curious to hear what others think; I don't disagree, but feel like it's not quite that black and white. I feel like Dylan has toned down the humor and quirkiness, but he has stepped up the storytelling and cool quotes and facts.

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