preview clips from Mr Dylan's Christmas album

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liverpoolken
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preview clips from Mr Dylan's Christmas album

Postby liverpoolken » Mon Oct 05, 2009 12:29 am

Here's something just for our resident band of Dylan knockers I personally can't wait until the 13th. October....happy Christmas...ta ken

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gundu1yLjWY

Previewing Bob Dylan's Holiday CD: A Very Zimmy Christmas!

By Chris Willman

By now you've heard that Bob Dylan has a Christmas album coming out in October. (You may not have accepted it, but you've heard about it.) Last night, one of Dylan's reps held a listening party in L.A. for a handful of music journalists, playing six tracks from the project, which His Bobness is said to still be putting the final touches on this week. Being both a Christmas music freak and a Dylanologist, I loved what I heard, though I expect that by sincerely taking on chestnuts like "The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)," Dylan may have made his most controversial album since the born-again years.

First, let me tell you what the album is not. There's no original material; every song is a familiar or semi-famiiliar holiday standard. In other words, don't expect to hear any original Dylan tunes along the lines of "Blowin' in the Blizzard," "Positively 34th Street," "Don't Check Your List Twice, It's All Right," "I Want Yule," or "Ballad of a Jolly Fat Man." I'm also disappointed that Dylan didn't come up with a more characteristic and less generic album title—like, say, Blitzer on Blitzer, Eggnog on the Tracks, The Freestyle-Skiin' Bob Dylan, Santa Claus Lane Revisited, The Toyshop Tapes, Slow Horsedrawn Sleigh Coming, Under the Blood Red Mistletoe, or Elf Portrait.

No, it's simply called Christmas in the Heart, and Santa drops it off in stores Oct. 13 (though it will be available as a download to Citibank customers one week earlier, which is the source of its own minor controversy among some fans). The cover art of a pre-modern sleigh, very much in the old-school tradition of Currier and Ives, is a tipoff that the project is both sincerely and nostalgically intended, with no serious attempts at Christmas revisionism—even though, by its very nature, that voice being applied to those songs is going to involve some hefty revision.

I was most delighted by Dylan's take on the rarely covered "Must Be Santa"—a polka, and probably the fastest-paced thing Bob has recorded in his 48-year career. The exact style of it was surely influenced by a recording of the song made in the early 1990s by Texas group Brave Combo; as hardcore fans have noted, Dylan played that cover on a Christmas edition of his XM/Sirius satellite radio program. We're told that Dylan just shot a video for the tune, at a decaying mansion in L.A.'s historic West Adams district, with about 40 extras helping recreate the festive spirit heard on the actual track, which includes the sound of actual ambient partying.

The other tracks I heard at the listening session were "Here Comes Santa Claus," "The Christmas Song," the WWII-era favorite "Christmas Island," "O Come All Ye Faithful," and "Little Drummer Boy." How to describe the non-polka arrangements? It's an odd hybrid, Christmas in the Heart is. There's a decidedly rootsy feel to the basic instrumentation, with brushes on snare drums, country-ish guitar solos (notably on "Here Comes Santa Claus," which pays homage to Gene Autry's original), and plenty of Los Lobos' David Hidalgo on festive accordion.

But there's also a liberal useage of alternately male and female background chorales; not since the gospel years have you heard this many chicks cooing along on a Dylan record. I'm sure these backing vocals will be derided throughout the land as Dylan succumbing to an easy listening mentality, but I think that, as a sharp musical historian, he's deliberately evoking some of the classy Christmas records of his late ‘50s youth, or possibly the early ‘60s—then-reputable long players by the likes of Mitch Miller, Ray Conniff, and the Harry Simeon Chorale. There's also a bit of Andrews Sisters-meet-Emmylou Harris flavor when he's actually trading lines in some of the verses with what sounds like a small chorus of two or three women.

And what about Dylan's own voice? He is not exactly at the peak of his powers these days, but if you want flavorful, you've got flavorful. I was surprised that he picked some classics that demand he hit some high notes well out of his natural range, which sometimes he goes for and sometimes he doesn't. Thankfully, he does not attempt "Ave Maria." Simon Cowell, who once sniffed that Dylan would never make it on Idol, will have no reason to change his mind here, but who cares? The six tracks I heard all work terrifically, once your ears get attuned to what he's up to, though scoffers and even some diehard fans will surely think that he's given in to self-parody.

Don't mistake it for a toss-off, in any case; Dylan insiders say his heart really was in it—that he took the project very seriously and did a good deal of recording for it, spontaneous as it might sound. (It's worth a side note to mention that this is the first time he's ever publicly aligned himself with a charitable organization, and his income from it will go directly to Feeding America in the U.S., Crisis UK in England, and the World Food Program in other territories.)

A few weeks ago, a 15-track song list appeared on the Amazon UK site, along with 30-second samples of each track. The sound bites were soon pulled down, and Dylan reps insist that not only were these samples unauthorized and mysterious in origin, but Dylan wasn't due to finalize the track listing until this Friday. There was even some speculation that he might change the track list at the last minute just to spite whoever was responsible for the Amazon UK leak.
Solitudine non é essere soli, é amare gli altri inutilmente - Mario Stefani
John Etherington
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Re: preview clips from Mr Dylan's Christmas album

Postby John Etherington » Mon Oct 05, 2009 12:49 am

"When it snows ain't it thrilling, though your nose gets a chilling..." (and that just about sums it up!).

Cheers, John E
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liverpoolken
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Re: preview clips from Mr Dylan's Christmas album

Postby liverpoolken » Mon Oct 05, 2009 1:34 am

John Etherington wrote:"When it snows ain't it thrilling, though your nose gets a chilling..." (and that just about sums it up!).

Cheers, John E
Hmmmm..very cryptic I'm sure John...ta Ken
Solitudine non é essere soli, é amare gli altri inutilmente - Mario Stefani
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sturgess66
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Re: preview clips from Mr Dylan's Christmas album

Postby sturgess66 » Mon Oct 05, 2009 2:40 am

Haha! You go Bob!

Some fav moments -

Hark the "hero-ed" angels sing. ;-)
-and-
(Adeste Fidelis)
Vah knee tay ah- doh re [me fa so], moose.
Doh mea noose.

But by the time he got to "O' Little Town Of Bethlehem" I was believing everything he said. Where is "Oh Holy Night?"

Okay - here's Bob Dylan and "The Night Before Christmas" -
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uec1J9g-sMs

He loves the rhymes. :lol: :lol:
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Actually
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Re: preview clips from Mr Dylan's Christmas album

Postby Actually » Mon Oct 05, 2009 4:02 am

... and I still refuse to listen to those amazon snippets. I'm just too afraid, to be honest.
I hate Christmas, but I love Dylan, so I decided to order the album and never listen to it. :lol:

(at least that's what the plan is... we'll see, if I can make it)
John Etherington
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Re: preview clips from Mr Dylan's Christmas album

Postby John Etherington » Mon Oct 05, 2009 11:20 am

Oh go on, give it a listen! On first hearing, this sounds like one of Dylan's most perverse undertakings. I know it's for a good cause, but I think he should leave Christmas to Bing Crosby, Phil Spector and the Beach Boys. Unless I find this at a knock-down price, then I'm afraid my collectorship goes out of the window.
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Actually
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Re: preview clips from Mr Dylan's Christmas album

Postby Actually » Mon Oct 05, 2009 1:18 pm

I did it.
It's not as bad as I thought it would be, but my feelings are still ambivalent, because I'm really not into this whole Christmas thing... :?
GinaDCG
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Re: preview clips from Mr Dylan's Christmas album

Postby GinaDCG » Mon Oct 05, 2009 3:40 pm

Gee, I'm trying to be supportive -- really I am. But is is possible for the incomperable Bob Dylan (who I practically worshiped when I was in school) has jumped a shark?
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Bequia
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Re: preview clips from Mr Dylan's Christmas album

Postby Bequia » Mon Oct 05, 2009 4:04 pm

...can't wait to hear the live versions of these ring dancin' Christmas carols...
....all men will be sailors then....
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somewhat_nifty
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Re: preview clips from Mr Dylan's Christmas album

Postby somewhat_nifty » Mon Oct 05, 2009 5:31 pm

Hmmm... on the plus side, it's for charity I suppose. But really, you wouldn't want to give it more than one listen. And I love Bob :(
I'm chained to the old masquerade...
2008: London O2 14th Nov, RAH 18th Nov; 2009: NY RCMH 16th May, Weybridge MBW 11th July, Barcelona 21st Sept; 2010: Sligo 31st July, Lille 25th Sept, Las Vegas 11th Dec; 2012: Wembley Arena 8th Sept, Dublin 11th Sept 2013: London O2 21st June, London O2 14th Sept
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Bequia
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Re: preview clips from Mr Dylan's Christmas album

Postby Bequia » Mon Oct 05, 2009 6:22 pm

somewhat_nifty wrote:Hmmm... on the plus side, it's for charity I suppose...
...charity is supposed to cover up a multitude of sins...
....all men will be sailors then....
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Kush
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Re: preview clips from Mr Dylan's Christmas album

Postby Kush » Tue Oct 06, 2009 6:20 am

Sweet. I like it. I was curious how this would turn out. It is no secret that Mr. Dylan likes old songs and some of these are probably hundreds of years old. Glad he sings them true and reminds me a little of Good as I Been to You, his covers of traditional folk and blues. I had approached that album with deep suspicions and then became addicted to it for a long time. I think he's done this sincerely (not with perverse intent) and sounds like he had fun doing it. Obviously he does not have a "singing" voice but still in his cover interpretations he offers something different with his peculiar phrasing and cracked voice.
Skipped his last album (they were all beginning to sound the same except for the brilliant Tell Tale Signs) but will definitely get this one. Thanks.
John Etherington
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Re: preview clips from Mr Dylan's Christmas album

Postby John Etherington » Tue Oct 06, 2009 10:43 am

Kush - You should get "Tell Tale Signs"...it's definitely not a re-run of "Modern Times" (no need to bother with the deluxe edition though).

All the best, John E
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sturgess66
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Re: preview clips from Mr Dylan's Christmas album

Postby sturgess66 » Tue Oct 06, 2009 5:31 pm

Oh - I definitely think he is sincere. His voice is gone - somewhere. Like a rolling stone. :lol: It is what it is.

But I love that raspy, cracked imperfect offering in some of these clips - like "I'll Be Home For Christmas."

My least fav is "It Must Be Santa" ("Who's Got a Big Red Cherry Nose") - haha! (The track on the album to skip?)

The way he belts out the traditional carols has the exuberance, enthusiasm and belief of a young choir boy. :D

Is it good? I dunno. Compared to what? It is what it is.

And Bob is a sentimental guy.

Maybe there will be television appearances to promote the album once it is released - like on the late shows or the new Leno - as we get closer to Christmas. :D :D
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Kush
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Re: preview clips from Mr Dylan's Christmas album

Postby Kush » Wed Oct 07, 2009 2:01 am

Hi John E,

Actually I do have the Tell Tale Signs album. I meant that it is different from the others all of which tend to sound the same with a few good and fewer great songs thrown in. TTS is of course technically not a new release, but its his best release in a long time I think. I liked only one song in Modern Times (Ain't Talkin') and so decided not to get the new album Together Through Life I think its called??
Is it good? I dunno. Compared to what? It is what it is.
Its different I am sure. At the very least you can scare kids with it.

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