(Various Artists) – “Theme Time Radio Hour with Your Host Bob Dylan” (2008)

July 21, 2009 at 9:00 am (Bob Dylan, Music, Reviews & Articles)

This 50-song collection of various blues, country, rock, jazz, r&b and old-time Americana comes from Bob Dylan’s highly-lauded Sirius XM radio show – which Dylan may or may not continue to do in the future.

Each show would have a different theme and Dylan would play songs based on that particular theme. Besides the always interesting, and usually obscure, playlist, Dylan would provide fascinating and entertaining commentary, which may include everything from household tips, anecdotes about the artists featured, quotes from old poets and philosophers, email readings, or vintage radio air checks and promos. Radio shows like this, unfortunately, do not exist anymore (John Peel, why did you have to leave us?). Dylan proves, in his deep, ravished voice, that if he had never become a legendary singer-songwriter, he could have just as easily become a legendary disk jockey. The man is a joy to listen to.

This collection, put out by Ace Records, features many wonderful songs – sometimes strange, always interesting. The packaging is excellent. It includes commentary on each song and artist (including notes by Colin Escott and Barney Hoskyns, among others) and there are many pictures and reproductions of old record sleeves. This set was put together with love and attention.

The only complaint about this set is that Dylan’s commentary is missing. These are just the songs, by themselves. Anyone familiar with the show will be disappointed by the lack of Dylan. Perhaps his anecdotes wouldn’t work though, when taken out of the context of each show. Even a lot of the songs themselves sound better when listened to within each particularly-themed context. The songs are selected, seemingly, at random from dozens of the programs.    

Still, there are so many good selections on here that it’s hard to complain too much, as long as you have eclectic musical tastes. From James Carr to The White Stripes to some strange act called George Zimmerman & The Thrills with The Bubber Cyphers Band, the joys are endless. This is a excellent history of the last hundred years of music.

For anyone wanting to hear Dylan though, I suggest picking up the deluxe edition copy of his new album Together Through Life. Included, is a complete broadcast of the “Friends & Neighbors”-themed show that Dylan aired on Aug. 23, 2006 (episode #17). This will give you an excellent taste of what the show is all about.

Do yourself a favor though and purchase both of these sets – you certainly can’t go wrong.

Jay Mucci

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: