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Bob Dylan Tempest

Updated on September 5, 2012

Bob Dylan releases his album Tempest on September 11, 2012. It is his 35th official studio album over a music career spanning more than five decades. There are 10 songs on this album - a typical number for a Dylan record. According to some reviews, the recording is one of his darkest yet. Rolling Stone magazine also say this.

Dylan said that in creating the album he had wanted to put together more religious songs, just like he had done earlier in his career when he became a born again Christian. Thankfully, some might say, the album didn't come together like this and what is actually on there are a mixture. The centre piece track, Tempest, is about the sinking of the Titanic in 1912. It has 45 verses without a chorus and lasts for almost 14 minutes. Woah! This ain't no radio play song.

So having read some of the reviews online I was waiting for the album to arrive having pre-ordered it some weeks before. I'd also watched the video for the opening track Duquesne Whistle and although the video was somewhat bizarre (see below) featuring Dylan walking down the street with a posse of Latin hard men and women, the song was catchy and grew on me. Overall I was real excited about this album, even though inside I knew not to expect any great feats of vocal dexterity - what with Bob having passed 70 years of age and spent a lifetime drinking, smoking, taking drugs and yelling out songs his voice has become deep and scratchy. Yet his voice still has the unmistakable coolness it has always had, and Dylan still has his sublime songwriting ability.

So getting on to the album... what's if like and what can you expect? Here is a track list and a brief summary of each song.

The cover of Bob Dylan's latest album, Tempest
The cover of Bob Dylan's latest album, Tempest

Duquesne Whistle

The opening track of the album. This has a chorus of 'listen to that Duquesne whistle blowing' with slight variations throughout the song. It's catchy and fun and the music is lively with a Hawaiian type slide guitar in the introduction. There are lots of interpretations of the song floating around, but none of them really mean anything. Just a cool song with the kind of imagery Dylan has always used.


Tempest is the title track of the album. It's about the sinking of the Titanic which happened a hundred years ago on April 15, 1912. That this year in 2012 the Titanic has been in the news so much may have influenced Dylan. It also seems like Dylan's attempt to comment and describe history. The song is almost 14 minutes long and made up of 45 verses. It's not a catchy number but it does showcase Dylan's descriptive prowess. He even makes reference to Leonardo de Caprio, the actor who played Jack alongside Kate Winslet in the Hollywood blockbuster film version of the disaster.

Roll On John

A tribute to Dylan's friend John Lennon who was assassinated in 1980. It's interesting how this is the last track, almost like it is putting to rest the album in a way that Lennon himself has been put to rest.

Bob Dylan concert reviews

Bob Dylan live shows have become something of a strange spectacle. Most of the time music fans are going just to get a glimpse of the great man. Die hard fans turn up at shows because they need to. Dylan often performs some of his most popular and well-known songs. They are rearranged and some, such as Tangled Up In Bue, are unrecognisable from their original versions. Yet even with Dylan's now limited vocal ability they are something to behold.

If you're a Bob Dylan fan and enjoyed reading this review of his latest album Tempest then please do check out these reports to the right from two of his recent concerts in the UK.


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