Friday, July 31, 2009

Bob v Richard

Thanks to Liam Mogan:

“It’s been interesting to read the Bob v Van debate, especially the seriousness with which some of your (admittedly fine) contributors take it.

“I find any barbs at Dylan quite humorous really and take it all with a pinch of salt. His genius is unquestionable and his longevity to be marvelled at. Sure there are fallow periods, even within albums, never mind over decades, but ultimately you will always find moments of unparalleled insight and humanity.

“Similarly, I listen to Van on a regular basis and enjoy the majority of his work. The only criticism I can really level at him is there is a certain homogeneous quality to a lot of his albums especially on the later ones which can be boring after a while.

“Listen to any of his songs independently from this period you'll find almost all perfectly acceptable. However, if you try a whole album, you'll soon be twiddling your thumbs, looking out the window or reaching for a good read.

“The debate though has got me thinking about other artists in the post-60s era who could possibly compare to Dylan.

“Springsteen? - certainly as a performer but not as a writer; Neil Young? - possibly but again suffers from a Van-like late period decline; Costello? - musically he may be more adventurous, but where's the human connection?.

For me only that quintessential British talent, Richard Thompson comes even close. After starting out with Bob covers, he dropped the 'dylanisms' of his early songs to concentrate on creating a stunning body of work which encompasses folk/pop/rock/country and any other genre you care to name.

“At least 3 of his albums 'I Want to See the Bright Lights..', 'Shoot Out the Lights' (the nearest thing to the passion Blood on the Tracks I've ever heard) and 'Rumor and Sigh' are genuine classics.

“Whilst the quality does soar and dip throughout the catalogue, even some of the poorer releases contain their moments. He even has an advantage on Dylan of being able to match his brilliant song writing with almost peerless guitar playing - anyone who has heard his live epic 'Can't Win' on the 'Watching the Dark' box set can vouch for that.

“If you also take into account his time with Fairport Convention (the best Dylan covers band ever?), his constant touring schedule and his sterling session guitar work, you have an artist who deserves to be named in the same breath as Dylan. Even if it is just for a moment.”