Friday, May 26, 2017

Bob Dylan 62: Triplicate

We’ve already noted that Bob has rarely repeated himself in over half a century of recording, but some of his work has emerged, usually in hindsight, in arcs of threes. Triplicate is the third installment in his recent obsession with the Great American Songbook, and it’s three discs — whether you buy LP or CD — to boot. These 30 new recordings are evenly split between them, totaling just over 30 minutes each. It’s a lot of music to take in at once, and an in-depth analysis is out of our capabilities at this point. As with the last two, it’s nighttime listening, or if maybe if it’s raining, and probably not something that will be blasted out car windows or at the beach.
The first disc begins with a dance band horn section and ends jauntily; the second and third each start the same way but also end more subdued. Frank Sinatra is still the common touchstone. Disc one offers three songs from his September Of My Years album, which originally commemorated Frank’s (gasp!) 50th birthday, coloring the mood, but not clarifying it any. It’s easier to get into the more familiar, well-trodden songs, like “As Time Goes By”, “Stormy Weather”, “Sentimental Journey”, “My One And Only Love”, “These Foolish Things” and “Stardust”. In our case, the selections we know from September Of My Years and “Trade Winds”, familiar from Bugs Bunny cartoons, inspire the most humming along.
Once again transposing orchestral arrangements to a tiny combo, his band is flawless, particularly when left to themselves, quietly purring along behind the soft guitars and pedal steel. Dance band horns appear at times, providing variety. As should be expected, Bob’s voice varies. He has trouble on “Day In, Day Out”, “Where Is The One” and on tunes with the widest ranges, but is flawless on “It’s Funny To Everyone But Me” and even the wistful “There’s A Flaw In My Flue”. As silly as the title sounds, his delivery is convincing, the opposite effect of the blue pajamas he mentions on “I Guess I’ll Have To Change My Plan”.
The album title is just plain lazy, and the ones given to the individual discs, despite the apostrophes, seem almost arbitrary, as much red herrings as Fallen Angels was for that album. The liner notes, presumably not written by him, work a little too hard to praise. Triplicate remains something of a novelty, and Shadows In The Night remains the better album, making a welcome, familiar listen after getting through an hour and a half of similarly arranged pieces. So too does Fallen Angels fall better into place, but we dare say this one is the runner-up of the three. So far.

Bob Dylan Triplicate (2017)—3


  1. Triplicate is great and a very satisfying album in its entirety. I really like it a lot, it is better than the other two albums that came before it, even though they are nice too. Once upon a time, Braggin, How deep is the ocean, Stardust and Trade Winds are excellent songs to listen too. Bob is still awesome and fun.

  2. Besides the Christmas album this is the second release that I don't buy from him. The former two albums (with similar music) I have bought, but I was dissatisfied: I do know many other & better versions of these old songs,not so lamely interpreted. Therefore, I don't listen to these from Dylan. And I don't buy this one. Sounds like a lame duck, sorry.
    - Jeeves