Next Monday, his Bobness will turn 80 and everyone everywhere will doubtless be marking the event with their umpteenth trawl through his greatest work.
So, in true, AterWord style, I propose we zig rather than zag and throw our million dollar birthday bash a few days early by celebrating our favourite second-tier Dylan albums.
For me, the almost-but-not-quite-a-classic has got to be 1983’s Infidels.
Arriving after his “Born Again trilogy” (Train, Saved, Shot), Infidels is together with Oh Mercy and Red Sky a highlight of the lengthy, largely fallow period that stretched right through until 1997’s Time out of Mind, and the start of one of the most remarkable late career resurgences in pop/rock.
Once of the reasons the album has such a special resonance for me is that he kicked off his Feb 1994 show at HK Coliseum with Jokerman from this very album. With a spine-tingling version of Hattie Carrol thrown in, the 94 gig was easily the most memorable of the four Dylan concerts I’ve been lucky enough to see.
In Sweetheart Like You and Don’t Fall Apart, the album is also home to a couple of stone cold classic deep cuts. Dylan was apparently so happy with the results of his Mark Knopfler-produced collaboration with Mick Taylor, Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare, etc, he was able to leave tracks as brilliant as Blind Willie McTell and Foot of Pride on the “for later” shelf.
Of all the tantalizingly-close-but-no-cigar classic Dylan albums I’ve got, this and Oh, Mercy are probably the two that I return to the most.
How about you?