With the new Uncut review (thanks to justlikeaman for the photos and gerardv for the transcription)Song by song:
1. Duquesne Whistle [LA Times]
The folky sound of old-time country blues guitar licks quietly unfurl before the full band explodes into a driving big-beat rhythm as rollicking as the train ride the song explores. It also signals perhaps a greater focus on musical arrangements than Dylan fans have been accustomed to, with melodic flourishes and sharp rhythmic breaks accompanying his metaphor-heavy lyrics in a song that sounds apocalyptic and hopeful at once.[Guardian]
Tempest opens with the jaunty Duquesne Whistle, something like a more rambunctious Nashville Skyline Rag from the 1969 album. Complete with jamming organ and slick guitar licks (shades of Charlie Christian?), the whistle threatens "to blow my blues away".[Mojo]
It starts like some Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys' 1930s Western Swing thing, like an old song emanating from ancient radio ether, reminding us of Dylan's love for the roots of American music. But after a verse, it hits ramming speed, kicking into a ferocious romping rocker propelled by Tony Garnier's walking bass. The conceit belongs to that grand tradition of long gone train line songs (think City Of New Orleans), representing older, more soulful values that get lost when progress mows down everything in its path. "Listen to that Duquesne whistle blow/Sounds like it's on a final run." A helluva an opener.[Hotpress]
The first track, 'Duquesne Whistle', is perfect for the start. What journey doesn’t begin with the whistle of a leaving train? America has such a thing for trains – we strangely think of them as very American, even though in the modern day they’re better run in just about any European country. I think it’s a touch of the Wild West – a landscape Dylan likes to live in, imaginatively, and one that’s so essentially American – with the train as the only way to get to town, the lifeline to “civilization” and Back East.
And there are more good train songs than there are for any other travel genre. Sure, there are some good car songs. Not so much airplane songs. Then you can go back for all the old sea chanteys, most of which I’d bet Dylan knows, but ships these days are too archaic a mode of travel – or a romantic and privileged one. (More about sea chanteys and ballads later; the title track is one). 'Duquesne' is one of those names that are fun as heck to say, if you know how to pronounce it – a town that seems to be lost in the middle of nowhere, but that hooks up to anywhere by train. Even if, as Dylan has it, it’s via Gary, Indiana, where once upon a time The Music Man lived. But which Duquesne is it, anyway? They’re all over the American map – including one in Arizona that’s a ghost town now. (It cracked me up to see that a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania paper has already run an article saying Bob Dylan has a new song about the Duquesne Steel Works and Andrew Carnegie.) The whole sense of the song made me feel like Jay Gatsby, back from the war on that eastbound train, leaving Louisville: “But it was all going by too fast for his blurred eyes and he knew that he had lost that part of it, the freshest and best, forever.” Yet this first song’s not all looking back, and tristesse. As I listened to some of the more genial lines linking the train to women, and the idea of the singer’s baby being on board, I thought of radiant Marilyn Monroe as Sugar Kane in 'Some Like it Hot', singing 'Runnin’ Wild' in the aisles of a southbound train somewhere in the Midwest. I loved the invocation of the “lights of my native land,” and was pleasantly surprised when the train-whistle voice, feminized already, echoes the “mother of our lord.” The ending challenge in Dylan’s light, resonant voice as to whether or not you’ll “know me the next time I come ‘round” is for us all – and yes sir, we’ll know you.
Maybe the best thing of all about 'Duquesne', though, is that it rhymes with “train.” Are critics going to get how rich and eloquent and patterned the rhyming on this record is? I hope so. Dylan is among the best rhymers in the English language since Yeats, who was the best since Byron, who was the best since Pope, who was the best since Shakespeare. And I mean that.[Uncut]
'Dunquesne Whistle' instead, and at odds it will shortly transpire with much we go on to encounter, joyfully evokes the jubilee train of gospel legend, bound for glory; a salvation express full of hopeful halelujahs, its destination somewhere better than here, this sickly place and its trampled sadness, unceasing strife and grief everywhere you look. In ways some distance removed from the things waiting on the rest of the album, Duquesne Whistle is passably carefree, possibly even best described as rambunctious.
It begins fabulously, with a jazzy instrumental preface, reminiscent of 'Nashville Skyline Rag', guitarists Charlie Sexton and Stu Kimball briskly exchanging Charlie Christian licks. It's like turning on the radio and tuning into the past, nostalgically evocative of a more sunlit innocent time. There is too the impression that we have joined the album, somehow, after it's already started and eerily like this music has been playing on a disk that never stops spinning. Then the whole group blows in, the magnificent road band that's backed Dylan, most of them anyway, on everything he's recorded since 'Love and Theft', and so includes Modern Times, Together Through Life and Christmas in the Heart.
They are ablaze here and on fire throughout, and at their jitterbugging point of entry. 'Duquesne Whistle' takes on an upstoppable momentum that may remind you of, say, 'Highway 61 Revisited' or 'Tombstone Blues' (I was also freetingly reminded of Cat Power's swinging version of 'Stuck inside of Mobile' from the I'm not Here soundtrack. Even as the song is apparently celebrating what's good in the world, something more awry is stirring, clouds gathering. 'Can't you hear that Duquesne Whistle blowin? Blowin like the sky's gonna blow apart' Dylan sings in intimation of shadows about to fall on paradise. In other words, Tempest is not dark yet, but it will be soon enough.
2. Soon After Midnight [RS]
The doleful "Soon After Midnight" seems to be about love but may in fact be about revenge.[Billboard]
"Soon After Midnight" is a bluesy doo-wop that echoes the Rays' "Silhouettes" and a bit of Santo & Johnny's "Sleepwalk" in an instrumental break.[Guardian]
It's a mood sustained in the gentle Soon After Midnight – "it's soon after midnight and I've got date with the fairy queen … and I don't want nobody but you" – on which some of Dylan's phrasing recalled for me the feeling of Under the Red Sky, the title track on the 1990 album.[Telegraph]
“I’m searching for phrases to sing your praises,” croons Bob Dylan on Soon After Midnight. [What sounds at first like a gentle country love song contains the admission “My heart is fearful / It’s never cheerful / I’ve been down on the killing floor” and concludes with the threat to drag the corpse of somebody called Two Timing Tim “through the mud”.][Mojo]
At first one thinks this slow strut is a simple nocturne, a night owl's paean. But as the narrator moves through the moonlight, his multiple women become "harlots" and meet horrific ends. Bob The Ripper? As usual, nothing is revealed, only inferred. Wicked - even evil - delight.[Hotpress]
'Soon After Midnight' is when some people’s days begin, true. Here, in the second song, it seems to be a whole brothelful of folks. We’re on Rue Morgue Avenue redux, but this place isn’t as terrifying and life-threatening at all; the setting of 'Soon After Midnight' is pretty mellow, really, and romantic, as such things go. The rhymes make you grin – of course Charlotte the harlot is going to be dressed in scarlet, while “Mary’s in green / I’ve got myself a date with the Faerie Queene” (at least that’s how I’m spelling it, the way Spenser did). This is honky-tonkin’ nostalgia, in the end, and Dylan’s current band has been playing Western-saloon, cowboy-band style long enough now to make it sound like late night in a border town as the words come full circle to the end. The ladies may treat him kindly, but where the singer really wants to be, ma’am, is with you.[Uncut]
'Soon After Midnight', meanwhile, sounds at first like a touching, funny country love song, gently crooned, with the languid melody lope of Mississippi. It gives way suddenly, however, to a similar distress-'My heart is fearful/It's never cheerful/I've been down on the killing floor'-and an incrementally vengeful mood that surfaces several times elsewhere, with even greater malevolence.
3. Narrow Way [Billboard]
"Narrow Way" is a seven and a half minute riff-driven tune that straddles country and blues.[Guardian]
Narrow Way does carry notes of foreboding, heightened by a line about the British burning down the White House, but since when can you hear Bob Dylan singing about a having "a heavy stacked woman with a smile on her face" and not laugh, too?[Telegraph]
On the Muddy Waters style, harmonica-driven blues of Narrow Way, Dylan declares “this is a hard country to stay alive in / I’m armed to the hilt.”[Mojo]
A jump blues 'bout wimmin troubles. The put-down artist who sang "You're an idiot, babe/It's a wonder that you still know how to breathe," now scorns his lady with a withering "Even death has washed its hands of you." Best couplet: "I'm still hurting from an arrow that pierced my chest/I'm gonna have to take my head and bury it between your breasts."[Hotpress]
'Narrow Way' shook me up a little – dark and gritty and one of which I can’t remember many specific details, because they were wiped away by the ensuing standout song 'Long And Wasted Years'. I remember a general biblical/messianic feel (not exactly unfamiliar, if you’ve always listened to Dylan).[Uncut]
'Narrow Way', for instance, is seven minutes of wrath, driven by the kind of scalding guitar circulations that propelled 'Dirt Road Blues' on Time Out Of Mind and Modern Times' 'Rollin and Tumblin', both of which also were indebted to Muddy Waters. 'This is a hard country to stay alive in' Dylan sings, in condemnation of the people who have made it thus, adding in warning 'I'm armed to the hilt'.
4. Long and Wasted Years[Mojo]
A gorgeous ballad in which the protagonist apologises to his love for hurting her feelings. He admits he wears shades to hide his eyes because "There are secrets in them that I can't disguise" and in one line explains decades of Dylan photos.[Hotpress]
'Long and Wasted Years' is a punch in the jaw, a shove against the wall, from start to end. The scene here is of a guy in bed with a woman who’s talking in her sleep, saying things she shouldn’t, things for which one day she might end up in jail. There are zinger couplets, patterned internal rhymes here, a trail of linguistic breadcrumbs to a rocking gritty beat that lead from one harsh remarkable image to another. The song’s title being withheld until the end, and then drawn out in the last line in Dylan’s intense, bitingly enunciated voice, is genius.[Uncut]
The devotionally inclined 'Long and Wasted Years' finds Dylan almost talking his way through the song, in the manner of 'Three Angels' from New Morning, over a slightly churchy organ and a lovely bluesy guitar refrain. 'I think that when my back was turned, the whole world behind me burned', Dylan recites at one point, the charred landscape that so much of Tempest occupies coming into full focus, a forlorn sort of place, populated by the displaced and the lost, to who Dylan gives poignant voice. 'I ain't seen my family in 20 years', he reflects wearily in one of the verses 'They may be dead by now. I lost track of them after they lost their land'. The bereft hopelessness that is evident in many instances on the album is particularly well articulated here, especially in the song's chastening final image: 'We cried on a cold and frosty morn.' Dylan mourns, and there's no other word for it. 'We cried because our souls were torn/So much for tears, so much for these long and wasted years'.
5. Pay in Blood [RS]
The vengeful "Pay in Blood" has Dylan darkly repeating, "I pay in blood, but not my own." [Billboard]
The bite of Warren Zevon comes out in "Pay in Blood," the chorus of which ends with the gripping line "I pay in blood/but not my own."[Guardian]
The darkness does finally start to descend with the gospel-influenced Pay in Blood ("I pay in blood … but not my own" ).[Mojo]
A swaggering, threatening, don't-x-with-me and the second Tempest song where Bob plays the fiend. "Legs and arms and body and bone/I pay in blood but not my own."[Hotpress]
'Pay in Blood' is also a great song. The Dylan move of someone’s gonna pay, but it ain’t gonna be me, is an old one. He’s slippery, and gets out of the fixes he gets himself into in his songs…most of the time. “Arms and legs, body & bone / I’ll pay in blood, but not my own.” It’s got a taunting, judging tone to it that fits the words perfectly into the tune.[Uncut]
The gospel influenced 'Pay in Blood' opens with guitars, piano and a little Tex-Mex swagger over a vaguely menacing chord sequence reminiscent of those great declamatory Warren Zevon songs that Dylan so admires, like 'Lawyers, Guns and Money', 'Boom Boom Mancini' (which Dylan covered in concert several times as a tribute when Zevon died in 2003). There's a hint, too, in the arrangement, of the song's gospel roots, and something of the Stones in Sexton's admirable guitar riff. It's a song in part about the futile notion of suffering being in any way ennobling. 'How I made it back home, nobody knows/Or how I survived so many blows/I've been through hell, what good did it do?' Dylan asks, a bitter question, asked perhaps of God, since he then adds 'You bastard, I'm supposed to respect you? I'll give you justice'. The singer's anger is anger palpably rising, and he is prone to reject communal solace for a life apart, lonely and slightly terrified. 'This is how I spend my days/I take my fear and sleep alone' Dylan sings, following it with the chilling pay-off line, several times repeated 'I pay in blood, but not my own'.
6. Scarlet Town [LA Times]
There’s an ominous and mysterious tone to “Scarlet Town,” which adds another batch of colorfully named characters to the roster of Dylan song habitues: Uncle Tom, Uncle Bill, Sweet William, Mistress Mary and Little Boy Blue turn up on the streets of Scarlet Town.[Billboard]
Another song from the new album, "Scarlet Town" will play over the end credits of the first two episodes, which air Aug. 17. "Scarlet Town," rooted in English folk with banjo, acoustic guitar, fiddle and drums providing the accompaniment, plays out as a tale of doom, fate and potential redemption.[Guardian]
Scarlet Town – which is the setting for the Child Ballad Barbara Allen that Dylan has sung throughout his career.[Mojo]
We're in Masked and Anonymous territory here, Twenty-Worst Century amorality, where "the end is near," with "the evil and the good living side-by-side" and where "all human forms seem glorified." Perhaps he's referring to the Internet. A loping finger-pointer with a nice slow banjo plucked by Donnie Herron.[Hotpress]
'Scarlet Town' was one of my very favorites. My mother’s family are farmers from western North Carolina, who came there from Scotland (where my many-times-great grandmother was bonnie Annie Laurie) in the 1760s. My grandmother sang me to sleep when I was a child with 'Barbara Allen', her favorite ballad, and it’s always been mine. Not exactly an uplifter, but what ballad is? One of the great evenings of my life was hearing Dylan singing 'Barbara Allen' in the summer of 1988 at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles. Well, I think if Grandma had sung me to sleep with 'Scarlet Town', I’d have been a tad more unsettled than 'Barbara Allen' probably had already made me in my dreams. The tune is gorgeous, and the song sung sweetly and softly, every word crystal clear, enunciated and carefully pronounced. You won’t need a lyric sheet for this record. (I don’t understand people who complain they can’t tell what Dylan’s saying/singing: he’s very precise these days.) Like many of the songs on Tempest, 'Scarlet Town’s' got an archaic feel – and not just because its roots are in an old ballad’s roses and briars. Scarlet Town, where I was born, with its golden leaves and silver thorn, could have come from a Yeats poem of the 1890s. The town itself is far from perfect, with its marble slabs and graveyards and deaths – but, the singer reminds you repeatedly, still you regret leaving it, and you know you’ll come back there some day.[Uncut]
'Scarlet Town' is notably set to a melody that sounds like it's been passed down the ages and has a courtly mien reminiscent of the Gillian Welch song from last year's The Harrow & The Harvest with which it shares a title. Fiddle and banjo take the lead here, creating a mysterious swirling atmosphere. There are flashes of bawdy humour, too, but the pervasive mood, here as elsewhere, is ultimately of turmoil and unrest. Towards the end of its 7 minute running time, the track is further interrupted by a wraith-like guitar solo that rises out of the mix like something emerging from a fog and adds a particular creepiness to things.
7. Early Roman Kings [Billboard]
A 12-bar blues that features David Hidalgo of Los Lobos on accordion.[Telegraph]
The throwaway blues of Early Roman Kings.[Mojo]
The only Tempest tune that's been officially YouTubed. As he's done in disparate songs from Bob Dylan's 115th Dream to Isis, the author erases boundaries between historical and mythical epochs and collapses time into Bobworld. Is this about Romulus? If so, he's wearing a sharkskin suit and there's talk of "ding dong daddies" and "Sicilian courts," all set to a Mannish Boy musical template.[Hotpress]
'Early Roman Kings' is a rhyming romp – lecherous and treacherous, peddlers and meddlers. I was laughing through it, and wincing sometimes, too, at the hard images. The Muddy Waters riff that drives 'Mannish Boy', that Muddy in turn got from a hundred older bluesmen, pulls the words along in a river. It’s sort of a voodoo song, with all the kings like Baron Samedis. They’re not in togas or on coins, but in their sharkskin suits, in their top hats and tails, nailed in their coffins (so they can’t get out, presumably, though beware, they DO). All the centuries are jumbled together like tossed cards. Which, when you think about it, is pretty much the way human history goes down, and always will. When the singer starts cautioning you, near the end, that he’s going to start acting like an early Roman king, you’d better stay on your toes. Or, better yet, head for the hills.[Uncut]
'Early Roman Kings' is equally livid, an accusatory tirade, again directed at the same people Dylan has pretty much railed against since he first put plectrum to guitar string and started having his say about things. The 'kings' of the song are vividly seen in 'their sharkskin suits, bow-ties and buttons and high top boots' as shyster bankers, corrupt money men who have bankrupted nations, impoverished millions. As Dylan put it, 'The meddlers and peddlers, they buy and they sell/They destroyed your city, they'll destroy you as well'. What Dylan feels about them is akin to the savage hate expressed on 'Masters of War', say 'I could strip you of life, strip you of breath/Ship you down to the house of death' he sings with hostile contempt, nothing particularly equivocal about his point this point of view, which is in a word merciless.
'Early Roman Kings' is the closest thing here to the kind of roadhouse blues that has been a signature of a lot of recent Dylan, especially Together Through Life. David Hidalgo from Los Lobos adds typically gutsy accordion to the band's robust vamping and the track's lurching gait is an absolute gas, it's vicious sentiment notwithstanding. The blues continues to be a vital part of Dylan's music, but Tempest on key songs also marks a return to a folk tradition that has latterly not been as much in evidence.
8. Tin Angel [RS]
"Tin Angel" is a devastating tale of a man in search of his lost love. [LA Times]
The nine-minute “Tin Angel,” a remarkably straightforward ballad of romantic betrayal and retribution.[Guardian]
The slow-burning Tin Angel.[Mojo]
Full of betrayal and more pierced hearts, this is where Tempest sets up the first of the 1-2-3 punch of epic songs that close out the album. Ultra-violent, Shakespearean imagery in a description of a doomed love triangle that literally goes up in flames. To quote another rock poet, no one here gets out alive.[Hotpress]
'Tin Angel' is another ballad, of which there are, happily, several on this record. Nobody does ballads like Dylan, said Liam Clancy the last time he was in New York – high praise, coming from Clancy. (Then Clancy did his Dylan impression, and very affectionately, too). One of the earliest poetic forms in English, the ballad’s also one of the most enduring and popular. People purely love a song that tells a good story – and, as Richard Thompson likes to say in concert, we especially love ballads when everyone dies in the end, except for whoever the writer/singer of the song is. 'Tin Angel' is Scotland meets Mexico, a borderline Dylan loves: the bonnie bonnie banks of the Rio Grande. There’s a weird love triangle, here, among a woman and two men. I couldn’t quite tell who the woman’s married to, but then maybe neither can she. Both men claim to be at some point, or she calls them at some point, husband. But the plot of 'Tin Angel' is 'The Raggle Taggle Gypsy', or 'Gypsy Davy', with a dash of 'Lord Darnell' thrown in. (It’s also rather Romeo and Juliet. Whenever a woman pulls out a knife and kills herself with it, between two dead lovers, I have to think of poor Juliet. There are several lines in the songs of Tempest that are straight out of Shakespeare). As in 'Early Roman Kings' the diction’s high and low, archaic words and phrasings mixed in with modernspeak.
And why not? We have such a rich language in English – use it all. Dylan’s brilliant to do so. Words don’t go away; we just keep making up more of them, and there’s such a wealth of ones that have fallen out of use. Bring ‘em back. Here, people lower themselves on golden chains, and crumple at the waist like twisted pins. This guy with whom the woman’s run off isn’t so raggle-taggle – she’s not sleeping rough on a riverbank wrapped in a horsehide, but naked in bed in a nice warm room, clinking glasses in front of the fire, when we enter the scene for her last moments. One man shoots the other, who crawls across the floor, dying; she then kills the killer – and herself. It feels fated, like a good ballad: she’s not mourning the dead lover, but quitting (in the sense of quitclaim) the “husband” she’s just stabbed – sort of a self-executed eye for an eye. That they all end up in a heap together, thrown in a hole, seems appropriate.
In all these middle songs, taken together, I remember feeling dangers all around by the end of them. There are harsh phrases (politicians full of piss, bastards, and, somewhere, a “flat-chested junkie whore”) that put you on guard and that really make you listen, and think. Having yourself primed that way, while also irrevocably tapping your toes and rocking to the tunes, is an excellent way to be as you come to realize that the next song is the one about Titanic.[Uncut]
'Tin Angel' sounds similarly as if it could have been lifted wholesale from an anthology of traditional folk songs, where hundreds of such tales must lurk. It's a revenge ballad, nine minutes long, with no chorus, banjo and fiddle again to the fore. The setting is vague. References in one of the latter verses to a helmet and a cross-handed sword suggest a chivalric age. But soon after that, there's a gunfight, the kind of point-black shootout set-piece you used to find in Walter Hill movies, which suggests Dylan at one point may have had a Western setting in mind, perhaps inspired by a recent tour bus viewing of something like 'Duel in the Sun', a torrid oafer starring Dylan favourite Gregory Peck.
What happens, anyway, is that someone called 'The Boss', which is not a name you probably come across too often in the Child Ballads, one day comes home from wherever to find his wife has gone missing. Whither the Missus? Has she simply left him, or been adbucted? Boss upon investigation is tipped off by a faithful retainer that the errant spouse has in fact made off with one Henry Lee, leader of an unindentified clan. Boss ceders his men to horse and off they gallop in hot pursuit, his men deserting him along the way. Dogged Boss continues alone. After presumably much travail, Boss tracks down Henry Lee and his wife, bursts in on their amorous coupling and after declaring his love for his wife starts blasting away. Henry Lee's the better shot and soon Boss is dying in his own blood. The missus takes this surprisingly badly and stabs Henry Lee before plunging a dagger into her own heart. The final image of the three of them tossed into a single grave 'forever to sleep' is chillingly unforgettable.
9. Tempest [RS]
The title track is a nearly 14-minute depiction of the Titanic disaster. Numerous folk and gospel songs gave accounts of the event, including the Carter Family's "The Titanic," which Dylan drew from. "I was just fooling with that one night," he says. "I liked that melody – I liked it a lot. 'Maybe I'm gonna appropriate this melody.' But where would I go with it?" Elements of Dylan's vision of the Titanic are familiar – historical figures, the inescapable finality. But it's not all grounded in fact: The ship's decks are places of madness ("Brother rose up against brother. They fought and slaughtered each other"), and even Leonardo DiCaprio appears. ("Yeah, Leo," says Dylan. "I don't think the song would be the same without him. Or the movie.").[LA Times]
The devastating title track, a 14-minute epic that relates the history of the Titanic with greater power than James Cameron’s overstuffed film.
“Tempest,” couched as an old country waltz, finds Dylan (as he also does in “Tin Angel”) almost entirely avoiding the oblique imagery and playful metaphor on which he built his reputation as rock’s greatest songwriter, instead keeping his lyrics firmly planted on the ground -- or, in this case, in the frigid waters of the North Atlantic in 1912.
Yet every one of the song’s 45 verses still packs a punch. Here's one sample:Mothers and their daughters
Descending down the stairs
Jumped into the icy waters
Love and pity sent their prayers[Billboard]
The song that will get the most attention though is the nearly 14-minute title track track. "Tempest," 45 verses written in accentual-syllabic verse with no chorus, is set aboard the Titanic, with characters ranging from an artist named Leo -- DiCaprio, one might assume -- to Jim Dandy, who hands over a chance at survival to youngster.[Guardian]
The title track, which lasts almost 14-minutes and tells the story of the sinking of the Titanic over the course of 45 verses. This last is a subject Dylan has touched on previously (in a line on Desolation Row), while several blues and folk songs have tackled it – Richard "Rabbit" Brown's Sinking of the Titanic and the Carter Family's The Titanic among them. Dylan told Rolling Stone his song evolved from fooling around with the melody to the latter, but what we end up with is something on a bigger scale. And just as the 16-minute Highlands from Time Out of Mind namechecked Neil Young and Erica Young, it's Leonardo DiCaprio who gets a mention here, among a cavalcade of characters.[Mojo]
The almost-14 minute title track about the sinking of the Titanic. The lords and ladies within initially dance before ending up as floating corpses. There's a character named Leo with a sketchbook, echoing the Hollywood version as well as history's. Some folks "slaughter" each other over lifeboat space, others perform great acts of heroism - a microcosm of humanity. And a mysterious character called "The Watchman" repeatedly dreams of the disaster and tries to save the victims. Is he on or off the ship? Is he contemporaneous or does he exist now? We're not told, adding to the surreal nightmare.[Hotpress]
'Tempest' is a flood, less a matter of a particular ship sinking than the waters constantly rising, and rising. From the set-up for this nearly quarter-hour song (the scene of a woman in a saloon, getting ready to sing the song about the Great Ship), with its rolling, flowing 1-2-3 waltz ripple-beat, to the fade-out of its conclusion, 'Tempest' is a mesmerizing ballad. It feels like someone’s dangling a watch in front of your face, swinging it back and forth as what’s going to happen inexorably comes to pass. You know the history of Titanic, you know the stories made of it from novels to recent movies, and you can’t stop it, you just have to sit there and respect it. As you listen, you bear witness. The ship’s watchman is a perfect recurring figure to keep you company, watching along with you (he reminds me of the fez-wearing desk clerk in 'Black Diamond Bay', a cataclysmic ballad also). The watchman’s a fine character for a refrain, seen dozing while dancers circle; seen later as the ship begins to go down; and seen wanting, finally, to send a message to someone when it’s far too late. The images are powerful: the dark cold sky full of stars; John Jacob Astor kissing his darling wife; even Leo and his sketchpad. Leo appears again, with Cleo this time, later in the song. He, and she, will make Dylanologists run amok linking Di Caprio and Cleopatra, I expect: two people famous for being in boats. After all, Cleo has that barge, in which she makes her triumphal entrance for Antony in one of the most famous, doomed, spectacular scenes in all of Shakespeare. What people won’t concentrate on is what’s simplest and happiest for a song: the fact that Leo and Cleo rhyme. The use of the movie Titanic is good, and smart – it shows an awareness, without judging the fact, that Leo’s movie is what Titanic means to most people today. Like me, Dylan’s remembered that stunning scene of the drowned woman in her long gown, floating in the risen waters above the elaborate staircase as if she’s dancing; he refers to it powerfully. Certain lines, like the one about petals falling from the vases of fresh flowers in a first-class area, are particularly lyric. As I listened to this song, though, I thought about Noah and Katrina as much as I did about Titanic. Maybe more. To call it epic isn’t too strong.[Uncut]
And so to the title track: 45 verses over 14 minutes about the sinking of the Titanic, inspired by Dylan's musing on the Carter Family's 'The Titanic', but at times as much in debt to James Cameron's blockbuster movie (whose leading man, Leonardo DiCaprio, is name-checked twice). The piece starts with what sounds like a string quartet, after which brief overture the song settles into a long unwinding waltz, progressing with stately resolution, verse following verse, like a latter-day 'Desolation Row'. The song vividly describes the panic and confusion as the great ship flounders, a metaphor for the folly of over-reaching ambition; mankind again brought low by God's intervention.
The scale of the disaster is enormous, contains 'every kind of sorrow'. Dylan dramatically capturing the dark panic of the moment-the blown hatches, the water pouring everywhere, the ship's smokestack crashing down, hunbler passengers trapped below decks-and as in the film, certain characters are given their own scenes, each verse then a gripping vignette. There's for instance someone called Wellington, holed up in his cabin. 'Glass and shattered crystal lay shattered round about/He strapped on both his pistols/how long could he hold out?' And here's Jim Backer: 'He saw the starlight shining/Streaming from the east/Death was on the rampage/but his heart was now at peace.' 'Davy the brothel-keeper' meanwhile 'came out, dismissed his girls/Saw the water getting deeper/saw the changing of his world.' The ship's captain at the moment of its sinking catches his reflection in the glass of a compass and 'in the dark illumination, he remembered bygone years/He read the book of Revelation/filled his cage with tears'.
10. Roll On John [RS]
Tenderness finally seals Tempest, in "Roll On, John," Dylan's heartfelt tribute to his friend John Lennon.[LA Times]
A 7 1/2-minute benediction directed at John Lennon, invoking several snippets of lyrics from the late Beatle’s songs.[Billboard]
The album's final track is a tribute to John Lennon, "Roll on John." In one verse Dylan references the Beatles songs "Come Together," Ballad of John and Yoko" and "Slow Down"; elsewhere on the ballad he combines the metaphysical with the historical.[Guardian]
Then finally, there's Roll on John, which digs back into the blues and into William Blake to tell part of the story of John Lennon; it's warm, mysterious and moving – and an excuse to dig out that famous footage of the pair in London taxi cab – with Dylan at one point singing: "I heard the news today, oh boy!" In terms of the Dylan canon, does it bring to mind the crepuscular menace of Not Dark Yet?. Perhaps it's more Forever Young.[Telegraph]
The album’s beautiful, surprising conclusion, Roll On John, is almost out of character, a shaggy, loose piano and organ lament for one of rock’s great dreamers, John Lennon. Dylan sings to his lost friend “your bones are weary, you’re about to breath your last / Lord you know how hard that bit can be” before breaking into an elegiac, bittersweet chorus (“Shine a light / Move it on / You burned so bright / Roll on John”).[Mojo]
And in the end, pretty much a blow-by-blow account of the murder of Dylan's friend John Lennon. Bob imagines the physical experience of dying that John endured in his final moments, down to "breathing his last." Terribly sad, terribly moving, and appropriate for all of us who consider Dylan and Lennon the titans of rock 'n' roll artistry - once two very stoned young pals in the back of a limo having too much fun. "You burned so bright/Roll on John."[/quote][Hotpress]
After the flood, there’s only one more song to listen to. 'Roll On John' will be the most talked-about track on Tempest, and with good reason. There’s so much going on in it, and it’s truly beautiful. In a first listening I’ve gotten so little of it, but am still very moved by it. The simple, clean refrain, intimated in the title, is reminiscent of the refrain of John Lennon’s own 'Instant Karma'. The use of other Beatles lines, and above all those from William Blake, are magical tributes. 'Roll On John' is an elegy. When you write an elegy paying tribute to one who has died, you use forms and models and all the elegies that have come before. When Milton wrote an elegy for his drowned friend Edward King, he used Greek models and translated lines from odes. When Shelley wrote 'Adonais' for Keats, he used Milton; when Yeats elegized Robert Gregory, he used Shelley; when Auden elegized Yeats, he used Yeats.
The title of this song is taken from an old folk tune Dylan recorded 50 years ago, a song of abandoned love and sunsets and what’s lonesome. The plaint of the refrain of that old tune is that John rolls on so slow. What breaks the heart, here, is the fact that John Lennon shone brightly for such a short time on this earth. Only months older than Dylan, Lennon was just 40 when he was killed. The images in this song go through Lennon’s musical life as a young man, from the Liverpool docks to the Hamburg streets, to the Quarrymen in the cellar – but there are also powerful images of silencing and captivity, things John never, ever put up with. A stanza about slave ships sailing the Atlantic, focusing on a man’s mouth clamped shut, is stunning, as is the companion verse about a modern-day move – both from England to America, and beyond. Lennon has bags to unpack, but he hasn’t, yet; the singer gently reassures him, and us, that “the sooner you leave, the sooner you’ll be back.” This line makes of England, and Manhattan, islands from which Lennon’s gone, and oh, does it make us want him back. The possibilities of life in America are fraught with old-style Western ambush, Indian attack, being shot in the back: painful listening, as you remember that morning in December when most of us heard of Lennon’s death. The final stanza is a gorgeous surprise, tying together the song’s refrain of Lennon’s having burned so bright in a perfect circle of the personal and the poetic:"Tiger, tiger, burning bright
Pray the Lord my soul to keep
In the forests of the night
Cover him over and let him sleep."
If anyone has a “problem” with the last verse of 'Roll On John' being composed largely of lines from William Blake’s 'The Tyger' and from the prayer most children in John Lennon’s England, and Bob Dylan’s America, used to say every night – if anyone wants to claim this isn’t “original” – they’re pretty shallow uncomprehending types without any sense of the grace of literary history and individual composition. They’re also not listening with their hearts. Bob Dylan is the best proponent, and champion, of tradition and the individual talent writing and singing songs today. That last line before the concluding refrain, “Cover him over and let him sleep,” is so gently and lovingly delivered that it doesn’t need a single word to come past it – and so I end this first listen to a remarkable new record here.[Uncut]
After such calamity, the sheer tenderness of the closing 'Roll On, John' is as much of a shock as a mere surprise. A belated tribute to John Lennon, the song is as direct and heartfelt as anything Dylan's written probably since 'Sara', whose occasional gaucheness it recalls, as Dylan roams over Lennon's career 'from the Liverpool docks to the red-light Hamburg streets', quoting from Lennon and Beatles songs along the way, including 'A Day In The Life', 'The Ballad Of John and Yoko' and 'Come Together'. The affection expressed for Lennon in the song is tangible, makes it glow like a force-field, and by the end is totally disarming. 'Your bones are weary, you're about to breathe your last' Dylan sings to his dead friend 'Lord you know how hard that bit can be' before moving on to a spine tingling elegaic chorus: 'Shine a light, Move it on, You burned so bright/Roll on, John'.Album reviews:[Uncut]
Don’t spread it about, but, yes, I’ve heard the new Dylan album. And four or five tracks in, what I was thinking was: how much better is this thing going to get?
On first hearing, though, Tempest seemed to find Dylan on unquestionably formidable form. Its ten tracks run over a total playing time of around 75 minutes, the title track alone taking up a fair chunk of that, with verse following verse in a manner that might remind you of “Desolation Row”. There was a lot, therefore, to take in on a single encounter, especially with note-taking discouraged. There was no track listing forthcoming, either, not that this matters at the moment since I am obliged to not go into premature detail ahead of the album’s September 10 release.
I think I can say without punitive consequences, though, that if you’re trying to imagine what Tempest sounds like you may want to think less perhaps of the rambunctious roadhouse blues that was central to most of Together Through Life and parts of Modern Times, although this is a recent signature sound that hasn’t been entirely abandoned.
Neither are there too many of the jazzy riverboat shuffles of “Love And Theft” in evidence here as much as there are echoes of a folk tradition that was manifest on, say, “High Water (For Charley Patton)” and also “Nettie Moore”, from Modern Times. You may also want to keep in mind as a point of reference “Mississippi” from “Love And Theft” and something like “Red River Shore”, recorded for Time Out Of Mind, but not released until 2009, when it appeared on the Tell Tale Signs three-CD set, where also lurked “’Cross The Green Mountain”, the epic civil war song Dylan wrote for the soundtrack to the 2003 film, Gods And Generals. Hardly anyone heard it when it originally came out, but it came several times to mind as Tempest unspooled spectacularly a few weeks ago, concluding with a song that will probably be much-talked about, although not here, right now.
It perhaps goes without saying that if I actually had a copy of the album, there isn’t much else I’d currently be listening to.
Just a follow up to my post earlier this week about the new Bob Dylan album, around which a certain excitement seems to be accumulating. As I mentioned, the album features ten new Dylan songs that I can now give titles to, including “Roll On John”, the album’s closing track, a wistful tribute to John Lennon that quotes lines from several Beatles songs, including “Come Together” and “A Day In The Life”.
The album’s title track, meanwhile, is a 14-minute epic that revolves around the sinking of The Titanic, while the reflective mood of several other tracks, including stand-outs “Soon After Midnight”, “Long And Wasted Years” and “Pay in Blood” will no doubt recall for some the sombre cast of “Not Dark Yet”.[Uncut]
Bob Dylan's fantastic new album opens with a train song. Given the wrath to come and the often elemental ire that accompanies it, not to mention all the bloodshed, madness, death, chaos and assorted disasters that will shortly be forthcoming, you may be surprised that what's clattering alomg the tracks here isn't the ominous engine of a slow train coming, a locomotive of doom and destruction, souls wailing in a caboose crowded with the forlorn damned and other people like them.
When Dylan convened with his band at Jackson Browne's Groove Masters Studio on Santa Monica, he's said it was his intention to make a 'religious ' album, though he wasn't specific about quite what he meant by this and whether there was any connection between the record he had in mind and his so-called Born Again albums, that trio of disks including Slow Train Coming, Saved and Shot of Love that 30 years ago shocked and confounded his audience, when they were also alarmed by the vengeful sermonising that puctuated his concerts of the time. There are perhaps inklings, though, of the album Dylan originally envisioned on, for instance, the devotionally inclined 'Long and Wasted Years', and the gospel influenced 'Pay in Blood', which follows. The testing of belief in extreme circumstances is a recurring theme.
We must address, I suppose, in closing, the similarity of this album's title to Shakespeare's The Tempest, widely regarded as his last play, and the idea that follows is that this record is likewise some farewell, a summation of sorts, a final rallying of waning creative energies, perhaps the closing act in Dylan's storied career. The idea of Bob as a kind of riverboat prospero is hugely appealing, and he remains, supremely, a story-telling sorcerer, but Dylan has already dismissed the comparison as simply wrong-headed and therefore pointless. And for all its evident pre-occupation with death and the end of things, Tempest is in many respects the most far-reaching, provocative and transfixing album of Dylan's later career. Nothing about it suggests a sawnsong, adios or fond adieu.
'I ain't dead yet, my bell still rings' he sings on 'Early Roman Kings', and how loud and bright and strong that clariod toll yet sounds.[Rolling Stone]
Bob Dylan on His Dark New Album, 'Tempest'. Dylan breaks down his apocalyptic (and sometimes sweet) 35th studio LP.
Bob Dylan describes Tempest, his 35th studio album (out September 11th), as a record where "anything goes and you just gotta believe it will make sense." But it isn't the record he set out to make. "I wanted to make something more religious," he says. "I just didn't have enough [religious songs]. Intentionally, specifically religious songs is what I wanted to do. That takes a lot more concentration to pull that off 10 times with the same thread – than it does with a record like I ended up with."
The "anything goes" album he ended up with is full of big stories, big endings and transfixing effect. The disc was recorded in Jackson Browne's studio in L.A. with Dylan's touring band – bassist Tony Garnier, drummer George G. Receli, steel guitarist Donnie Herron, and guitarists Charlie Sexton and Stu Kimball – as well as David Hidalgo on guitar, violin and accordion.
"People are going to say, 'Well, it's not very truthful,' " says Dylan. "But a songwriter doesn't care about what's truthful. What he cares about is what should've happened, what could've happened. That's its own kind of truth. It's like people who read Shakespeare plays, but they never see a Shakespeare play. I think they just use his name."
Dylan's mention of Shakespeare raises a question. The playwright's final work was called The Tempest, and some have already asked: Is Dylan's Tempest intended as a last work by the now 71-year-old artist? Dylan is dismissive of the suggestion. "Shakespeare's last play was called The Tempest. It wasn't called just plain Tempest. The name of my record is just plain Tempest. It's two different titles."[LA Times]
Bob Dylan’s new album “Tempest,” slated for Sept. 11 release, appears on first listening to extend his artistic streak that began with the rejuvenation he demonstrated on 1997’s “Time Out of Mind” and has continued with “Love and Theft” (2001), “Modern Times” (2006) and “Together Through Life” (2009).
A small handful of music writers got a preview this week at the Beverly Hills office of Dylan’s label, Columbia Records, and though an in-depth review will be coming later, we’re sharing some first impressions on Pop & Hiss.
The 10-track album, self-produced under Dylan’s nom de production Jack Frost, continues with the hard, rootsy musical grooves that have dominated his work over the last 15 years. He’s supported in the studio by members of the band with which he tours relentlessly, with a bit of accordion and fiddle help on a couple of tracks from Los Lobos founding member David Hidalgo.
Dylan’s eye is ever on the world around him, and the issues personal, social and political he perceives.
But like so many of Dylan’s greatest songs, even at the expansive length taken by these three tracks, they aren’t remotely limited to a single subject or interpretation.
Clearly there’s much, much more to be said about the latest from rock’s poet laureate. Stay tuned.[Billboard]
Death, whether it be the legacy of John Lennon, the sinking of the Titanic or a trio of cheating lovers, is a dominant subject on "Tempest," Bob Dylan's 35th studio album that is scheduled for release on Sept. 11.
The album marks a return to straight-forward, story-driven songwriting for Dylan. The 10 tracks are more in line with 1997's "Time Out of Mind," '76's "Desire" and '64's "Another Side of Bob Dylan"; a darkness has replaced the instrumental interludes, buoyancy and lightness of his last three albums.
Besides Hidalgo, Dylan is backed by his touring band of guitarists Charlie Sexton and Stu Kimball, steel guitarist Donnie Herron, bassist Tony Garnier and drummer George G. Receli. Song structures are largely rooted in folk styles, though a few tunes veer into other rootsy areas.[Guardian]
We've had a sneak preview of what may be Bob Dylan's final album. The good news? It's the best thing he's done in a decade.
Could this be the last time? The customary intrigue that surrounds the arrival of a new Bob Dylan studio album – and this is his 35th – was stirred by its title: Tempest. Given that The Tempest was Shakespeare's final play, and we know that Dylan is a student of the Bard, could this be the 71-year-old artist's way of telling us that with this record he's calling it quits?
Dylan himself has appeared to pooh-pooh the question, telling Rolling Stone last week: "Shakespeare's last play was called The Tempest. It wasn't called just plain Tempest. The name of my record is just plain Tempest. It's two different titles." Nonetheless, that same report called the album "dark"; according to the LA Times "a darkness has replaced the instrumental interludes, buoyancy and lightness of his last three albums"; while Billboard in the US said that "death … is a dominant subject on Tempest".
The humour resurfaces throughout the album, with the band – the touring outfit of bassist Tony Garnier, drummer George G Receli, steel guitarist Donnie Herron and guitarists Charlie Sexton and Stu Kimball, plus David Hidalgo from Los Lobos on this and that – often entering into the spirit and enjoying themselves. And characteristically, Dylan has chosen to preview Tempest in unconventionally amusing fashion, letting the track Early Roman Kings soundtrack the trailer to a new HBO TV series about terrorism, Strike Back.
Following what was a single, cursory listen, it's not possible to get fully to grips with that song or the slow-burning Tin Angel or the title track, which lasts almost 14-minutes and tells the story of the sinking of the Titanic over the course of 45 verses.
Released on 11 September, the same day as Love and Theft in 2001, and likely his strongest album since then, Tempest also arrives more than 50 years since Dylan's debut.[Telegraph]
It is fantastic to be able to report that popular music’s greatest troubadour is still as brilliant and bewildering as ever. Words spill out on his 35th album, Tempest, to be released by Columbia next month: one liners, couplets, random observations, overheard expressions, inverted slogans and non sequiturs, verses and images often set up in baffling opposition to one another.
There’s a lot of blood spilt on Tempest through murder and revenge, chaos and confusion.Although unfolding with a lot of wit and relish, this is Dylan’s darkest, maddest, most provocative collection of songs in a long time.
The word is that Dylan is pleased with his latest effort, or, as someone at his record company told me, “he wants people to hear it.” I have had the privilege of being amongst a select few journalists around the world to be allowed a sneak preview. It would be absurd to attempt a definitive review based on such a cursory listen but I was blown away with the mad energy of the album. At 71-years-old Dylan is still striking out into strange new places rather than revisiting his past. Although he no longer attempts to scale the heights of poetic imagery and dense metaphor that established him as popular music’s greatest lyricist, instead writing in bluesy couplets, the extreme collision of ideas and characters and the mysterious, ambivalent arcs of his narratives creates a pungent effect. Dylan still has the power to disturb and thrill. I emerged from this listening session feeling like I had been on a journey into the weird dream territory of Ballad Of A Thin Man, where nothing is quite what it seems.
His voice, often little more than a croak on stage these days, invests these ten tracks with the spirit of something ancient. Sure, he has the wheeze and gargle of an old man, but the words come through loud and clear, delivered with real relish. Los Lobos founder David Hidalgo’s fiddle weaves through the acoustic shuffle of Dylan’s touring band, guitarist Charlie Sexton, Stu Kimball and Donnie Heron, drummer George Receli and bassist Tony Garnier.
The sound is a continuation of the blues, country and folk styles that run through all his later work, but with less of the kind of Thirties pastiche he’s played with since 2001’s Love And Theft . There is a sense is that Dylan is still honing in on that wild, mercurial music he hears in his head.
These ten tracks range from the throwaway blues of Early Roman Kings to the nine minute ballad Tin Angel to the title track which runs to 45 verses and 14-minutes, relating a vision of the sinking of the Titanic.
This is an album I can’t wait to hear again, the sound of a great artist approaching the twilight of his career with fearless creativity, our finest songwriter regarding the murderous madness of the world with an unflinching gaze and a loving heart. Roll on, Bob.[Mojo]
From the opening moments of Bob Dylan's new self-produced album Tempest - of which I had my first and single listen to yesterday - the spine shivers. All the questions Dylan fans might have - What will we hear? Can he still sing? Will he deliver? - are immediately rendered irrelevant as one becomes transfixed by these initial tracks. Yes, he can still carry a melody. Yes, his road band, plus Los Lobos' David Hidalgo, can rock, can lilt, can augment a lyric like few others. Yes, Dylan delivers. Set for release in the UK on September 10 (September 11 in the US).
Tempest is astonishing. It's obviously no coincidence that its eternal themes of loss, catastrophe, and murder and the saving graces of love, courage and friendship are strikingly familiar in this Little Century Of Horrors. Dylan's command of language is unequaled, while the recurring musical motifs are part of our DNA - simultaneously timeless and fresh. But his crowning achievement as an artist is his unparalleled empathy, his ability to inhabit his characters, understand their motivations and make them flesh and blood through song. No one gets inside the human heart like Bob does.
50 years after the release of his first album, Dylan remains our foremost storyteller. Thanks Bob.[Hotpress]
Bob Dylan's new album Tempest – due for release in September – contains a remarkable tribute to the late Beatle, John Lennon. The song, entitled 'Rock On John', is doubtless the one that will be talked about most on what is a stunning album.
But as Hot Press reveals in a special preview by Anne Margaret Daniels, Tempest is a stunning record which finds Dylan in fine and feisty form throughout.
The master songwriter's new record is called Tempest – and it includes both a tribute to John Lennon and an epic chantey on the sinking of the Titanic. A world exclusive preview by Anne Margaret Daniel.
Breathtaking, mythmaking, heartbreaking, the songs and ballads of Bob Dylan's Tempest are composed of intricately patterned rhyme and sound. No other songwriter can marry words and music as richly as Dylan can, and the perfect-ten tracks of this record come straight to us from a bard's ear and a poet's pen.
First, the sound. It’s odd for me that the richness of the melodies, and the expertise of the musicians, headed by Dylan and David Hidalgo, are what I think of first. I teach words, and I love them. It’s strange that I can’t remember more couplets; the whole record resounds with rhyming couplets, and internal rhymes and alliteration too. I was dazzled by great, snappy, unexpected rhymes – bitter tragic rhymes – elegant baroque rhymes – and yet can remember comparatively few.
I think that’s because I was concentrating on the tunes, and the way the words fit into the music so well. It’s always a little game I play with myself when I read for the first time a new poem by someone like Seamus Heaney, who has such a great command of ending and internal rhyme: what’s he gonna rhyme with that? Like Heaney, Dylan’s always headed for the unexpected (one blistering example here: God/firing squad), unless it’s a sentimental song (and then you are indeed going to get moon and June and soon, love and above in the rhymes, though with the unexpected in terms of what happens in the song’s story).
However, because Tempest just plain sounds so good, I have much less of a sense of the lyrics than I normally would. The way Dylan uses words, the command he has over them, and the number of them he knows and deploys to immense effect are all among the things I love most about Dylan.
The sound of this record proves to anyone who’s bitched about Dylan’s music recently that Jack Frost is one hell of a producer. David Hidalgo (whose name got misspelled “Hildago” on Together Through Life – proofreaders please take note) adds so much – it’s like having the quality of a horn section in just one man. The accordion/box standing in for a harmonica faked me out more than once. Hidalgo helps conjure up a Desolation-Rowish feeling on some of the tracks – just the way Charlie McCoy’s guitar could. And Donnie Herron’s fiddle is subtle but bright, to smile over when you catch a glimpse of it from song to song.http://www.uncut.co.uk/blog/uncut-editors-diary/the-new-dylan-album-a-first-listenhttp://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/bob-dylan-on-his-dark-new-album-tempest-20120801http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/music/posts/la-et-ms-bob-dylan-tempest-new-album-20120801,0,5164376.storyhttp://www.billboard.com/news/first-listen-bob-dylan-s-dark-tempest-1007729952.story#/news/first-listen-bob-dylan-s-dark-tempest-1007729952.storyhttp://www.guardian.co.uk/music/musicblog/2012/aug/06/bob-dylan-tempest-first-listenhttp://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/music/bob-dylan/9461252/Bob-Dylans-Tempest-first-listen.htmlhttp://www.mojo4music.com/blog/2012/08/bob_dylans_tempest_first_liste.htmlhttp://www.hotpress.com/Bob-Dylan/news/Bob-Dylan-mourns-John-Lennon-on-new-album/9102947.html?new_layout=1http://www.hotpress.com/9102928.html?new_layout=1&page_no=1&show_comments=1