100 Best Albums of the 2000s

100 Best Albums of the 2000s

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Bob Dylan, 'Modern Times'

8. Bob Dylan, 'Modern Times'

Except for the curious reference to Alicia Keys in "Thunder on the Mountain," these 10 songs of gnarly jump'n'grind, sung with the scoured growl of a drifting cowboy, sounded like Bob Dylan could have cut them 50 years earlier with Muddy Waters' band, and written them 20 years before that. Mother Nature's revenge, silk-suited robber barons, the spiritual and romantic salvation always just beyond reach: Modern Times is history repeating itself, in Dylan's specific echoes of Slim Harpo and Memphis Minnie, and his refusal to bend even in the harshest winds. "I'll be with you when the deal goes down," Dylan sings with cracked but firm comfort. The apocalypse is unrelenting: His rewrite of the Waters gallop "Rollin' and Tumblin'" is crammed with doom and ghosts. But Dylan's snarl cuts through the darkness like a light on a road ahead. "Heart burnin', still yearnin'," he sings in "Ain't Talkin'," the album's last song, a proud walk through a scorched Earth that Woody Guthrie would have recognized in an instant.

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