“After the Empire”: Bob Dylan runs out of ideas.

By Tony Attwood

After the Empire is a recording session in which Bob Dylan and his fellow musicians work through a number of ideas that are not particularly well evolved.  I have reviewed the first track elsewhere (Baby’s coming back from the dead) and initially thought to review the whole album, but really these are just sketches and after writing a few reviews I find myself just saying the same thing over and over – which is no help to anyone.

One could approach this as a later version of the Basement Tapes but what I don’t hear here is any real sense of experimentation and seeking out new directions.   It is more just “here’s a line let’s see where it goes.”

So I’m putting the link here, and saying if you can find a way of reviewing anything here, that’s great please do and send it in to Tony@schools.co.uk ideally as a word document.  Give us the title of the song, and the rough starting time so the rest of us can find it.

What I would say is that this is a perfect example of exactly the way in which many bands who seek to develop their own material actually work – playing a riff and trying to find a line or two that works to the music.

Somehow however the Basement tapes went further – even the incomplete ideas that make up quite a few of the songs that we hear on the complete edition – I have the feeling that much of the time there were notes and thoughts already scribbled out.  Here I don’t think so.   But if you can find something to critique, please take centre stage and share your thoughts.

If not, I think we are going to have to agree that at this stage, Bob really had run out of ideas.

But maybe you can perhaps also help with the date.  As you can see the CD illustration says 1984, and yet I really do think a lot of Empire Burlesque was being written throughout 1984 and well into 1985.   Dark Eyes certainly comes from 1985.  So I am not sure that “After the Empire” is the correct title.

The listing of Dylan’s compositions in the 1980s is given here – if you has some information that helps us clarify what was composed or even tried out when, that would be helpful.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *