86.) Bob Dylan - Love and Theft (2001)
Bob Dylan's 1997 release, Time Out of Mind, was a true comeback. A haunting and beautifully scarred record that would garner Dylan a Grammy as well as be the impetus for the infamous "Soy Bomb" performance on the same show.
Dylan waited until 2001 to deliver his follow-up, Love and Theft, which, against all odds, was actually a better record than Time Out of Mind. Love and Theft, infamously released on September 11th 2001, was a true return to form and the best Dylan record of the decade (probably his best record since Blood on the Tracks which is saying a lot.)
Where Love and Theft was dark and moody, Love and Theft was, for lack of a better term, freewheelin' Bob Dylan.
The aughts has been kind to Dylan as it's easily been his best decade in decades - first Love and Theft followed by the "almost as good" Modern Times and the underrated Together Through Life. Add to these a number of absolutely prefect additions to his "Bootleg Sessions" and a well-received memoir that spawned a first-rate documentary by Martin Scorcesse and you could point to this as the most important decade in Dylan's career since his 1960's heyday.
But, it was Love and Theft that kicked it off and it's the perfect place to start. Love and Theft is all over the place in the best way possible with Dylan indulging his love for various musical stylings on one record. There are a myriad of highlights through the record - the rollicking "Summer Days", the bluesy "Lonesome Day Blues", the contemplative "Sugar Baby" and of course, "Mississippi" which ranks up there with the best in Dylan's entire canon.
A few weeks after the release of Love and Theft, The Strokes would finally release their long awaited debut, Is This It?, a game changer if ever there was one. But it still stands as a testament to Dylan's strength that - and even if it was only for two weeks - the best new rock release would be a Bob Dylan record in 2001.
Posted by Pat Driscoll