Bob Dylan's Modern Times Debuts At #1 On Billboard Chart
Album Marks Artist's Return To Top Spot After 30 Years
Bob Dylan's new album, Modern Times, has debuted at #1 on the Billboard Top 200 Albums chart, making this the artist's first album to hit the top of that chart in 30 years. This 30-year span between #1 albums - Desire hit the top spot in 1976 -- is the longest of any living recording artist. Modern Times has sold more than 192,000 copies in the United States since its release, marking the biggest such sales period for a Bob Dylan album in the 15 year history of SoundScan.
Fan response was equally as impressive internationally, with Modern Times debuting at #1 on the album charts of Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, Denmark, Norway and Switzerland. The album entered the UK chart at #3 with 55,000 units sold, marking a one-week sales record in that country for any Bob Dylan album. Additionally, Modern Times debuted at #2 in Germany, Austria and Sweden, and #3 in The Netherlands.
Modern Times is already one of the most critically lauded albums of Bob Dylan's career. Rolling Stone awarded the album 5 stars (out of 5) and proclaimed it, "His third straight masterwork." Ann Powers of the Los Angeles Times wrote that Dylan is, "our living Rosetta Stone, his songs carrying forth the essence of a thousand blues and folk classics, connecting the canonical and the folkloric to the present day." In the UK, Mojo magazine exclaimed, Epic...Heartbreaking...Dynamic ... Apocalyptic!" while Uncut gave Modern Times its highest ranking of 5 stars. (See attached page of press quotes).
According to Columbia Records Chairman Steve Barnett, "Modern Times is an absolutely staggering record, and we couldn't be more thrilled that fans have responded to it so enthusiastically by putting Bob at #1, which is where he belongs. This extraordinary artist has been integral to our company for nearly 45 years, and he remains at the peak of his artistry, vitality and cultural impact. We are incredibly proud of Bob's great achievement."
Bob Dylan is currently featured in an iPod commercial, seen performing "Someday Baby" from Modern Times. A short film starring Scarlett Johansson and set to Bob Dylan's new song "When The Deal Goes Down" premiered on AOL and was released online and to video channels last Thursday. Directed by Academy Award nominee Bennett Miller (Capote), the silent film was shot on 8mm and takes place in the early 1960s. Clues connecting the film's scenes to Bob Dylan's early career are creatively placed throughout the piece.
Bob Dylan is one of the world's most popular and acclaimed songwriters, musicians and performers, having sold nearly 100 million albums and performed literally thousands of shows around the world in a career spanning five decades. He is currently in the midst of his third annual summer U.S. tour of minor league baseball stadiums, and will begin a 24-city tour October 11 in Vancouver, B.C.
The Times They Are A-Changin', the new Broadway musical told through the songs of Bob Dylan and conceived, directed and choreographed by Tony Award winner Twyla Tharp, will open October 26 at New York's Brooks Atkinson Theatre.
Bob Dylan's most recent studio albums, Time Out Of Mind and "Love And Theft" have been among his most commercially successful and critically lauded, each having been certified Platinum in the U.S. and earning Grammy nominations for Album Of The Year (Time Out Of Mind won that award in 1998).
He wrote and recorded "Things Have Changed" for the 2000 film Wonder Boys, for which he received both the Academy Award and Golden Globe. The first volume of his memoirs, Chronicles, was one of the most acclaimed and best-selling non-fiction works of 2004, and last year's No Direction Home film, directed by Martin Scorsese, captivated audiences worldwide as it documented Dylan's early career and rise to fame. The film won a Peabody Award in 2006.
Bob Dylan's weekly XM Satellite Radio show, Theme Time Radio Hour, debuted in May and has quickly become one of that network's most popular programs, with more than 1.7 weekly listeners.
Bob Dylan -- Modern Times * * * * * (out of five) -- "His third straight masterwork." Joe Levy, Rolling Stone
"Its 10 songs make you think hard about the past and muse quietly about the future .... [Dylan is] our living Rosetta Stone, his songs carrying forth the essence of a thousand blues and folk classics, connecting the canonical and the folkloric to the present day.
Ann Powers, Los Angeles Times
* * * * (out of four) -- "It takes about 30 seconds to figure out you're in the presence of a giant .... [Modern Times] contains some of Dylan's most direct love lyrics, meditations on mortality, vindictive vendettas, pointed political commentary, dry wit, apocalyptic imagery and head-scratching flights of fancy -- sometimes seemingly in the same song. The music, too often overlooked in evaluating Dylan's work, offers varied delights."
Ken Barnes, USA Today
"Startling. Radiates the observant calm of old masters who have seen enough life to be ready for anything -- Yeats, Matisse, Sonny Rollins." Robert Christgau, Blender Magazine
"Epic...Heartbreaking...Dynamic...Apocalyptic! .... [Modern Times] is in the passionate tradition of his last two superb albums, 1997's biting, bruising Time Out Of Mind and 2001's more jubilant and eclectic 'Love And Theft'. Dylan looks into the heart of the modern age and tells us what he sees in a vision still commanding and bold."
Robert Hilburn, Mojo
"Modern Times is powerful and more consistent than its recent predecessors. At times rollicking and at others reflective, it's the work of a master songwriter who knows how to use guile where flash might have worked in the past."
David Bauder, Associated Press
"The state of America, vibrant sexuality, depression-era jazz and blues, and some excellent jokes; another classic from the revitalised master" -- * * * * * (out of five)
Grade A -- "Intriguing, immediate and quietly epic, Modern Times must rank among Dylan's finest albums."
Pat Gilbert, Entertainment Weekly * * * * (out of four) - Critics Choice Steve Dougherty, People Magazine
* * * * (out of four) -- "Modern Times delivers on all counts ... .Its 10 tunes are so squarely built on the American songbook, your finger doesn't dare poke the CD player's skip button. It rambles and gambles on pre-rock styles laced with so many cryptic notions and personal references that interpretive lit classes will be busy for semesters. Dylan is a living, breathing genius who stoked his creative fires back in '97 for Time Out of Mind and kept them burning with the Grammy-winning 'Love and Theft' in 2001. He continues his run here, tying all three albums together with a vintage roots-music aesthetic.
Dan Aquilante, New York Post
"Modern Times is an album that snaps into place like a puzzle part alongside his latter-era masterpieces, 'Love and Theft' and its predecessor, Time Out of Mind -- albums that have restored his reputation and given him a new voice. At this point in his serpentine career, Dylan is the cagey veteran who can summon entire worlds in his songs. Long may he run."
Joel Selvin, San Francisco Chronicle
"Wry, spry and rollicking .... Dylan extends his renaissance of the past decade with songs that at once feel culled from some arcane archive of American roots music and ripped steaming from one of his reliably rollicking live shows. It's an offhandedly exact blend of present and past, and being pulled through it by a master of such advanced years and powers brings to mind the late works of Yeats or Picasso ...."
Shawn Levy, Portland Oregonian
"A vibrant album bursting with wit, charm, emotion, and deeply sampled musical history. Modern Times is what we have come to expect from Bob Dylan in autumn: another masterpiece that doesn't make too much of itself."
Chris Morris, L.A. City Beat
* * * * * (out of five) - "With Modern Times, in stores today, Dylan affirms that he has become precisely the character he aspired to be since his earliest acoustic folk albums ... .Guthrie and the old bluesmen borrowed old songs and commented on events in the same way, which makes Dylan's new music another link in a precious cultural chain -- just the way he first imagined."
Jim Abbott, Orlando Sentinel * * * * (out of four) Detroit Free Press
Grade A - [Modern Times] is a brilliantly oddball blend of country, blues and good old-fashioned rock 'n' roll. Modern Times is glorious proof that, at 65, Dylan still has plenty to say, and with singular eloquence."
Calvin Wilson, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Rating 5 out of 5 - "With today's release of Modern Times, Bob Dylan continues a late-career winning streak that is without parallel in rock 'n' roll .... Only Dylan still touches hearts in such a visceral, vital way ... .It would be tempting to call Modern Times the concluding part of a brilliant trilogy - if the end were in sight."
Bernard Perusse, Montreal Gazette
"It's a loose-limbed, wide-ranging (to say the least) table-setter that straightaway offers the assurance that His Bobness is still on the late-in- life hot streak that began with the elegiac Time Out of Mind in 1997 and continued with the sprightly 'Love and Theft'."
Dan DeLuca, Philadelphia Inquirer
"There is something poetic about the fact that Bob Dylan is the lone second-generation rock luminary to make music that suits his age and status. In this, Dylan is as avant-garde as he was in his '60s heyday. The 65-year-old grapples with pressing issues, memory and mortality prime among them. But by looking back, to the roots of his art, he has managed to forge ahead, crafting songs that are as vibrant and profound as ever .... [Dylan] is singing as beautifully as he ever has, his voice a marvel of sly shading."
Bradley Bambarger, Newark Star Ledger
* * * * (out of four) -- "Using the familiar musical forms of blues, rock and pop, the legendary singer-songwriter - in his many guises - traverses a landscape that's equal parts treacherous, beautiful and humorous. And in doing so has released his most intimate work in years."
Rob Lowman, Los Angeles Daily News
"Here in 2006, Dylan's stock as a cultural barometer, as a leader and a sage, is higher than it has been in decades. We still look to Dylan to tell us about our lives now, not our lives then: He's still here, his artistry fully present, and millions still respond to him as a contemporary artist, not a legendary figure from the dim and misty '60s. There's a simple reason for this, and here it is: He still delivers the goods. Like his last two highly acclaimed CDs, 1997's Time Out of Mind and 2001's 'Love and Theft', the 10-track Modern Times is a wonderful addition to his oeuvre, and quite possibly the best of the three."
Dave Ferman, Ft. Worth Star-Telegram
"[Modern Times is] a masterful assimilation of forms into a sound that is close to wholly unique. This record could have been released 40 years ago or 10 years from now .... In terms of phrasing, manipulation of time and accent and ability to wring subtlety and nuance from his own peerless song-poems, Dylan is absolutely masterful here."
Jeff Miers, Buffalo News
"Modern Times could very well be called 'Love and Theft', Part II; Dylan draws from the same influences - old folk, '30s-styled ballads, '50s-era rave-ups - that made his 2001 album a breath of fresh air .... There's more introspection on this album than any since Blood on the Tracks."
Mark Brown, Rocky Mountain News
"This enchanting album is rife with homespun reflections on philosophy, religion and the never-ending quest for true love."
Wayne Robins, Billboard Magazine "Romantic and spectacular .... Dylan's finest since Blood on the Tracks." Jody Rosen, Slate www.bobdylan.com www.columbiarecords.comPhoto: NewsCom: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20060906/NYW144
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