Various Artists

Bob Dylan Radio Radio: Theme Time Radio Hour, Vol. 4

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Bob Dylan transformed songwriting in the 20th century by dumping everything into a creative blender, from beat poetry to ancient ballads restrung with vibrantly new lyrics, and he has been inherently postmodern, well aware -- even if it was by accident -- of how to navigate the emerging ocean of pop culture and the blessing/curse of celebrity. And he's done it with his integrity and privacy intact -- quite a feat. And he's done it, for the most part, in public -- he releases studio albums regularly, he tours in never-ending fashion, and, since 2006, he has hosted Bob Dylan’s Theme Time Radio Hour on the airwaves. His shows aren’t just some celebrity DJ spinning favorite records (although Dylan obviously loves what he spins on the air), but are really concise history lessons in American music in all genres and eras, from blues, folk, and country to jazz, R&B, soul, rock & roll, bebop, country, and even rap and spoken word, embracing the entire spectrum of ordered recorded sound from the early 1900s forward. Releases like this one, which collects 110 of the sides Dylan has spun on his show, reveal just how impressive all of it is. From an incredibly diverse litany of recording artists that includes Mel Blanc, Lefty Frizzell, Ike Turner, Brenda Lee, Steve Allen, Roy Rogers, Tex Ritter, Cousin Emmy, Billie Holiday, Peppermint Harris, and many, many others, Dylan clusters songs around themes ranging from powerful topics like money, war, and happiness to whimsical ones like fruit, cats, sugar, and candy, until what he has assembled is a delightfully varied playlist of what we have been singing about, complaining about, celebrating, berating, adoring, and bemoaning for the past 200 years. Dylan's own recorded legacy is a testament to his searching intelligence and vision, but so, too, is his radio show. Call it all a dialogue with America. Hopefully everyone is listening.

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