Well, I'm not sure how well I've convinced the skeptical to reappraise former Hüsker Dü drummer Grant Hart's (see here) accomplishments. However, I have apparently done a number on myself, as yesterday I purchased his long out-of-print 1990 solo album, Intolerance, alongside the Japanese-only, Bob Dylan Live 1961-2000. This pair of purchases forced me to haul out the old Dylan Stick, that crude tool we who feel compelled to write about music so often use to determine just how well any singer who write his own words and music measures up to the mighty Bob.
It's an endlessly fascinating activity, but the outcome is never in doubt. Bob's untouchable, even if he puts out endurance-defying crap (Christmas in the Heart for fuck's sake!) during his cyclical nadirs, he still fascinates more than most artists at their apex. That being said, Grant Hart and Bob Dylan share more in common than you'd think. They're both Minnesota boys, influential underground song-writers who were later branded sell-outs and who, after hitting their greatest commercial successes (assisted by near-lethal doses of narcotics), crashed and had to rebuild their reputations. Of course Dylan never played drums in a hardcore band and Intolerance isn't Hart's Blood on the Tracks. Instead Intolerance is like the mid-way point between the soundtrack for Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid and the almost-comeback album Planet Waves. Listen to the fluttering harmonica on "Now That You Know Me" or the rueful anger in "2541" or that warping of a traditional folk melody (probably "A Pair of Brown Eyes") to devastating effect on "The Main" and judge for yourself how high up on the Dylan Stick he gets.
If you'd like to support the artist check out Hart's first new album in years,(recorded with members of Godspeed You Black Emperor), available here.