February 28, 2000 12:00 PM

Various Artists (Columbia/Sony Music Soundtrax)

Each time Bob Dylan comes out with a new album—even an uncharacteristically weak one—the press hails the effort as his best since his wonder boy years. No such hype is appropriate here, not only because this isn’t a new album—merely a soundtrack CD with four Dylan tunes, only one of which hasn’t appeared elsewhere—but also because “Things Have Changed,” the shuffling new composition that opens Wonder Boys, is Dylan’s best only since his 1997 masterpiece Time Out of Mind. Using the same husky wheeze of three years ago, he sings lines that, as always, sound like no one else’s: “Feel like fallin’ in love with the first woman I meet/ Puttin’ her in a wheelbarrow and wheelin’ her down the street.” Even mixed in among terrific tracks by his peers, including ’60s soul god Clarence Carter, Neil Young, Tim Hardin, Little Willie John, Leonard Cohen, John Lennon and Van Morrison, Dylan’s standout new tune is the one that makes this disc a keeper.

Bottom Line: Hardly boyish but still a wonder

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