Bob Dylan 7½
( 1962 )
You're No Good / Talkin' New York / In My Time Of Dyin' / Man Of Constant Sorrow / Fixin' To Die / Pretty Peggy-O / Highway 51 Blues / Gospel Plow / Baby, Let Me Follow You Down / House Of The Risin' Son / Freight Train Blues / Song To Woody / See That My Grave Is Kept Clean
Bob had already moved beyond this album by the time Columbia released it. His new songs kept being demonstrated at concerts and clubs and Dylan was growing in confidence about being a singer/songwriter rather than just a folk/blues performer. Switching back to 'Bob Dylan', he demonstrates his skill at the harmonica and acoustic guitar. He also sings. Well, his voice sounds older than it was, Dylan going for an authentic sound. This gets him into trouble here and there, and elsewhere, he has fun with his voice as if he's almost embarrassed by it. He was at odds with the smooth likes of Joan Baez right from the start, Dylan going for the Guthrie, lived-in sound. Only two originals here, the talking blues of 'Talkin' New York' which humorously yet somewhat bitterly tells the tale of Dylan first arriving in New York and 'Song To Woody', which is self explanatory. The young Dylan travelled up to the hospital the dying Guthrie was staying at and played him the tune by his bedside. Woody showed encouragement. 'Bob Dylan' was recorded live in two days and Dylan picks some interesting material. 'House Of The Rising Son' was already circulating well in folk circles, Baez having covered it on her debut LP in 1960. Dylan's reading of the same tune is really good actually, he captures the songs seriousness and gives it a fitting bluesy vocal. His introduction to 'Baby Let Me Follow You Down' reveals where he borrowed the tune from, but these traditional tunes and covers are always given a Dylan twist through the performance and arrangements.
'Freight Train Blues' is a funny tune, Dylan sounding somewhat like a mountain goat, yet he does try to stretch those notes, yodel those words and more besides. It's needed, because the final two songs end the album on a slightly down note, not that either song or performance is poor, just that the mood of the songs is serious and perhaps an upbeat closer would have worked better? That's just me, though. 'In My Time Of Dyin' is impressive, one of the better Dylan vocals, he really does reach for those blues. 'Pretty Peggy-O' is given a talkin' blues musical makeover, Dylan rips through the song and it's most enjoyable. 'Man Of Constant Sorrow' is a welcome slower tune and Dylan convinces at both types of tune. Ultimately, 'Bob Dylan' is a quietly impressive LP that even if nothing else happened, we'd still enjoy now, assuming it had remained in print, of course.
Phew..! Where do you start to analyse Bobby boy's first album? As pointed out so often, he had already developed beyond this even during recording it. But a nice and interesting document of his early days, and certainly a deceptive piece if one looks at the amount of (then) un-released material Bob was recording while at the same cutting his debut. A long way from being a disappointment, but much MUCH better was on the horizon. 7.5/10.
From Patrick Bird
I concur mostly with your review of Bob Dylan's first album. It truly is odd when listening to his back catalogue to hear the difference between his singing voice on this album as opposed to those that followed in its wake. I'm unwilling to go so far as to say he sounds older, but he certainly sounds...different! He comes across as trying perhaps too hard to mimic his musical idols, as we all know Bob was never going to sound like anybody else. On albums such as Highway 61 and Blonde on Blonde, he sounds so much more sure of himself than on this debut and just a year after the album was released he declared, "I'm not the boy who sang those songs now", clearly demonstrating that he understood the progress he had already made musically since the release of the album. However, I still regard the album as strong and as having a particular charm: of youthful promise synthesised with generationally-different influence and packaged within a rugged and barely controlled 60'! s soundscape. The beginning of the album is particularly strong, in my opinion, with the first two songs demonstrating Bob's unique gift to draw the listener into an entirely different environment with all the coarse appeal of a streetwise-busker sporting unconventional haircut and scratched wizened guitar. As tough as the album continues it becomes apparent that Dylan had not yet developed the necessary intra-album scope enabling a piece of work to transcend the good, to attain excellence and to allow the listener to better understand it on its own terms and without inhibitions. Such argumentation must not be overstated, however, and in my humble opinion this is a fine debut, to which you have ascribed a very reasonable rating. Thanks for all the great reviews, and long may they continue! Patrick (18 - Yes, you have (relatively!) young readers also!)
The Freewheelin 8½
( 1963, UK pos 1 )
Blowin' in the Wind / Girl from the North Country / Masters of War / Down the Highway / Bob Dylan's Blues / A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall / Don't Think Twice, It's All Right / Bob Dylan's Dream / Oxford Town / Talking World War III Blues / Corrina, Corrina / Honey, Just Allow Me One More Chance / I Shall Be Free
Bob was not considered a song writer of note in 1961 when he started performing around New York. His debut contained only one note-worthy original composition, 'Song To Woody'. By the end of 1962 however Bob had written a whole ton of songs and was performing them and changing them. It's also worth noting however that he was often only providing original words to already existing melodies. If his recordings of these tunes come across as something different, it was due to the fact Bob never seemed to 'hear' a song quite the same as everybody else, so couldn't help but sound different. He completed ( or so he thought ) 'The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan' in December 1962. But following a trip to London both to play and to soak up information regarding English Folk Song - he replaced four of the songs originally slated to appear on 'Freewheelin'. The result of all of this activity is that the sessions for this album were spread over a whole year, four different sessions. He worked hard to make a name for himself here.
Some of the songs are so famous, it's difficult to talk in a sense of them being new to anybody. Surely everybody has heard 'Blowin' In The Wind' for example, if not the Dylan version, then at least a version, if only being sung on a street corner someplace. I love the sound of Bob's voice on this song. He sounds very sweet, actually. He does! 'Girl From The North Country' has some lovely guitar picking and another warm and personal Dylan vocal. The lyrics are stupendous, they are poetry. I had to mention that somewhere. I won't again. 'Masters Of War' is chilling, absolutely devastating. Variety too - following the strangely mellow and resigned 'Blowin In The Wind' and the beauty of 'Girl From The North Country'. We have a number of songs based on the talkin' blues style of song. Where the music is unimportant, the lyrics a funny series of lines building to a story usually with a punchline at the end. 'Talking World War III Blues' obviously fits this 'talkin blues' style - but other songs here do as well, though less blatant than that. 'Down The Highway' in amongst the little guitar sections has some very funny words and the closing 'I Shall Be Free' is possibly the funniest of the whole lot.
The length of time this album took to write and record shows. The care with which each and every track is performed and recorded shows. And, the songs aren't bad! 'A Hard Rains A Gonna Fall' and 'Don't Think Twice' are both Dylan classics. 'Bob Dylan's Dream' and 'Corrina Corrina' both have affecting and accomplished vocal performances. A very strong record it would take him a few years to match in terms of overall consistency
Has to be 10/10, it's as simple as that. Bob's first masterpiece of many, an album that is both challenging and enjoyable. If you don't own it, then you should get a copy immediately.
From Gazza email@example.com
I think anyone interested in bob should start here or with a comprehensive compilation .
Freewheelin still stands up today because bob knew how important this record was going to be for him and agonized over the song sequence for months - he had enough material for 2 albums actually . As a guitarist it shows he was no slouch , his voice is tender,strident at times accusatory but always convincing . Many of these songs are classics that are part of the fabric of modern music now (masters of war will never date unfortunately), they need no introduction - but a special word for "bob dylans dream" and the way bobs voice cracks with emotion recalling lost friendships and "i shall be free" which should be played to anyone who says bobs music is depressing .
From Dan firstname.lastname@example.org
i think oxford town is one of the best songs on the album. for at the time racial inequality was in full affect down in the south. people were being killed just because of the colour of their skin and religious beliefs.
From mark bartlett email@example.com
A schoolmate lent me a copy of Freewheelin’ at the tender age of 14. (Thanks Ken, I’ve still got it but I don’t suppose you want it back now after more than 40 years.) By this simple twist of fate the mysterious New York minstrel poet came to inspire my homework for several years in my small Welsh hometown.
This album is a veritable showcase of pre-electric Dylan; the protest singer, the witty surrealist, and the tender lover, all done with the aid of nothing but a folk guitar and harmonica. Oh yeah, and that voice. Yeah, and some poetic and musical genius too.
I’m not saying its aim was to be a showcase, but the quality and song mix sure make it turn out that way.
It will make you laugh, cry and want to set the world to rights in equal measure.
‘Girl from the North Country’ is a most beautiful love song, maybe his best, ‘Hard Rain’ and ‘Talkin’ World War 3’ are undiminished after all this time; one still mesmerises me and the other never fails to make m! e smile though I must have heard them both more than a thousand times.
It also contains the song that any lesser writer would have been happy to sell his soul for, namely, ‘Blowin’ in the Wind’ – surely the greatest anthem ever written – and the perfectly executed ‘Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright’ which was, as I recall, the one that bit me hardest and quickest all those years ago. (There’s some fine picking on that track, though I’m not sure who should get the credit.)
And then there are 8 other superb tracks, one or two of which are also considered Dylan classics.
Externally too, it glows. The cover shows a young man, girl on arm in his adopted territory, (dominating his adopted territory according to the camera angle), contented and completely at the top of his game. Very satisfied with his latest job of work no doubt.
This gets the full 10 in my book with no hesitation at all. It is a treasure trove that everyone could do with in their collection.
p.s! . Ladies and Gentleman, we seem to be pretty much in agreemen! t over t his one at least.
From Magnus Wistrand firstname.lastname@example.org
Isn't it great (and frustrating) how Biograph and Bootleg Series plus the remasters allow us to (try to) put together our own fav Dylan albums? Freewheeling: Girl from the North country/Don't think twice/Oxford Town/Corrina/I shall be free/Going to New Orleans/Rocks&gravel/Whatcha gonna do?/Thats's alright, mama. Longing for those last four to be officially released.
From Barry Doherty email@example.com
Thanks for an interesting read. I must say I really like this album. It's playful, ingenious, funny, insightful and a bit cheeky. It always makes me smile to hear it. He makes these really ironic and jokey cultural references - wonderful. 'Tell your Ma, tell your Pa, our loves gonna grow ooh-aw, ooh-aw.'
Lots of great songs in many different styles. I think your score is about right.
From Daniel Thomas firstname.lastname@example.org
This is just a masterful album. Can you believe this 21-year-old kid could write
songs like this? The young Dylan drew from his obvious Woody Guthrie influence and
his masterful word skills. And, of course, there is a terrific variety, from
protest songs to wisecracking humour I would consider this among the absolute
essentials for anyone interested in knowing Dylan.
From Magnus_Sjöberg email@example.com
In my opinion one of the all-time greatest
albums in American folk, rock & pop history. It´s definitely worth a 10 on
my list! Not only does it feature some of Dylan´s most famous and best
songs, but it´s also timeless and just as enjoyable to hear today as it
was some 40 years ago.
From Lee Auty Bolton
Heavy album. It all sounds so musically simple but the lyrics are so other worldly. Dylan, in his entire works , was the number one lyricist ever. Best tracks here are "Masters of war","A hard rain" , " Bob dylans dream" and "Girl from the north country". Lyrically it blasts the competition away if not musically. Still think Pink Floyd managed to condense these ideas into an album better. However, Dylan could condense many complex themes into one song. And in someways he was the best. But so could lennon cohen be described. The verdict is out
The Times They Are A Changin 7
( 1964, UK pos 4 )
The Times They Are A-Changin / The Ballad of Hollis Brown / With God on Our Side / One Too Many Mornings / North Country Blues / Only a Pawn in Their Game / Boots of Spanish Leather / When the Ship Comes In / The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll / Restless Farewell
With Dylan still writing songs daily and performing wonderful compositions such as 'Percys Song' and 'Lay Down Your Weary Tune' it must have been something of a disappointment to find 'The Times They Are A-Changin' without those two great songs. They can be found elsewhere ( notably on 'Biograph' ) but this album is poorer without them. Dylan was very much in his protest phase by now and as a result this record is almost unremittingly bleak. It certainly lacks both the variety and humour of 'Freewheelin'. The title song is another of those omnipresent classics for which Dylan is known. I like the vocal melody, though the music seems very bare in comparison to the carefully considered tracks from 'Freewheelin'. 'The Ballad Of Hollis Brown' is a fine song that would have sounded great electric! The influences Bob was picking up were shaping his song writing away from traditional folk, even as early as this. 'With God On Our Side' should have been a poem. Either that, or half as long. Does it drag? Does it? Well, it's another highly regarded Dylan song, and certainly accomplished lyrically. The music is another matter. Very bare guitar work for the most part and Dylan's voice sounds raw and exposed. An absolute highlight arrives though with 'One Too Many Mornings' - a simple song on the face of it, but perhaps the better for being simple. It's not really a protest song either and provides welcome relief lyrically. Sweet vocals and a nice guitar performance here. 'North Country Blues' is again bare musically but this time it doesn't matter at all. This is blues, real blues music - very accomplished and chilling. A great 'cold' vocal performance full of desolation.
'Only A Pawn In Their Game' sees Bob going political. Certainly a protest song - the vocal melody is enticing, the words scathing. It's very difficult listening. 'Boots Of Spanish Leather' and 'When The Ship Comes In' don't fit with many of the other songs here being tender love songs. Beautiful and wonderful songs, though. And, the album ends well. 'The Lonesome Death Of Hatti Carroll' tells a story that keeps you captivated right through to its finish. The music is bare but appropriate here, at least. The closing 'Restless Farewell' has some lovely acoustic guitar and possibly the finest vocal Dylan had done to date. Great stretching of vowels! So, a fine, if often difficult ( disturbing? ) album release! A handful of classic songs is just enough in this case.
This album is a 9, at the very least!! Yes, some of the lyrics are a bit bleak, but the variety Dylan produces, considering it is all acoustic guitar, is astonishing. The Ballad of Hollis Brown, North Country Blues, Only A Pawn in Their Game, Boots of Spanish Leather, When the Ship Comes In, The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll are lyrically amazing. The title track has been played far too many times, yet still remains great. One Too Many Mornings and With God On Our Side don't quite match the songs above, but are still very very good. Restless Farewell closes the album perfectly. This album a good length, not too long, despite an overall bleak mood, some of the acoustic guitar playing is hypnotic the same way as you said it is on the acoustic songs on Bringing It All Back Home. Overall, A MASTERPIECE!!
From Magnus Wistrand firstname.lastname@example.org
Hero blues(piano)/Hollis Brown/One too many mornings/North country blues/Paths of victory/Spanish leather/When the ship comes in/Moonshiner/Percy's song
I mean, just as with Blowin in the wind and Hard rain from Freewheeling, more exciting versions of Times and Hattie Carroll can be heard '75-'76 and Restless farewell at the Sinatra concert. Finally, it's a shame that the Town hall concert from apr'63 is not released in it's entirety plus Talking WW3 from Carnegie hall.
From John, County Kildare email@example.com
possibly his most overrated album, but just like "bitches brew" and "sgt pepper", it still stands out as a fine artistic achievement, and deserves an 8.5/10 at the very minimum. all i can really fault here, is that one or two songs go on a little longer than they should, and it would have been nice to hear more piano orientated pieces, especially the version of "when the ship comes in" still, when all is said and done, this album sets the pace nicely for its equally impressive follow up.
From Gazza firstname.lastname@example.org
how on earth is when the ship comes in a tender love song ? its one of the angriest songs on the album.. What is frightening is how these songs of a world gone wrong are still relevant today .
boots of spanish leather is gorgeous but magnus is right considering the trax bob recorded at this time he could have delivered a much more powerful sequence of songs . I think lay down your weary tune was recorded at this time as well
From mark bartlett email@example.com
Definitely grey and gritty, much like its cover. Bob looks as if he stumbled into an uber-strict health farm for a few weeks where they not only starve you but throw in a bit of sleep deprivation as well. Subversion, revolution, injustice, tales of bleak misfortune abound to such an extent that I don’t think he’s ever dared be quite that heavy since. I’m not knocking it though, it may have been his most honest and most effective hour. Armed with guitar, harmonica and a voice that never really took to polishing he was a hugely threatening figure to the establishment and a magnet to any rebels short of a cause or two. Musically the album is about as stripped down as it could be but every song has a distinctive melody and Bob shows himself to be a tunesmith of some calibre here – allowing for a little ‘borrowing’. The title track has entered into the worldwide canon of classics and deservedly so, nobody had yet expressed this sentiment with such clarity and certainty; the trag! ic story of Hollis Brown and his family pounds your sensibilities and is told so simply and directly as to crack even the toughest nut; With God on Our Side alarmingly asks us to re-consider; North Country Blues eloquently speaks a genuine sadness at the decline of , I imagine, his own homeland; Only a Pawn warns of sinister movers and shakers who call the shots in the game of life; Hattie Carroll pours shames on the rich and privileged who are above true justice, even as murderers. These are the jewels in the crown and are delivered in earnest and sober fashion, as befits their content. The remainder of the songs don’t have the same level of intensity but are nonetheless very worthy offerings and balance an album which might otherwise have been too harrowing. Restless Farewell, Boots of Spanish Leather and One Too Many Mornings are all parting songs of a kind, very listenable in terms of music and lyrics; When the Ship Comes In is almost rousing and looks forward to a ! brighter future in whatever sense you want it to. A landmark p! rotest/f olk album which I would give 10 for the quality of its songs and for delivering some serious messages.
From Jay Glasgow
How can anyone say that this is not as good as FREEWHEELIN' or ANOTHER SIDE? This is one of the strongest albums ever recorded. Yes it's dark but the mood in the USA in 1963 is well reflected in this album. Frankly I think it's one of his best. As for ANOTHER SIDE OF BOB DYLAN, I find it a bit dull apart from 2 or 3 songs.
Another Side Of 8
( 1964, UK pos 8 )
All I Really Want to Do / Black Crow Blues / Spanish Harlem Incident / Chimes of Freedom / I Shall Be Free No. 10 / To Ramona / Motorpsycho Nitemare / My Back Pages / I Don't Believe You / Ballad in Plain D / It Ain't Me Babe
An album ( plus half a dozen out-takes ) recorded in a single night with the aid of a bottle of Beaujolais or two. Dylan has always been happier outside of the studio rather than in it, and it shows here. The songs were already worked out, for the most part, before entering the studio. The writing of these songs were heavily influenced by Dylan's burgeoning interest in becoming an author of poems and books rather than of songs. This shaped the words to these new songs. We have less of the story-telling in an obvious fashion and instead chains of imagery difficult to sometimes decipher. In any case, whatever he did, the words sound great! Some of the songs are great, undeniable classics! So, how come this album sounds so bad? Something to do with the haste with which it was recorded? Quite possibly. The songs do save the day. They are such good songs! 'All I Really Want To Do', 'Chimes Of Freedom' and 'My Back Pages' would all be successfully covered by The Byrds and turned into hit singles. 'Black Crow Blues' employs Piano rather than acoustic guitar and points the way forward to the following years 'Bringing It All Back Home' in terms of structure. This is a rock n roll song! 'Spanish Harlem Incident' was another song covered by The Byrds who owe a large proportion of their entire career to this album. They wrapped the songs in electric guitars and sweet gorgeous harmonies of course. They sound very bare here but something such as 'Spanish Harlem Incident' still wins through due to it's sheer melody.
We have a 'talkin blues'! 'I Shall Be Free' given that Dylan was recording an album in an single drunken evening was quite possibly made up entirely on the spot. I truly believe that! It is very very funny. I especially like the 'knock him clean right out of his spleen' lyric! After that piece of drunken revellry, 'To Ramona' is sheer beauty in song. A fantastic vocal performance, weary but affecting. The melody is enticing and the harmonica playing as beautiful as anything else here. Definitely a highlight. 'Motorpsycho Nitemare' is so much in the style of the following years 'Bringing It All Back Home' it beggars belief Dylan's transition to electric music would garner so much controversy. The signs were there for all to see! 'I Don't Believe You' and the closing 'It Tint Me Babe' are both brilliant songs that could have been turned into hits by The Byrds if they had only chosen to do so! But, there is one blight ( apart from the often ramshackle nature of the recording ) on this otherwise mighty fine album. That blight is the turgid overly personal 'Ballad In Plain D' - like listening to someone sing extracts from their diary for eight minutes. Still - skip it and you find yourself with a fine if flawed album. But, you know. Those songs!
This album is a 9, at the very least!! Yes, some of the lyrics are a bit bleak, but the variety Dylan produces, considering it is all acoustic guitar, is astonishing. The Ballad of Hollis Brown, North Country Blues, Only A Pawn in Their Game, Boots of Spanish Leather, When the Ship Comes In, The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll are lyrically amazing. The title track has been played far too many times, yet still remains great. One Too Many Mornings and With God On Our Side don't quite match the songs above, but are still very very good. Restless Farewell closes the album perfectly. This album a good length, not too long, despite an overall bleak mood, some of the acoustic guitar playing is hypnotic the same way as you said it is on the acoustic songs on Bringing It All Back Home. Overall, A MASTERPIECE!!
From Magnus Wistrand firstname.lastname@example.org
Lovely little songs but what a shame with his slightly sloppy drunkenness, only Black crow and Spanish Harlem please my ears whereas I have to go to '75 for It ain't me, I don't believe you and Mama, you been on my mind. To Ramona fall '80 must be released but which is the best Chimes of freedom?
From John, County Kildare email@example.com
I concur totally with everybody above. At this stage, Bob was just slightly short of matching the class of "Freewheelin'", in the meantime though "Another Side..." fits the bill perfectly. Great album, and deserving of a 9/10.
From Gazza firstname.lastname@example.org
A transitional record for sure and its certainly a bit lighter in tone than "times" but an amazing insight into what can happen when you let loose a genius in the recording studio .
Dylan recorded 14 songs in one continuous all night session ,11 of which are here. Chuck in a few bottles of wine and some grass and you get a record like this .
"spanish harlem incident" "i don't believe you" and "to ramona" are my fave performances - these are different kinds of love song, sometimes anti-love songs , the kind of which never had been written up to this point .
"my back pages" on the other hand is a love song to himself -or to the SELF for that matter . While "all i really want to do" is his last woody guthrie homage for a while .
"motorpsycho nitemare" however is a joke song too many tho , and should have been replaced by the beautiful,regretful song writing of "mama you've been on my mind" which is one of bobs finest songs. Rating bang on again Adrian
From mark bartlett email@example.com
A fabulous album, a landmark and an indication of what was to come, as our host has rightly commented. I imagine most people reading these pages have heard the songs so I won’t mention any particular one; they are all real good numbers in my view and there are none that I would avoid .
I also feel that they fit together well reflecting a certain strength and power that had arrived. This is where Dylan’s own style and ideas become the most dominant feature and whatever is borrowed or stolen underneath is a secondary matter; it’s been made into something new and you can’t categorise it except under ‘Dylan’. He holds himself like a proud Native American on the cover (or is he striking a Brando pose ?) The songs are delivered with confidence. The lyrics range between a low of excellent and a high of amazing. As has been said many times, when you consider what others would write at round about that age you see how amazing they really are. ( To be fair you couldn’t really da! nce to Bob’s stuff though could you ? not the way he does it anyway). One or two of the tunes are truly amongst the best he has come up with; but a good tune isn’t essential and every song has the character to make you sit up and take notice. I think this album contains the essence and the embryo of what is generally considered Dylan’s golden age and time does not diminish it in any way; quite the reverse in fact. I would have to give it ten.
From Al Brooks firstname.lastname@example.org
This is the first album by Dylan that I liked. Simple but very atmospheric. Great lyrics on 'It Aint Me Babe'. 'Motorpsycho Nitemare' is a comedic song about a biker who gets stranded on a farm; it mentions everything from Fidel Castro and Reader's Digest to Tony Perkins in 'Psycho'.
From KEVIN C LLIA420@AOL.COM
THE FIRST ALBUM I OWNED BY DYLAN WHEN I WAS 12 ,I ALWAYS COME BACK TO IT RAMONA,MY BACKPAGES AND CHIMES OF FREEDOM ALWAYS BRING BE JOY AND I LOVE MOTORPYSCO NITEMARE A GREAT ALBUM
From Sean email@example.com
Youn talk about 'another side of Bob Dylan' containing an excellent vocabulary, yet you call Ballad in Plain D a blight? Ballad in plain D is an elegant, intricate and poetic song. I cannot understand myopic, ignorant people who will think anything but.
Bringing It All Back Home 9
( 1965, UK pos 1 )
Subterranean Homesick Blues / She Belongs to Me / Maggie's Farm / Love Minus Zero-No Limit / Outlaw Blues / On the Road Again / Bob Dylan's 115th Dream / Mr. Tambourine Man / Gates of Eden / It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding) / It's All over Now, Baby Blue
Dylan goes electric! Controversy would follow of course, booing at concerts left right and centre from fans who felt 'betrayed'. But, Bob gave a thought to those fans for this album at least, by including an entire side of acoustic songs. Not that these acoustic tunes can exactly be called folk music. The length of these compositions was part of the reason Dylan went electric in the first place. He was beginning to feel restricted by the folk song form and by the acoustic guitar with added harmonica format. Always being something of a rock n roll fan ( as well as a lover of the blues of course ) a jump to something like 'Subterranean Homesick Blues' isn't actually such a drastic thing for him to have done. Great song though, and a fantastic video as well. Bob was spreading his wings :) It just sounds so great, this 'Subterranean Homesick Blues' - so great it's enough to make you giddy. 'She Belongs To Me' has stupendous lyrics, a gorgeous melody and is pretty much a perfect song in every single respect. The production is great too, crystal clear sound. 'Maggies Farm' is one of those songs. Sounds great turned up loud, sounds like shit played on a crappy hi-fi with the volume half way down. It's hardly a great song in terms of writing. Generic rock music although Bob gives it some in terms of both his singing and harmonica playing. 'Love Minus Zero' is another gorgeous song. This, and 'She Belongs To Me' have to be two of my favourite Dylan songs ever, actually. The three songs that wrap up this first electric half of 'Bringing It All Back Home' are more generic rock 'n' roll although admittedly infused with Dylan's unique character. Especially on 'Bob Dylan's 115th Dream'! A great false start and then it simply rolls along most enjoyably.
'Mr Tambourine Man' kicks off side two and almost made it to 'Another Side Of' but Bob held it back. It's certainly an important song - just ask Roger McGuinn. The lyrics are wonderful of course, but something else is happening. This something else also occurs through all the acoustic songs on this second half of 'Bringing It All Back Home'. The acoustic guitar playing suddenly sounds utterly hypnotic. Little repeating melodies, over and over. The production may have helped. Tom Wilson did a fine job here. 'It's Alright, Ma' has especially great guitar. Although these are acoustic guitar songs they bear no resemblance to the songs on the first two Dylan albums. This isn't folk music at all. God knows what it actually is. Bob Dylan music I suppose. Let's just say, oh, I don't know. Good music.
The Dylan version of Mr. Tambourine Man is tough going after you've heard the Byrds' version, but that's only because the Byrds' were gunning for a 2-minute hit and Dylan's take is more complex lyrically. The Dylan version is no less inferior, though, and much more important in its poeticism. This is a groundbreaking album for its sound and production considering the standards of the time. No one else sounded like this in 1965.
From Matt Byrd firstname.lastname@example.org
ok, here we have it! Bob Dyaln ryhming up a storm.... from the quiet acoutic sound of Love Minus Zero/No Limit to the rock 'n' roll fury of Homesick Blues to the hilarious Bob Dylan's 115th Dream. This is an excellent Dylan album but the song-writing is not as grand as on Highway 61 Revisited, Blonde On Blonde, and Blood On The Tracks..... it is still an entertaining album.... far better than many. Love Minus Zero/No Limit seems to be a bit of an unsung Dylan classic.... I give it a 9.5
From Magnus Wistrand email@example.com
My BIABH goes Homesick blues/She belongs to me/It's alright/115thdream if only Homsesick & 115th dream could sound as clean as She belongs to me, i.e. minus the electric rythm guitar(s) etc. Baby blue and Tambourine man are so much more captivating on live '66 and hopefully Gates of Eden from '78 will once be official.
From Sam Wilson firstname.lastname@example.org
his album is a collection of mostly great songs but it's also a pack of strays. Bob Dylan's 115th Dream, Outlaw Blues, and On The Road Again don't belong here. For a more perfected example of Bob Dylan's 1965 studio recordings, check out Highway 61 Revisited. It never disappoints.
From Gazza email@example.com
The furore over going electric now looks childish in the extreme and this is one of bobs strongest set of songs. Theres a lot of beauty amongst the loose garage rock - love minus zero, she belongs to me ,baby blue ."its alright ma" is probably the most savage musical critique of american society available . Don't agree about the production though , i think some of the electric songs could have sounded fuller and rocked harder - and that's precisely what happened when bob replaced tom wilson with bob johnston for highway 61 .
From Jim Johnston Glasgow
I deliberately didnt listen to this for a while, after over-playing it. Recently went back to it, and still think it is almost flawless. Subterranean was first Dylan song I ever heard, and it is still awesome. She Belongs To Me and Love Minus No Zero are simply beautiful. Its All Over Now Baby Blue has superb angry lyrics, yet there is barely a trace of anger in Dylan's voice, more a sort of mocking. The 4 acoustic songs alone could have been released with Percys Song and Lay Down Your Weary Tune to create a superb mini album. 115th Dream has the funniest lyrics I have ever heard!! Plus a brilliant tune. Maggies Farm has been overplayed, not his best, but fun rock song, fits in well with album. Even the so called "lesser" 2 songs, Outlaw Blues and On The Road Again are great fun. I'd give it 9.5/10. If only I had been around in those glorious days of music, this, Highway 61 and Blonde On Blonde released over 2 years???!!! I love the Beatles and Beach Boys, but ev! en they couldn't match that, 3 masterpieces in space of 2 years.
Highway 61 Revisited 9½
( 1965, UK pos 4 ) Like A Rolling Stone / Tombstone Blues / It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry / From A Buick 6 / Ballad Of A Thin Man / Queen Jane Approximately / Highway 61 Revisited / Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues / Desolation Row
After producing the masterful 'Like A Rolling Stone' Bob and Tom Wilson reputedly had a falling out resulting in the future Frank Zappa and Velvet Underground producer being ousted and replaced by Bob Johnston. Not that you'd notice a huge difference in the quality of the tracks in terms of sound, or whatever. Bob was on a roll creatively and led proceedings in the studio. And you know - the album opens with 'Like A Rolling Stone' after all. What more do you want? Well, the other eight tracks are pretty good too. Bobs first all electric album is something of a tour-de-force. 'Tombstone Blues' as well as sporting a torrent of fabulously brilliant lyrics rolls along at a fair pace musically. The words are often hilarious, the music rich, immense and exciting. The stately and elegant 'It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry' features great singing from Bob and a wonderful Piano/Guitar led backing track. 'From A Buick 6' is more of a throwback to the first side of 'Bringing It All Back Home' when compared to other songs here. A lot rawer in terms of sound than anything else on the entire record bar possibly 'Ballad Of A Thin Man' but that's for different reasons. A slow haunting piano track, spooky organ effects and a vitriolic set of scathing lyrics, mark out 'Ballad Of A Thin Man' as something very special indeed. 'From A Buick 6' almost sounds like a demo when placed next to the other songs here. A good demo though, mind you!
'Queen Jane Approximately' screams out 'mid sixties' if only because Bob was producing such great music at this stage he had become a worldwide superstar in the process. Hit singles! Hit albums, of course. Controversial tours, etc. 'Queen Jane Approximately' is almost a softer cousin to 'Like A Rolling Stone' from a musical point of view. That same combination of organ, drums and guitar is used. The title song has yet more fantastic lyrics but apart from that I like its galloping rhythm! And, apart from even that and everything that's gone before we have 'Just Like Tom Thumb Blues' and 'Desolation Row' to close. 'Desolation Row' features interweaving acoustic guitars and is hypnotic even over an eleven minute length. Lots of little melodies to catch your attention and keep your interest. Over the top of this Bob is letting out another captivating set of lyrics, well, poetry in fact. Rock music had never had such poetic and intelligent lyrics before. Partly because of this 'Highway 61 Revisited' is both a pivotal release in terms of Bob Dylan's career, but also for Rock music in general.
Dylan said after finishing the recording of HIGHWAY 61 REVISITED, "I'll never do a better record than this". Well, maybe as good as, but not better. All the songs are gems. Even 'From A Buick 6' is worthwhile, with funny lyrics.
From Simon Brigham firstname.lastname@example.org
This is, IMHO, the best Dylan album I've ever heard. Every song is good in it's own unique way. After listening to this album, I thought ' they really should study the lyrics of Bob Dylan in school. This would be a very good - if not perfect - album to study.' Weirdly enough, I'm not a great fan of "Like A Rolling Stone". I sometimes find it irritating. "Tombstone Blues" has a good feel to it. It isn't my favourite song on the album, but it's good. "It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes a Train To Cry" is beautiful. the arrangement is great, and the lyrics are full of pretty imagery. "From a Buick 6" is rockin' and swinging (not in the big band sense, but just the rhythm.) "Ballad of a Thin Man" is almost like some sort of nightmare. You get a sense of foreboding. As with many Dylan songs, the lyrics could mean anything. "Queen Jane Approximately" is nice with a very pretty piano in it. "Highway 61" brings back that rockin' and swinging feeling of "From a Buick 6" and adds some occasionally hilarious (in a good way) lyrics. "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues" kind of reminds me of "Queen Jane Approximately". Cool lyrics. Next comes the master-work of the album, "Desolation Row". Full of great lyrics, puns, playing with phrases, and all that good stuff. Great imagery. And also, great acoustic guitar melody.All in all, this should be in the top 5 of the best rock albums of all time.
From Matt Byrd email@example.com
This is one of the grand Dylan albums.... one of the best records out there. Leave it to a Jew to make beat everyone in nearly everything.... well, Dylan writes intelligently in this one and, of course, "Like A Rolling Stone" is excellent. Nearly every track is something to talk about... but I'll spare you... 10 from me.
From Zach firstname.lastname@example.org
I listened to this album a little while ago for the first time, it is VERY good. I love "Queen Jane Approximately" and "Like A Rolling Stone", I mean, who doesnt like "Like A Rolling Stones" but anyway, those are just a few of the mentionable ones but the album is great all the way through, good review, I agree
From Magnus Wistrand email@example.com
Now consider: Rolling stone/Tombstone blues/Lot to laugh/Buick 6 (alt)/Thin man/Queen Jane (alt)/Highway 61 (alt)/Tom Thumb/Positively 4th street/Killing me alive. I just hope there is a more funky version of Queen Jane just as the alternate Buick 6 and Highway 61 and can someone please remove the bludgeoning drums on Tombstone, Lot to laugh, Thin man and Tom Thumb...??? There's more than enough rhythm in there already.
From Giancarlo De Cristofaro firstname.lastname@example.org
This album is great, there is not a bad track in it, they may not be his best songs ever, but the whole is definatly greater than the sum of all it's parts, if that makes any sense.
From GAZZA email@example.com
This is the one adrian - its difficult to know what to write about such an incredible record . It was the record that stood out for me growing up even among the many classics of the 60s era . nothing was the same in song writing after this . It rocks, its beautiful , its surreal , its moving ,angry, powerful and you can dance to it!! Many evenings me and my friends would get "herbalised" and read the baffling essay on the back cover and listen to this over and over feeling that anything was possible. Bobs talent and productivity were unparalleled in modern music and that was clear only 3 years into his recording career- imagine that today !! dylans voice was never stronger than here and he looked incredible, cool as f**k. A rock star with a brain that knew how to use it . And despite his lauding of the "wild mercury sound" of the later blonde on blonde , highway 61 stands out as the more focused and inspirational work and a clear candidate for the greatest album of ! all time.
From Ben Leach Kingoftheeyesores@yahoo.com
This album is incredible. But am I the only one in saying that Queen Jane is better than Like a Rolling Stone? HUH?!?!The album is packed though and Desolation Row might be one of the more pretty, simple, well written songs i know of.
From Delahaye firstname.lastname@example.org
The embarrassing thing is that people dub Rubber Soul 'mature', released the same year as this record. Highway 61 makes Rubber Soul look about as mature as Kylie Minogue.
From John, County Kildare email@example.com
A perfect 10/10. Eh, that's it, I really want to engage in a good arty farty academic style chit chat about this album, but I can't, it's just too fucking good for words. D'oh....
Blonde On Blonde 9½
( 1966, UK pos 3 )
Rainy Day Women #12 And 35 / Pledging My Time / Visions Of Johanna / One Of Us Must Know (Sooner Or Later) / I Want You / Stuck Inside Of Mobile... / Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat / Just Like A Woman / Most Likely You Go Your Way And I'll Go Mine / Temporary Like Achilles / Absolutely Sweet Marie / 4th Time Around / Obviously 5 Believers / Sad Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands
A double album helping of Bob. Rocks first double album, beating Frank Zappa ( his 'Freak Out' album was originally only a single LP set in England as well as some other territories ). And, like famous double albums to come, there is some debate this would have made a better single album set. Trouble is, too many good songs for two sides of vinyl, maybe not enough good songs for four sides. More of which later. That 'Rainy Day Women #12 And #35' was a hit single is something in itself! Of course, when Bob sings 'Everybody must get stoned' it has a dual meaning. It had all sorts of meanings quite apart from the obvious drug connotations. 'Pledging My Time' which follows 'Rainy Day Women' on the album is a fine blues influenced song, very accomplished and featuring some great harmonica and guitar work. 'Visions Of Johanna' for my money is the finest set of vocals Bob ever laid down. When someone next complains about Bobs singing voice, just play them this. Ask them to sing along with the song, if necessary See how well THEY get on! Arreg, it's a fantastic song, so dreamy and strangely romantic. It could only be strangely romantic of course given Bobs symbolism and imagery rich lyrics. 'One Of Us Must Know' was considered something of a failure upon single release, but only because it followed 'Like A Rolling Stone' and the mighty 'Positively Fourth Street'. It's still a fine song, bordering on classic status. The chorus is very strong and memorable, even if the song as whole isn't quite as good as the aforementioned two classics.
Strong start to this album though. Very strong, 'I Want You' and the simply brilliant 'Stuck Inside Of Mobile' follow. 'I Want You' has such a happy little melody that when married to Bobs amazing sounding lyrics is practically guaranteed to make you smile. 'Stuck Inside Of Mobile' is kaleidoscopic, a twirling, twisting - rich sounding seven minute plus track that fails to be boring for even a single second. Another fine vocal performance too, incidently. 'Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat' is one of the songs that maybe could have been trimmed off if this were a three sided vinyl album instead of four. But, then again, what was he gonna to do? Have one side blank!? It's quite a funny song lyrically and a fantastic blistering guitar solo enlivens proceedings no end when it arrives shortly after the two minute mark. 'Just Like A Woman' like 'I Want You' is another display of a sweeter Bob Dylan. A Bob Dylan love song. It's just as good as 'I Want You' if not slightly better. 'Most Likely You Go Your Way And I'll Go Mine' is another galloping rhythm ala 'Highway 61 Revisited' although without the cowboy feel this time round. Another classic song, that's all really. Lovely Piano introduces the start of 'Temporary Like Achilles', 'Absolutely Sweet Marie' arriving two thirds of the way through the album, although doing nothing wrong in itself would be another track that may have made way if this had been a single rather than a double album release.
The ending to this album is superb if forgetting the slightly lightweight if bouncily enjoyable 'Obviously 5 Believers'. Then again, to call a song this good filler is to do an injustice to it, really. But, if we are talking in terms of an album listening experience, from beginning to end, then it comes across as a song too many. It joins 'Absolutely Sweet Marie' and 'Leopard Skin Pill Box Hat' in being dropped from my dream ideal of a 'Blonde On Blonde' album. Still, '4th Time Around' is a another delight with beautifully delicate guitar going round and round and another fine Dylan vocal. The closing 'Sad Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands' has been known to reduce me to tears on occasion. Impossibly beautiful, yet another great vocal performance on an album full of them. Another Dylan album within a whisker of absolute perfection.
I love this one! A timeless classic. Has some absolute beautiful songs ("Just Like A Woman", "4th time Around", "I Want You", "Visions of Johanna" etc.) and also some great creative rock n roll songs ("Absolutely Sweet Marie", "Most Likely You Go Your Way and Ill Go Mine" etc.) and its just awesome. The opening drunken "Rainy Day Woman" is just hilariously fun. I love it! A 10.
From Alan Brooks firstname.lastname@example.org
In my opinion (and of course it is all subjective) Dylan is about great lyrics, not great music..and he can't really sing. But on its own terms, BLONDE ON BLONDE is spectacular.
From Danz Danz235@aol.com
not quite sure how this album did not get a 10......i rank it as the second greatest album of all time, slightly behind abbey road? why? because the album, as a whole, is downright ridiculous in its quality. The trick to it, as is the trick with most Dylan albums, is that the listener does not quite "get" the album immediately. Blonde On Blonde took me about 2 months of listening before it "hit" me. Now I cannot do anything with outlistening to it. Visions of Johanna is Dylan's finest lyrical song ever, with such beautiful physcho-imagery as "see the primitive wall flower freeze" and "jewels and binoculars hang from the head of the mule." The album is littered with classics and moments. Sad Eyed Lady is the obvious highlight, as it stretches on and on but never gets old. "Sooner or Later" is a great wintry ballad. In fact every song on here is great. The only time any one would catch that wild thin flowing mercury sound on vinyl. Buy it now or don't call yourself a fan of music, art, of life.
From Simon Brigham email@example.com
I don't know what people see in this album. It's INCREDIBLY hard to get into, the music isn't the greatest, and Bob's voice has taken a dive into the annoying and nasal section of the vocal pool. But hey, it went down in the record books as the first double rock album ever.6.5/10
From Mike Harrison firstname.lastname@example.org
Dylan expands lyrically AND musically here. Forget Jimbo Morrison.....if you're looking for real rock poetry, here it is. "Visions of Johanna" is a drag, though.....the lyrics are interesting but it's WAY too long and sluggish. Otherwise, this set is never boring. I still can't understand why "I Want You" didn't chart higher than the top 20.
From Simon Brigham email@example.com
I'd just like to add another comment. I think that, IMHO, BLONDE ON BLONDE is one of those double albums that could arguably be reduced to a single record. My ideal BLONDE ON BLONDE album: Side One: 1)Rainy Day Women #12 and 35 2)I Want You 3)Stuck Inside of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again 4)4th Time Around. Side Two: 1)Just Like a Woman 2)Obviously 5 Believers 3)Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands. thanks for your time
From Matt Byrd firstname.lastname@example.org
How is it that I really enjoyed this album on first album and I still cannot warm up to Blood On The Tracks afer repeated listenings? Now if I made a list of my favorite albums it would include many Bob Dylan albums but not the hugely acclaimed Blood...., wow, this makes me a bit upset. Damn! I'll give it a listen in a few months or so... Back to Blonde On Blonde, this is absolutely excellent... 10/10
From Martin Warren email@example.com
Many of the songs on 'Blonde on Blonde' have an New York session outtake with The Hawks and holdovers from Hwy 61 sessions. If you reconstruct the album with these alternate versions replacing the Nashville versions, you discover that this album would have had more of an 'edge' if the rest of it had been recorded in New York. 'One of Us Must Know' is the only song from the NY sessions that made it past acetate, mostly because it had already been released as a single. In response to Mike Harrison: if you find the Nashville version of 'Johanna' boring, check out the wacky NY version ('Seems Like a Freeze-Out'). Sounds like he wants to kick that mule wearing the 'jewels and binoculars'!
From Barry Doherty firstname.lastname@example.org
This album is unbelieveable - how did they get that sound? The band is working together terrifically, the songs have superb lyrics and melodies. Even those 'lightweight' songs you mention I find move along with this great feeling. An unmistakeable masterpiece.
From Magnus Wistrand email@example.com
Forgot to lament Dylan's hoarse voice on the studio Desolation row, a real pity considering the otherwise beautiful performance. I prefer the live '66 version. As for Blonde on blonde it's interesting to read so many different opinions all of which I can relate to. With the remastered SACD however, I think I finally see, it's the piano that put some songs on a higher level than the others. Dylan's vocal comes through clearer on a few tracks as well. My BoB: Rainy Day Women (shortened, 1st verse+chorus)/Pledging my time/Visions of Johanna/One of us must know/Sadeyed lady of the lowlands/Achilles/Pill-box hat/5 believers/She's your lover, now (piano). Just like a woman breaks my heart better on live '66 and I want you from '76 ought to be released. But for Memphis blues again, Sweet Marie, Most likely and 4th around I'm still searching for the ultimate performances.
From Keir Smith Amusedtodeath@hotmail.co.uk
brilliant, from 'rainy day women 12 & 35' to 'sad eyed lady of the lowlands' it rocks, it sooths, its quirky, its diverse its everything the 60's was and influenced everything that followed. It has great songs of course - 'i want you' is a personal favourite, 'stuck inside a mobile....' 'just like a woman', 'absolutely sweet marie' - a masterpiece for sure...
From Mark Bartlett firstname.lastname@example.org
This is Dylan’s ‘Blue’, the one most people would think of first in a game of ‘album association’, and possibly the most consistently highly rated. No, thinking about it that’s probably Blood on the Tracks, but not for me anyway. ( Even the stories about Blonde are great, whether they’re true or not; keeping the Nashville Cats hanging around in the studio while he finished some of the songs etc.) As a collection it totally hangs together; apart from the dreadful Sad Eyed Lady of course which is in a class of it’s own, and unfortunately I don’t mean that in a good way. It’s at the end though so you’ve got all the rest to listen to before skipping. You’ve guessed! it’s not one of my favourites but I completely accept that quite a large number do rate it most highly, including Bob himself I’m told. My stand-outs are the aching,breaking Visions of Johanna; the crazy, frustrated rocker Stuck Inside of Mobile – I wanna build a fire on Main Street and shoot it full of ho! les someday; the hugely humorous blues Leapord-Skin Pill Box Hat; and the playful, rockers Absolutely Sweet Marie, Obviously 5 Believers. But the rest are by no means second class or fillers and Blonde is definitely a case of the whole being greater than the sum of it’s parts. Taken as a whole it’s a classic, a reference point in popular music, and a record I will never tire of hearing. Would it be the one I couldn’t do without ? On most days yes, I love the whirling stream of music and lyrics, you can look on the surface or you can look into the depths. I guess that must mean a ten.
From Frank Armitage
How can you put Absolutely Sweet Marie in a catagory as a "less than ideal" Blonde on Blonde track. It has one of the greatest Bob harp solos you'll ever hear. The backing band especially the drummer are "Absolutely" inspired, pumpin! "Stuck inside of Mobile..." after four minutes sounds stuck inside that same confining redundent melody.It does get boring! It's three and a half minutes too long.Bob's biggest mistake on this album was leaving "She's Your Lover Now" off of it. Musically it's dazzling.Lyrically speaking it's as brilliant as anything he's ever done.It's multidimensional Picasso cubism in lyric form.It would have been one of the strongest songson an already very strong record. Far superior to the similarly themed and relatively less sophisticated "Sooner or Later One of Us Must Know".
tend to agree with frank armitage. Id have left off "stuck inside of mobile" and put on "shes your lover now" (one of bobs best) and i don't think it sounds much like "one of us must know" either (which is one of my faves on the album). Id also have put on "ill keep it with mine" at the expense of one of the blues numbers (obviously 5 believers). For evidence check out the bootleg series volume 1 . When he moved the recording away from the band and NYC to nashville both songs seem to have got dropped. Ah well most dylan albums have baffling tracklisting selections - part of the fun is finding the stuff that could have gone on the official albums on the wonderful bootleg series :) Its still a great,great album though and its blessed with one of the best album covers ever
From Andrew Taylor
If there is an album that deserves the complete score of a 10 than surely is there not a more fitting album than Blonde on Blonde? From the start you realise Dylan has moved on 30 years in his mind in terms of production, song writing and creative confidence when in reality 8 months had passed since his last studio album. The masterpiece truly is timeless, I can't imagine anyone feeling any different emotions listening to it in any particular time than true wonderment and adulation. When playing Blonde the time period between the drunk, piss-taking, care free Rainy day Women to the ever-lasting, mind- melting, numbing love song of Sad-eyed lady becomes an event in time by itself. When a major event time occurs Like 9/11 or the death of Diana people remember exactly what they were doing and where they were. Now I'm not saying that every time played Blonde on Blonde becomes a key memory in my life I'm merely suggesting that somehow it plays with that part of the brain where m! memories are created, giving it this time warping effect. It brings back thoughts and day dreams that only it could. There is a level of organisation like nothing else I've heard, and a conscious psychotic path of which Dylan plays with your mind like a puppet. The whole album is an invitation to experience another reality where you'll only find Dylan with his constant barrage of explosive 6 minute visions. Individually the tracks can stand up on there own, Visions of Johanna has a serious claim to being one Dylan's best, also within the album exists hard rock/blues songs like "Pledging my Time" and "Leopard skin Pill-box hat"in addition to the whimsical, soft and dreamy pieces like "4th time Around and "I want you". Its a creative peak of one the most creative people of our time if that doesn't deserve a 10/10 Adrian then what does?
Bob Dylan on "Blonde On Blonde" is so vibrant and totally alive as a human being. It's carnival time and circus in town and every bone and organ, night and day in Dylan's body and soul is colouring this album with every colour imaginable. I like the fun Bob, tongue in his cheek, rockin' and rollin', stream of consiousness lyrics. 10/10. I consider "Blonde On Blonde one of the top five albums of all time. : )
I would quite easily give this album 10/10, I believe even 9-and-a-half to be a total injustice. Let me explain... What is striking about this album is its depth, a cliché' perhaps, but none-the-less true. Repeated listenings to this album are essentially an ongoing journey of discovery, I have owned it for years and I am still discovering new dimensions to these tunes whether it be unnoticed organ flourishes, or a lyrical turn of phrase, or the sudden joyous realisation of the relevance of certain imagery Dylan uses. The sheer depth of this album is precisely what makes it a "grower", it is a sprawling double album packed with endless facets of Dylan’s creativity, taking it all in on first listen is impossible, it isn’t a light pop/rock album filled with catchy yet depthless hooks.
To continue to the songs, this album covers all the bases, it is incredibly eclectic. Certainly, the whole set is put through a blues rock/folk filter and characterised with Dylan’s iconic nasal singing, but it still spans many styles, from the loose carry-on of "Rainy Day Woman #12&35" to the beautiful balladry of "Sad eyed lady of the lowlands" or the hooky pop of "I Want You" to the straight up blues of "Pledging My Time". These genres are only a starting point for Dylan however, as layers of instrumentals (all performed live) such well placed guitar licks or intuitive time signatures (as on Sad eyed) make for unpredictable and enthralling music.
For me, the lyrics on this album are what elevates it to the standard of genius, the highlights here would have to be "Visions Of Johanna" and "Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again". On each of these classics, a plain narrative is eschewed for a barrage of exciting imagery, shifting moods, stark counterpoints and an array colourful characters. Each creates an overall effect highlighting a definite method to the madness, far from claims that Dylan is merely setting garbled nonsense to music (as some pricks would have ye believe). Dylan’s lyric!
al scope extends far beyond this style however, although still soaked in imagery, there is also straight ahead yet surreal narratives (4th time around), bitterly romantic love songs (Just Like a Woman), songs of simple sexual frustration (Temporary Like Achilles) and humorous vignettes (Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat). Just like the music, the lyrics of this album are also unpredictable and eclectic whilst still retaining a firm Dylan identity. All of the above is essentially what constitutes Blonde on Blonde’s enormous depth and well deserved place amongst the greatest popular music albums of our time. All that remains for you lot to do is git it bloody well bought!
Basement Tapes 9
( 1967 )
Odds and Ends / Orange Juice Blues / Million Dollar Bash / Yazoo Street Scandal / Goin' to Acapulco / Katie's Been Gone / Lo and Behold! / Bessie Smith / Clothesline Saga / Apple Suckling Tree / Please, Mrs. Henry / Tears of Rage / Too Much of Nothing / Yea! Heavy and a Bottle of Bread / Ain't No More Cane / Crash on the Levee (Down in the Flood) / Ruben Remus / Tiny Montgomery / You Ain't Going Nowhere / Don't Ya Tell Henry / Nothing Was Delivered / Open the Door, Homer / Long Distance Operator / This Wheel's on Fire
Dylan sings lead on sixteen of these songs, The Band take lead on the remaining eight. Recorded in a big pink house rented by The Band near New York, Dylan and The Band wrote furiously and fast, these twenty four selections eventually released in 1975, representing a mere fraction of the material actually recorded. So, whilst speculation may have existed as to how Dylan was going to follow-up The Beatles great statement 'Sgt Pepper', it appeared that Dylan himself had no such desire to do so, especially after crashing his motorcycle and shedding some layers of his old, hectic lifestyle Primarily these songs were written by Dylan with the intention somebody else would record them. So, these recordings are demo quality. It hardly matters. It may be an injustice that this Robbie Robertson selected tracklisting only reveals a mere fraction of the real beauty of what went on that year in 'Big Pink', but it's nice to have whilst we wait for the full thing to eventually by authorised by Dylan and/or his record label, Columbia. Bootlegs abound, but that's not the same, of course.
Songs as famous then as 'I Shall Be Released' and 'Quinn The Eskimo' aren't on this album. Why these were left off remains open to conjecture, it's rumoured Robbie Robertson only put this thing together as an official release to shore up The Band's then depleted resources. Let's imagine though for a second the best of these songs had been 'properly' recorded by Dylan in 1967 and released. What might he have chosen for, let's say, a twelve track album? Well, let's imagine an LP looking like this. Side A, 'You Ain't Goin Nowhere', 'Please Mrs Henry', 'Quinn The Eskimo', 'This Wheels On Fire', 'Down In The Flood', 'Nothing Was Delivered'. Side B, 'Million Dollar Bash', 'I Shall Be Released', 'Too Much Of Nothing', 'Lo And Behold', 'Goin' To Acapulco', 'Tears Of Rage'. Not too shabby, is it? I love the way 'Odds And Ends' kicks this thing off, though. Real rock music, great bluesy guitar parts married of course to electricity. Only a short tune, it's as good a way as any to introduce the sound of 'The Basement Tapes', unprofessional, reel to reel, warts and all. The songs by The Band are slightly more polished, by the way. One of their best tunes collected here would arguably be the menacing rhythm and blues rumble of 'Yazoo Street Scandle', faux-dylan lyrics and all.
'Goin To Acapulco' is one recording here that perhaps would have firmly resisted any kind of re-recording. It's impossible to imagine Dylan nailing a more perfect or soulful vocal than this vocal full of sorrow, longing and it's just so wonderfully evocative. Joined during the chorus beautifully by Richard Manuel from The Band on backing vocals, 'Goin' To Acapulco' is as much a thing of beauty as anything Dylan has ever released. 'This Wheel's On Fire' is far better known that the unearthed gem that is 'Goin' To Acapulco', yet it's debatable whether any of the numerous cover versions have actually topped the feel of this Dylan version. Is this the nearest Dylan got to psychedelic? I don't know, some of the lyrics from 'Blonde On Blonde' and 'Highway 61 Revisited' were pretty out there. 'This Wheels On Fire' is clearly from the same pen that wrote 'Ballad Of A Thin Man' and the chorus, 'this wheel shall explode', the voices rising on the last word as the dirge-like Piano continues to rumble on like a funeral procession? It's quite something. In contrast, the easy going, country-tinged melodies of 'You Ain't Goin Nowhere' are a delight, as of course are the lyrics. Songs of such a quality as these put pay to the rumour Dylan's motorcycle crash in 1966 stopped dead his rush of creativity. He changed, for sure, but the best of these Dylan 'Basement Tapes' songs are as good as any he ever wrote, simple as that.
'The Basement Tapes' as collected here is far from a definite document of what went on in that Pink House back there in the Sixties. We may never fully know how it felt for Bob and the guys. It sounds like fun though, 'Lo And Behold' barely holding itself together, yet Dylan still manages to come out with stunning and funny lyrics most other writers would die to have written. The silly little Piano melodies and the way the organ comes piping in like some kind of weird circus attraction is also joyous. What else? Well, a final word for 'Tears Of Rage', cut some the same cloth as 'Goin' To Acapulco', yet arguably even finer a composition and performance. Dylan can't sing? Listen to this, listen and wallow in the wonder of it all as Garth Hudson's keyboards evoke a hundred years of music. Listen as Manuel sings backing vocals of utter loveliness and Dylan leads, in all his masterly mysteriousness.
Dylan's rawest album since "another side" and like that record microphones pop, instruments go out of tune and laughter and wrong lyrics abound but what comes through loud and clear is that bob was having a blast . Its rare in his catalogue to find something so unguarded and joyous .
I like the look of your tracklisting for a dylan album from the period except i would find room for "clothes line saga" . Indeed i would also have dropped a 2 or 3 band tunes to add "im not there" and "sign on the cross" .
Certainly its about time the bootleg series gave this a proper remastering and packaging , say devoting 2 discs to dylans work solely (the current dylan catalogue reissues boast excellent sound quality ) .
One also has to marvel at what great musicians the band were - in particular hudson and robertson. It shows on "planet waves" too but some of the material on that record could have benefited from a little less instrumentation .
Anyway "orange juice blues" "! kazoo st scandal" and "aint no more cane" are some of the finest of their early work. Another reason to get this record.
In essence id rather this had come out in place of "john wesley harding" a record i find hard to love with its plodding grainy sound and dreary songs - ive never understood its lauding by fans. This in comparison is a flood of colour, a rush of improvised ,simple down home fun - an attempt to reconnect with what had been lost in psychedelia , that beyond the artifice and production you could have music as real and vivid as todays news and also something as old as the hills .
From JFK email@example.com
Great review (though i would rate it a 10, but why quibble?). "The Basement Tapes" has always been my favorite Dylan period. His style of song writing here really seems to unite his bizarre, associative, stream-of-consciousness lyris with traditional musical ideas. And of cource there are so many beautiful songs, the best of which ("I'm Not There" and "Sign on the Cross") don't appear on the official set. Hopefully, Bootleg Series Vol. 8 will be the complete Basement Tapes. One can always dream.
John Wesley Harding 8½
( 1967, UK pos 1 )
John Wesley Harding / As I Went Out One Morning / I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine / All Along the Watchtower / The Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest / Drifter's Escape / Dear Landlord / I Am a Lonesome Hobo / I Pity the Poor Immigrant / The Wicked Messenger / Down Along the Cove / I'll Be Your Baby Tonight
A lot happened to Dylan during the Blonde On Blonde era and its immediate aftermath. He toured with 'The Band' and attracted controversy at virtually every single concert they played. This has been captured well in the recently released Royal Albert Hall live album. The story has been told many times elsewhere of course, so I won't repeat it here. The way Bob was living his life was reaching breaking point. That 'breaking' point came with a motorcycle accident and Bob withdrawing from public gaze for quite some time before officially emerging with this set of recordings. He recorded a bunch of classic songs after his motorcycle accident that were compiled by The Band's Robbie Robertson for release in 1975 and turned into hit singles by a whole number of acts prior to that release. With this release Bob presented the public with a very different sounding record than the albums preceding it. Gone was the torrent of words replaced by lyrics rich in story-telling and biblical imagery. An album of stories this. The music is very stripped back, Bob handles all the guitar duties himself bar two songs featuring Pedal Steel. The rhythm section is understated if perfectly suiting the material. The bass guitar in particular holds this album together, musically. The opening title song is a case in point. Little shuffling drums, Bob on acoustic guitar and harmonica. The bass provides the melody and very fluent and fluid the playing is too. The words are story-telling, simplistic at first glance but like many other songs here, presenting hidden depths of meaning after repeated listening. 'As I Went Out One Morning' again seems a simple sort of song, but the lyrics are strangely captivating. A whole industry has sprung up just to detail the true meaning behind these lyrics. There are supposedly something like 61 or so Biblical references sprinkled across these twelve tracks. Knowing what they are isn't important in terms of enjoying the record however! The 'stories' can make sense in any case, they can present themselves to your mind in a number of different ways. You don't need to know who 'Tom Paine' actually is!
A strangely relaxing listen, this album. The songs are high quality compositionally even within a more laid-back framework if compared to previous Dylan songs. We do have 'All Along The Watchtower', a classic in anyone's book and famously turned into a hit by Jimi Hendrix of course. 'The Ballad Of Frankie Lee And Judas Priest' is so very funny. A happy little musical track and fascinating, captivating lyrical work. Piano is introduced for 'Dear Landlord' and it works very well to vary the sound of the record. A desolate, pleading sort of a song and more biblical allusions. 'I Am A Lonesome Hobo' has stupendous little bass lines - a great track. 'I Pity The Poor Immigrant' follows and it's equally as good. The cumulative effect of such songs starts to push the album towards the status of a major work. Songs, if taken individually from here, don't seem especially astonishing but the flow of these songs, one after the other, makes the whole more than the sum of it's parts. We also have a beautiful straight love song to close with 'I'll Be Your Baby Tonight'. Certainly a highlight and also presaging his 'Nashville Skyline' record with a subtle country feel flowing through the music.
BLONDE ON BLONDE is like an acid trip, and its successor, JOHN WESLEY HARDIN, is like the morning after tripping; a little eerie. Whereas BLONDE ON BLONDE was jam-packed, JOHN WESLEY is stripped-back, economical.
Congratulations on your lovely review of what I think is one Dylan's top 5 albums and perhaps the most overlooked of his ouvre. The point you're making about the songs here just being stories is a good one though it's quite obvious, isn't it? You know, there is one link between "Drifter's Escape" and a piece of European literature that I have never seen anybody comment on ever before. Do you know which? (Clue - he's a German guy.)
From Magnus Wistrand firstname.lastname@example.org
Usually I just love Dylan's harmonica playing - here, however, I find it a bit annoying on some songs. A solo or two could certainly be edited away on John W Harding, St Augustine, Lonesome hobo and Poor immigrant. The songs that survive my ears uncensored are As I went out one morning, Dear landlord, Down along Cove and Baby tonight whereas Watchtower may be better heard live in Europe '78 if released and the others on the NET eventually.
I just cant connect with this record at all . It seems very one dimensional and flat. Apparently bob wanted the band to overdub parts onto the record originally , and i think it would have been a stronger realised record if this had happened. Also It seems like the 2 country tunes at the end were tagged on as an afterthought and overall i much prefer nashville skyline .
From john county kildare, ireland
a quality listening experience. the relatively small studio band gel together with ease, on this album. 8.5./10. plenty of highlights. especially "dear landlord" and that song about the cove, dang, i keep forgetting its name.
Nashville Skyline 8
( 1969, UK pos 1 )
Girl from the North Country / Nashville Skyline Rag / To Be Alone With You / I Threw It All Away / Peggy Day / Lay Lady Lay / One More Night / Tell Me That It Isn't True / Country Pie / Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With You
Shortly after completing the sessions for 'Nashville Skyline' which had gone pretty smoothly due to the generally simple nature of the songs - Bob entered the studios with Johnny Cash with an intention of recording an album of country covers. They recorded a dozen or so songs but the results were generally chaotic and disappointing One of the songs was 'rescued' for release here. Bob didn't have a lot of material at the time. 'Lay Lady Lay' had been submitted ( too late ) for the 'Midnight Cowboy' movie and released as a pretty successful single. There is an instrumental here, and the whole album comes in at less than thirty minutes playing time. Certain Dylan fans were disappointed with getting only twenty seven minutes of music when during the time that had elapsed since the last Dylan record The Beatles had released 'The White Album' and recorded 'Abbey Road'. Another initially off-putting factor for the average Dylan fan may have been the sound of Dylan's voice. It's actually a throwback to how he sounded in the very early days before moving to New York and getting into Woody Guthrie. A rich, honey crooning kind of singing voice. Although sounding almost like a different singer altogether, this voice is kind of charming. And yeah, it is sweet sounding! Ultimately, this record is what it is, and should be judged that way rather than in direct comparison to 'Highway 61 Revisited' or whatever.
The Johnny Cash duet, a version of Dylan's own 'Girl From The North Country' is very strained in places, especially when they attempt to singing harmony together and generally fail to do so. Dylan has never been the greatest harmony singer in the world but the results are still strangely captivating in a ramshackle kind of way. 'Nashville Skyline Rag' is a hugely silly country instrumental. The fact that it is hugely silly means that's it's a lot of fun though. It raises a smile, especially when the Piano comes in. 'To Be Alone With You' is the first new Dylan song proper on the collection and whilst lacking in ambition when compared to 'Like A Rolling Stone' is a very listenable song in it's own right. More interesting Piano percussion through this track. 'I Threw It All Away' is just stone cold gorgeous. Dylan's 'new' voice is highlighted well with a bit of echo and is genuinely moving. 'Peggy Day' is full of the charm of this 'Nashville Skyline' record. Another silly piece of shit :) The second side of the album opens with the big hit, 'Lay Lady Lay'. Another fine sounding Dylan vocal, another fine and charming song. Another beautiful song. The beauty present within 'Nashville Skyline' is often overlooked, I feel. 'One More Night' and 'Tell Me That Isn't True' are another two fine songs. The latter in particular comes closest to sounding like 'classic' Dylan here with the addition of Organ parts through the song. 'Country Pie' is almost a throwback to The Basement Tapes era, very fun and playful lyrics in addition to some nice guitar work.
'Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With You' joins 'I Threw It All Away' in being a gorgeous ballad performance. Whilst everyone focused on the how and why of Dylan's new voice - few actually paid attention to the quality of the vocal performances here. He sounds so very good vocally throughout 'Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With You' and it's pretty much a Dylan standard these days - often appearing on hits compilations. It may seem I've given this record too high a grade to some. There is only twenty seven minutes of music here, after all. I just think that it's fun and enjoyable. It plays well and is good to put on when you just don't feel like listening to something heavy.
NASHVILLE SKYLINE is an overrated work, though it does deserve an 8 for influencing later talents...It's hard for me to conceive of James Taylor releasing his exquisite 'SWEET BABY JAMES' without Dylan having prepared the market for it-- but perhaps I'm wrong on this. However, you can be sure that a man as influential as Dylan having put his seal of approval on country-pop-rock must have had some impact. All the songs on NASHVILLE SKYLINE are pleasant, and sure not to offend conservatives with the lyrics: 'moon', 'June', and 'spoon' goes the rhyme in one track. "Oh me oh my, love that country pie" go some lyrics to 'Country Pie', a song that Dan Quayle could appreciate.
From William Gladstone
I appreciate the thoughts on this album. It is personally my favourite of his work for the fact that it's Dylan writing a fun song and playing it skilfully without all the weightiness of previous efforts like "Highway 61" or "Blonde" that, while wonderful and perfect for what they are, can sometimes be a bit much to take in depending on your mood, etc. Fellow Dylan fans have raked me over the coals for such slander but to me "Nashville Skyline" is like a tasty little nugget of Dylan, just long enough to leave you wanting a bit more. When you want a full meal throw in "Blonde".
From Magnus Wistrand email@example.com
Yeah, it's impossible not love this little bugger of an album even if I, myself, would have preferred Threw it all away and Lay, lady, lay without drums.
One of the best products of dylans "off the road" domestic bliss period . His voice is so sweet and the transformation to Nashville crooner is effortless and enjoyable . You sense real joy here at being freed from the past and the material isn't as difficult as JWH or new morning .
"i threw it all away" is one of his greatest songs , a warning against temptation and to never turn your back on love - we've all learned that one the hard way . its one of his prettiest melodies.
The record has a warm almost funky feel in places "to be alone with you" "country pie" "tonight ill be staying here with you" and there's plenty of sensuality in bobs delivery - hell its a sexy record ... "lay lady lay" is a case in point!
Only minus is bob sounds like john boy walton up against the imperious johnny cash but bob is now firmly in that exalted company where he belongs.
From Kirk Woodward firstname.lastname@example.org
Dan Daley, in an interesting book called "The Nashville Music Machine," says that people in Nashville generally credit "Nashville Skyline" with being THE breakthrough album that moved country music into a position to compete with pop music. I love the album but it appears it's also "important."
From Andrew Taylor email@example.com
This album is a gently and rich piece of work from Dylan, who is obviously tired of his hard- hitting music and political stature he received during the early sixties. Also I think Dylan doesn't want to rebel against anything anymore, resulting in john w harding and this flowing and fun album that stands out from any of his previous efforts of any of his albums he has ever made. "Girl from the north country" is beautiful and rough and almost totally unrecognisable from the earlier version. I love it.
Self Portrait 7½
( 1970, UK pos 1 )
All The Tired Horses / Alberta #1 / I Forget More Than You'll Ever Know / Days Of 49 / Early Mornin' Rain / In Search For Little Sadie / Let It Be Me / Little Sadie / Woogie Boogie / Belle Isle / Living The Blues / Like A Rolling Stone / Copper Kettle / Gotta Travel On / Blue Moon / The Boxer / The Mighty Quinn / Take Me As I Am / Take A Message To Mary / It Hurts Me Too / Minstel Boy / She Belongs To Me / Wigwam / Alberta #2
Well, well, well. Your eyes may be popping out of your head in disbelief at the rating
I've given this. Especially if you are at all familiar with the story behind this record. But, nothing is as straight-forward as it seems. The most accepted opinion of this record is that it was a deliberate fk you from Dylan to his fans. An attempt to create a record so lousy it would lose him at least half his audience and also much of the unwelcome attention he was receiving. There is evidence and quotes from Dylan himself that he did indeed have such an idea in mind. But, the final form of the record muddies the water somewhat. The original idea was that Dylan would quite simply and acceptably be putting out an album of cover versions. This was to re-enforce his 'Nashville Skyline' persona as the covers here are nearly all country tunes. That original form slipped away. A handful of new Dylan originals were introduced. Some of these were 'Nashville Skyline' out-takes. A few were brand new songs. To even further confuse matters however, a few tracks were taken from Bobs then recent Isle Of Wight performance. Hardly Dylan's finest hour as a live performer. And, the live songs are so out of place here! But then, remember the albums title. Dylan complained about the kind of songs people 'expected' him to perform. The title of this album is of course tongue in cheek. But the live tracks here, classic Dylan songs such as 'Like A Rolling Stone' and 'She Belongs To Me' are perhaps included to highlight just how different the rest of the record is. Which is the real Dylan? Well, they both are! 'Self Portrait'! A multi-faceted character and personality!! Nothing is indeed as straight-forward as it seems.
The first thing to bear in mind when listening to this record is that it isn't meant to be a serious work of artistic endeavour. It's just a fun record! Listen to the opening song, for instance. Dylan is nowhere to be seen. We get ( a gorgeous, actually ) string section over the top of female gospel singers. And, the only lyric? All the tired horses, in the sun. How I'm supposed to get any ridin' done? Ridin? Funny, that sounded like writing! Hmmmm.
The lyric is coated in a truly beautiful string arrangement. But, it's all
'light'. There is little art here, just a string section to take away from the
message of the song! It's almost like a conjurers trick, albeit a very tired and
wanting to go to bed conjurer! In contrast, 'Alberta #1' presages much of his
'New Morning' record. The sessions for 'Self Portrait' were spread, the final
sessions coinciding with the beginning of the 'New Morning' sessions. 'Alberta #1' features a slightly gruffer voice than 'Nashville Skyline'. The song is no classic, but it does have a nice atmosphere and decent female harmonies. Should Dylan be allowed to be 'simple' material? Or is he expected to produce a 'Like A Rolling Stone' every time out? And, look. Here comes the first country cover! The title says it all and ties in perfectly with the albums concept. 'I Forgot More Than You'll Ever Know' features an astonishingly beautiful Dylan vocal. He's in pure country mode and sounds unrecognisable from the Dylan of even two years before. If this was a complete unknown singer however, you'd be praising this singing voice. It's a fine vocal performance all round.
The best cover? Actually, it's 'Days Of 49' which isn't at all in country mode, but rather harking back to 'John Wesley Harding' in terms of its sound. It drives forwards, Dylan turns in a performance of some passion. Other notable Dylan vocal performances across this album include the truly gorgeous ballads of 'Copper Kettle' and 'Belle Isle'. Dylan has rarely, if ever, sung better than he does on these two songs. 'Belle Isle' is even a Dylan original! Well, of sorts :) And, before I get carried away, yes, of course there are faults with this album. The live tracks with the exception of 'The Mighty Quinn' which has a ramshackle charm all of its own - are atrocious. The instrumental 'Woogie Boogie' doesn't amount to very much either. Some of the covers border a little too much on easy listening. Still. We have the funky 'Gotta Travel On'! We have the truly bizarre, so bizarre you can't help but smile Dylan cover of Simon And Garfunkel's 'The Boxer'. Dylan decides to harmonize with himself. One voice 'old gruff' Dylan, the other the sweet crooning of 'Nashville Skyline'. It really is one of the strangest things I've ever heard, but surely a pure piece of theatre? It's just so damn funny! I'm sure this was the intention. Even the little guitar phrases sound intentionally comical. All of this and more. And, did you know? 'Wigwam' was a top fifty charting single for Dylan in Billboard? It reached number twenty eight on 'Cashbox'! That it consists entirely of Dylan humming over the top of some Latin/Spanish exotica, like a sunset at some low budget resort, says much for how one concept of 'Self Portrait' failed miserably. That it would rid Dylan of all his fans! We have a famous review in 'Rolling Stone' magazine. We have a mixture of the bizarre, the difficult and the truly gorgeous. We have a half-decent album! It's heavily flawed of course, but I for one actually enjoy listening to this collection of 'half-baked' ideas.
In my opinion it can be asserted that not only is Self Portrait a great album but it could be Bobs most eclectic and musical. He seems loose,he's having fun but don't be fooled because their are moments of truly inspired, powerful beauty. As for the fun stuff,"In Search of Little Sadie" as inconsequential as it seems contains as outrageous and mind blowing chord changes as you'll ever hear. I'll bet alot of listeners just daydream when it comes on so they can get to the next song. But LISTEN, it's also hilarious. Then their is the haunting gorgeous beauty of "Belle Isle", a near masterpiece. Shoulda done a few more takes to get the lyrics right Bob. This beauty deserved it."Copper Kettle" is right there with it too. "Livin the Blues" and "Take a Message to Mary" just flow n glow. The musicians and vocalists on this record weren't screwin around. They were very committed to the task at hand. Great to hear your mention of the strings in "All the Tired Horses" However, as great as! they are, they wouldn't be half as effective without the accompanying haunting church organ.a solo instrument contrasted to a full symphony. A master stroke to a brilliant arrangement. I don't know why but I hear the deepest part of the American soul,it's plains and prairies in that music.My brother bought this record on the week of it's release in defiance of all the reviews that slaughtered it; Greil Marcus/Rolling Stone ect. Those wankers wuz wrong,my bro right. I just bought the cd one month ago. First time I heard it in more than 20 years. More gorgeous than ever. I don't mind the Isle of Wright stuff at all. It's just one added ingredient to a very rich and compelling stew.
Undeniably, Self Portrait has it's moments, some spectacular, but there's too much of a disjointed feel going on here. Far too many covers and half assed live versions of already released songs. "Like A Rolling Stone" is completely unnecessary, and not performed too impressively either, for example. A long way from being the turkey some make it out to be, but at the same time, it was his first SERIOUS screw up. 6/10.
From andrew mccoy firstname.lastname@example.org
you seem to know your stuff about dylan there's only like 4 albums i need to complete his whole collection however you were very un fair to albums planet waves knocked out loaded and quite a few others i think you should listen to them again i was happy you gave self portrait a good review as its a great album and agree totally what you said about belle isle and days of 49 2 amazing songs and some of dylans finest stuff you shouldve gave another side of and blood on the tracks 9 and a half and blonde on blonde a ten cause it is perfection and another side of and blood on the tracks are the only 2 that come close to it
From Magnus Wistrand email@example.com
Took me a long time to open up my ears to this album. Now, I admit, I rank it the best of Dylan's '67-'73 period or rather approximately half of it: I forgot more/Early morning rain/Can't help falling in love (from 'Dylan')/Living the blues/Copper kettle/Gotta travel on/Blue moon/Take me as I am/Hurts me too/ Alberta #2. I can live without the Isle of Wight performances but I long to hear the sixteen or so out-takes! By the way, above songs will actually help you convince a bunch of Dylan doubters.
From Toni firstname.lastname@example.org
I have to say this review is the best I've read about this album. That is, I agree 100 % with what you say. Hard to understand the rough reactions so long after it's released.
From Duncan email@example.com
I can't say i agree with all of your reviews, but I must say you got it right with Self Portrait. I'm sick of people jumping on the bandwagon and bashing it. It is weird and it sounds great. Belle Isle is a beautiful song enough said.
From oliver fairlamb firstname.lastname@example.org
i think your rating system is seriously flawed. Self Portrait, an album of minor compositions and average covers gets a better mark then the times they are a changing? Please that record had 4 stone cold classics on it - title song, one too many mornings, boots fo spanish leather, and the lonesome death of hattie carol. Im not totally sure you know what your talking about
From Magnus_Sjöberg email@example.com
After lots of listenings, I still have to say this is a truly awful album! 7½ seems to be at least 5 (!) points too much for this peace of crap!
From Craig Connell firstname.lastname@example.org
Well said fellow, totally agree with you.I remember when i bought it,couldnt stop playing it for weeks.When I finaly spotted a review I couldnt understand the reaction.Not a classic but sometimes utterly compelling
New Morning 7½
( 1970, UK pos 1 )
If Not for You / Day of the Locusts / Time Passes Slowly / Went to See the Gypsy / Winterlude / If Dogs Run Free / New Morning / Sign on the Window / One More Weekend / The Man in Me / Three Angels / Father of Night
This arriving only four months after 'Self Portrait' was seen as Dylan 'admitting' the failures of 'Self Portrait' in rushing out a new record so soon afterwards. In fact, the earliest sessions for 'New Morning' overlapped with the sessions for 'Self Portrait'. The fact that his voice had reverted to its usual gruff state was put down by Dylan himself as a result of a bad cough he had during recording. He's not totally out of his 'country phase' just yet however, several of the songs have subtle country feels about them. The most notable aspect musically though is the fact Dylan plays Piano on seven of the albums twelve songs. The opening song, 'If Not For You' was first worked on with George Harrison. George cut his own version of the song too. Well, it's a fine song, simple and charming with a little Dylan harmonica break present and correct. Following the string laden, almost easy listening tracks that made up the bulk of 'Self Portrait' something like 'Day Of The Locusts' sets the character for 'New Morning'. The sound is slightly murky but this actually gives this record an added sense of warmth and humanity. The Piano playing of Dylan hits the spotlight on the beautiful 'Time Passes Slowly'. As with everything else, Dylan has a unique sound on the Piano and his vocals are soulful and strong. 'Went To See The Gypsy' is a happy, charming little song with an undulating and rolling Piano rhythm with bass guitar to match. 'Blonde On Blonde' man Al Kooper pops up on organ, piping through the bass and shuffling drums.
'Winterlude' and 'If Dogs Run Free' are often picked out as the most obvious failures on this album in terms of song writing 'Winterlude' is indeed a simple song, but the spanish guitar and female harmonies help make this palatable. 'If Dogs Run Free' has a Jazz feel about it and sees Dylan experimenting with different song forms and styles. It drags on a little and the scat singing of Maeretha Stewart in the background just sounds bizarre. The title song gets things back on track, and 'Sign On The Window' is another moment of beauty from Dylan's Piano sessions. The gospel harmonies work well in addition to Dylan's Piano and tender, weary vocal work. 'One More Weekend' is a Dylan stab at an electric blues. It doesn't sound at all like typical Dylan though, certainly nothing like tracks from 'Bringing It All Back Home' or 'Blonde On Blonde'. It has a certain charm but isn't anything essential and seems a lot longer than its three minute length would suggest. 'The Man In Me' is more back to 'Day Of The Locusts' in terms of sound and feel, the closing 'Three Angels' and 'Father Of Night' typical of this records moving through different song formats. 'Three Angels' is a spoken Dylan story whilst the music flows underneath. The closing 'Father Of Night' is Dylan back at the Piano but singing a set of pretty simplistic lyrics. Hardly his finest writing effort! In fact, the whole record isn't really about Dylan writing masterpieces again, it's a record that sees Dylan feeling his way back into things, but at the same time, still trying to move forwards.
Jeff Clark email@example.com
Your New Morning album review is a joke. Clearly one of Dylan's greatest songs/Albums is New Morning and the music support of Al Kooper and Harvey Brooks (same folks who put together the Super Session album with Stills and Bloomfield) adds a unique dimension to this album. Unfortunately you've never been up in the mountains for any extended period of time living or camping I can tell. This album is about being a part of something greater than we are and his music reflects this just like his Highlands song on Time out of Mind. Also the song If Dogs Run Free is perhaps one of the freshest songs on the entire album contrary to your review. Oh well to each his own. I've got every Dylan album (album not CD) he ever made and New Morning is every bit as good as Highway 61 or Blood on the Tracks. Do me a favor and listen to If Dogs Run Free again and tell me it's a failure. Al Kooper's piano work is great.
Zack Wilson firstname.lastname@example.org You seem to view this album quite closely to the way I do. Winterlude and If Dogs Run Free which lay at the midsection of the album, while not at all "bad songs" (as no Dylan tune is), seem to almost break the aura of the album. New Morning is like a free, youthful river, which breaks over a small hill, then straightens out in full stride. Moreover, New Morning is more than you make it out to be, in terms of song writing and fulfilling its purpose; a lighter one than say Blood on the Tracks or Freewheelin'. Still, a 7 1/2 seems a bit too low in comparison to other Dylan classics.
Magnus Wistrand email@example.com Can't wait to hear a remastered New Morning album after having heard the title song remastered. I'm sure there will be more songs than Sign on the window to talk about then. I also would have included the piano/violin If not for you, the piano Spanish is the loving tongue and had Time passes slowly with only piano. What about the six or so out-takes? I wouldn't mind a few covers.
Gazza firstname.lastname@example.org New morning kinda changes every time you hear it . I just cant make my mind up about it overall Its a mix of the mediocre (one more weekend,if dogs run free) the banal (winterlude,went to see the gypsy) the inappropriate (father of night and 3 angels) - both songs seem to belong on another album entirely .
The rest is solid enough "sign on the window" "man in me" "if not for you" - couple other tracks are ok , enough perhaps to recommend getting a copy for the curious but not necessarily buying unless you're a dylan fanatic 6/10
John email@example.com It's one of those Dylan albums I find difficult to wax lyrical about. Not that I mean it in a negative way. It's a sort of back to basicS feeling despite the more Soul/Gospel direction and reasonably big production, but still the feeling is a tad uninspired and jaded. Still it's a return to form though after the weirdness of "Self Portrait". I'd give it a healthy 7/10, which is of course the most enigmatic rating one could probably give to an album, well that and 0/10.... Mostly quality tunes in fairness to Bob, I just think that Nashville Skyline is the best of his post J.W.H./pre B.O.T.T. albums.
John Kedward Chiang Mai Another overlooked track is 'Time passes slowly. There's a great dialogue between a stark piano and meandering guitar but the lyrics give an impression of landscape, dreams and vastness and being able to be content with this, without needing to strive for anything extra. The only thing I don't like about this album is the quality of his singing on most of the tracks but an enjoyable album nevertheless
Carl Finlay Ireland I just heard an outtake of "Sign on the window" with strings on it, and i am blown away. It has always been my favourite song on this album and it sounds extra nice with strings.
More Greatest Hits ( aka 'Greatest Hits Vol II' ) 9½
( 1971 )
Watching The River Flow / Don’t Think Twice / Lay Lady Lay / Stuck Inside Of Mobile / I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight / All I Really Want To Do / My Back Pages / Maggies Farm / Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You / She Belongs To Me / All Along The Watchtower / The Mighty Quinn / Just Like Tom Thumbs Blues / A Hard Rains A Gonna Fall / If Not For You / It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue / Tomorrow Is A Long Time / When I Paint My Masterpiece / I Shall Be Released / You Aint Going Nowhere / Down In The Flood
This was the first Dylan CD I ever owned or heard. Indeed, at the age of eighteen, I’d rarely come across any Dylan songs such is the lack of decent radio here in the UK. I guess the only songs I really knew were ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’, ‘Blowin In The Wind’ and a variety of cover versions. A Dylan novice I was, for sure. A few months after having this, I bought ‘Freewheelin’, ‘Times They Are A Changin’, ‘Another Side Of’, ‘Bringing It All Back Home’, ‘Highway 61 Revisited’ and ‘Blonde On Blonde’. That was a terrific 5cd for £30 deal if ever I saw one. Still, this is where I started. Loads of great songs including several not on any regular Dylan album. ‘Watching The River Flow’ and ‘When I Paint My Masterpiece’ were new songs written and recorded for the album. Both sit more than nicely on this comp, no mean feat considering they came about during a period in the early 70s when Dylan was considered washed up. Oh, I guess Dylan’s original hits LP contained many of the best known songs from this era, ‘Like A Rolling Stone’ and so forth, yet there’s still a remarkably large amount of very well known tunes here. ‘The Mighty Quinn’, one of several basement tapes tunes, for example. Back in 1967 whilst the summer of love was around and The Beatles ruled the universe, Dylan seemingly had no response. Yet, without actually releasing a new album, he was all over the charts, Manfred Mann hitting top 5 with their version of ‘The Mighty Quinn’, for example. What else? Well, to this day I’m deeply impressed by the variety here. Take the first five songs, for example. Gritty roots-rock to finger-picking folk to country pop, to pure wild mercury back to country and then switching back to folk. Elsewhere, Dylan digs out the lovely ‘Tomorrow Is A Long Time’, another tune not previously issued at the time.
You may be wondering whether ‘More Greatest Hits’ has any significance in this day and age? Well, subsequent compilations seem to be more wide-ranging, but for my money, this is the perfect Dylan starting point. The fact it contains three or four tunes not easily obtainable elsewhere is a plus. It covers the years 63 to 71, pick up ‘Biograph’ as well and you have everything else you could need without having to buy all of the regular Dylan albums. Of course, you could get ‘Essential Bob Dylan’ but where’s the romance in that? My brother has the vinyl copy of ‘More Greatest Hits’. It’s a beautiful thing, I loved vinyl. So much more romance in that or even the CD than ‘Essential Bob Dylan’. Anyway, I won’t get into individual tunes here, there’s doesn’t really seem to be a lot of point, except to say everything here is great without exception. You knew that already, didn’t you? If you’re also wondering why I didn’t mention this album on my Dylan beginners guide page, I must admit, I forgot. Replace ‘Bringing It All Back Home’ on the list with this little beauty if you wish. One final, final thing. It’s one of those rock n roll clichés, but it’s true. Dylan changed a lot of lives, mine included. He broadened my musical horizons to incorporate folk, blues and country. He was the gateway into an entire forest of great music. ‘More Greatest Hits’ succinctly displays a lot of the reasons why.
PS, a note for those that need to know. Bob recorded 'Watching The River Flow', 'Spanish Is The Loving Tongue' and 'When I Paint My Masterpiece' March 1971. He recorded proper studio versions unavailable elsewhere of 'You Aint Going Nowhere', 'I Shall Be Released' and 'Down In The Flood ( Crash On The Levee )' October 1971. 'Tomorrow Is A Long Time' is an out-take from 63/64. <
Al Brooks firstname.lastname@example.org I met Dylan in 1971 in Greenwich Village NYC, but only for about a minute-- and neither of us said anything, we merely nodded at each other after being introduced outside a television taping session that he was about to enter. I was only fifteen and couldn't think of anything witty to say. What would anyone say in those circumstances?: "hey mr. tambourine man, play a song for me"?
Pat Garrett And Billy The Kid 6½
( 1973, UK pos 7 )
Main Title Theme / Cantina Theme / Billy 1 / Bunkhouse Theme / River Theme / Turkey Chase /. Knockin On Heaven's Door / Final Theme / Billy 4 / Billy 7
I don't care about the movie or the history or the fact this is Bob Dylan. The only way I can deal with this soundtrack album is to judge it as just that, a soundtrack album. When Dylan is involved, expectations distort a mind to the point where objectivity is almost impossible. So, although this albums status within the Dylan catalogue is minor, you may find it outweighing some of the more 'major' album works because of how it is to actually listen to. Apart from a couple of tracks, this is an entirely instrumental LP and something of an anomaly in the Dylan catalogue because of it. That it happens to contain one all time classic song has probably helped it stay in print. Compared to today's soundtrack albums, this one is a little short and a little light. It isn't any heavy project but the songs are nice diversions, all well put together and showcasing how melodic the music of the composer ( Dylan ) can be. The classic is of course 'Knockin On Heavens Door', a song so simple anybody could have written it, yet it took Dylan to match the tune and performance together. None of the cover versions really come close. On the album, it's followed by one of the best instrumental cuts, 'Final Theme'. We've got acoustic, backing vocals, flute. Drums and bass enter in around a minute and a half in and this is a very pretty melody.
A song as good as 'Billy 4' is lyrically renders any movie version of the story redundant, this is a little movie all in itself. The song presages, with a little imagination, parts of 'Blood On The Tracks'. This is after all a stripped back, acoustic affair much in line with classic Dylan. Doesn't make the song better or worse, just thought I'd throw in some context. Despite saying at the start of the review I didn't care about the Dylan aspect or the film, what is music without context? Without context all music is background music that doesn't connect emotionally. These brief instrumental excerpts and couple of songs proper do connect emotionally. 'Billy 4' is a minor little masterpiece.
jim o mahony Cork, Ireland Cant agree with giving this a 6.You cannot in this case seperate the soundtrack from the movie.In my opinion one of the most underrated westerns ever.The end of the old,beginning of the new.The end of an old America that Dylan now seems to yearn for.The music plays a huge part capturing the whole atmosphere of the film.I think Bob really nailed it and it has to be an 8 or 9.
( 1973 ) Lily of the West / Can't Help Falling in Love / Sarah Jane / The Ballad of Ira Hayes / Mr. Bojangles / Mary Ann / Big Yellow Taxi / A Fool Such as I / Spanish Is the Loving Tongue
Some may think I've boxed myself into a corner here. For example, giving 'Planet Waves' a lowly 6/10 surely must mean 'Dylan' HAS to score significantly lower? Then again, I never was one much for reputations. Even Dylan himself in 'Chronicles' describes this 'Dylan' album with bemusement, although he's careful not to actively criticize it. I'll dig in my Dylan sessionography by the way for you now to reveal exactly where these 'Dylan' songs come from. Well, a few are out-takes from 'Self Portrait'. The remainder and majority of the tracks come from the 'New Morning' sessions. This news may not fill you with confidence, but then again, the better moments from both albums were absolutely great. What confuses me is that 'Dylan', released by Columbia during a brief moment Dylan was no longer with the label, apparently as 'revenge', is actually a fairly strong release. We all know Dylan doesn't always choose the best songs necessarily to go onto his albums, don't we? I don't think he's ever been obtuse about it, just not sure of what his own best work is. So, the out-takes from 'New Morning' are all fun, perfectly respectable, although not amongst his very best work, it's fair and blindingly obvious to say. The tracks from 'Self Portrait', the final three basically, are just fun things. To counteract the accusation though that 'Self Portrait' and indeed' 'Dylan' were active acts of sabotage, Dylan does actually properly sing. He's not giving half-hearted vocal performances. Besides, some people like Dylan doing the trad/arr and the odd cover version.
So, what do we have? Well, the opening 'Lily Of The West' is great! It's got a speedy little rhythm, Dylan playing Harmonica and this is a proper tune. Sure, Dylan wasn't so hot on song writing at this stage and he mumbles some of the words, but this works really very well indeed. It sounds like Dylan, you know? If you're a fan, it should work for you, too, hopefully. 'Can't Help Falling In Love' is the same tune made famous by Elvis. Dylan sings this properly, you know, properly. Female backing vocals make his soft and considered vocal sound even better. Quite lovely, really. 'Sarah Jane' is fun and kooky and 'Ballad Of Ira Hayes' another female backing vocals assisted Dylan, a strange semi-spoken, semi-sung country/folk story-telling piece. True, the second half of the album isn't as good as the first, with a throwaway cover of Joni Mitchell's 'Big Yellow Taxi', dreary things such as 'A Fool Such As I' and 'Mary Ann'. The closing 'Spanish Is The Loving Tongue' could also be said to be dreary, yet Dylan does his syrupy 'Nashville Skyline' / 'Copper Kettle' type singer, sounding unlike we expect Dylan too, but his voice sounds glorious here. So, an odd release? Well, clearly. An utterly disposable one? Surprisingly not. It's not a Dylan set you'll reach for very often, I suspect, but because everything here is fairly light and undemanding, a pleasant one to listen to. You know, you can't listen to 'The Times They Are A-Changin' all day long, can you?
Planet Waves 6
( 1974, UK pos 7 )
On a Night Like This / Going, Going, Gone / Tough Mama / Hazel / Something There Is About You / Forever Young / Forever Young / Dirge / You Angel You / Never Say Goodbye / Wedding Song
As the first proper new Dylan record in four years following a soundtrack and an album of out-takes there was a sense of expectation surrounding this. Especially as news filtered out it would be a reunion between Bob Dylan and The Band. The accompanying tour sold out in record time whilst the album was somewhat forgotten, even though it did debut at number one. Following the majestic work Bob did with The Band in the past, something like 'On A Night Like This' seems slight and half developed. It does have a good pace about it though. 'Going Going Gone' is a strong track enriched by classy guitar playing and a good Dylan vocal. 'Tough Mama' is great! Would have made a far better album opener. It's actually funky - not something you would readily associate with Dylan, but there you go. 'Hazel' follows, and whilst it's a pretty beautiful song it doesn't flow well following 'Tough Mama' as 'Going Going Gone' didn't flow well from 'On A Night Like This'. There is no communal sound or atmosphere across this records eleven songs as compared to the silly but charming 'Nashville Skyline' or even just the murk and humanity of 'New Morning'.
There is a lapse in the centre of the record. Two different versions of the same song with 'Forever Young' in addition to the terminally dull 'Something There Is About You'. Given the sleepwalking nature of many songs here, 'Dirge' stands out a mile. A desolate, spine chilling set of lyrics. A stripped back instrumental track that consists entirely of Piano and a single guitar. 'You Angel You' and 'Never Say Goodbye' both of which follow 'Dirge' are entirely forgettable filler. 'Never Say Goodbye' in particular is hardly the best example of Dylan's vocal work. The third truly worthwhile song from this set arrives with the closing 'Wedding Song'. This is almost an old style Dylan folk song, though it's not quite enough to save 'Planet Waves'.
Michael Vogt email@example.com
Disagree on "You Angel You" being a forgettable song. This song is one of my favourites from Planet Waves. I find it a simple, powerful (not too serious)love
song, with a catchy tune and fine rhythm.
As a long time Dylan fan, I would consider this album the real 'grower' in his catalogue and one of his major albums. The album could easily have been named 'Love Songs' looking at the said subject from a bunch of angles. Forever Young is a Father/Son song with a quite beautiful lyric. Why twice though? A bit strange indeed. Maybe he had been listening to Tonight's the Night or something. Wedding Song and Dirge are interesting lyrically but for me they are the two weakest songs performance wise and their relative
popularity mystifies me. Never Say Goodbye is my fave. What a performance. Passion. The arrangements in Planet Waves have, in the main, an elastic and playful quality, which stand up to repeat listening. My opinion anyway. Adrian, thanks for reviewing so many Dylan albums. Enjoyed :)
An album that is constantly growing in my opinion. Sadly overlooked in discussions about great Dylan albums, this is a very good one. Correction, it´s a splendid one, and worth at least 8½ I think.
Magnus Wistrand firstname.lastname@example.org I can understand the mixed reviews that this album receives. To my ears, however, most of the songs remain great without spirited performances from either singer or band. Thus the album, in my opinion falls into the same category as other potentially good albums Another side, Street legal and Saved as even out-takes can't make up for the lack of passion on the released songs. Maybe someday we'll get Tough mama/Something there is about you/Forever young/Except you/Wedding song from Tour '74 and Going, going, gone from '78.
Todd Lekan email@example.com I disagree with your assessment that there is no coherence to this album. Musically it does shift and turn. However, as one other reviewer points out, this album is a study of love from multiple, contrasting perspectives. Whether intended or not, Dylan juxtaposes opposites. We get idealized over sentimental versus jaded or angry. Take "Dirge" and "You Angel You." Take "Going Going Gone" and "On A Night Like This." Or consider the bawdy and almost voyeuristic lust of "Tough Mama"--a song the singer addresses to his wife? (That night in the country side was hotter than a croutch, I stood alone up on the ridge, and all I did was watch)?
Mark Bartlett firstname.lastname@example.org Planet Waves has been a favourite of since its release. The songs have a loose, comfortable, earthy feel about them as you might expect from the ‘re-union’ with The Band and the lyrics are generally on the light side for Dylan making a nice change. There is a fair amount of diversity in the execution too (The Band again ?) and I find it predominantly uplifting with Benevolent Bob expressing at various points his good wishes, loving admiration and contentedness. No spitting and snarling here; he seems to be generally happy with life, God bless him. I’m always happy to pull this one out of the box and give it a spin. I find it a pretty even album with no absolute stand-outs and definitely no dogs. (As a matter of interest I would rate the previously maligned ‘You Angel You’ as one of the best songs here; and not merely because the line ‘I swear it could make me sing’ , or thereabouts, always brings a smile to my lips !). I would give it a 9 for the overall mood it creates! in me.
John email@example.com I'm happy to see that it's not just myself that felt shocked at Adrian's critique of "You Angel You", a charming little ditty, and a most pleasant form of relief as storm clouds begin to brew on Zimmy's horizon. Ditto "Going, Going, Gone", an ideal late March, early April Saturday afternoon *GETTING MY HEAD TOGETHER* in an overcast, half deserted, small seaside town, type tune. Nothing really stands out as SPECTACULAR here, well apart from the obvious ode to his young 'un, but generally, it deserves 7/10. No masterpiece, but a satisfying album.
Gazza Recorded over 3 days with the band prior to his first major tour in years expectations were high for this album .
Adrian seems a little underwhelmed but i rather enjoy the record . The arrangements work pretty well and bobs in good voice . it was a mistake to have 2 versions of "forever young " never mind back to back on the record though .
Theres 3 classic dylan songs plus several that are very enjoyable , the looseness of the playing makes it even more so . Dissapointed "nobody cept you" couldnt be on the running order though. Apart from the bitter lyrics to the latin flavoured "dirge" dylan seems to be in great spirit too . 7.5/10
Jim Johnston Glasgow A couple of hours ago, I listened to this on a train journey. Hadn't heard it for ages. Overall, it is a nice, relaxing, enjoyable record. Dirge rightly gets a lot of praise, a true Dylan classic. Tough Mama even better, I would say. And Hazel a great song, the track listing doesn't bother me at all, a good varied album. The only song I can happily live without is On A Night Like This. But Dirge, Tough Mama, Forever Young(the quick version), You Angel You, Going Going Gone I would regard as classic Dylan, the other songs(except On A Night Like This) varying between quite good and very good. Overall, 8/10.
Trev Kent Youre score of 6 is too low.I Believe that PLANET WAVES and the remix of STREET LEGAL are probably the most underated albums in the dylan catalogue.PLanet waves contains some of DYLANS finest vocals while it also has some of his finest melodies(GOING GOING GONE,HAZEL; FOREVER YOUNG'NEVER SAY GOODBYE)Overall a consistant album which deserves a score of 8
Blood On The Tracks 9
( 1975, UK pos 4 )
Tangled up in Blue / Simple Twist of Fate / You're a Big Girl Now / Idiot Wind / You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go / Meet Me in the Morning / Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts / If You See Her, Say Hello / Shelter from the Storm / Buckets of Rain
What exactly did happen to Bob in the time after 'Planet Waves' to produce this?? Well, he went to art lessons. He became creatively inspired, and given the state of his marriage at this stage - for the first time in a fair few years actually had something to write about. The idea Bob had was this. If you look at a painting, you don't see all of it at once. Some parts are off in the distance, some nearby. Also, you have no fixed sense of time. Something like 'Tangled Up In Blue' displays this well lyrically. Both past, present and future are equally applicable to the sense of where you are in the story. 'Tangled Up In Blue', as well as making for a fine opening track was also one of the songs Bob re-recorded for the final release of this record. Originally, it was intended the whole album would be bare and stripped back, just Bob on Acoustic with a bass guitar for company. The re-recording of tracks ensured some controversy from those that felt some of the original versions were superior to the eventually used takes. Just listen to 'Tangled Up In Blue' however! Listen to 'Lilly, Rosemary And The Jack Of Hearts' or even 'Idiot Wind'. Now, in it's stripped back version, 'Idiot Wind' had a set of personal lyrics very close to home as far as Bob was concerned. He laid out his heart and soul through song. But, nine or ten songs of this, it was decided, would prove heavy going for most people. The album is more varied as a result of a selection of tracks featuring full band performances.
'Simple Twist Of Fate' is achingly beautiful, full of sadness and resignation. It makes you feel for the world, for all of those in suffering. 'You're A Big Girl Now' is made for me by the beautiful guitar and bass introduction but also by Bob's superlative vocal performance. His finest since 'Blonde On Blonde' most likely. I think so. When he reaches upwards for the high notes, gets them, holds onto them.... It's a romantic sounding song in any case. 'Idiot Wind' in it's final 'Blood On The Tracks' incarnation is a fury of anger and bitterness wrapped in the hardest hitting musical track on a Dylan record since 'Highway 61 Revisited'. 'You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go' cheers matters up somewhat. A breezy and happy sounding declaration of love and feeling. 'Meet Me In The Morning' which closes the first half is fairly forgettable though. A blues influenced number that fails to match the character or unique nature of much else that's here. 'Lily Rosemary And The Jack Of Hearts' is one of Bobs story-telling flights of fancy! A movie in song wrapped in one of the fullest sounding band performances on the entire album. It runs for nearly nine minutes but remains a joy throughout and another dose of happiness on this otherwise sadness tinged record. Speaking of which..... 'If You See Her Say Hello' arrives next. A beautifully delicate guitar performance with a concentrated Dylan vocal. 'Shelter From The Storm' and 'Buckets Of Rain' are retained from their original acoustic based versions. 'Shelter From The Storm' has a fine melody and a Bob vocal sending shivers down the spine. 'Buckets Of Rain' for such a simple song squeezes in so many little melodic moments and changes. A happy, optimistic closer! A fantastic album! Yeah, it's true. Bob was back!
McPherson, Norman NMcpherson@fac.unc.edu I have never heard Dylan sounding as angry or heartbroken on any other album that I have. He uses one of the best studio bands that has ever backed him and his voice is the cleanest ever [except maybe during his country period]. -An eleven.
Jamie Edmondson firstname.lastname@example.org Never, ever, have I got so much pleasure out of a record that wallows in someone else's sorrow. How does Dylan do this?
Jamie Edmondson Danz235@aol.com I also disagree and question whether you listened to the album. Box of rain is, in
fact, one of the top five dead songs of all time, beautiful harmonies, gorgeous
chord changes... and Brokedown Palace might just be the saddest song ever written,
to Jerry's dead mom, absolutely heartbreaking. Listen to it again man.
dex Dextano@hotmail.com A sublime album - "Buckets Of Rain" is one of the most powerful acoustic songs i have ever heard, sends shivers down my spine every time i listen to it. Only con of the album for me was the jack of hearts song. Didnt fit into the albums style.
Magnus Wistrand email@example.com Oh-ahh! Why don't we have Tangled up in blue from Bootleg series and Big girl now and Up to me from Biograph remastered? And why don't we have the 'original' Idiot wind, Jack of hearts and If you see her? But Lonesome when you go is better live '76 even with bootleg sound quality.
Andrew Taylor firstname.lastname@example.org This is Clearly Dylan's most personal album. In almost every song he sings about thoughts, feelings, anger and fear which he was obviously feeling at the time. "Simple twist of fate" is a perfect example of this, "Blood on the Tracks" is Dylan brutely talking about his relationship without holding back anything. There are no clever inter-locking lines of poetry, hidden political meanings or magical stories that you can't get your head around. Its simply Dylan releasing what it seems like he had too resulting in this wonderfully haunting anst-like album
john, county kildare, ireland email@example.com ooohhhh yeah..... hits the target on every occasion. i would argue that it's the greatest album ever made (or in the top three, at the very least)he sounds like a man possessed, or more to the point, the possession sounds like DYLAN got a hold of IT. we could go on about "rosemary, lily and the jack of hearts" spending about two and a half minutes longer in our company, than is necessary, or "meet me in the morning" being derivative of about half a billion other blues songs. these arguments can't really be validated, as dylan is truly operating on the highest possible plateau imaginable, and perhaps even beyond. it follows on the chain of artistic perfection first evolved through the work of Mozart, and two or three other points between, setting standards that perhaps even dylan himself could not improve upon, although he has come within millimetres of the sheer quality, with "time out of mind", and "love and theft". "tangled up in blue" is the creation of a man who hasn't ! even moved up a gear yet, while others in a supposedly higher gear struggle to even come within a billion light years of its aura. "buckets of rain" sounds like a jam session between sun ra and nick drake. "idiot wind" is THE ultimate "fuck off, asshole" song, why waste your energy giving someone the "harvey smith salute", when you can play them this, and kneed it in with raw venom? this is where dylan REALLY builds upon "freewheelin'" and "highway 61 revisited" to reach the parts where angels fear to thread, other beers can't touch, and cliches turn to dust. amen, hallelujah, and enjoy the ride.......
gazza firstname.lastname@example.org Again magnus is right - i would cut rosemary of hearts , and add up to me - and put the original versions of these songs from biograph and the bootleg series instead . I've heard the original version on bootleg and it pisses all over this . However the quality of the song writing makes it bobs 2nd best album .
mark email@example.com Devastating opening 5 tracks with a very cohesive feel. Fairly spartan backing, just man and guitar mostly in evidence and, I agree Adrian, certainly a timeless feel to this part of the album. Special mention for Twist of Fate though; finely crafted, sheerest poetry and a slightly suspended, spacey, feel. Also the vitriolic, tour de force and centre-piece Idiot Wind which gives us a unique, possibly surprising, glimpse into how deeply visceral Dylan’s feelings can be. Don’t think anyone mentioned the subtle change from ‘you’re an idiot’ to ‘we are idiots’ at the end; a sharing of guilt and an olive branch for what went before maybe. I love the contrast of mood with the next track too; You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome seems like the sun coming out after a deep black, oppressive storm (is this sung to the same woman but in a different mood).
The lazy, engaging blues Meet Me in the Morning and the amusing novella that is Jack of Hearts are a bit out of place on this disc but! both very acceptable in their own right; I enjoy them both but prefer playing them as one-off’s in isolation.
If You See Her embodies fondness, sensitivity, and residual hurt and for me is a very touching song . Sadly, I find the remaining two tracks a little lightweight in comparison with the openers. They are by no means bad songs but I don’t ever recall rushing home desperate to play either, as it were.
Easy to see why this is a great favourite album for fans and detractors alike but I feel it is slightly flawed as the mood is disrupted in the middle section and for me it loses a bit of steam after that. 10 out of 10 for the first half obviously but 8 overall.
( 1976, UK pos 3 )
Hurricane / Isis / Mozambique / One More Cup of Coffee / Oh, Sister / Joey / Romance in Durango / Black Diamond Bay / Sara
Only months after releasing 'Blood On The Tracks' Bob was already looking forwards. He went searching for a new sound. He could have made 'Blood On The Tracks' part two, instead he found an exotic violin player by the name of Scarlet Riveria and effectively, she became the 'lead guitar' player for this set of recordings. Bob played acoustic and sang of course - and talented musicians Rob Stoner and Howard Wyeth made up the rhythm section. EmmyLou Harris sings backing vocals. Add of all this together and you get? A damn fine sounding record, that's what! I so love the sound this group of musicians create. Especially the violin, it's an unusual but very effective touch. And besides, this album would almost be guaranteed a place in the history books just for the stupendously exciting 'Hurricane'. It screams out 'classic' as soon as the opening bars kick in. 'Isis' makes it two classics running. This clearly follows on from the writing techniques used on 'Blood On The Tracks'. It's difficult to keep a track of or make sense of what's going on lyrically. Musically, the band hit a groove, the violin provides the added exotica! All is well.
A much more varied album this, when compared to 'Blood On The Tracks'. All of the songs there, were pretty much in the same style - musically they featured repetitions on and towards the end of the songs to support the lyrics. It wasn't really a musical album as such, though songs such as 'Tangled Up In Blue' were supremely musical. Nothing like 'Mozambique' however. EmmyLou is audible here on backing vocals. The violin perfectly suites the foreign nature of the music. Not foreign as in difficult, rather foreign as in being abroad, being in a strange place and admiring the scenery. It's a happy song, full of life and joy. 'One More Cup Of Coffee' is the most haunting melody here. Again, the violin is key to the sound. The song is fantastic, Bob sings well and stretches his vowels as only he can! 'Oh Sister' arrives next, is fascinating lyrically and very enjoyable musically. A simpler song than others here, but none the worse for it.
The eleven minute 'Joey' could conceivably try the patience of even the biggest fan of the sound of this record. It's another interesting song, especially lyrically. Another exotic mixture of sounds musically. It does drag on though! I can't criticise it too much. The blending of Bob and EmmyLou's voices in the chorus is just a thing of beauty. 'Romance In Durango' is very silly and happy sounding. It borders on being irritating but following on from the serious sounding 'Joey' provides much welcome relief and fits in with the album perfectly. Oh, an aside! Early sessions for this record featured a whole ton of guest musicians including both Eric Clapton and Roger McGuinn amongst others. 'Romance In Durango' was the only song that survived from these early sessions. Roger McGuinn would later be invited to tour with Bob and a whole host of other musicians on Bobs Rolling Thunder Revue. But, where was I? Ah yes! Roger McGuinn isn't credited on the sleeve as playing on this track, but the brief bursts of heavenly Byrds Jingle Jangle sure as hell wasn't Bob! McGuinn has such a distinctive sound, it's got to be him. I'm glad - it's a wonderful sound.
If you wanted just one song from this record, an example and representative of the whole - choose 'Black Diamond Bay'. Seven minutes long, jaunty and exotic. Great bass playing as well, actually. The rhythm section really lock together throughout this record. 'Sara' is self explanatory when you find out Dylan's wife at the time was called Sara. They'd been through a difficult spell ( several of them... ) and this was Bobs plea of reconciliation. You can see this as an updating of 'Ballad In Plain D' from 'Another Side Of' although to be honest, to compare the two like that does 'Sara' a great disservice. 'Sara' continues with this albums exotic and satisfying musical sound. Bob sounds beautiful vocally and the lyrics are poetic in their plea. It's a fabulous song and a great way to close an almost flawless record.
Alan Brooks firstname.lastname@example.org Touchingly atmospheric songs. And isn't that what Dylan is about, atmospheric lyrics?
Chris Bagshaw Bagshaw@sig.com Just read your review . I definitely agree, a hypnotic, mesmerizing album. I also love Blood on the Tracks. Good Review, keep up the good work.
Dan Frechette email@example.com. I have recorded my music with Scarlet Rivera, and even in 1999, long after Desire, she is God's gift to the Violin. In her presence while she recorded takes I burst into tears several times, not being prone to that behaviour. It is definitely no surprise Bob Dylan let her become "lead" instrument on this recording.
kevin c firstname.lastname@example.org in my opinion his overall best ,hurricane and isis are probly his best songs and
his song about joey gallo is just fun to listen to its an album i never tire of. in
my opinion this album is far superior to blood on the tracks .
oliver fairlamb email@example.com desire better than blood on the tracks, the freewheelin, bringing it all back home? same standard as highway 61 revisited and blonde on blonde? anything you say. Your rating system is a joke. sure its a good album but you've rated it as one of the greatest albums ever. Please!
Matt Byrd firstname.lastname@example.org hunh, yeah, I agree with you. I really like Desire, almost as much as Highway 61 and Blonde On Blonde. I guess it's the violin.... well, and a number of other things.
Magnus Wistrand email@example.com One Dylan record I have loved and been frustrated by. Now my version would look like: Abandoned love/Isis/Mozambique/Golden loom/Oh sister/Joey/Money blues(?)/Black Dimanond Bay ALL WITHOUT DRUMS and finally Catfish. Hurricane is better on the John Hammond tribute and One more cup of coffe plus Sara on live '75.
Kris firstname.lastname@example.org This review highlights for me that you don't know what you are talking about. This album sucks big time. Sure 'hurricane' is a good song, but it's the only one on this record. I can't believe some people actually rate this as his best?!?!?!?
mark bartlett email@example.com I have a pretty decent Dylan collection and I have to say this is probably the one I pull out least these days.
Initially it was on my turntable a lot but it has palled over the years. I don’t particularly like half the songs now, they don’t seem genuine somehow, and (sorry) as far as the violin is concerned you CAN have too much of a good thing !
I think my favourites are Black Diamond Bay and Isis and I would probably also listen to Joey, Hurricane and Sara at a push - so that’s just a little over half.
It’s saving grace is perhaps that it is an accessible album which might have encouraged a lot of people to give Dylan a listen and go on to investigate the rest of his output.
In my most generous mood I'd give this one about a 7.
david gallacher firstname.lastname@example.org Probably the first Dylan album I could listen to all the way through. My highlight has to be Isis. Bang on the money with your description of Scarlet's violin
Bradlee email@example.com Well done, again. But, this is not 'Blood on the tracks'...that's Dylan's best, hands-down. 'Desire' does have its moments...'Isis' is my new Dylan favourite (I just got 'Desire'). 'Hurricane' is fantastic - Dylan is the ONLY white guy (Eminem included) who can use the N-word and make it flow. The violin and Harris harmonies show that Dylan has always been interested in 'other things'...but with Dylan, I don't think one ever knows what he's on about or onto, really. Essentially, it's a testament to Dylan that he's the most gifted lyricist ever...b/c he can turn a phrase and make it work with just his guitar, or with violin and harmonies or with The Band backing him up, etc., etc., etc. And, I agree with youabout 'Joey' - enuff, already!
Jimmy G firstname.lastname@example.org GREAT REVIEW!!! Desire is my favourite Dylan album, and a light year past Blood...there's more energy here, Dylan is in incredible voice...and the mood of the sessions (and sound of production) is very natural-sounding (something he would abondon on the albums to follow). "Hurricane" is a tour de force, "One More Cup Of Coffee..." is one of his most original vocals, "Oh Sister" has a great glaze feel (that laid back chord progression of the Nashvill Skyline version of "Girl From North Country". Stupendous is the word that would best describe this album........it's a wonder how he could go from this to Street Legal, though.........
gazza email@example.com desire is dylans best sounding record , the instruments sounds so warm and intimate and emmylous voice bring something different to the songs.
However i could do without black diamond bay , romance in durango sounded better in live incarnations. And joey doesnt half drone on doesnt it .
If hed left those tracks off and added abandoned love and catfish it would have been a stronger more listenable album . no way 9.5 more a solid 7/10 - at least he didnt follow blood on the tracks up with a clunker !
joe ollerton firstname.lastname@example.org
Great album. Am I the only person who really likes 'joey'. Isn't the 9 and a half minute wait worth it for the emotional "to the son that he could not save"? Well it gets me everytime!
Frank Armitage I think you've overrated this one. It's almost overly polished in sound and lacks the raw immediacy of "Blood On The Tracks""Sara" to me is te gem of the album. Bob's at his most earnest and heartfelt on this one. He's bleeding. Hurricane? Yeah,very strong. "Black Diamond Bay", yes, good. Their IS too much Scarl;et Ravira and Emilou's harmonies particularly on "Joey" are dreadful.
John, County Kildare email@example.com Good points made by Frank, although I'd still rate this as a 9/10. Slightly below his top 5, but still fucking brilliant though. Even a "lesser" Dylan album shits over a lot of other artists' best albums, hope I don't sound like a snob there.... Probably do, my apologies folks :-)
Jim Johnston firstname.lastname@example.org This album gets better every time I listen to it. At first Mozambique, Joey, Romance in Durango, Black Diamond Bay took me a while to get into. Now I think all 9 songs on this are superb, 9.5/10 the correct rating. The best of the lot for me is "Sara", I would say now definitely in my all time favourite 5 Dylan songs, the lyrics, the music, the performance, this song is the closest thing to perfection I have ever heard.
Carlos A Dublin Well, after enjoying your reviews for some time, I have now decided to start commenting on the albums, and I have chosen Desire as my starter, since this is the Dylan album I enjoy the most. Let's see if I can explain myself, 'cause this is hard: I don't mean that for me Desire is the best album by Bob Dylan; I think that place would go to Blonde on Blonde or Blood on the Tracks, because I think they are of a higher quality than Desire. However, Desire is the one I enjoy the most of all Dylan's works, and the one that really takes me to heaven whenever I listen to it. What I like so much about Desire is its variety of themes and it is strangeness. I mean... it sounds unlike any other of Dylan's albums. Listening to this album is like reading a book by Conrad: it takes you to exotic faraways places, this album is like an adventure book. Take a look at the places or cultures that appear in Desire: Egypt, Mozambique, a Hebrew melody, Mexico, gangster-time America, soci! al protest... This album has such an incredible scope! It never fails to make me feel like I am travelling to these places, while living some amazing adventures!
Its sound is different from any other Dylan album. First of all, we have the incredible voice of Emmylou Harris featuring so prominently throughout the album (and Emmylou is a hell of a singer, listen to "Together Again" or her version of "Here There and Everywhere"). Secondly, we have some unusual instruments, specially the violin played by Scarlet Rivera, which also has a prominent place in the album. Q Magazine issued a special Dylan issue about a year ago, and in it they said that Desire is like a gypsified version of Blonde on Blonde, a gypsified version of what Dylan called "that wild mercurial sound". The opener, "Hurricane", is a treat. This is a song that always sounds fresh to me, no matter how many times I listen to it. I love the violin in it, since it is what really makes the song, an! d I think it is a really energetic track. "Isis" is j! ust wond erful, I love the way Dylan sings this one, with a story full of irony and mystery. In this album Dylan is not trying to be essentially surrealistic (like in "Desolation Row" or "Visions of Johanna"), or expressing his feelings (like in "Idiot Wind" or most of Blood on the Tracks). In this album Dylan is telling us stories. "Mozambique": one of the most perfect matches between lyrics and music I have ever heard: Dylan is singing of beaches, sun and people smiling, but the sound also evokes that. It certainly makes you want to visit that African country. It is such a catchy song! "One More Cup of Coffee": oh my God!!! The very first time I listened to this song I cried. It is so beautiful, and so much unlike what you would expect from Bob Dylan. The tune is amazing, and I love Dylan's voice in this one. This song ALWAYS send shivers down my spine. I know this can seem a bit too far, but this is actually one of my favourite Dylan songs, together with "Idiot W! ind", "Visions of Johanna", "It's All Over Now Baby Blue" and a few others. I LOVE IT!!! "Oh Sister": I already knew this song from a Greatest Hits package, and I think the duet between Dylan and Harris is great. Another song that fits into the style of the whole album. "Joey": marvellous; it doesn't matter how long it is, I always really enjoy it, from beginning to end. Another story, but this time, as with "Hurricane", a real one. "Romance in Durango". Well, so far we have been to the States, Egypt, Mozambique, the Near East... So why not go to Mexico now? And this is where this song takes us: another story, this time a western one, and it always makes me think of a spaghetti western... I can almost see Clint Eastwood! I love some of the Mexican sounds of the song, its whole atmosphere of life in the frontier, on the run. I think the beginning of the song is great, when Dylan sings " hot chili peppers in the blistering sun"... what a way to intr! oduce Mexico in just one verse! "Black Diamond Bay": ! another great song, with unusual chord progression in the verses. Another story, another adventure... And this time I can't help but be reminded of a Humphrey Bogart film... if you have seen "To Have or To Have Not" you will know what I mean. Another of the highlights of Desire.
"Sara": fantastic closer. I love this song, it really moves me every time I listen to it, and I think it wouldn't have been out of place in Blood on the Tracks either, although being where it is, it is a great way to close a great album. It is also full of exotic and happy images from Dylan's happier past. Desire is a fantastic album, and it holds no filler whatsoever for me, every song is great and the running order of the songs is very important, too. A couple of times I have been able to introduce some people who were not fans of Dylan to his music starting with this album. I believe it's a great album to introduce someone into Bob Dylan since, in my opinion, with the exception of Selfpo! rtrait, this is the most unusual of all Dylan's albums.
Street Legal 7
( 1978, UK pos 2 )
Changing Of The Guards / New Pony / No Time To Think / Baby, Stop Crying / Is Your Love In Vain? / Senor (Tales Of Yankee Power) / True Love Tends To Forget / We Better Talk This Over / Where Are You Tonight? (Journey Through Dark Heat)
The group of musicians surrounding Bob for 'Desire' had gone. The brief period of reconcilliation between Bob and his Wife around the period of 'Desire' had gone. This album was recorded inbetween tours with a hurriedly assembled band. So, the sound is hardly as rich as 'Desire'. The songs are a step down in quality as well though. Nothing like 'Blood On The Tracks' here. Well, maybe a couple songs are worthy, cut from the same cloth. Not too much else though. And, another thing! This record seems to bear comparison with 'New Morning'. It shares gospel backing vocals for one. It shares a certain sense of murkiness. 'Senor' stands out a mile, however. For some reason, not only is it the finest song here from a writing point of view, but it also has a richer, clearer sounding backing track in addition to a fine Dylan vocal. The other clear standout if we are talking 'classic' Dylan is the opening 'Changing Of The Guards'. Yeah, the sound is slightly murky, but we have a brass section! Well, a trumpet or two, at least. We have a brilliantly impenetrable set of poetic lyrics and a fine melody to boot. Of course, nothing else comes close to the quality of these two songs, but even with the lack of new ideas displayed across this records nine songs - it remains an enjoyable listen. 'New Pony' manages to be funky and the gospel backing vocals work especially well here. 'No Time To Think' may have been amongst the earliest songs written for this record, bearing the closest comparison to anything from 'Desire'. It's a fine, enjoyable song that stretches out over eight minutes and even includes a violin! 'Baby Stop Crying' was released as a single and even charted in modest fashion Bob does well vocally through this song.
'Is Your Love In Vain' sees Bob doing a tender, rather affecting vocal, although the music is nothing to write home about. Following the superlative 'Senor' we have a few catchy melodies with 'True Love Tends To Forget'. Neither of these songs say anything lyrically however and although manages to be pleasant - aren't much more than that. 'We Better Talk This Over' has an enjoyable rhythm about it but again, seems to much like standard material. The closing 'Where Are You Tonight' apparently presages his early eighties material. In short, It's bland and poorly produced. Bobs method of recording quickly, capturing a mood - simply wasn't working now that recording studios had gotten more complex. Plus, even more worryingly, the new songs he was writing in the wake of 'Street Legal' were incredibly banal. Salvation was at hand! During one concert date for the 'Street Legal' tour somebody threw a small silver cross onto the stage...
Steven Sroczynski SSroczynski@foleyhoag.com
An underrated album. "Changing of the Guards" stands as one of Dylan's
best songs EVER. The background vocalists certainly aren't as unique
or astonishing as Emmylou Harris, but they are strangely captivating in
their own way, and I think they harmonize well with Dylan (or as well
as anyone ever has). The album really doesn't contain any filler from
where I'm looking. "Senor" and "No Time to Think" are the next best
songs in my opinion but the rest are all pleasant and melodic A lot of
people blast "New Pony." Well, it is one of Dylan's more...weird
songs, on par with the likes of "If Dogs Ran Free" and "Man Gave Names to
all the Animals." It's certainly not a great song, but again, I think
it's alot of fun and you gotta appreciate the extended sax solo at the
end. As an album, I find Street-Legal noteworthy for sounding very
uplifting, with a couple exceptions. I call it Dylan's only "party album"
because it sounds very upbeat and partyish, unlike most of his catalog.
stephen szenderski email@example.com where are you tonight IS!!!! Bob Dylan's best song, it has such a good feel to it
and i can't get enough of it, the rest of the album is good too, but that song
definitely is a standout, way underrated
Glenn Gerhardt firstname.lastname@example.org i totally agree that where are you tonight is a highly underrated song. it has a
"like a rolling stone" feel to it, and i think its wonderfully written. in fact,
all of the songs on this album are wonderfully written with the possible exception
of "true love tends to forget". i would group this album in with "blood on the
tracks" and "desire" as part of dylans creative burst of the mid 70s
Magnus Wistrand email@example.com Not much wrong with the songs -I'd rather wish the superior live '78 versions from Europe were released.
philip bellew firstname.lastname@example.org I agree that the original recording of Street Legal suffers from turgid production values which ultimately let the album down - however, the recently cleaned-up CD version is a vast improvement and brings a lovely crisp clarity to the songs. Where Are You Tonight is surely one of Dylan's finest achievements: the lyrics are staggering, and the arrangement - drawn from the same well-spring as Like A Rolling Stone - seems to me to be perfect.
Graham Ashmore email@example.com This record has gained from remastering as much as any I've ever heard. What an album - to these ears, four major songs, which may be as many as on Time Out of Mind. Of the four, "Where Are You Tonight" is the one I hadn't noticed on vinyl. The filler is solid, though "Baby Stop Crying" can be wearisome, and the chorus of "Is Your Love In Vain?" makes for a wince (which isn't to suggest there's anything wrong with cooking, sewing, or horticulture!). "New Pony", which I used to hate, is very sexy and great fun. And "Guards", "Senor", and "No Time to Think" are something more, which has been recognized in other comments.
Bradlee firstname.lastname@example.org You do a great job with this...but 'Where are you tonight' is the album's best song. 'Senor' is a bore...just b/c something is in a minor key and has imagistic lyrics does not automatically make it artistic or interesting or instant-classic. By the time Dylan unassumingly mentions the stripper in 'Tonight', the song's a gem. If anyone else had written this song, people would be calling it a CLASSIC. It's better than ANYTHING Tom Petty has ever written, etc.
gazza email@example.com I know this got slated at the time but its 3rd equal with oh mercy for me . Nothing wrong with the quality of the writing - guards,where are you tonight,senor , baby stop crying - like wow . bobs vocals go a bit "off" at times and the production was criminal , but in my eyes its still up there among dylans great albums . i mean where are you tonights lyrics sound simultaneously painful and joyful , gospel and dirty rock n roll .
Mark Bartlett firstname.lastname@example.org I’m surprised and pleased to see so many positive comments here as I’m used to hearing only bad things about this album. I’ve obviously been mixing with the wrong types. Myself, I like it a lot and I’m pleased to weigh-in with the positives. I think the tunes and the lyrics stand up very well; it’s a melodic collection with great hooks. ‘New Pony’, with sly/bitter lyrics and meaty riff is a big favourite (though perhaps not the deep stuff we crave), ‘Senor’ I also like a lot, nice tune and he sings it well. ‘Where are you tonight’, relentless, sucks you right in and holds you there. ‘True love tends to forget’, again nice tune with what seems like a genuine lyric. Not really a bad song in sight as far as I’m concerned. I suspect the production is a little over the top or too theatrical for some devotees, or maybe it’s too ‘commercial’, but I don’t mind that at all - occasionally. It’s still a great listen even after almost three decades. I’d give it 8.5 for anyone who’s int! erested in the scores.
T OSBORNE email@example.com I agree with many of the comments StreetLegal has got to be his most underated album (especially the remix).Many of the the songs lyrically and melodically are far stronger than the SLOW TRAIN COMING album (which always seems to be rated higher)and the rest of which have come since(with possible exception of OH MERCY).Although i love dylans lyrics,ifeel his tunes get overlooked by many people.For me this album has some great melodies(changing..baby stop..love in vain ..senior..true love ETC )Yes STREET LEGAL is definately in my top six Dylan albums
Slow Train Coming 8½
( 1979, UK pos 2 )
Gotta Serve Somebody / Precious Angel / I Believe in You / Slow Train / Gonna Change My Way of Thinking / Do Right to Me Baby (Do Unto Others) / When You Gonna Wake Up / Man Gave Names to All the Animals / When He Returns
Bob was hardly in a fine mental state all through 77 and 78 following the breakup of his marriage. That small gesture of a silver cross, which he picked up from the stage got Bob thinking. He experienced what he perceived to be a 'born again' experience and whole heartedly embraced Christianity. Not only did it save his soul, he gave him inspiration to write new songs and a subject matter for those new songs. Practically every single song that finished up on 'Slow Train Coming' is concerned with 'choosing sides' and the apocalypse He realised his new material could prove controversial amongst the critics so this time round learnt from the mistakes of 'Street Legal' and chose his group of backing musicians with care. Central to the sound was the emerging talent of Mark Knopfler ( of Dire Straits ) on guitar. He hired legendary soul producer Jerry Wexler to produce. It proved a popular album, hanging around on the charts for quite some time and out-selling the likes of 'Blonde On Blonde' and 'Highway 61 Revisited'. Of course, not everyone was pleased. Some of Bobs fans were appalled by the religious nature of the new material. Others doubted the reality of Bobs new convictions. Time has passed since then, however. And, 'Slow Train Coming' really is a fine record.
I should talk about the actual record too, shouldn't I? Yes! Here we go then. As soon as the steady beat of 'Gotta Serve Somebody' kicks in, it immediately becomes apparent how much more care has been taken over the recording of this album when compared to 'Street Legal'. The bass and drums lock together and create one groovy rhythm and Bob produces a fine set of lyrics. 'Precious Angel' is just.....ah! Such a, well.... swoonsome song, that can easily transcend it's lyrical base to become about anything romantic you could wish.
The influence of Mark Knopfler becomes apparent through this song, quite apart from the classy guitar - even influencing Bobs vocal style a little. Bob obviously had tremendous respect for his abilities. 'I Believe In You' continues a strong start to the record. A fabulous, life affirming vocal the highlight of this number. The title song is more rhythm section funkiness with a few impressive guitar parts thrown in. 'Gonna Change My Way Of Thinking' is a little too direct lyrically perhaps. No way anything can be confused here. This is clearly a religious song and nothing else. The music is fairly standard as well.
'Do Right To Me Baby' is a lacklustre composition that is enriched hugely by the care of the production team and the rich sounding music. 'When You Gonna Wake Up' is another piece of soul/funk and hugely enjoyable. 'Man Gave Names To All The Animals' even employs a reggae rhythm! It's also hugely silly. So, lots of fun then? Yes! 'When He Returns' ties things up nicely. A perfect closing track to a record such as this. A stupendous Dylan vocal amidst solo Piano backing is a highlight of this song. It's a hugely emotional song known to reduce many to tears. It closes this fine, enjoyable record. Nothing is really innovative here - there is no sense of thrills of excitement, and really, nothing to touch his finest writing efforts. It's just a very consistent, solid effort that remains very enjoyable to this day.
One of Dylan´s greatest albums. Another one that deserves a 10 I think. If you´re not into religion, well...just listen to the music! Powerful and passionate like no other album by Dylan, it´s a true masterpiece.
Simon Brigham firstname.lastname@example.org
Truthfully, the only reason why I bought this is because Mark Knopfler (one of my favourite guitarists ever) from Dire Straits plays on it. Dylan's voice isn't the greatest on here, it's really nasal, he can't hit certain notes (especially on "Precious Angel", an otherwise beautiful song). Knopfler is great on guitar here, with his warm late 70's Communique-era tone. Unfortunately his guitar only shows up for half to 3/4's of the album. The first half of the album isn't bad, with some outstanding moments (like the rockin' "Gonna Change my Way of Thinking") but the last two songs are what really makes the album drag. "Man Gave Names To All The Animals" is just plain silly, even on the verge of stupid.
But I suppose, that Spinal Tap may have been right when they said 'There's a fine line between clever and stupid'. "When He Returns" isn't bad, but it certainly isn't great. It's piano-based and it sounds almost like a hymn.
Now the lyrics kinda lose me sometimes, with the religious overtones, but they're good for the most part (except "Man Gave Names To All The Animals").
I gotta give credit here to drummer Pick Withers (who also drummed for Dire Straits from 1977 to 1980). He really has a unique drumming style, and the production enhances it. Especially on the reggae-like songs, where he kind of does a combination of reggae, rock and shuffle.
I suppose this album will grow on me more as time goes by, but for now I give it 6.5/10
Tony Adams email@example.com I found a beat up home made cassette copy of "Slow Train Coming" in the dirt on the side of the road in a small town in Sicily. I was on a 90 day work project over there, a long way from my Massachussets home and family.
After cleaning the tape up a bit, playing it, and hearing these songs for the first time in a far away foreign place, I was hooked. Heaven sent. Listening on the way to and from the office, it spoke to me. I felt at home. I even played the cassette once for an Italian friend, my surprise he knew the songs already!; told me that Mark Knofler (spelling?) from Dire Straits played on the album. that he learned much of his english from Bob Dylan and Beatle records. It seemed that I'd make it through my first overseas assignment just fine.
I had already been a fan of Dylan's early stuff and even learned to pluck (poorly) and sing (even worse) a few cuts like "don't think twice it's alright" and "blowin in the wind". But the songs on "Slow Tr! ain Coming" generate warm and welcoming messages; things that I'd like the kids to hear and take to heart. If I ever meet Bob Dylan I think I'd thank him for that.
john co.kildare firstname.lastname@example.org cretainly not in the same league as freewheelin, highway 61 and blood on the tracks, and i can certainly appreciate how the almost gung ho old testament ideals pissed off a lot of people, but this is still a beatiful warm sincere album.even "non believers" cant fail to be charmed by the wonderful precious angel and the title track is easily his best socio political observation in over a decade.
Magnus Wistrand email@example.com Fascinating with all these disparate opinions but I think some would agree with the following song sequence: Gotta serve somebody (there must be a livelier outtake with piano and/or acoustic guitar)/Ye shall be changed/I believe in you/Slow train/Trouble in mind/Do right to me/No man righteous(?)/When he returns. In my opinion the others are better heard live '80 maybe with the exception of When you gonna wake up? which I can't seem to appreciate in any version.
GAZZA All things considered the sincerity of bobs christian convictions cant be doubted . The evidence is in how hard he worked on this record (dylan prefers to record quickly and run ) - choosing the musicians and production team (jerry wexler and expert on soul and gospel music production) and agonising for weeks with the mixing and overdubbing process ( unheard of for dylan)
He wanted people to hear this record and wanted it played on the radio . And wanted its sometimes harsh gospel message sweetened by the backings.
The first side is easily his best material since "blood on the tracks" . The title track and "gotta serve somebody" are smoky funky little grooves outlining dread apocalyptical visions while telling us clearly that no matter what we do in the world we have to side with either good or evil .
"precious angel" and "i believe in you" are beautiful songs expressing faith not as something easy but something that like any relationship demands work and devo! tion . They are both awesome , i for one am not christian but feel teary hearing "precious angel" .
The albums greatest success comes not from the courage of dylans message but from his detailing his own spiritual dilemma - most of these songs are directed as much within than to his audience.
However the 2nd half of the album cant match these heights "change my way of thinking" has a dreary sub jj cale backing "when you gonna wake up" also goes through the motions with the memphis horns.
both these tracks have lyrics that are best described as evangelical too .
"do unto others" and "man gave names" are more lighter in tone and benefit from the simple little grooves the band produce . The closing track is a strong gospel song reaffirming his belief in christ - In a couple of places here like on the other ballads dylans voice strains for the notes but through passion rather than incompetence , bob has always been a hugely underrated singer .
In summary ! "slow train coming" is a strong follow up to the excellent "st! reet leg al" but not quite the masterpiece some suggest 8/10
( 1980, UK pos 3 )
A Satisfied Mind / Saved / Covenant Woman / What Can I Do For You? / Solid Rock / Pressing On / In The Garden / Saving Grace / Are You Ready
In the face of any controversy Dylan's apparent conversion to Christianity had raised, he just ignored it all and carried on. 'Slow Train Coming' did very well for Dylan, it sold well. Unfortunately for 'Saved', the recording had to be squeezed in between tours. Nobody was particularly happy with the finished results. Dylan simply moved on. 'Slow Train Coming' had those tasteful guitar licks, nice melodies. There is no escaping 'Saved', no sweetly played melodies to hold your attention. The songs themselves actually aren't bad or anything, just lack musical invention or imagination. It sounds slow, without musical fire. This kind of takes away from the lyrical message. Dylan's vocals are anemic, 'Saved' cannot be saved! Ok, cheap shot. The songs themselves are fine, actually. Nothing terribly thrilling, but it isn't hard to imagine these same songs transformed into good songs, rather than average ones. If more care had been taken, a little sugar coating, I'm sure 'Saved' would have been better received than it was. The only thing it really managed to achieve was to convince everybody that yes, Dylan was serious about his new religious beliefs.
'Pressing On' opens the album, a little blues and gospel, it's nice. We plunge straight into the title song, lyrically we have a continuation of the fire the previous album displayed. The music shows fire too, this is one of the most satisfying songs present on the album. 'Covenant Woman' is tasteful. Listenable. Three songs in, although 'Saved' doesn't reach the heights of 'Slow Train Coming' shows no particular need for any listener to be terribly dismayed. 'Solid Rock' joins the title song in being the best thing here. A little funkiness, Dylan sounds engaged. Largely, the songs here do border on the bland side, however. Too much mid-tempo plodding from the musicians taking part. The album lacks enough highlights, songs such as 'Festival' sound as if they were originally spirited enough, just that everybody almost lost the will to live mid-way through the recording of it. Only a short time to record? Ah, 'this will do'. Well, Dylan continued of course. Often, albums he recorded do give the impression he was just passing through on the way to something else. Unfortunately for Dylan fans, now he'd entered the 80s, fans would have to wait quite awhile for that 'something else' to actually arrive.
Jack Butler firstname.lastname@example.org
in the process of acquiring the lesser known dylan albums, this was one of the last ones i bothered with, but due to low expectations, i was pleasantly surprised. the albums seems to me to be the fundamental (no pun intended) elements of street legal and slow train with a tinge of gospel and played very simply. as the above review says, the songs aren't bad, just not as fleshed out as some of the period's others.
Daniel Pivano email@example.com There is a lot of truth and much to be gained in the lyrics that Bob Dylan gave us in Saved. Here we experience the basics of the foundation of Christianity.
The album is moving and still moves new listeners.
Magnus Wistrand firstname.lastname@example.org The remastering of Another side, Planet waves and Street Legal didn't really change my impression of the performances on those albums. With Saved, however, I still have hopes that Solid rock will come bursting out of my speakers and maybe another song or two. Otherwise I suppose we'll just have to wait for some future live '80 release of these the most beautiful of the 'religious period' songs.
Vasco Vasco2407@hotmail.com I think that Saved is the most underrated Dylan record so far. With very low expectations (I'm a atheist) I started listening to Saved. Good songs! "In the garden" has chordchanges that will haunt you for a long time. `What can I do for you´ is a nice gospel. `Saving grace` is just a beautiful song. I think the lyrics are fine also. Not the cheap ´evangelical´ cliches. ´When they came for him in the garden, did they know...´ Well, if you agree with Dylan is something else. I still stick to my atheist believes. Sorry, Bob.
Angela 'Saved' was life changing for me - I remember listening to it as a teenager and knowing what Bob Dylan was saying was true- though I went on and ignored these fundamental Christian truths I later made a deep commitment to Jesus Christ and now I see how much of an impact this album had on me.
John, County Kildare email@example.com "Slow Train Coming" is for me, an unfairly maligined album for various reasons. I find it a little more difficult to connect with "Saved" however. In 1979, Dyaln sounded like he wanted to share his new found relationship with Christianity in amlloving and caring way, but a year later he sounds like a brimestone laden preacher, all hell and damnation, completely lacking the loving welcome of the previous album. The song quality has deteriorated as well, "Are You Ready" is dreadful, an insult to all music lovers, and one of Bob's worst songs, "A Satisified Mind" lacks any conviction, a going through the motions song and not even ashamed of it. Working with such an amazing group of musicians and producers should have brought the best out of Bob, instead we get a cold unwelcoming Old Testament rant, where only "In The Garden" and Covenant Woman" match the glories of "Slow Train Coming" Probabaly about 5/10, no maybe 5 1/2 to be fair on the better songs.
Mark firstname.lastname@example.org I have liked this album since the very first hearing and feel that the songs are heartfelt, sincere, well done and occasionally joyous ! The tunes are consistently good in my view; the harmonica work on ‘What can I do for You?’ is tremendous; I like the gospel and spiritual influences that appear on, for example, ‘Pressing On’ and ‘Satisfied Mind’; and ‘Solid Rock’ and the title track do fairly rock along. Church was never this much fun when I was obliged to attend ! All in all it’s a pretty good offering, if I may use that word. On top of that, as has been said elsewhere, you don’t have to be religious to identify with a lot of Christian teachings and morals so the lyrics aren’t entirely lost even on the likes of me who is generally religion-averse. I reckon this is worth 8/10.
Frank Armitage email@example.com I thoroughly agree with Mark's point concerning the "tremendous"harmonica work on "What Can I Do For You".In fact I think this song along with "Covanent Woman" are simply beautiful. I love em both and they to me are sterling examples of Bob at his soulful best.
Shot Of Love 8
( 1981, UK pos 6 )
Shot of Love / Heart of Mine / Property of Jesus / Lenny Bruce / Watered-Down Love / The Groom's Still Waiting at the Altar / Dead Man, Dead Man / In the Summertime / Trouble / Every Grain of Sand
The quickly recorded 'Saved' album had followed 'Slow Train Coming' and didn't meet with a particularly positive response due to it's relentless 'in your face' brand of preaching. 'Shot Of Love' on the otherhand is still firmly within Bobs christian phase but not everything here qualifies as an obviously religious song on the surface. It makes for a much more palatable record. Hell, its not perfect. A good half of it isn't even good, but on the other hand.... 'Grooms Still Waiting At The Alter' rocks! A nice little guitar riff, rock n roll piano - a pounding rhythm. A wonderful song. Easy! The opening 'Shot Of Love' also cooks and contains such lines as 'don't need a shot of heroin'. Not a line that would have appeared on either 'Slow Train Coming' or 'Saved'! Was Bobs faith faltering? Well, maybe, maybe not. There are still plenty of religious references here. 'Heart Of Mine' is so ramshackle and half formed but still manages to be as charming as hell! I'm not quite sure how....nothing works, nobody sounds as if they know what they're playing. Everything fell together around the melody and it works. 'Property Of Jesus' contains plenty of fire and is very enjoyable. 'Lenny Bruce' is pared back - just Bob and a Piano with faint backing vocals. Very atmospheric and beautiful.
'Dead Man Dead Man' tries to repeat the trick of using a reggae rhythm - something Bob had attempted in the past. Bob Marley was big on the scene at the time I guess. 'Watered-Down Love' is filler on the face of it, although it is performed well and with energy. 'In The Summertime' is impossibly dull and boring and contains almost nothing to recommend it. 'Trouble' opens with nice electric blues guitar and although it drags on a little, Dylan's vocal has a little fire about it. The final song is easily the best thing on the second half of this record ( 'grooms still waiting at the alter' excepted ). A passionate, weary and personal Dylan vocal with a gorgeous melody to back it up. A simple summary? 'Shot Of Love' is a good song and a good Dylan album. The good outweighs the bad and even with definite filler, Dylan sounds passionate about making a record here. It works very well.
Erik Noftle firstname.lastname@example.org
I have always wondered when reviewers cover Dylan's christian trilogy, why
they always seem to favor the albums on either side of Saved and tend to
either ignore or solidly pan that album. I think that Saved is clearly the
best of the three. Slow Train Coming is very well produced, I agree, and
the first side has some impressive songs. However, the second side is
too samey and too formulaic, except for the truly great 'When he returns.'
Shot of Love simply contains very few good songs. 'Every Grain of
Sand,' of course is a great song, but I think this performance seriously lacks
something that shines on other versions (The Bootleg Series 1961-91,
live performances). The only other good songs are 'Heart of mine,' 'In the
summertime,'and the title track. (I'd just like to mention here that
the beginning of 'Property of Jesus' sounds just like Nirvana's 'All
apologies' save for one note.) The whole album is marred by poor
production which makes it sound hollow and rattle-y. Saved, however,
has a uniform set of all good songs. I agree that they can be somewhat
preachy and arrogant but songs such as 'Covenant woman,' 'What can i do for
you?,' and 'Pressing on' are simply great overall. You can also hear the
intensity of Dylan's faith behind the vocals, which give the songs an
urgency and an honesty that is mostly lacking on parts of Slow Train
and pretty much all Shot of Love. I agree the production on Saved is not
all it could be but I think the murkiness of the sound of the album
actually gives it a good deal of atmosphere. My opinion is that most people are
either turned away by bad reviews from a few prominent critics and thus
never hear the album, or listen to it with a prejudice that doesn't
allow them to hear the quality of the album. I'd like to note that I am not a
fundamentalist or even a Christian at all, (and really dislike
fundamentalism ) and I still really enjoy this album. Give it a try!
Magnus Wistrand email@example.com I would say Dylan was firing on all cylinders if the chosen songs would have been: Shot of love (outtake w piano)/Heart of mine/She's not for you (?)/Lenny Bruce/Angelina (edited w/o chorus)/Yonder comes sin/Dead man/Caribbean wind (Rundown version)/In the summertime/Every grain of sand
all in remastered quality, of course...
Frank Armitage Are you kiddin me? No mention of "Every Grain of Sand"? This is a great song! Even way better than on this record is the version that reappears on "The BootLeg Series" The barking dog on that one is great,haunting. I even like Emilou's harmonies on it.And I generally don't like her harmonizing all that much.
Vasco When I told a Dylan-loving friend that I was fond of Shot of Love, he said: 'That record usely gets one star in reviews.' Well, I think that Every Grain of Sand alone deserves two stars. My other favourite is 'Property of Jesus'. Rolling Stone Magazine was very negative about this record. But only because it disliked the lyrics. Well, it is called 'music' for a reason. If lyrics were the most important, it would have been called 'lyrics' of 'texts', wouldn't it? The music on Shot of Love is good, but not outstanding.
GAZZA A really enjoyable dylan record and one which sounds like a more relaxed follow up to "street legal" . Dylan was going through a period of obvious deep spiritual commitment while enjoying experimenting with a number of very different producers (something he rarely has done before or since) Jimmy iovine,jerry wexler and indeed "bumps blackwell" (best producer i ever had quoth dylan !)erstwhile recorder of little richard and sam cooke in the 50s - However only the title track survives from this session unfortunately (working with dylan was perhaps not the best vocation for a guy in his 70s with heart trouble )
So springsteens engineer chuck plotkin completed the record and did a pretty good job . "in the summertime" is an obvious highlight with beautiful harp playing and superb lyrics ,"every grain of sand" one of dylans classic songs and elsewhere he rocks with a fair abandon buoyed by a cracking band and gospel backing vocals .
"watered down love" is just lovely s! weet soul pop as is "heart of mine" which leads to the usual dylan album mystery - Why the hell did he include weaker takes of "heart of mine" and "groom" when stronger versions had been recorded (see bootleg series) and why the hell was "carribean wind" and "angelina" not in the tracklisting ?? Oh well lets just be relieved that its a great album - crap cover though! 8/10
Trevor Osbourne Kent Always had a soft spot for this album.Always thought it was the strongest of the christian trilogy,(not just because the lyrics are not so overtly christian)and 2ND TO OH MERCY as his BEST ALBUM OF THE 80S.It was nice to hear at the time Bob sounding so powerful on songs like TROUBLE/PROPERTY OF JESUS/SHOT OF LOVE whilst showing he could still come up with strong melodies (HEART OF MINE/LENNY BRUCE/ EVERY GRAIN OF SAND/IN THE SUMMERTIME).thus i disagree with Adrians opinion of many of the songs.That said I still feel despite the albums merits Adrians Score of 8 is to high.Firstly the rough edged production suits some songs better than others(IT BENEFITS shot of love/property of jesus/summertime/trouble)Whilst LENNY BRUCE could have benefited from a production job similar to TO EVERY GRADE OF SAND**Indeed LENNY BRUCE/DEADMAN DEADMAN/GROOM STILL WAITING../HEART OF MINE/ WATERED DOWN LOVE(probably the weakest song here)all sound better in live performance during this period! .Consequently the songs mentioned are done a diservice by the production. Due to these problems I feel that this album cannot be rated above albums such as PLANET WAVES/STREET LEGAL(remix) Thus a score around 7 would reflect its merits.Finally like many other readers one always thinks of songs recorded at the time but not included, I always thought LETS KEEP IT BETWEEN US should have been included, but thats typical of bob in the 80s leaving the best songs of his albums!!
( 1983, UK pos 9 )
Jokerman / Sweetheart Like You / Neighborhood Bully / License to Kill / Man of Peace / Union Sundown / I and I / Don't Fall Apart on Me Tonight
Bob had the album almost done. He had a couple of fantastic songs 'Foot Of Pride' and 'Blind Willie McTell'. Everybody that heard these songs thought they were the best thing's he'd done in years and would go onto the album he was producing. For some reason Bob had second thoughts regarding the quality of those two songs. They would remain unreleased until their inclusion on the bootleg series box set some years later. What we do have hear is a mixture of the sublime and the merely ordinary. 'Jokerman' kicks things off and the eighties production kicks in. It sounds well played, quiet, bland almost. The song is six minutes long and you don't get bored though. You actually get confused! It's minimalist nature plays tricks on you. Bob turns in a fantastic vocal performance and the melody really is addictive. 'Sweetheart Like You' rather passes me by. It's the sort of ballad he'd done much better before. 'Neighbourhood Bully' is bizarre and I’m not sure what such a song is doing on a Dylan record at all.
'I and I' is a highlight. It reminds me of the likes of 'Dirge' from 'Planet Waves' and strains to match the quality of 'Blood On The Tracks'. That it doesn't quite make it somehow means it's all the more alluring. 'Man of Peace' and 'Union Sundown' may well be filler but 'Don't Fall Apart On Me Tonight' raises the standards again. Frustrating and good listening in equal measures then? If the two main out-takes, especially the haunting 'Blind Willie McTell' had made this album it could have marked a true return to form. As it is, we have two or three bits of filler too many for it really to be essential.
I agree with everyone who says this could be a masterpiece and a milestone in Dylan´s career if he had been more careful in his selections. But never the less, it´s a great album. One of his 7 or 8 best and worth a few points more.
I got to say, calling "Union Sundown" and "Neighborhood Bully" filler between great
songs would be an insult. The pictures he paints with those songs are so much like
a mirror held up to society's uglier side. I HEARD this album once and hated it. I
LISTENED to the album once, and never put it down!
Gaute Furu firstname.lastname@example.org I had make a copy of my cd - where I excluded "Neighbourhood Bully". I think the rest of the album is very good, with "License to Kill" as an excellent song while "Jokerman" and "Don't Fall Apart on me Tonight" are two of the most brilliant songs from Dylan. Thanks for an excellent web-site.
andymccann email@example.com i totally agree 'neighbourhood bully' is one of my least favourite tracks (on any album)but Sweetheart like you is one of my personal favorites.
Michael Plater firstname.lastname@example.org I personally think Infidels is quite possibly Dylan's worst album and have never understood why certain people defend it. The production is grotesque: those horrible big 80s drums trample over everything. Lyrically it's got to be the ugliest Dylan album ever - "Sweetheart Like You" is a truly vile lyric, one that makes me cringe everytime I hear that "a woman like you should be at home" line. The lyrics to "Neighbourhood Bully" are similarly ugly, whilst "License To Kill" is just plain dumb - "man has invented his doom, first step was touching the moon?" Give me a break. The whole album sounds to me like bad Dire Straits. At least albums like "Self-portrait" had a certain organic warmth that partially redeemed them. The only track worth anything is "Jokerman" and even that is almost ruined by those damned 80s drums.
Craig email@example.com Not one of my fav albums (Don't tell anyone but I`ve played EmpireB a lot more!) but after recently hearing that Neighborhood Bully is about Israel that particular song has become a lot more enjoyable...Go listen again (if you didnt know) and see what you think.
Magnus Wistrand firstname.lastname@example.org Jokerman, Sweetheart and Don't fall apart in their early versions are so much better than the released ones if 'only' for the differences in Dylan's vocal delivery. Add the electric Willie Mc Tell, License to kill, Foot of pride, the revamped reggae-I&I plus Lord, protect my child alone at the piano and the album would have been a classic.
john, county kildare, ireland email@example.com i would agree with magnus. a bit more thought and foresight would have given us a bona fide classic. i get the feeling that dylan put himself in the position of a cat teasing a wounded mouse. there's a sense of arrogant apathy brewing under the surface of "infidels", and it doesn't really make for a positive review. we cannot feast on "jokerman" alone, and hope to prosper from the crumbs of the other tracks. 6/10.
Bradlee firstname.lastname@example.org "Jokerman" is such a good song. People who don't consider Dylan a melodist should listen to 'Jokerman' a couple of times and re-consider. The sweetheart song (track2) and the album closer would be considered brilliant had anyone else written them - they're songs that Rob Thomas couldn't write with the world's best thesaurus and rhyming dictionary. 'I and I'??? The title is better than the song...the song's a bore. And, though some of the faster songs are cringe-inducing, Dylan is to be commended for this lyric: "I can see the day coming when even your home garden is gonna be against the law".
Jim Johnston email@example.com I listened to this album for the first time last week. It as a great album, under-rated. I have heard the two tracks left off the album, "Blind Willie McTell" and "Foot Of Pride", and they are great. However, I like all 8 songs on the album that was released. "Neighbourhood Bully" is a much-maligned song, I don't understand why, superb lyrics. I would give this 8.5/10
gazza firstname.lastname@example.org Agree with the guys - so frustrating that infidels wasnt given the proper sequence of songs. only someone as perverse and uncaring of his recorded work as bob would leave off blind willie mctell,heart of mine,lord protect my child and foot of pride . Then dylan fans would have got the proper follow up to street legal and his best songs since blood on the tracks .
What should be noted is that while his 60s peers collapsed quality wise in the 70s bob still had plenty in the tank and despite the shoddy production and strange song choices he was the superior talent .
Mark Bartlett email@example.com Four good tracks, the punchier offerings Neighborhood Bully / License to Kill / Man of Peace / Union Sundown, and Iand I is not bad either. Actually the good ones are pretty damn good, I like the pace and the comment, and thankfully they have been consecutively arranged for my convenience, but I rarely play any of the others. A bit of a patchy effort in my view and for that reason I think a 6 is about right as an overall score. Judging by the previous comments I’m clearly out on my own a bit but it just goes to show, one man’s killer is another man’s filler.
Jokerman This album has always been one of my favourites. And I sometimes think those who use it as a typical example of "Dylan in the 80s, lost in the recording console" might actually be confusing it with "Empire burlesque" or "Knocked out loaded"... And I think the band is next to perfect too - Dunbar/Shakespeare providing the backbone and Taylor/Knopfler being a perfect combination on top. Although perhaps Knopfler is slightly too dominating, and there could have been a few more edges provided by Taylor. As for the songs, of course he could have switched "License to kill" and "Union sundown" for "Blind Willie McTell" and "Foot of pride" (and "Danville girl"?) to create a real classic. On the other hand, we were spared "Julius and Ethel" and "Death is not the end", so ... The sympathy expressed for Israel ("Sweetheart like you", "Neighborhood bully", and on the inner sleeve) might not be considered all politically correct today (or even back then).! But I believe he's being really honest. And I do not think the world needs a politically correct Dylan (there are too many wannabes out there already). I would give this 9/10. No matter what anyone says ;-)
Empire Burlesque 6
( 1985, UK pos 11 )
Tight Connection To My Heart / Seeing The Real You At Last / I'll Remember You / Clean Cut Kid / Never Gonna Be The Same Again / Trust Yourself / Emotionally Yours / When The Night Comes Falling From The Sky / Something's Burning Baby / Dark Eyes
Oh, I don't know what to say. Alright then, I'll try. It seems Dylan was concerned with his falling record sales and wanted to really try to sound contemporary. Out goes Mark Knopfler, the guy from the band Dire Straits who had been working with Dylan on the previous few albums. It seems to me they'd even started sounding like each other, Dylan like Knopfler, Knopfler like Dylan. Not exactly a good thing, even with the huge success Dire Straits were enjoying. Which of course, had a lot to do with it anyway, I guess Mr Knopfler wasn't available to Dylan. So, in comes a whole load of session guys plus such names as Ron Wood, Mick Taylor, Sly And Robbie, etc, etc. The combined talents of which, added to Dylan himself of course - only manage to produce an album that's pretty mediocre. The sound of the thing is the biggest problem. It's shiny and safe and verging on easy listening, middle of the road, were it not for Dylan's lyrics and voice, of course. Neither Dylan's voice nor lyrics are at their finest here, but they are still here - it's still Dylan, and it counts for something. Besides, some of the stuff here is pretty good. Not ambitious, perhaps? Certainly not like 'Blonde Or Blonde' or 'Blood On The Tracks' and by no means his best work by a long margin - but that's to compare 'Empire Burlesque' purely with other Dylan work. This is a disappointing Dylan album - but could have been regarded as a reasonably strong album had it been presented by a relative unknown.
'Tight Connection To My Heart' has me listening to the words - and the music is very easy, but certainly not unpleasant. Ranking as definitely unpleasant, given the pretty fantastic version of said song that appears on 'The Bootleg Series' is 'When The Night Comes Falling From The Sky'. The 'Bootleg Series' version sounds like genuine, class Dylan. Real and natural. This sounds like some mediocre semi-hard rock band of the mid-eighties, very mid-eighties given the sound that Dylan and friends 'achieve' here. Still. You know, the fact this IS Dylan, even if the songs and melodies rarely rise above utterly average, still makes you want to listen to 'Empire Burlesque'. Perhaps not very often, but his much maligned vocal chords do the job. His voice sounds pretty thin here compared to prime Dylan - but remains infused with character and history, in any case. 'Empire Burlesque'? We've got a few semi-funk things going on, a nice ballad with 'I'll Remember You' and then the closing 'Dark Eyes', also a semi-highlight, back to Dylan in acoustic mode, most unexpectedly given the songs company.
john co.kildare firstname.lastname@example.org i think adrian is being somewhat harsh on empire burlesque.it's fair to suggest that WHEN THE NIGHT COMES FALLING FROM THE SKY makes neil young's stadium rock material of the same period seem intellegent,but overall the album is a surerior follow up to the vastly overated [at the time] infidels.at least it's a step foward that would evetually lead to the superb OH MERCY [obviously not including the 2 woeful turds in between. 7/10.
Magnus Wistrand email@example.com Let's see what a remastered Empire Burleque will sound like with Danville girl added and the early version of Real you at last chosen. I believe I'll remember you/Never gonna be the same again/Trust yourself/Emotionally yours/Something's burning and Dark eyes will surprise in a positive way but that the others, Tight connection/Clean-cut kid/When the night comes falling will remain cold.
Knocked Out, Loaded 4
( 1986, UK pos 35 )
You Wanna Ramble / They Killed Him / Driftin Too Far From The Shore / Precious Memories / Maybe Someday / Brownsville Girl / Got My Mind Made Up / Under Your Spell
Three songs are out-takes from the already lack-lustre 'Empire Burlesque'. The remaining five songs date from various Dylan sessions giving this album something of a mix and match feel. There seems to be no purpose or point to Dylan releasing 'Knocked Out, Loaded', other than to tie it into whatever tour he was doing at the time. You know, a tour needs an album in the shops to help promote! Given this pedigree, I'll focus on the positive first of all. 'Got My Mind Made Up' has a fantastic sound, a genuine rocking sound mixed with gospel and blues. The dylan vocal sounds convincing and effective. The guitar is most impressive. The opening 'You Wanna Ramble' sounds similar, yet was surely taken from an entirely different recording session as it has very different sonics and a different mixing and production sound. 'Under Your Spell' is a nice soft ballad, the ten minute long 'Brownsville Girl' is easily the most ambitious song here, yet struggles to hold this listeners attention. Dylan's vocal sounds pinched, thin. The song doesn't manage to be as epic a tune as it deserved to be. The lyric is consistently fascinating, the performance certainly less so. 'Maybe Someday' is very lacking indeed, and there is the problem with this album as a whole. Dylan simply didn't have enough quality material at the time. We've covers here. Dylan didn't have any real desire to record an artistic album. The songs here span at least three different recording sessions, none of which seem to have been designed to produce tracks for an album, rather just sessions to try and inspire the Dylan muse.
'You Killed Me' bores me, a story without a story, a song without a tune, an art without inspiration. 'Driftin Too Far From Shore' has more female gospel vocals. These gospel vocals pop up on a number of tunes on 'Knocked Out, Loaded' and seems to be the only thing Dylan did to try and make this into a cohesive recording. It doesn't work, most of the music is recorded well enough, Dylan's vocals lack warmth and passion. Dylan isn't sounding terribly subtle throughout these eight songs and the entire album lacks conviction.
Magnus Wistrand firstname.lastname@example.org I actually like Let's stick together, Shenandoah (but w/o backing vocals), The Usual and the acoustic A couple more years and I think by adding a few out-takes a decent album of covers can be constructed from the sessions for these very disappointing records.
john, county kildare email@example.com rock bottom. i think ole zimmy was just 'aving a larf, 'ere. the musical equivalent of cold scrambled eggs. "brownsville girl" is truly wonderful, but it almost sound cliched to say it at this stage, doesn't it?! even the most staunch, vitriolic, pro dylan, u.s. muso type, couldn't defend this garbage. then again, you never really know...... 2/10.
Jim Johnston firstname.lastname@example.org I found this album quite enjoyable. Not a classic by any means, but worth more than 4/10. "They Killed Him" and "Driftin' Too Far From Shore" particularly good. 6.5/10.
Down In The Groove 5
( 1988, UK pos 32 )
Let's Stick Together / When Did You Leave Heaven? / Sally Sue Brown / Death Is Not the End / Had a Dream About You, Baby / Ugliest Girl in the World / Silvio / Ninety Miles an Hour (Down a Dead End Street) / Shenandoah / Rank Strangers to Me
Receiving across the board negative reviews, 'Down In The Groove' seemingly cemented Dylan's position as a one-time pioneer who had completely lost his way. The songs come from half a dozen different recording sessions dating back to 1983 or so. Also worth mentioning, only two songs here are purely Dylan compositions, another two are co-writes with Robert Hunter of The Grateful Dead and the rest are assorted cover versions. Five recording sessions appear to have been scheduled especially for 'Down In The Groove' material yet Dylan, never the most comfortable in a studio environment, seemed to get especially little of worth from the sessions. The tracklisting was tinkered with, delaying the eventual release of the album six months by which point anybody that had cared about the release no longer did. Thing is, this isn't an attempted 'F**k You' aka 'Self Portrait', the cover art is fairly ok and the overall sound is still fairly cohesive despite the differing sessions and personnel involved. The sound also lacks the heavily eighties coating his previous couple of LPs had suffered from. Well, 'When Did You Leave Heaven' is fairly inexcusably eighties with heavy synth lines, a ponderous electronic rhythm section and an especially whiny Dylan vocal. 'Sally Sue Brown' features Paul Simonon of The Clash on bass and Steve Jones of The Sex Pistols on guitar. These musicians are not really taken advantage of (well....) as the song features almost no punk-rock edge whatsoever, assuming that was the intention of Dylan using them.
THe opening cover of Bryan Ferry's 'Let Stick Together' (aka 'Let's Stay Together') is a lively enough track to start the album with, nothing too dramatic or exciting, but solid nonetheless. What else? What else, indeed. I can't believe Robert Hunter was overly joyous at 'Ugliest Girl In The World' making the final track-listing, one of the least enjoyable tracks Dylan ever put out largely thanks to the dodgy lyrical sentiments that may have been seen as funny, tongue in cheek were the backing track even remotely interesting, rather than generic US rock. There are a couple of redeeming features that do make 'Down In The Groove' a worthwhile purchase for a Dylan fanatic. 'Silvio' is a regular Dylan concert favourite, it's got good lyrics and a catchy chorus and deservedly received a smattering of radio play at the time of release. 'Ninety Miles An Hour' is good enough to grace 'Oh Mercy', the acclaimed follow-up to 'Down In The Groove'. A soul number, a spiritual feel and particular cool and very deep backing vocals from Willie Green and Bobby King to accompany Dylan and Madelyn Quebec on keyboards. Kind of proves Dylan still had it in him to reach rare heights as a performer, if not a songwriter. Indeed, when the best original song here is an 'Infidels' out-take it again makes you cross that 'Infidels' was so butchered by Dylan. He had good to great material pouring out of him back then, but he chose some weak songs to make the final 'Infidels' album when the very simple and again, soulful 'Death Is Not The End' could well have deserved to feature. It's hypnotic, not something you can accuse the majority of 'Down In The Groove' of being.
Oh Mercy 8
( 1989, UK pos 6 )
Political World / Where the Teardrops Fall / Everything Is Broken / Ring Them Bells / Man in the Long Black Coat / Most of the Time / What Good Am I? / Disease of Conceit / What Was It You Wanted / Shooting Star
Bobs 1988 record 'Down In The Groove' marked both a critical and commercial low point for him. It failed to chart and was derided by both the music writers, commentators and even the most loyal of Dylan fans. He was still Bob Dylan though! And, the Travelling Wilburys grouping which rejuvenated George Harrison for one, also helped Bob in a similarly inspired manner. Factor in Daniel Lanois ( U2 Producer ) a guy who knew how to handle the studio - one less thing for Bob to worry about - and you have this. First thing you notice is how GREAT it sounds. Given the often inappropriate nature of the production on Dylan's eighties albums it's fantastic to hear a Bob album sounding both utterly contemporary but timeless at the same time. The songs aren't always as good as they sound, unfortunately - but there are some fine moments here in terms of writing as well. Opener 'Political World' despite sounding so great seems slightly half-formed in terms of structure. 'Where Teardrops Fall' manages to be so very emotionally affecting in a way no Dylan song had been since around 1980, at least. 'Everything Is Broken' is another under-developed melody although the performance is great. It rattles along! 'Ring Them Bells' takes you back. Truly timeless this time, a stunningly beautiful song with an accomplished and appropriate Dylan vocal. If this song fails to move you, in some way at least, you have no soul. 'Man In The Long Black Coat' wraps up the first side, and it's stupendous. Haunting guitar and harmonica midst the atmospheric opening section. A rough but affecting Dylan vocal and some of the finest lyrics he'd written - well, ever. A true return to form in every way possible, and also, sounding so great in terms of performance and production.
'Most Of The Time' opens the second half. More deadly Dylan lyrics and more fine sounding music. Another beautiful, emotionally affecting melody. We do have some lesser songs here. They are congregated on the second half on the record, unfortunately. 'What Good Am I' comes across as being slightly dull, despite an impassioned Dylan vocal. 'Disease Of Conceit' tries it's best to sound affecting, but it lacks any sort of hook melodically. 'What Was It You Wanted' is fairly strange and stretched and strained and partly responsible for some of the criticism Lanois's production received. Whilst the sound of this record was generally praised, not everyone was in favour of this rich, atmospheric sound, labelling it 'false' sounding. Thing is, when matched with strong material, the production works. Just witness closing song, 'Shooting Star'. Another beautiful ballad performance, so beautiful it's enough to earn this record an extra half a point, all by itself.
marc clausen email@example.com
I do like and appreciate your reviews, but to give Oh Mercy the same rating as "Another Side" is just insane. If "Another Side" is an 8 than this album must be a 4 at best. Even Dylan knew it was a dull, archaic album when he put it out.
Magnus Wistrand firstname.lastname@example.org Anyone who considers this album to be dull or archaic can not have heard it remastered when all the ambience practically comes oozing out of the speakers. Enjoy When teardrops fall, What good am I? and Shooting star from later live performances instead and add Born in time, God knows (if released) plus Series of dreams and the masterpiece is complete.
john, county kildare email@example.com chirping crickets on "man in the long black coat", evoke the classic sound of cult american tv shows on itv in the 1970s and early 1980s. great memories revived thanks to bob dylan. there really are so many ways, this guy can open your mind, body, and soul. "ring the bells" is a delight, the masterpiece of this rewarding album. 8.5/10.
gazza firstname.lastname@example.org Dull and archaic ? Clearly someone who didnt listen . This is one of bobs best works and adrian was correct in his rating .
shooting star,what was it you wanted and most of the time are among bobs strongest songs in some time , the choice of new orleans musicians and daniel lanois production was inspired .
Lyrically it easily stands along side his best work as well . The atmosphere and lyrics come together brilliantly on ring them bells and man with the long black coat.
Its no coincidence bob couldnt follow it up and retreated to cover albums for the next 2 albums. No one expected a record of this quality at the time . Bob had shown he was far from finished . (and imagine if hed added series of dreams !)
Under The Red Sky 6
( 1990, UK pos 13 )
Wiggle Wiggle / Under the Red Sky / Unbelievable / Born in Time / T.V.Talkin' Song / 10,000 Men / 2 x 2 / God Knows / Handy Dandy / Cat's in The Well
'Under The Red Sky' got a stormy reception upon release and endured it for a good decade or more. Well, this album is lyrically unambitious, musically fairly simple and the production and mixing bordering on synthetic. Still, Dylan is joined here by Don Was, George Harrison, David Crosby, Slash, Bruce Hornsby and the legendary Al Kooper. So, 'Under The Red Sky' musically is pretty solid and often actually impressive, particularly Bruce Hornsby, I have to say. Dylan's vocals are slightly thin, but his voice holds up pretty well, lending the songs that edge, a sense of foreboding. This is quite in contrast with many of the actual lyrics, seemingly preoccupied with childhood nursery rhymes. To accompany these lyrics, the music is often relaxed, laid back. That's not to say this is an album of ballads, yet even the rockers sound slightly constrained within the Don Was production. It seems that 'Under The Red Sky' is content to be what it is without having to live up to any kind of reputation. That may seem a strange thing to say about a Dylan album, yet doesn't Dylan invite us to listen without predjudice? There's not so much difference between 'Cats In The Well' and several songs from 'Modern Times' or 'Love And Theft'. The big difference is the actual sound achieved in the studio. There's a nice accordion mixed in here, but sonically, 'Under The Red Sky' as a whole sounds rather anemic. It just doesn't impress on that level. Perhaps 'Under The Red Sky' is Dylan writing pop songs of a kind, dumbing down, trying to find space artistically?
The title track is nearly stirring, 'Unbelievable' a fun little rocker and album highlight 'Born In Time' seemingly the most serious composition here and also the best. David Crosby's voice sits under Dylan's, harmonising so quietly as if to be a whisper, it works very well. Al Kooper can clearly be heard on 'Handy Dandy', a musically pleasing track that's needed, because by the second half of the record, a listener gets tired. There's not enough finesse on display here yet also no particular rough edges. Don Was has tried to make a professional Dylan album, yet the result isn't exactly as pleasing as it could have been.
Good As I Been To You 6½
( 1992, UK pos 18 )
Frankie & Albert / Jim Jones / Black Jack Davey / Canadee-I-O / Sitting on Top of the World / Little Maggie / Hard Times / Step It up and Go / Tomorrow Night / Arthur McBride / You're Gonna Quit Me / Diamond Joe / Froggie Went A-Courtin'
What the hell is this? An acoustic folk album?? YES! All cover versions though. Well, interpretations of traditional tunes arranged by Bob. He sounds awful though. Vocally, he sounds terrible. This is hardly the record to play to doubters of Bobs vocal abilities. Shall I make an example? Well, though it may not be the worst offender, 'Arthur McBride' features such a thin and pinched Dylan vocal it beggars belief. The tune is charming though, and the song wins through despite the vocals. Most of the songs here do, strangely. I'm not going to belabour the point concerning the vocals here. Most of the time, it's just such a welcome delight to hear modern day Dylan performing acoustic folk songs again. A return to his roots? Kind of, I guess. A search for inspiration, perhaps? If you are paying any attention to the tracklisting given above, your eyes may linger over the final track. Yes, it really is 'Froggie Went A-Courtin'. It's inclusion here takes some explaining, but I'm not the man to do it. I don't know why it's hear at all. I don't want to listen to it! Ever! I never liked it when I was four years old, and I don't like the bloody song now, either!! I'm sorry, just a personal bias of mine.... Bob performs it straight. He performs it pretty well actually!
Highlights? We had a few. 'Frankie And Albert' which kicks off the record sets the tone for what's to come. A slightly wayward ( if not without some charm ) Dylan vocal, and then? Just Dylan and the old trusty acoustic guitar! 'Hard Times' completely wins through. One of the most affecting performances here, certainly. A true return to home. 'Tomorrow Night' sports the best vocal performance here by some distance and is also enriched by some decent harmonica playing from Bob. 'You're Gonna Quit Me' is a welcome blues number, 'Step It Up And Go' a welcome up-tempo rocking acoustic number. I couldn't call this album essential however. Dylan records have a habit of working best when they are a window into his soul, his state of mind and being at the given time whatever record was recorded. This album reveals almost nothing about Dylan other than he was having trouble writing new songs. To be fair, he does treat this seriously. He treats this project as seriously, if not more seriously, than a fair number of his 'regular' studio albums.
email@example.com While it is true that the whole traditional folk albums do only have their set
place, I have to say that I love both this album and "World Gone Wrong" just because
Bob really plays. I had so many doubts listening to his earlier stuff that he only
got to a point then gave up on playing his own guitar and let a band do it all for
him. Those two albums prove to me to the utmost that Bob truly can walk the walk.
Maybe not exactly the most impressive playing on record or anything, but truly
awe inspiring to me. I never knew he could play like that!
Kenny firstname.lastname@example.org in my opinion this was an album dylan needed to make to make this album i see it as
abridge between the 80s and the 90s . its just dylan and his acoustic and he can
play ,i mean really play and i disagree about the voice. the vocals are 10 times
better then they were on undera red sky a red sky sorry you got this one wrong
bob frazer email@example.com Without doubt 2 of my favourite Dylan albums, and one doesn't even get a review from you! If these records had appeared exactly as released but only on bootleg they would have been hailed as the great Dylan lost albums! As Bob said himself when referring to Elvis "When He did a song, it was pretty much done!" - in every review it is bemoaned that there are no Dylan songs, but surely Bob is the kind of artist who owns all songs he sings and these two wonderful albums prove that point so well! They always remind me of the picture of Robert Johnson, sitting on the chair in the corner, just playing music he loves for no other reason than it's music he loves, and that's how i love these albums - forget "Spokesman of a Generation", forget "Poet" etc etc just listen to a musician making music. Great songs, intimate performances and wonderful atmosphere - i wish he'd do more of these, a five CD box set would do me fine! 10 out of 10 for each.
Magnus Wistrand firstname.lastname@example.org Yes, I agree it's not the best of Dylan's cover albums. I find the tone, the songs and the singing on World gone wrong so much more appealing, especially on Love Henry, Ragged & dirty, Blood in my eyes, Two soldiers, Jack-a-roe and Lone pilgrim. Delia is nice but even better on the Supper club tape. Hope the out-takes will appear as well.
Bradlee email@example.com This is a GREAT album. If this comes out by anyone else, it's a classic. His singing AND guitar playing AND harmonica playing are way, way, way, way, way, way, way better on this album and 'World Gone Wrong' than his very first album, 'Bob Dylan'. Go back and listen to that one...it's all covers. People rave(d) about it. Whatever. This is much better. He sounds like a bluesman, for sure. He plays guitar like a man possessed and his harp blowing is focused and confident.
Daydream Nathan firstname.lastname@example.org "Dylan records have a habit of working best when they are a window into his soul, his state of mind and being"
I think you miss a fundamental point here: when Dylan recorded this, these songs, which are timeless stories of great power, reveal everything about how he was feeling. OK the singing is technically not great, but it's so expressive. Listen to Arthur McBride, Jim Jones and Hard Times again — battered but beautiful. There's a lot of life in this voice, however ruined it may sound. I think this is very much a glimpse into Dylan's soul. One of his best 3 or 4 albums ever, in my opinion. Please give it another go.
Time Out Of Mind 8½
( 1997, UK pos 10 )
Love Sick / Dirt Road Blues / Standing in the Doorway / Million Miles / Tryin' to Get to Heaven / til I Fell in Love With You / Not Dark Yet / Cold Irons Bound / Make You Feel My Love / Can't Wait / Highlands
Dylan's first album of new original material for six years and his first new studio album for four years. Daniel Lanois was back in the fold and together with Bob was searching for a way to make this sound like an old vinyl record in a digital age. The idea was that this album would simultaneously sound new and old, at the same time. Add in a handful of the most impressive new Bob Dylan songs in eons, and you have the most critically acclaimed Dylan record since 'Desire' if not 'Blood On The Tracks'. Dylan had a serious illness shortly after the recording of this record. He very nearly died. Many of the songs appear to be somewhat deathly and sombre in tone. Although, try telling Bob that! An interview in Mojo magazine got Bob very agitated and angry when the interviewer tried to suggest that 'Time Out Of Time' was sombre in tone. Bob nearly exploded, pointing out that this was just a collection of songs - if you want sombre tones, just look at what is happening in this world around you! Anyways, when I first heard 'Lovesick' I was astounded. Truly. It sounds both modern, and timeless, and old. It could have been recorded virtually during any decade bar the eighties. The eighties had a sound all of their own. Whatever, it's just such a fantastic, scary and wonderful piece of work. It's worth getting this record for this one song alone.
The second song is similarly stupendous. It sounds as good as anything from the first half of 'Bringing It All Back Home', and yes, that's A COMPLIMENT!!! 'Standing In The Doorway' is far more straightforward than either of the first two songs. Still, it's equally as captivating and stretches out alluringly over seven minutes and is listenable for each and every one of those minutes. 'Million Miles' is a blues track but just as haunting as the opener 'Love Sick'. The realisation that this record sounds so fantastic is hammered home by this. Not especially a startling composition, but you just try not to pay attention to every single second of it. 'Trying To Get To Heaven' is a little of a throwback to 'Oh Mercy' and sounds a whole lot less timeless than much else of what's here. It's still a fine and commendable song, but lacks the special atmosphere of much else of what's here. 'Til I Fell In Love With You' following on from this, creates a lull in the centre of the record. A fairly standard blues based number with very little to distinguish it. Still, the utterly beautiful 'Not Dark Yet' arrives afterwards. It's as good as anything from 'Oh Mercy' and that record had a fair few highlights itself. 'Cold Irons Bound' is a groove! What a bass groove! Addictive as breathing. 'Make You Feel My Love' is formula, and filler. No, this isn't a perfect album, but then, how many are?
'Can't Wait' joins 'Cold Irons Bound' in having an utterly addictive musical rhythm. The key track here is the final song, and it's sixteen and a half minutes long. Ambitious? Not really. The music barely changes beyond repeated and repeated and repeated blues lines, over and over. The lyrics are fantastic though, really really funny. Of course, not everyone will have the patience to sit through sixteen minutes of seemingly random Bob Dylan reminiscences, however poetic they may be. This isn't actually an easy record to whole heartedly recommend to friends. It is dark in tone, it is blues based and really very good, but perhaps not to everyone's tastes.
agnesfrechette email@example.com "I been to sugartown I shook the sugar down", is probably my favourite Bob Dylan line (Trying To Get To Heaven). There's nothing sombre about a line like that! Highlands, is just pure humour One of his best albums!
Mike Keller firstname.lastname@example.org Not Dark Yet, with its hypnotizing beat and mystical vocals, is one of Dylan's best.
Also, To Make You Feel My Love is one of the most beautiful songs ever written.
john co.kildare email@example.com come on adrian,THIS BABY IS EASILY A 10.you are painfully kind to the mediocre albums,and yet seem to undervalue zimmy's masterpieces.blood on the tracks ONLY a 9/10 and this an 8 1/2?! oh boy.......
Magnus Wistrand firstname.lastname@example.org Two albums of original Dylan songs that I really look forward to hear in remastered sound quality. I suppose that my Red sky will look like: Red sky/Unbelievable/TV talking song (outtake)/10.000 men/2x2/Handy dandy (outtake)/Cat's in the well plus hopefully another one or two out-takes Time out of mind will probably look like this to me: Love sick (w straight vocal)/Standing in the doorway/Trying to get to heaven/Not dark yet/Can't wait/Highlands (damn that boring Auggie Meyers organ though)plus hopefully a couple of out-takes whereas I will look to live versions of the other songs.
Toni email@example.com This will go down in history as a true classic. Love Sick. Not Dark Yet. Standing in the doorway. These are songs that are among the best Bob Dylan has written and sung. The masterpiece, though, is Highlands. For me it is Dylan's strongest moment as a writer.
gazza firstname.lastname@example.org Its way too long - aaargh !!
The good songs are on a par if not stronger with oh mercy - love sick,standing in the doorway, trying to get to heaven,cold irons bound,not dark yet , make you feel my love . great , great songs - add things have changed and bin the rest and voila - a focused concise sequel to oh mercy -
Love And Theft 8
( 2001, UK pos 3 )
Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum / Mississippi / Summer Days / Bye And Bye / Lonesome Day Blues / Floater (Too Much To Ask) / High Water (for Charlie Patton) / Moonlight / Honest With Me / Po' Boy / Cry A While / Sugar Baby
Given mysterious pre-release comments from Dylan ( 'the lyrics are the grid which holds the record together' ) and with everyone dubious that Dylan, in this late stage in his career, could pull off two great records in a row - were expecting another 'Under The Red Sky'. Instead, they got another 'Desire'. Well, nearly. This is actually a fraction less enjoyable and high quality than 'Time Out Of Mind' due to the immensely silly nature of many of the songs here. Rockabilly! Rock n Roll! Maybe Bob took those comments that TOOM was 'too sombre' to heart. This is by far and away his 'happiest' sounding record since 'Desire'. I mean, where did that come from!? 'Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum' sets the tone! Supremely silly but it just sounds so fucking fantastic, and the lyrics are just so grin inducing. A much more serious moment arrives with 'Missippi'. A true modern day Dylan classic, though. This could easily sit on any future 'best of' compilation. Virtually flawless, as good a song as he's ever written. Well, almost :) 'Summer Days' is pure rockabilly, and just - well, it's just good fun. It's very well recorded, that's the best thing about it. More great silly lyrics, of course. 'Bye And Bye' with it's charming descending melodies completes a strong opening to album.
'Lonesome Day Blues' follows 'Bye And Bye' and you suspect is more sound than substance. 'Floater' has a haunting violin sound to it, and more silly, charming melodies. 'High Water' includes a little country picking guitar! This is all of musical history. Well, no disco. No dance music! Just Bobs musical history. This album pretty much covers it all. 'Moonlight' and 'Honest With Me' are lesser compositions here. The former just sounds dull, the later slightly out of place with it's attempt at sounding exciting through it's rhythm without matching that to anything of much substance. Still, 'Po Boy' is another of those simple, timeless and almost nursery rhyme songs that make 'Love And Theft' what it is. Again, pay attention to the lyrics. You'll benefit from these lyrics! Well, you may not. You'll at least smile :) 'Cry A While' is hardly anything special but does have a certain groove about it and almost sounds like a 'Shot Of Love' out-take but for the more serious blues mood surrounding it. The closing 'Sugar Baby' is no 'Highlands' and although featuring some nice guitar, is ultimately unsubstantial. Still, the record as a whole is entertaining. It really isn't a masterpiece but it has become one of his fastest and best selling albums ever.
John Wilk Wilk.John@epamail.epa.gov A masterpiece! Dylan lays down lyrics like a master painter lays down brushstrokes eventually creating a masterpiece from the many words or brushstrokes. Each song, in fact, plays off the others magnificently
creating a whole other level to the experience. It is like watching one of the great early impressionist painters working in their latter years using all their talent and experience.
Sroczynski, Steven SSroczynski@foleyhoag.com
This may well be Dylan's best album ever, and no I am not kidding. If
you don't believe me then listen to the album, and then talk to me.
The great thing about Love and Theft is it really is an ALBUM. I would
have a very tough time picking a "single" from the lot. Likewise, there
is no filler on this album whatsoever (okay...maybe "Moonlight" but
that's it, no others!) Love and Theft sounds great from start to finish. I
earlier said that "Street-Legal" was Dylan's only "party album." Still
true, but parts of Love and Theft i.e. "Summer Days" will make you want
to get up dance. The music on this album is very varied, yet it all
fits together beautifully. "Mississippi," arguably the best song on the
album, is actually a leftover from "Time Out of Mind" although you
wouldn't know it just by listening. And once again Dylan shows his
thoughtfulness and introspective self on "Po' Boy" and "Sugar Baby." And did
I mention this album ROCKS? "Honest With Me" has to be Dylan's
loudest, rowdiest guitar-driven rock song ever. But if I had to choose the
BEST thing about this album it would be the humour Bob finally got his
sense of humour back, last seen somewhere during the 60s electric
trilogy. Too many hilarious, laugh-out-loud lines to mention. Which brings
me to the lyrics, which again are some of his best ever. I know it
seems impossible, but Love and Theft is a remarkable achievement that
deserves a place alongside "Highway 61" "Blonde on Blonde" and "Bringing it
All Back Home."
I agree with Steven and would also like to say that I regard this album as one of Dylan´s best! Maybe controversial, but who says only classic albums made 30 or 40 years ago, should be considered when you rank the best work of an artist? Without going into details, I think this album give you Bob Dylan when he´s at his best, mastering various of music styles and delivering the songs in a way only he is
capable of. Another 10 in my book and perhaps the greatest Dylan album of
Jonathan Roseveare email@example.com Be serious-how can you compare this to his best work? It's a good album, a fun album, but that's it. Sure the lyrics are good but if they weren't it
would like Hendrix losing the ability to play guitar! Just listen to it as a good album but except he's past his date, i.e Blood On The Tracks. As a Radiohead fan I've had to do that-but Ok Computer was quite a good album (understatement of the year) so I'll them off.
marc clausen firstname.lastname@example.org I do believe some of the readers have lost their minds. Calling this album a classic and maybe his best is crazy. If you were allowed to listen to only one Dylan album for the rest of your life I am fairly certain it would not be this.
Magnus Wistrand email@example.com Yes, it's a nice album even if I personally find live versions of Tweedle dee, High water, Honest with me and Cry awhile more rewarding. I would actually fit in a couple of songs to make a sequence like this: Things have changed/Bye&bye/Lonesome day/Floater/Sugar baby/Mississippi/Moonlight (what a song!!)/Summer days/Po' boy/Crossing the green mountain
Frank firstname.lastname@example.org Surely you people are serious when you suggest this album should be considered a classic. In a way we all want the next Dylan long player is a classic but people who are we kidding. Dylan was on fire when he recorded Freewheelin, the times, 61, Blonde, bringing it all back home. He only got close to the brilliance with Blood and some other recording on albums. Now don't get me wrong I love just hearing Bob and listening to all her has recorded and will record, but they are not all classic. They would be great albums if they were not made by Dylan...the simple fact that he made them relegates thm to good albums.
Toni email@example.com It took me time to realise it, but Love and Theft is a thick dense album that in a way is deeper than Time out of Mind. It is easily among my top 10-Dylan, albums, that's for sure. Floater, High Water, Mississippi and Sugar Baby are classic songs that we will celebrate in the future. I'd given it a 9. At least.
Kirk Woodward firstname.lastname@example.org Well, I'm on the "classic" side on this one. To me the key is the way it moves from mood to mood - just like life does - sometimes from line to line. I play and sing "Po' Boy" and it never fails to make me deeply, deeply happy - and it's not really a "happy" song!
gazza email@example.com Things are split among the dylan fraternity on this one . IMHO there's no way this is a classic - to say its his best work is just beyond belief.
People got carried away after time out of mind and wanted this to be a classic . vocally its way inferior to its predecessor and although mississipi,po boy,sugar baby are nice but i didnt like the bluesy 12 bar rock which sounded turgid , nor did i like dylans attempt at crooning like al bowlly on moonlight and floater . Not a dylan cd to return to much - i prefer to listen to the recent bootleg series recordings instead of this and the equally overrated modern times .
Stephen firstname.lastname@example.org Hi. This comment was intended for Love & Theft but has turned up in the Modern Times section:
"'Cry A While' is hardly anything special but does have a certain groove about it..." This track reminds me of Captain Beefheart. What's special is the sheer power and menace of the track - partly achieved by the rhythm changes, and partly by Dylan's vocal delivery. It's really fierce, and best played very loud. As for the album in general,I'd say it's 'playful' rather than silly. It's Bob having fun, experimenting with the sheer joy of songs and where they might take him; just like he did on the Basement Tapes 35 years before.Jim Johnston email@example.com This a fun album to listen to. However, to give it same or better rating than Another Side, Times They Are A Changin, Planet Waves is going too far!! The highlight of the album is High Water, this one song could sit up with Dylan's very best. Mississippi a good, not great ballad. Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, Honest With Me and Po' Boy all good fun. The rest mostly average, nothing truly terrible here, but not enough good stuff to merit a 8. I'd give it 6.5. Passes an hour in an enjoyable way, but you won't be playing it over and over like his 60s and 70s albums.
Modern Times 8½
( 2006, UK pos ? )
Thunder On The Mountain / Spirit On The Water / Rollin' And Tumblin' / When The Deal Goes Down / Someday Baby / Workingman's Blues 2 / Beyond The Horizon / Nettie Moore / The Levee's Gonna Break / Ain't Talkin'
Sometimes with Dylan I feel overwhelmed and also feel like I’ve misunderstood exactly what he’s all about. Should I have been paying more attention to his lyrics, all along? Yet Dylan himself shied away from writing message songs for much of the 80s and part of the 70s. Dylan will tell you it’s not just about the lyrics, to quote ‘Chronicles’, why else would Duane Eddy an instrumental guitarist, perform an album of Dylan cover versions? Musically, Dylan’s tunes have always been extremely pliable to other arrangements, yet Dylan’s own arrangements often work out the best. He’s not always had the combination of lyrics/music right. Potentially good songs in the mid-eighties suffered in the studio. That’s frustrating for a listener and was likely frustrating for Dylan too, trying to realise those tunes. Looking back over this page, some of the reviews were the earliest I ever did, written at the very start of this site. I kind of wish I could re-write them all, but I’ll stand by them for now. You should never re-write your past. ‘Modern Times’ can be seen if you wish as the third in a modern Dylan trilogy. Of ‘Time Out Of Mind’ and ‘Love And Theft’, it’s closer to ‘Love And Theft’ in sound and style. Dylan is still penning jaw-dropping lyrics of a fine quality, so alls well in that respect. Listening to the opening tune, I can hear echoes of all sorts of old rock n roll numbers, yet Dylan’s voice and lyrics glue you to your speakers. His voice sounds even deeper and croakier than before, yet he uses this to his advantage. The blues-based tunes suit his age, yet these are Dylan-blues tunes. Dylan can’t help but stamp his own personality on things.
A couple of tracks instantly jump out as stand-outs. It’s always good to know a new Dylan has a couple of classics on it. The opener ‘Thunder On The Mountain’, which I’ve already mentioned. ‘Workingmans Blues 2’ as well, an absolute standout. A lengthy mid-tempo ballad, which I guess doesn’t sound too exciting, yet the execution, vocals, lyrics and melody are all Dylan at his finest. It’s one of those tunes – I was listening to the album late last night, getting into the songs. I just stopped dead when ‘Workingmans Blues 2’ came on. It’s grand, breathtaking, handsome, relaxed and all round heart-rending, expressive brilliance. Ah, of the ten songs here only a couple fall into the merely average category. ‘Rollin And Tumblin’ despite funny Dylan lyrics and enough energy just doesn’t grab me as hard as similar things the man has done for ‘Time Out Of Mind’ or ‘Love And Theft’. 'Beyond The Horizon' also fails to charm me quite as much as I believe it should! High expectations and all that. Only a couple of average things alongside 8 great things isn't a bad ratio, though. Repeated listens bring out more potential classics, you see. 'Nettie Moore', a Dylan story/character song. The epic nine minute long 'Aint Talkin'. You know, overall ‘Modern Times’ may well contain no real musical innovations. Dylan’s voice of course is naturally showing signs of age. Yet he still has that something. Yes sir, that certain indefinable Dylan something. I believe ‘Modern Times’ has that certain something down pretty well.
Daniel86 firstname.lastname@example.org Hey, nice review again! I completely agree with your rating (maybe it's because I've been listening to Modern Times last night, too) although you didn't mention "Spirit on the water" with it's fantastic feeling and "When the deal goes down". Add those two songs to the standout songs on this album (in fact each even track number is a standout plus "Thunder on the mountain" and "Someday Baby"). Great album. Nice to see he still can do very special music. Oh, and maybe it's just me, but I think his voice is much more beautiful than on "Love and Theft"... really!
Pete Teal email@example.com You had it perfect ..yet I liked Beyond the Horizon..It's his first number one album since Desire another perfect album..I noticed you don't like giving 10's..Desire deserved that and Modern Time deseves at least a 9 or 9 and a half
Bradlee firstname.lastname@example.org Well done. The album gets better each time I listen to it - I've listened to it probably 25 times now. Listening to Dylan is like reading The Bible - the meanings of things change all of the time. To me, the standouts are Spirit on the Water and When the Deal Goes Down with Thunder on the Mountain and Ain't Talkin' as close seconds...and Someday Baby as a close third. It's funny you praise the workingman song...you're the second Dylan fan who I have heard rave about it - and I don't care for it at all, really (and this is after several listens...). The melody sorta reminds me of 'Total eclipse of the heart' and the whole thing just seems forced.
dave email@example.com Hey Adrian. I love your site! Nice work with the Modern Times Review. It is a great but not perfect album. I have to say I agree with the comment that syas 'workingman' doesn't do it for them. Everyone is raving aboout this track, but I just don't get it. The stand outs for me are "Thunder on the Mountain" and "Ain't Talkin'". Keep up the good work!
Chris firstname.lastname@example.org As much as I enjoy this album, I'm bugged by the way Dylan takes a composer credit for Rollin' and Tumblin' when everybody knows it was written by Muddy Waters, from a traditional blues riff and lyric. Is Bob just too proud to acknowledge the musicians and the culture from which he learned? There's no excuse for claiming this song as his. If Bob's such a gifted song-writer why does he have to steal the work of others?
gazza email@example.com Just to add that chris points out the muddy waters reference in "rollin and tumblin" fair enough , but the roots of the song go further back than muddy to the 20s - muddy didnt write the song any more than dylan did .
John firstname.lastname@example.org Either drop, or dramatically rework, "The Levee's Gonna Break", and we have the bones of a masterpiece here. Listening to this, I get the taste for Dylan reading a poem over one or two of the tracks, or maybe even an instrumental track with exclusively spoken words over it. It's the kind of intimate, yet desolate feel the album has, and all the better for it too. Some people have suggested that he has made the same album three times in a row now. So what....?! He did that in 1965/1966, and got quite a lot of kudos for it, didn't he? Perhaps the argument there, is the fact that the "Holy Trinity" came out a whole lot sooner than these last three pieces of divine inspiration. But, it matters not. Dylan hasn't sounded this consistently on top of his game since the mid 70s, or perhaps even earlier. Wonderful medicine. 8.5/10
Rich email@example.com I began listening to Dylan as a teen about 40 years ago. I have listened to so many for so long that I have memorized the words and tunes without trying, a sign of the compelling nature of the music. I find Modern Times' songs to be very personal yet very broad, a triumphant achievement for any artist, yet he does it in an extraordinary way. I very much like traveling through the dawn of the day with him. I find subtle wit and charm in this album and commitment to deep insight into how he feels. This is the easiest listening of his albums for me in a long time. Yet, the music and lyrics are wonderfully complex and compelling, certainly extraordinary. The richness of the music and lyrics has made it somewhat difficult for me to go back and listen to others' songs. Yes, "Blood on the Tracks," "Time Out of Mind" and "Love and Theft" had more surprises. In "Modern Times" he has integrated many of those sounds, timings, and styles but woven them in a way that is comf! ortable and intriguingly complex. His voice too has developed, used as a wonderful instrument much more so than in the past. Dylan is an extraordinary poet who has touched more than many, maybe all others, whose contributions have been extraordinary, vast and enduring. Bob Dylan should be considered for a Nobel prize. Not to do so would be an unforgivable oversight of the committee.
Mark Bartlett firstname.lastname@example.org For me the backbone of this album is the Blues based numbers ‘Thunder’, ‘Rollin’, ‘Someday’ and ‘Levee’ which really stand out thanks in equal part to Bob’s lyrics and delivery and a driving if somewhat understated backing from the Cowboy Band. My one reservation is that whilst the band play real good it has crossed my mind that they have been somewhat suppressed; they conjure up a mighty Mack truck purring along in the slow lane ready to slip up a gear but they never really get the needle into the red and I wonder what might have been and why Jack Frost nipped their fingers and toes.
The other nominal Blues, ‘Workingman’s’ doesn’t grab me and is probably the track I appreciate least on the album; it jars on me for some reason and I can’t get round it.
‘When the Deal Goes Down’ strikes me as a very sincere and personal swearing of loyalty and love. Such enunciation, and the lyrics are moving and touching; for me Dylan generally does a good job on songs like this. !
The jaunty ‘Beyond the Horizon’ always makes me think of a Walt Disney family feature for some reason, which is probably not a good thing, and I’m sure it’s about something much more important; Love, God, Heaven or all three possibly? It’s the sort of tune he does nowadays but let’s just say I don’t, or maybe can’t, appreciate it.
‘Spirit’ I quite like and ‘Nettie’ I’m not too keen on at the moment; a bit contrived and melodic without being tuneful, if that’s possible.
The Grand Finale, the highly atmospheric ‘Aint Talkin’ is totally measured and coming at the end you can safely assume it is what he wants to say most; so listen up. ‘Still yearning, in the last Starbuck at the World’s End’ is a glorious lyric and followed by that celestial chord it’s a striking and perfect ending to this slow paced and mystical work. A master stroke indeed, and a good song; philosophical and musically in balance - but I have to say it puts me in mind of ‘Love Sick’ from T.O.O.! M. in places.
All in all I’m not totally sold on this col! lection; can’t grumble about the quality of playing or the singing and I like the comfortable feel and mix of blues/country-rock/old-time, (they are real pros and make it sound so easy), but taken in the round I find it a bit too heavy and wearysome in places. I’m sure I’ll continue to play it from time to time but it doesn’t pass the iPod test at the moment I’m afraid and if forced to score it I’d give about a seven. I may be missing something so ask me again in 10 years time when I’m Bob’s (current) age and I might well say something quite different. Above all I will remember this album for arriving at the time when, for whatever reason, the whole world finally got round to recognising Bob as the coolest thing on the planet.
Gazza email@example.com Us dylan fans have a dilemma , on one hand its great to see him still making records and touring and on the other im extremely underwhelmed at the 12 bar blues settings for most of these tracks.Modern times ? But musically firmly rooted in the past of the great american musics blues and country .
Lyrically his powers remain in place and i prefer his vocals here to "love and theft" but modern times just isn't in the same league as his 2 daniel lanois produced albums . Dylan seems to prefer cutting with his live band now and producing himself as opposed to the stellar line up of talent on "time out of mind"
Theres some great songs here though "spirit on the water" "deal gone down" both surprise with their intimate sound and i like "nettie moore" and the old time country of "beyond the horizon" They both suceed in their old time music frameworks . But bob leaves the best to last "aint talking" is one of those turbulent ,despairing tracks he does so well conjuring up ima! ges of a maverick character walking through a world gone to hell. 6.5/10
Stephen firstname.lastname@example.org "'Cry A While' is hardly anything special but does have a certain groove about it..." This track reminds me of Captain Beefheart. What's special is the sheer power and menace of the track ¬ partly achieved by the rhythm changes, and partly by Dylan's vocal delivery. It's really fierce, and best played very loud. As for the album in general,I'd say it's 'playful' rather than silly. It's Bob having fun, experimenting with the sheer joy of songs and where they might take him; just like he did on the Basement Tapes 35 years before.
josie Kay email@example.com Ok I think I can truly bring a new twist to all this - I grew up in the 80s/90s, loving melodic pop like the Beatles, Crowded House etc. A couple of months back I discovered Bob Dylan. I know, better late than never! While I don't mind a bit of folk or gospel blues, I never thought I'd connect with Bob. I thought he was this old storyteller poet and I preferred the melodious abstractness of the Beatles and their school. So it comes as a surprise to find myself this late in my music loving life (Ok I’m only 31) completely obsessed with Bob! Why? The only reason I can truly say is that he is the ONLY artist I have ever discovered who has managed to effectively and completely connect with the truth, as it is and as he sees it. There is something so real, he doesn't try to be poetic or clever, it just pours out of him. After going through all his early albums I'm now up to Modern Times and really, this is the record I can't get enough of. It's not been out of my CD player for we! eks. It seems to perfectly distil everything I've learned about Bob since my journey began a few months back. Taking his whole history but adding something new. Bob has said so many times how time means nothing to him and you can see him stepping back inside himself and his influences and returning with a fresh, invigorating work. How to describe -- it's like taking a walk back into your past without ever having to relive the same things. Like a time traveller who's not affected by the time, but can just immerse himself in the travel. That's what this record sounds like to me, if that makes sense. There's no jadedness, no weariness. Just joy and fun. Even the seriousness of his message is interplayed with his sense of humour and personality. Bliss! And I love every track on this one, especially Thunder on the Mountain, Rollin' and Tumblin's guitar line and Workingman Blues2. But When the Deal Goes Down and Ain’t Talkin’ are my special faves! – new Bob Fan
Steve firstname.lastname@example.org I really think there is a lot more 'getting it' to be got on this album. The more I listen to it, read the lyrics, listen again, look up some of the references, listen to it while reading the lyrics, then listen to the other artists albums it seems to reference, all the more the deeper meanings there seem to be. It's an incredibly complex album, like an onion of riddles within riddles. For example, doesn't 'Spirit on the Water' reference 'Smoke on the Water' by Deep Purple? Rhythmically the lyrics can be interchanged and the song structures are very similar. Does BD like Alicia Keys? I think not, Thunder on the Mountain reads to me like a very strong criticism of her superficiality. Bob is our servant both night and day, after all. The whole album to me is like a criticism of musicians and song writers (and himself) for not using their 'cruel weapons' any more. I can well understand why he has not given usual credit to sources for this album - that is itself is anot! her clue to unlock the message he is trying to tell. All that aside though, what a fantastically brilliant album.
Stephen After playing this album a fair bit since its release, I have concluded that it is far, far weaker than Time Out Of Mind and Love & Theft. You wouldn't know it from the reviews, however, which seemed 100 per cent positive. Be wary of reviews that seem to praise Dylan merely for still being alive. Far too much of the music is generic and lacking ideas. While the songs and lyrics are mostly very engaging, the over-long, unvarying backing tracks grow increasingly tiresome. There are perhaps three great tracks:
1. Workingman's Blues 2 (inspiring, moving, different, compelling)
2. Nettie Moore (a mysterious, restless folk song that commands full attention)
3. Spirit on the Water (very pretty indeed, especially the 'ghost' bit)
But the rest rely on over-familiar sounds and song structures. Particularly uninspiring are Rollin' and Tumblin' and The Levee's Gonna Break, which have very little going on in musical terms and should probably have been left off the album. !
The song Ain't Talkin' has received a fair bit of acclaim, but I think it's a rather obvious retread of Dylan's 'viewing the world through weary eyes' stance (albeit one welded to a nice 'Man Gave Names To All The Animals' groove). Plus, the way that the song resolves to a major key at the end seems to give it a fake-sounding 'happy ending', that undercuts what it seems to be about. A major error of judgement.
In summary, I think Bob has painted himself into a corner here: this album tries to take the best bits of the two records before it and mix them up in new ways, but it's the first time in a while that a Dylan album hasn't seemed to more forwards at all. As such, it's his worst record since Down In The Groove.
I hope he has a few more new ideas next time...
Together Through Life 8
( 2009, UK pos 1 )
Beyond Here Lies Nothin' / Life Is Hard / My Wife's Home Town / If You Ever Go To Houston / Forgetful Heart / Jolene / This Dream Of You / Shake Shake Mama / I Feel A Change Comin' On / It's All Good
In recent years, Dylan has kept his hand in the music business and his craft by penning songs for motion pictures. 'Life Is Hard' is a song for just such a motion picture but Dylan loved this new song of his so much he bashed out another dozen tunes and 'Together Through Life' was the result. It's fair to say, we didn't really expect another Dylan LP so soon after 'Modern Times' yet for the birth of 'Life Is Hard' alone, 'Together Through Life' is a worthy addition to your Dylan catalogue. The majority of the album is standard Dylan blues stuff, unoriginal tried and trusted melodies, that Dylan croak, lyrics not even reaching much beyond the usual blues cliches, the odd line excepted. Yet, for three or four such unremarkable Dylan tunes, 'Together Through Life' remains utterly listenable. With his own 'Jack Frost' productions, Dylan is using technology to make albums sound as natural as they can do in this modern digitalized age. 'It's All Good' for example, it has an accordian, an instrument all over this album. It's got a beating bass-line, brushed, jerky drums and the odd unobtrusive electric lead yet there is groove here. Dylan sits on top of this blues groove with his ancient voice and you wouldn't throw the repetitive 'It's All Good' out of bed. If performed by a twenty-something Dylan, this would fit right on 'Bringing It All Back Home'.
Some of the better melodies here include 'I Feel A Change Comin On', a song that weaves deliciously with a soft, Spanish/Mexican feel and good Dylan lyrics and vocal melodies. The album opener 'Beyond Here Lies Nothin' has been used to advertise the album on TV and it's right up there with anything from 'Modern Times'. You know, it sounds like a beloved, rusty old kettle. The slow-blues of 'My Wife's Home Town' is less memorable, as is 'This Dream Of You', both tunes utterly forgettable. Still, on the whole this is another very solid Dylan album. It may not startle as much as recent Dylan efforts, yet this continues a run of consistency unheard of in Dylan circles since the Sixties. That my friends, is quite something.
Trevor Osbourne email@example.com This albums a real grower .I was initially disapointed with the album but much prefer it to the grossly overated MODERN TIMES.Its a real fun album to listen to as well as containing some of his best recent melodies. I diasgree with Adrian in that THIS DREAM OF YOU is "totally forgettable"
this is a beautiful tune with lovely lyrics.( although bobs aged voice probably does not work so well here as on some of the others. shame he didnt come up with it at the time of DESIRE !)FEEL A CHANGE COMING ON i liked straight away (as i did with BEYOUND HERE..)another strong melody.FORGETFUL HEART & LIFE IS HARD are typical examples of how this albums grown on me i was initially unimpressed but now are firm favourates.The album might be lyrically lightweight for some fans but for me its never been just about lyrics its about the sound, the atmosphere conveyed. Thus I see the album as a throwback to THE BASEMENT TAPES and more recently LOVE & THEFT.Critics tend to go to extremes in re! viewing the latest Dylan release either overpraising it or being overcritical.TOGETHER THROUGH LIFE is no masterpeice its just a great fun album for bob to be making at this stage of his career. I WOULD GIVE IT 7/10
Josie Kay Sydney Bob wrote the whole lyrics to only one song on this record - This Dream of You. Best lyrics on the record! However, Robert Hunter (of "Silvio" fame) co-wrote the rest,which explains the blues cliches.
That said, there are two kinds of Dylan records - the serious lyric record that you put on headphones to listen to(Modern Times, Blood on the Tracks, Blonde on Blonde, JWHarding)and the good time listening records that you listen to in cafes or put on while doing the washing up and just enjoy the groove (Planet Waves, Under the Red Sky, Desire - another lyric co-write- , Love & Theft,... and now Together Through Life).
Next record - serious lyrics that he writes himself, but just enjoy the fact he's still doing it!
Christmas In The Heart 7
( 2009 )
Here Comes Santa Claus / Do You Hear What I Hear / Winter Wonderland / Hark The Herald Angels Sing / I'll Be Home For Christmas / Little Drummer Boy / Christmas Blues, The / O Come All Ye Faithful / Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas / Must Be Santa / Silver Bells / First Noel, The / Christmas Island / Christmas Song, The / O Little Town Of Bethlehem
It is at the time of writing a couple of months before Christmas, the supposed birth of Christ, Jesus our Lord! This is of course the perfect album to review after a three year absence of writing at all, about anything! The least likely santa ever - Jewish Bob - sings as sweetly as he can and the results are suitably hilarious. These old time 50s harmonies that are utterly gorgeous, by the way. He does the full thing, these harmonies are beautiful and then you get Bob on top with his croackey (is that a word?!) voice over it. For a jewish man, for a born again christian, for a man that then forgot all of it this is a fun stupid thing. Dylan is genuinely taking the piss until 'Christmas Blues' returns him to his roots, all late night jazzy and stuff and taking in genuine blues guitar licks. Here Comes Santa Claus. You can imagine Bob singing that in his nasal style like he has a permanent cold. A turn out, a side-step. I went to church today, a very christmas thing to do. The most religious song I could think of and constantly was going through my brain was 'I Shall Be Released' the basement tapes versison. Before Bob's religious conversion this is a performance so throughly spiritual. Still, that is an aside and a reminder of Dylan gone by.
The traditional songs fare best, becauser Bob is spiritual. 'Come All Ye Faithful' I've done no research. Some language, then a choir then 'Must Be Santa' a stupidly fast beat and lyrics and a permanent Xmas favourite in our house for all time. 'O Little Town Of Bethelhem' comes with Bob croaking and sounding astonishingly bad if you judge a voice over a singing ability. His singing ability is astonishing and these backing vocals sweet. Bob singing amen......... amen. We will keep that. 'Do You Hear What I Hear' floats across. Listen to what I say, says Bob. Well, we used to, Bob! Sweet female vocals greatly enhance 'First Noel' and all this music is recorded simply. When those harmonies and extra singers come up, you really do wish he had used them on his recent studio albums, so useful do they sound. Me? I am listenning to a Christmas album in October - make of that what you will. Slide guitar and country effects and all.
( 2012 )
Duquesne Whistle / Soon After Midnight / Narrow Way / Long and Wasted Years / Pay in Blood / Scarlet Town / Early Roman Kings / Tin Angel / Tempest / Roll On John
The critics fell over themselves to praise Bob Dylan's thirty fifth (or eighty seventh?) studio album 'Tempest'. Me, I just generally fall over because I'm a bit clumsy like that. Similarly to the previous few Dylan LPs, this is a self-produced, nostalgic sounding set of songs, right from the train-song 'Duquesne Whistle' through to album closer 'Roll On John' an hour or so later. Inbetween we get some overly long songs, some nice slower songs and a couple of rattling rock songs. 'Narrow Way' probably didn't need to be seven minutes long when it's just a single riff repeated over and over and lyrics that quite frankly are fairly forgettable. 'Duquesne Whistle' is fun, it rolls along quite appropriately in a train-like fashion. Must say, I do adore 'Love And Wasted Years', this is the one song from this LP I can listen to over and over again, Dylan semi-singing, semi-speaking and with some funny lyrics and vocal intonations. The music, as with the first three songs on the album, sounds 100 years old, albeit with a modern production sound. Well, moderish, there's no 'Urban' frivolity here, naturally. Still, 'Long And Wasted Years'? Key lyric "I wear dark glasses to cover my eyes, there are secrets in em that I can't disguise" Dylan's generally faltering vocal chords are used throughout the album to the best of his ability, yet miked-up close you suspect in order to capture a measure of power. Those delightful vocal inflextions that bring joy to an ear drum 'Long And Wasted Years' offers are also present during 'Pay In Blood'. You get these occasional words, sang as if capitalised. An introspective lyric, possibly vengeful in places and also, arguably, political.
The saloon bar, wild west 'Scarlet Town' impresses musically, we've got a fiddle, bluesy guitar and a captivating set of Dylan lyrics, this is one of the most hypnotic moments 'Tempest' has to offer, seven minutes never wasted As Dylan continues to progress the story. 'Early Romany Kings' and 'Tin Angel' between them account for fourteen largely dull and wasted minutes, can't get my head round the lack of both musical or vocal melody. The title track is some thirteen minutes long and consists of simple, circular melodies upon which Dylan tells tales of maritime tragedy. The closing 'Roll On John' is for Dylan a particularly clunky lyrical tale of John Lennon, a biography in song with a nod to William Blake during the final verse.