Bob Dylan

Mr. Pleasantvoice
*special introductory paragraph!
*Bob Dylan
*The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan
*Live At The Gaslight 1962
*The Times They Are A-Changin'
*Another Side Of Bob Dylan
*The Bootleg Series, Vol. 9 - The Witmark Demos: 1962-1964
*Bringing It All Back Home
*Highway 61 Revisited
*The Bootleg Series, Vol. 4 - Live 1966: The "Royal Albert Hall" Concert
*Blonde On Blonde
*Greatest Hits
*The Bootleg Series, Vol. 7 - No Direction Home: The Soundtrack
*The Basement Tapes
*John Wesley Harding
*The Bob Dylan/Johnny Cash Sessions (with Johnny Cash)
*Nashville Skyline
*Self Portrait
*Dylan
*New Morning
*Greatest Hits, Vol. II
*Pat Garrett And Billy The Kid
*Planet Waves
*Before The Flood
*Blood On The Tracks
*Desire
*The Bootleg Series, Vol. 5 - Live 1975: The Rolling Thunder Revue
*Hard Rain
*Street Legal
*At Budokan
*Slow Train Coming
*Saved
*Shot Of Love
*Biograph
*Infidels
*Real Live
*Empire Burlesque
*Knocked Out Loaded
*Down In the Groove
*Dylan & The Dead
*Oh Mercy!
*Under The Red Sky
*The Bootleg Series Volumes 1-3 (Rare & Unreleased) 1961-1991
*Good As I Been To You
*World Gone Wrong
*MTV Unplugged
*Time Out Of Mind
*Love And Theft
*1966-1978: After The Crash DVD
*Modern Times
*The Bootleg Series, Vol. 8 - Tell Tale Signs: Rare and Unreleased 1989-2006
*Together Through Life
*Christmas In The Heart
He probably changed rock music forever; he brought in a social conscience unrivalled in his day. More importantly, though, he was one frig(erator) of a talented songwriter. Beautiful simple guitar melodies topped with a wheezy phlegmy hacky everyman's voice that turned off many, but influenced more. Then he went electric and became the American equivalent of The Rolling Stones (who were, of course, the British equivalent of Chuck Berry, who was the American equivalent of Toilet Watchin' Johnson) for a lovely spell before going country-western for five bizarre years before returning to what he did best for a couple of wonderful records before becoming a born-again Christian and, shortly thereafter, a washed-up old crank who couldn't pull a decent tune out of a handgun. But then all of a sudden -- hoooeee! again.

Bob Dylan - Columbia 1962.
Rating = 8

For his first album, he was young, he played covers of traditional folk ballads on acoustic guitar and harmonica, he was very excited to be recording his own album, he did some weird things with his voice and beautiful things with his harmonica, he had two songs of his own, one of which was funny and the other of which was "no great shakes," as the kids say, he did an exceptional job with darker tunes like "In My Time Of Dyin'," "Man Of Constant Sorrow," "Fixin' To Die Blues," and "See That My Grave Is Kept Clean" and his renditions of lighter songs were fine, too, but who the hell needs lighter songs? Where do we think we are, FunCoLand? Speaking of failure, Bob was not yet much of a songwriter when he recorded this album. He sure did have a lot of energy, though.
Reader Comments

starostin@geocities.com (George Starostin)
A very good place to get started if you really want to dig into Bob's roots. Shows that a lot of his own acoustic (dang it, electric as well) compositions were heavily influenced by traditional folkie music. A lot. Really. Very listenable, and, surprising as it may seem, his voice here is much more varied than on Freewheelin'. Damn it, his guitar-only 'House Of The Risin' Sun' is every bit as good as the Animals' version and maybe better! I like it. Maybe not essential, but a brilliant debut nevertheless. An 8 is a perfect rating.

Waterloo78@aol.com
A consistently entertaining debut. He's come a long way, but damn if that kid wasn't endearing from the start. Love his "House Of The Risin' Sun" and "Baby Let Me Follow You Down", though he'd do an even better version in '66.

smuskol@online.no
I think this is his best acoustic album ever, even though it contains some weaker songs, like "Pretty Peggy O". Listen to his great guitarplaying on "In My Time Of Dying" (the best song on the album), with this incredible bottleneck (which, in fact is, the box of a lipstift). Songs like "See That My Grave Is Kept Clean", "Fixing To Die" and "Gospel Plow", is just great. His version of "The House Of The Rising Sun", is even better than the Animals` version. His two own songs isn`t as good as the rest of the album. On this album he sings great.

bcs2h@mtsu.edu
The debut of a legend. Like many musical legends, Bob's debut was relatively inconspicous. It's an alright album, but nothing special, and certainly nothing outside of the confines of what the other Greenwich Vilalge folksters were doing. But it gave Bob a foothold in the industry, and that was what was most important.

Only two originals from Bob here. "Talkin' New York," and his ode to his hero, "Song To Woody." Both songs are alright, but neither one could really clue you in to what Bob was about to do on his next album. There was no foreshadowing here.

"See That My Grave Is Kept Clean," "Man Of Constant Sorrow," and "Baby, Let Me Follow You Down," top my list of favorite songs off the album. Unlike some of you, Bob's "House Of The Risin' Sun" really doesn't do much for me. I may have just heard the song too many times from too many people. There's really not much else to say about this album. If you want to hear a legend beginning to feel his way around the industry, buy this album. If you're only interested in hearing the cream of the crop, go out and buy his mid '60s masterpieces.

My rating, a 5. (Now, all of my ratings are exclusive to the world of Dylan. They are all in comparison to other Dylan albums. If I rate a Dylan album a 6, that doesn't mean I think it's equal to an AC/DC album I'd rate a 6. Bob is much, much better than that. Bob just can't be compared to anyone else. He is a species unto himself. So a 5 for this album is in comparison to a 10 for Highway 61 Revisited.)

Benjamin Burch
This album isn't very exciting, and while it hints at a very promising career for bob, I'd only recommend it for completists. It is pretty enjoyable and has a few memorable songs, but certainly not close to being his best album.

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The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan - Columbia 1962.
Rating = 9


This was Mr. Zimmerman's second album, on which a significant number of wonderful originals revealed him to be an acoustic folkie with a sly sense of humor. Rockers might get bored, but folks who like storytelling will enjoy the daylights out of whimsical gems like "Talking World War III Blues" and "I Shall Be Free." Heck, they's all goodies. Bluesy ones, political ones, poppy ones - real nice record. Acoustic loveliness topped off with this 21-year-old boy's ridiculously gruff "singing" voice. Don't be fooled by the humorless portentousness of "Blowin' In The Wind"; this young man's pretty silly. Pretty bright and talented, too. "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" is just fantastic, fot example. Can you imagine seeing a white man walking a black dog? Holy Shit!
Reader Comments

hutchilj@aramco.com.sa (Lawrence J. Hutchinson)
Rating:7 - I always enjoy Freewheelin', but think that songs like "Masters Of War" sound a little overblown these days - you know, with an exaggerated anger thrown in to fit in with the times. The reason this album is good is because there are some very good humourous songs mixed in with the social commentaries, and "Corrina, Corrina" is sweet.

gstarst@freestamp.com (George Starostin)
No, no, this IS a wonderful album. The main problem is that it is very, very, very, very hard to get into it from the first time. Unstandard, even "distorted" melodies and that spooky voice can frighten off anybody; also, 50 minutes of pure guitar and harmonica can be bad for one's digestion system. Still, at least half of the tunes are enjoyable at once: "Blowin' In The Wind", "Masters Of War" (yes, a bit over-serious, but at least this varies the record a bit), "Hard Rain", "Don't Think Twice", and some others. The humour is good, and since this record is not as drug-influenced as the later ones, you can enjoy some serious and thoughtful lyrics too.

dunciad@bc.sympatico.ca (Animal)
just a quick word, Mr. Lawrence J Hutchinson, "Masters of War" is a song written about the kind of people who make a living building and selling machinery whose sole purpose is to butcher the youth of the world. If the anger which that inspires seems a trifle "overblown" in this day and age then perhaps it's on account of little rambo-watchin' squeaks like yerself have become jaded earlier than most. the sentiments expressed in that there song were not "thrown in to fit in with the times," because the "times" hadn't even started yet. get out some old pete seeger and peter, paul & mary albums and find vitriol like that anywhere.

the funny songs are good too.

darrenm@primus.com.au (Darren Moss)
hat degree??? Bob Dylan makes intelligent music... not just toe tappers (which he can and does do)- and this is one of the finest examples of his "protest" songs.

In fact, the sentiments in this song are still very much relevant today - if you'd care to leave the music/entertainment websites for a just a moment, and read the world news sites, you may see what Dylan is/was talking about....

But that may involve thinking....

This is a landmark album and will be remembered as such when 20th Century music is looked back upon by future historians.

Waterloo78@aol.com
Classic after classic after classic. THE folk album to own. Where does he get off writing such great songs as "Blowin' In The Wind" or "Don't Think Twice It's Alright"? Unheard of!

hutchilj@aramco.com.sa (Sean Hutchinson)
Darren, firstly, sarcasm has no place on a website that was designed to be a forum for the discussion and evaluation of Dylan's music. Secondly, Dylan, almost by his own admission, if you read the many interviews that exist, 'jumped on the protest bandwagon'. He used protest folk songs to become famous, when all he really wanted to be was a rock'n'roll star - that's why he almost completely dumped it after The Times They Are A-Changin'. He was never as passionate about it as people like Pete Seeger and Phil Ochs. He has said in a number of interviews that he didn't want to write "topical songs", and he was much happier 'doing his own thing' on albums like Bringing It All Back Home. That's why, now, unlike when I first heard "Masters Of War" at the age of 16, it comes across as less sincere. It's still a good song, but it sounds rather more opportunistic to my ears now. And, yes, I still think it's "overblown" - it's too extreme at the end in the "I hope that you die" verse - I don't like Dylan preaching, I guess.

cola@together.net (Colasacco)
As much as I love Highway 61 Revisited, Blonde on Blonde and Blood on the Tracks, this and Bringing it All Back Home are Bob's most important recordings. Just browse through the song list on this one and you'll see why! "Blowin' in the Wind" is still the guy's most famous song, although I don't necessarily think it's one of his better. "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" is another mega-classic - in my opinion it blows "Blowin'" out of the water. "Girl From the North Country" is meditative and soothing (hard to imagine, isn't it, from this "Mr. Pleasantvoice"). "Masters of War" might be the best protest song ever written, and stands alongside "Positively 4th Street" and "Idiot Wind" as one of Dylan's harshest songs.

"A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall," though...that's the guy's masterpiece! One of the best songs ever written. Apparently each line was originally going to have an entire song written about it, but he decided to just throw it all together. Good decision! I love the whole thing...so haunting, so mysterious, so Dylan! And the rest aren't bad, either. After "Corrina, Corrina," it's hard to see how people couldn't guess Bob would soon chuck his acoustic guitar. It's practically a rock song!

The closer is hysterical, by the way. What do we need to make the country great? More songs like that! A big, whopping 10.

robchaundy@yahoo.com (Robert Chaundy)
You can go on about Blood on the Tracks or Time Out of Mind or John Wesley Harding all you like, but for me the most atmospheric Bob Dylan albums are the very early ones. On this record especially there is an awesome feeling of a consciousness being articulated, and of folk music being a real, living medium rather than the cute museum piece it has since become. One can only imagine what it was like to be a dirt-poor, passionate, frightened student in the early 60s. Cuba, Vietnam, Rhodesia and 1968 were looming on the horizon, but armed with this record you would have felt just a little bit more confident about facing them. There was a real fire in young people back then. We have nothing like it today - today we have Limp Bizkit and Destiny's Child and Oasis. Oh how I hate them.

You know, it's October 2001 as I write this, and given what has happened in the past few weeka, I doubt anyone will ever again raise serious criticism of the likes of Masters of War. It may not be a great song - a different argument entirely - but the sentiment is truer and more grimly sincere than ever. War is hell.

Bob made two pretty big statements back in those heady days. He was right about the answer - it's blowin' in the wind today just as much as it was in 1962, but as for the times... well, they weren't really changing at all. But I have a feeling he knew that.

ajkenyon81@yahoo.com (Amanda Kenyon)
"Girl From the North Country" pisses me off. It is a cheap, unapologetic, carbon-copy ripoff of "Scarborough Fair." And I'm not pissed off because that's a Simon and Garfunkel song, I'm pissed off because it's a very old folk song and nobody (well, almost nobody, and if they do they're not saying anything) seems to realize that. Did he do that on purpose? Is it SUPPOSED to be a rewrite of "Scarborough Fair"? (If it is, it's not very good.) What the hell were his motivations here? Until I find this out, I will continue to be pissed off.

jim.celer@hhss.state.ne.us
Was about to put down my ink pen for the day (already sent two letters elsewhere). But then I read "sarcasm has no place on a website designed to be a forum for the discussion and evaluartion of Dylan's music".

Well. if that's the case -- let's "pretend that we never have met" (to quote a sarcastic Dylan lyric from two albums hence).

No, better - goodbye is too good a word, babe, so I'll just say "fare thee well."

watta502@yahoo.gr (Akis Katsman)
Freewheelin' is an excellent folk album. It's not that easy to listen at first, but then grows on you. It would be silly to pick up a favourite tune, as there are a lot of geniuses here. The only song that does nothing for me is "Bob Dylan's Blues". The rest is awesome, even the short songs. Rating: 10/10

uglytruth@hotmail.com (Hossein Nayebagha)
Considering how there are a bunch of unnecessary tracks on here (you would have said exactly the same thing if it didn't say "Bob Dylan" on the package), I might have taken one point off to make it an eight. I just think he's a bit too lazy on the vocals, well that may be his style, but it's too much sometimes...And if people listen to Dylan for his words, whatever. They're often very amusing, but I listen for the music and I don't care if that may not be the whole point, that it's very simple musically; that's what I want, I'm tired sick of all the "serious" garbage out there that...STOP.

"I Shall Be Free" is a FANTASTIC tune!!! I like a few others, but there are the two that I can distinguish as the highlights, and the other one is "Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall", so I obviously agree on that one, but man that last track, I never get tired of...Pretty guitar, kick-ass harmonica, funny lyrics and whatever it is that's special about Bob Dylan.

bcs2h@mtsu.edu
Dylan's first great album, and a major step up from his self-titled debut. Already, Bob was cementing his status as an epic songwriter. What other artist in his early 20s wrote a song as simplistically beautiful and profoundly meaningful as "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall?" It's a perfect anthem for then and now, and likely forever. Although we won't always live under the shadow of the bomb as America did in the '60s, there will always be some power hoping to wield it as a threat. So long as that is the case, this anthem's intense message will live on, for better or worse.

But this space isn't reserved for politics, so how about the rest of the songs? Everyone knows "Blowin' In The Wind," and rightfullly so. Fantastic, anthemic song. Truly a standard of popular music. "Girl Of The North Country" is a beautiful ballad, and superior to its sound alike sister "Boots of Spanish Leather" off Dylan's next album. "Masters Of War" is another epic protest song. Possibly Dylan's most vicious song to date, and almost certainly his most venomous protest song. "Talkin' World War III Blues" is one of Dylan's few "humor" songs that I actually find mildly humorous. Even manages to quote Abraham Lincoln in it (sort of). "Down The Highway' finds Dylan showing off some of his more impressive guitar skills (which most casual music fans will claim he doesn't have). And of course, "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" is one of Bob's more enduring love songs, and one of his favorites to play live. Oh, and I'll never understand the draw of "I Shall Be Free." I just don't like it much. But that doesn't take away from the fact that this is a fantastic sophmore album, and one hell of an accomplishment for a young 20-something.

Some people will tell you that Bob never surpassed this album. I won't argue that point, even though I don't agree. Everyone has their own specific taste. Although I'd certainly agree that this is the height of acoustic Dylan.

Overall rating, I give it an 8. And it's hard not to give it a 9, it really is. It's between an 8 and 9, and I'm gonna round down this time. "I Shall Be Free," "Corrina, Corrina," "Honey, Just Allow Me One More Chance," "Bob Dylan's Blues," and "Oxford Town" are all just a little too pedestrian for me to give it higher than 8. Nonetheless, it's still one of the most important albums in music history, and was partially the impetus for The Beatles' "Rubber Soul," another epic '60s record.

marc.kreienbrink@gmail.com
Ahhh...The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan. One of my all-time favorite albums. It was one of those albums that I just happened to discover at the right time in my life. I feel it's perfect in its simplicity.

10 out of 10.

Ben Burch
Though I'm not a huge fan of the pre-Bringing it All Back Home Dylan, I do have respect for this one. The songs are funny, tuneful and straight to the point. When I started out with Dylan, I used to love his acoustic stuff until I got to his electric and country stuff. This album came out a whole year after Bob Dylan and it really shows. While there were only like two songs I'd go back to on that one, there's like six of them here. Favorite is "Hard Rain" and least favorite is "Down the Highway" (which belongs on the next album). 7.5/10.

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Live At The Gaslight 1962 - Columbia 1995
Rating = 6


I've got the fatigues again, but in an ugly time of war, government corruption and natural disasters, America turns to me to bring a cheer to its face. So here are some Bob Dylan jokes I'm going to make up as I write them:

Q. What's the difference between Bob Dylan and a dark reddish orange?
A. Well, one is 'burnt sienna' and the other was 'burnt out by 1977'!'

Q. Why did Bob Dylan cross the road?
A. To get to Another Side!

Q. How many Bob Dylan fans does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
A. Theoretically only one, but he's been talking to the record store clerk for the last three hours!

Q. What was Bob Dylan's ass dildo doing five minutes after Bob ate at Taco Bell?
A. The answer, my friend, is "blowing in the wind"!

Q. What did Bob Dylan both say and experience after an all-night lovemaking session with his idol Woody Guthrie?
A. "'Morning, Wood!"

Now that I've saved society from certain suicibe, I plead with you to hear me as I discuss the recently-released recording of Mr. Dylan and his acoustic guitar performing a solo set of mostly traditional folk material at the Gaslight in 1962. The first thing to note about this performance is that Dylan sounds extremely uncomfortable; this is due to the Gaslight being not a club but an actual gaslight upon which Bob has accidentally sat while in the nude. Ha ha! No, see - I'm joking!

According to those in the know, Dylan performs two tracks from Freewheelin', one non-LP original and seven trad. arr. folk classics. Which reminds me - have you heard that Half Man Half Biscuit song "We Built This Village On A Trad. Arr. Tune"? See, now that's FUNNY! Why can't "Weird Al" Yankovic make us laugh like that anymore? Your enjoyment of this Dylan CD is going to depend entirely upon your interest in hearing him perform old folk tunes on his guitar with a hole in it. Do you like his debut album? I do. This doesn't really sound like it though. How about eggs? Do you like eggs?

Folk melodies aren't by nature the most exciting and novel riffs you're ever going to hear, but Bob does his best to make the set seem diverse by utilizing a number of playing techniques -- pretty pickin', happy strummin', sad pluckin', moody lickin', tough rhythmizing, and best of all, playing the incorrect chords! (listen closely to "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" for some ear-scraping wrong turns!). The lyrics seem fairly provocative too, particularly in the fanTAStic anti-war ballad "John Brown" and the goodtime drug celebration let's all take drugs drug anthem "Cocaine." But somebody should have decked him during "Rocks And Gravel"; I don't know that I've ever heard a vocal hook quite as purposely annoying as "Take some rocks NNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN gravel baby...." Were there no violent rednecks around? Come on, what kind of beat cafe didn't have a bunch of Nazi skinheads and humongous drunken jocks hanging around every night? This is why I think it was actually recorded in a studio surrounded by policemen.

I have to assume Bob wasn't terribly popular yet because the crowd remains almost completely silent throughout the entire set, aside from singing along like a bunch of kindergarten children to "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall." Eh, I'm done.

Winner - 2005 'Best Ending' Awards

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The Times They Are A-Changin' - Columbia 1964.
Rating = 5


An over-sober disappointment after that last one. The humor is gone completely. This is straight protest folk, reducing Bob to the flat overdramatic beatnik hippie communist that "Blowin' In The Wind" made earlier folk believe he was when he really weren't. The lyrics are obvious and, worse, the music is recycled. The title track starts things off splendidly, but ten minutes later you hear the same melody repeated in "One Too Many Mornings." "Boots Of Spanish Leather" is sad and lovely, but it's also "Girl From The North Country" from the last album. I could go on, but I won't. Why waste time chit-chattin' about a mediocre album when I could be waxing nostalgic about Muse Sick N Hour Mess Age?

Reader Comments

alynn@erols.com (Alexander Lynn)
My two cents:

I agree that this album is a disappointment after Freewheelin'. While recently pruning my CD collection, The Times . . . was the first Dylan album to go. It's so dour and preachy that listening becomes a chore by the end. That being said, "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll" does feature some beautiful harmonica work, and the tune overall is a fine one, and may be worth the price of admission (It's a sad song, in case the title didn't forewarn you). It is not a bad record, so much as one that has not aged well and now seems to us more a product of its time than Freewheelin' does.

This is one of several Dylan records that would have benefited from a more considered track selection. The outtakes "Lay Down Your Weary Tune" (included on Biograph) and "Moonshiner" (on The Bootleg Series, Vol. 1) would have helped to balance the album out, in terms of mood. But, what's done is done (and we listeners today can always make a mix tape that includes some of the less cranky outtakes) . . .

dube101@concentric.net (Dennis Dubrow)
Please...since when do we judge a Bob Dylan record on the musicianship, a good or bad harmonica break does not affect the package, how can you discount an album with "One To Many Mornings" on it. This song gives goosebumps when i simply sing it in my head, let alone listening to it and seeing Atticus Finch walking down the street ready to shoot a rabid dog. Sure Bob is dour on this record, it was a dour time, remember.

ram.elisha@fin.gc.ca
All right, fine, it's not the greatest Dylan album of all time (there can be, at most, two of those, and this one ain't them). The thing is, (as I sit here listening to it and munching on a turnip) is that it could easily have been, well, #3 or #4 . I mean, take any single song from this album and play it by itself, and it's like Wow! How does he do that harmonica thing and sing at the same time? More ketchup! This applies to just about every tune, "Times..", "1-2 many Mornings", "God on Our Side", everything. Great songs all. The shingle is, all of these songs are played at the same speed, with the same intonation, and it gives you a headache after a while. So go on, get out of here, and buy Highway 61 instead.

hutchilj@aramco.com.sa (Lawrence J. Hutchinson)
Rating:6.5 - Not an album that one can enjoy - far too bleak - no humourous songs at all, but you still can't help admiring the quality of the songs, even though there are no great songs here.

darrenm@primus.com.au (Darren Moss)
Once again the point is being missed here.

The Times They Are A-Changin' is "Too bleak to enjoy"????

That's like saying you didn't like Saving Private Ryan because it was short on laughs!!!!

And as for saying that there are no great songs on it... songs don't come much greater than "With God On Our Side", "Only A Pawn In Their Game" and the title track itself....

This album, along with Freewheelin' are both absolutely indespensible albums. Sparse, immediate and classic.

As for giving albums stars, does anyone else think that's a silly way to assess art, or is that just me?

Waterloo78@aol.com
Not in the same league as Freewheelin', but still worth owning for the title track, "Hollis Brown", "Hattie Carroll", "One Too Many Mornings", etc.

hutchilj@aramco.com.sa (Sean Hutchinson)
Darren, perhaps "bleak" is the wrong word, but I'm sure that Dylan didn't want to record a whole album of social comment and sad, wistful songs, or to appear on the cover in black and white looking so pissed off - that was the record company trying to cash in on "the times" - otherwise, why did he dump such songs as soon as this album was out?!

mspangle@chariot.net.au (Matt Ellers)
When The Ship Comes In is an outstanding composition

Zimmerman110@hotmail.com
LJ,

Times They Are A'Changin is too bleak?

Will somebody please explain the concept of folk music to this kid? You admire the quality, eh? Well that's very big of you. Next you're going to tell me "Dr. Strangelove" has too many people and the US should've won...

bcs2h@mtsu.edu
Half good. That's an excellent way to describe this album. It's quite possibly the Dylan album that I listen to the least. With that said, "When the Ship Comes In" manages to be an epic song while only clocking in at a little over 3 minutes. To me, it's clearly the greatest song on the album. Of course, the title track is the anthem of the album, and the anthem of the '60s. Considering our current political state, we may need the times to change again. But that's neither here nor there. So how does the album break down?

The Good Half:

1. The Times They Are A-Changin'
2. With God On Our Side
3. One Too Many Mornings
4. Only A Pawn In Their Game
5. Boots Of Spanish Leather
6. When The Ship Comes In

The Bad Half:

1. Ballad Of Hollis Brown
2. North Country Blues
3. The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll
4. Restless, Farewell

Okay, so maybe that doesn't break up perfectly into a half and half. But it certainly feels like there are more bad songs considering the length of the last two. And I know a lot of people like "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll," and I understand the message of the song. Good message, bad song. I just can't stand Bob's vocals on it. And I usually like his vocals. And having to hear "Ballad Of Hollis Brown" and "North Country Blues" within 20 minutes of each other makes me want to kill myself. And not because of the subject matter, I'm cool with that, I don't care too much that the album is "humorless" as some say. I just think they're not good songs. I like "Only A Pawn In Their Game," and it ain't a laugh riot.

Wait. Why am I writing this like I"m defending myself from criticism? I haven't even posted this yet. Overall, it's a 6, mostly on the historical significance of "The Times They Are A-Changin'" and the greatness of "When The Ship Comes In."

Ben
To be quite honest, this album bores the shit out of me. It sounds like a hangover from "Freewheelin'" (even if "Freewheelin'" wasn't much of a party to begin with). This could possibly be Dylan's most depressing album, with songs done in a very somber tone and deal with topics like the murders of Emmett Till and Hattie Carroll. There's only three memorable songs on here, and that's WAY too little for a Dylan album. "Restless Farewell," the title track and "When the Ship Comes in."

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Another Side Of Bob Dylan - Columbia 1964.
Rating = 9


The true follow-up to Freewheelin', this one finds Robert Dylan in topnotch songwriting form, churning out terrific acoustic melody after terrific acoustic melody, with extremely well-written non-political poetry recited atop it all. And the humor's back, too! If you don't wet somebody over "Motorpsycho Nightmare" or the last ten seconds of "I Shall Be Free No. 10," consider yourself no friend of mine, to misquote Phil Collins of Genesis fame.

One warning I must give to you here though, my friends: If you, like me, first heard this album's most popular tracks as performed by other less vocally-challenged pop combos ("All I Really Want To Do," "Spanish Harlem Incident," "Chimes Of Freedom," and "My Back Pages" by The Byrds; "It Aint Me Babe" by The Turtles), it might take a few listens to get used to these rudimentary acoustic original versions. But you will, and eventually you'll even come to enjoy them as much as those fine cover versions (except maybe "Chimes Of Freedom" - I always thought it was an impossibly beautiful anthem until I heard Bob sing it! Still, the lyrics are godlike, you gotta give him that).

A fantastic, melodic, young, humorable album. His often irritating voice is probably a bit loud in the mix, and, though pretty, "Ballad In Plain D" sure gets tiresome after about 14 minutes, but the rest of 'em can - isn't it weird that we're all gonna be dead some day? Wouldn't it be weird if these reviews were my legacy? Or would that just be pathetic? I'm 23, see, and I have to feel like I'm creating something. Otherwise, I'll look back when I'm 30 and go, "Jesus Christ, what have I done? Wasted my life!!!!" I don't want to waste my life. Can you get me a job writing about music for money??? I don't get to spend enough time doing it, and it would be a heavenly way to spend 40 hours a week. I used the word "spend" twice in that sentence. Good way to impress editors.

Reader Comments

letson@mindspring.com (Pete Williams)
i realize what it's like to identify with the cover version of the song rather than the original. i heard elton john do "pinball wizard" before i heard the who. now that doesn't make me like his crapball version better than theirs but there was a time when i did. as for the byrds, well they're mostly for the birds. and as for david crosby mumbling some shit about how they actually co wrote "mr. tambourine man" because they took out some verses and added some harmonies that they ripped off from the kingston trio, well i just may have to kick his old tired ass one of these days. now as for you mark, you've done pretty well on this review, not like the hatchet jobs you've performed on some of the later records, but i'm limited in my time right now. what you did do was completely miss the point of "ballad in plain d," which might be the most honest song on this record. it's about the same woman "boots of spanish leather" is about. i'm resonably certain about that. the whole thing is incredibly moving to me, in much the same way "desolation row" is. i don't hear you complaining about the length of that one. "chimes of freedom" is fantastic as is "my back pages." it was that song with the line "...liberty is just equality in school" which made me realize that so much of what america is about is farcical. chasing after liberty when equality should be your goal. that line has resonated throughout my life for years. what you have in another side is a fantastic record sandwiched in between two other brilliant works. i just saw that you gave times a five, you gotta lay off that pipe son. at any rate i'll get to all those. this one has all of dylan's elements - the humor, sadness, profoundity, pride and passion. i think his voice is in fine form, you whine about people's voices boy and i know you're listening to metallica up there in yankeeville. so i know this is rambly but i'm feelin that way, to quote steve perry or whoever came up with that long lost nugget from journey. what you missed by having me tape the thing for you is the cool poems in the liner notes, called, "some other kinds of songs" there's some great stuff in those notes. as for writing about music, i'll take that gig too, let me know if we're hired.

hutchilj@aramco.com.sa (Lawrence J. Hutchinson)
Rating:7 - Better, because of the funny songs mixed in with the serious stuff, but no real Dylan masterpieces yet.

Waterloo78@aol.com
A step up from the last one. "Chimes Of Freedom" and "To Ramona" are some of his best. Also, i love "My Back Pages", but the lyrics are pretty friggin' vague. I know it's supposed to be autobiographical and all, but still... oh well, it's classic stuff anyways.

danzig9@hotmail.com (Daniel Lawrence)
This is no Blood on the Tracks (one of the best albums of all time by anybody), but it still rules. Once I heard the opening track I knew it'd be a good time and I was right. Man what a great lyricist he is. There are a few filler tracks that I can't remember right now, but even they're alright. It's too bad I didn't get into Dylan until two years ago because he really is great. People are always complaining about his voice and so forth, but I like his voice! It fits and compliments the music perfectly. Nice album here. Not great, but just okay. This gets a seven from me.

cola@together.net
In commenting on The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, I claimed that said album and Bringing It All Back Home were Dylan's two most important albums. But I really overlooked this little gem. Another Side of Bob Dylan presents the third-greatest American folk singer (after Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger) at his most revolutionary. With these songs, Dylan turned away from the inherently political nature of his genre. The record, however, retains the biting wit and lyrical mastery of his earlier work. A solid 10. Or a super-high 9, if you're only allowing one 10 (in which case it should be The Freewheelin').

Jcjh20@aol.com
Great album here, nice songs indeed. Definate 9 here. Songs like "To Ramona", "My Back Pages", "Ballad In Plain D" (i agree, gets kinda tedious, but i wont hold it against it because its a very nice song), and "It Ain't Me Babe" are beautiful, and songs like "Motorpsycho Nitemare", "I shall be Free No. 10" are hilarious! And fun of course. Also "Black Crow Blues" is a nice tune done on the piano instead of acoustic, which is a nice change.

robchaundy@yahoo.com (Robert Chaundy)
A great, great album. History will definitely show that this is the equal of any - or almost any - Bob Dylan record. Like New Morning, the fact that it is relatively unknown makes it all the more enjoyable. All I Really Want To Do is a beautiful, honest and oh, so simple opener: you hear it and you think 'but I could do that!' and then you try... and you realise you can't. And Mark is so right about the humour on this disc - Dylan must be one of the funniest songwriters of them all and Motorpsycho Nitemare one of his funniest songs. In the morning milk the cow indeed...

People rave and rave about the four songs on side 2 of Bringing It All Back Home being his peak as an acoustic songwriter. But they're wrong - I'll be damned if the last four songs on Another Side are not better. Much better. Truly, My Back Pages, I Don't Believe You, Ballad in Plain D and It Ain't Me Babe do far more for me than Gates of Eden et al. My Back Pages in particular is right up there with the greatest songs of a) Bob Dylan and b) the 1960s - its melody is sumptuous and it simply bleeds emotion. And Ballad in Plain D is very long, but it's also wonderful - I don't hear Desolation Row or Sad Eyed Lady coming in for the same criticism. It Ain't Me Babe speaks for its magnificent self.

I honestly couldn't name a Bob Dylan album I like more than this one. But I do recognize that in later years he took his art to even higher levels. So a nine, but as high a nine as the law permits. Amazing.

ddickson@rice.edu
Consarnit all, I think this is the best of his folk albums. I love every single song, except for "Black Crow Blues"--otherwise known as "Hey, Look At Me, I'm Playing the Piano While Drunk". And my fav is "Ballad in Plain D", believe it or not. Don't ask me why, I just dig it when Bob ditches the acid poetry and bitches about his personal life. That line "Are birds free from the chains of the skyway?" Mmm. Scrumptious. A perfect ten, hands down.

the_words@hotmail.com (Hossein Nayebagha)
I this record has a few boring tracks, "Chimes Of Freedom" being one of them, that Ramona song being another. The reverb on the vocals makes me associate it more to the pop music of its time, than Freewheelin'... My favourite is "I Shall be Free No.10", sweet sweet song...The opening track isn't bad either, at all. One down for all the boring numbers, so... 8/10.

bcs2h@mtsu.edu
I must admit, I was extremely high the first time I heard this album. I mean, really, REALLY high. At the time, Dylan's voice just seemed ridiculously loud in the mix. It hurt my head. And the simple, desolate sound of just Bob, his guitar and harp made the music sound like a wiide, open, lonely space. When I listened to it the next day, I realized very little of that was due to the drugs. That's just how the album is.

Despite that, this album is about how Dylan got his humor back. The brooding, angry Dylan from The Times They Are A-Changin' is gone on this album. Dylan is now a lover, and a joker, not a fighter. And he proves to be an exceptionally good lover (at least in song). "Spanish Harlem Incident," turns the typical love song on its head. Who else could write lines like "your temperature is too hot for taming/your flaming feet are burning up the street." Or "the night is pitch black come and make my/pale face fit into place oh please." As an extremely pale man, I know what he's talking about there. "To Ramona," "I Don't Believe You (She Acts Like We Never Have Met)," and "It Ain't Me, Babe" all add more quality to this album.

As for the "comedic" songs, they're alright. I'm just not much for comedy in my music. Professional reviewers who have called Dylan songs "funny as hell" must suffer from some kilnd of humor deficiency. They're okay songs, but nothing special.

The two serious songs are what really stand out about this album for Dylan, though. Although I don't much care for "My Back Pages" (I hate the pitch of his voice at the opening of the song. It's just like "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll" which is one of the only songs where his vocal delivery bothers me.) it essentially announces his artistic direction for the next few years. He says he's done with protest songs, and that's fine, he gave more to that movement with "Freewheelin'" and "The Times They Are A-Changin'" than any other artist did in their entire careers. The other serious song is "Chimes Of Freedom" which is both the best, and most disappointing song of the album. The lyrics are amazing, and it's a good melody, but Dylan doesn't put the necessary passion behind the vocals to match the words. His live versions of this song blow the studio one out of the water, and that can't be said about too many of his acoustic pieces. The version on the No Direction Home soundtrack has the proper performance behind the music, and shows us what kind of song this could be. Overall, the album is a 6. Good, not great, but it was certainly a necessary transition album for Bob. Once he got these songs out, he was ready to move forward to bigger, better things.

Ben
Surprised at the high rating. I personally don't find this that great, even if it is a dramatic improvement from the previous album and it does have some interesting songs. I really like "All I Really Wanna Do," "Black Crow Blues," "It Ain't Me Babe," "I Don't Believe You," "Motorpsycho Nitemare" and "My Back Pages." Not a fan of the other songs, but they're ok. I really don't like "Ballad in Plain D" and I'm kind of sick of "Chimes of Freedom" (it's not as bad as something like "With God on Our Side" but it's still pathetic). Hpwever, I think it's a bonus that the number of 'finger pointing songs' have dropped significantly (they were getting pretty old) but I'd give this one about a 6.5/10.

Add your thoughts?

The Bootleg Series, Vol. 9-The Witmark Demos: 1962-1964 - Columbia 2010
Rating = 7


Don't laugh, but over the weekend I went to see The Fab Faux perform the Beatles' White Album in its entirety. It was phantasmagoric! There were five guys in the band (plus a sixth who played additional instruments when necessary) as well as strings and a horn section to ensure that every song was performed perfectly. Furthermore, they all switched guitars about six hundred times so that every instrumental tone would be accurate to the one used on the record.

Highlights included:
- The use of megaphone and guitar static for the "Honey Pie" intro
- A member of the horn section standing patiently onstage for the entirety of "Glass Onion" just to play the four recorder notes during the third verse
- The guitarist replicating Lennon's "Oh! Fuckin' hell" during the "Hey Jude" encore.
- Astonishingly rich vocal harmonies throughout. These guys can SING!
- A special guest appearance by MR. DENNY LAINE! He played some twiddly nonsense during "Birthday" and "Yer Blues," then returned for the encore of "Hey Jude," "Revolution" and the Denny Laine classic "Go Now," which wasn't even written by Denny Laine but whatevs.
- A big ol' harp being brought onstage for "Good Night"
- The entire Beatles White Album

Lowlights included:
- Boring wank-off jams at the end of "Everybody's Got Something To Hide Except for Me and My Monkey," "Revolution #1" and "Helter Skelter" that probably had Paul McCartney spinning in his grave (the real Paul McCartney, that is) - A strangely atonal version of "I Will." It sounded to me like the two guitars were out of tune, but Mr. Jim Laakso informs me that one of the guys was making mouth noises into the mic, so maybe that's what sounded so off about it.
- A 'good old college try' at "Revolution #9" that relied too heavily on triggered samples pulled directly from the record. It was fun watching the guy in the back do the weird wheezing and screeching vocal noises though (ex. "Hooo-ooo-ooo! Hoo-ooo-oooo!"; "RI-I-I-I-I-I-IGHT!") .
- The morons standing behind us for the final half-hour, who (a) excitedly exclaimed after every single song, "They nailed it!," (b) spilled their beer all over my date's leg, (c) responded to the stage introduction of a band member from Philadelphia by repeatedly shouting "PHILLY SUCKS!," (d) talked all the way through "Revolution #9" even though the band had specifically requested silence, and (e) spent the entirety of "Go Now" talking about how lame it was and how much it sucked. Had they not each weighed about 200 pounds more than me, I might have said something like "Are you fucking retarded!?" But you know me, I'm a zip code gentleman.

Say! Here's a rare fact of which you may be unaware: beloved Christmas crooner Bob Dylan actually began his career as an obscure singer-songwriter. It's true! Long before becoming world-famous for his many Christmas carols and holiday joy, Mr. Dylan actually recorded more than thirty little-heard albums of secular music. It's true! And, as demonstrated by The Pickwick Demos, he was creating great tunes long before replacing Santa Claus as the official mascot of the season, to whom children send letters asking for things.

I know it may seem strange to see the words "wit" and "Mark" in such close proximity to each other, but The Witmark Demos features a whole slew of early Rob Dylan songs performed by Corn on the Cob Dylan on acoustic guitar, harmonica and occasional piano so that S.O.B. Dylan could pursue the moneymaking scheme of selling his songs to other artists. This double-CD collects 47 performances, only five of which were previously available on official releases (all earlier Bootleg Series discs). In total, the Shitmark (alt. Titmark) (alt. Jitmark) Demos includes demo versions of nine songs from Freewheelin', four A-Changin', one Bringin', one Bob Dylin' and one Greatest Hits, Volume IIin', along with a whole smasharole of originals and stolen covers you ain't NEVER heard! (unless you own them on bootleg)

I read something recently that changed my whole tune towards Bob Dylan. Apparently a lot of those great early melodies I thought he wrote were actually just stolen from old folk songs. In other words, he would write lyrics to something like "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall," and then just sing them to some public domain melody he'd heard somewhere else. I will never forgive him for this. Similarly, I immediately forgave Led Zeppelin for recording a bunch of black guys and releasing it as their first album.

My point is that I can't really vouch for Dylan's melodic ingenuity at this point in his career because I've no clue which tunes he wrote and which he just borrowed and returned later. Nevertheless, I'll go out on a limb and ask, "How in Sam Nation's Aspirin Bottle were these songs considered 'not good enough' for inclusion on a studio LP?" about the following compositions:

- "Long Ago, Far Away" and "Quit Your Low Down Ways" with their bluesy string bendin'
- "Ballad for a Friend" with its sad melodic pickin' and singin'
- "Talking Bear Mountain Picnic Massacre Blues" with its story of a ship sinkin'
- "Rambling, Gambling Willie" with its hooks, fun and nominal similarity to a Bob Seger song
- "John Brown," the Metallica-worthy fable of a mother's foolish excitement as she sends her son off to war ("His face was all shot off and his limbs were all blown off..")
- "Man on the Street," the depressing tale of a dead homeless guy
- "The Death of Emmett Till," the sickening report of a real-life racist child murder
- "Seven Curses," the brutal tale of a treacherous hangman with a penis
- "Farewell" and its gentle, sad folk goodbye
- "Let Me Die in My Footsteps," even though Dylan complains, "It's awful long. I mean it's not that long, but it's a drag!"
- "Guess I'm Doing Fine" with its calm demeanor bouncy country-western bass line
- "Baby, I'm in the Mood for You" with its spirited joy and 'too short to start sucking' quality
- "Paths of Victory," which is just a really good song

They can't all be zingers though, and bland folk-by-numbers garbage bags like "Bound to Lose, Bound to Win," "All Over You," "I'd Hate to Be You on That Dreadful Day," "Hero Blues," "Whatcha Gonna Do?" and "Ain't Gonna Grieve" are proof that even Bob Dylan of Empire Burlesque and Down in the Groove fame churns out a duff track every once in a while.

If you're a Dylan fan, stop being a skinflint and help Dylan out with a Witmark purchase. There's lots of good rare material here - including PIANO (!) demos of "Mama, You Been On My Mind," "Mr. Tambourine Man" and "I'll Keep It with Mine" -- plus you get to hear a young, fresh-faced Zimmerman provide such entertaining commentary as:

- "Jesus, I can't get it! I lost the verses."
- "Let's just put this one down for kicks!"
- "I can write you out the verses later. I can't remember them right now."
- "That's my calypso tap number!"
- "That's about all I can remember of that without the notebook."
- "This imposes a real problem. 'Imposes' - is that a word? It supposes a real problem!"
- "In 15 years I'm going to become a Christian and write a song about naming animals."

Add your thoughts?

Bringing It All Back Home - Columbia 1965.
Rating = 9


Folky goes electric, with dazzlin' results. Or at least fun ones! "Subterranean Homesick Blues," "Maggie's Farm," and "Outlaw Blues" are all pretty much the same Rolling Stones song with better lyrics (except maybe "Maggie's Farm," which seems kinda dopey to me), but they sure are a hoot! So once we get past the intitial shock of hearing our acoustic folk hero blastin' out dumb ol' electric guitar rooty toot, what are we looking at here? Why, let me tell you since you're on my web site. The "band" experience works nicely for Bob, helping his voice to seem more gruff and "rockin'" instead of just weird and scratchy. Plus that patented Dylan sense of hilarity meshes well with this good-time sound (especially in "Bob Dylan's 115th Dream," which features one of the funniest intros I've heard in at least seven weeks).

That said, I'd like to forget about this rock'n'roll side of Mr. Dylan for a moment and discuss the breathtakingly well- written serious tracks that close the album: "Gates Of Eden," "It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)," and "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue" are the breathtakingly well-written serious tracks that close the album.

There. I have now discussed the breathtakingly well-written serious tracks that close the album.

Let me also say that, as much as I respect Beck for his little wacky bebop hoody-doo, he absolutely is not the "Dylan of the '90s." Dylan was probably the most perceptive songster of the entire seventieth decade of the 19th century (the first decade was 00-10); Beck writes non-sequitors (sequiters? aaah, who gives a crap?). Does Dylan have a '90s equal? I'd wager not; if so, I haven't heard him and he was probably just influenced by Dylan anyway so he doesn't really count, although granted Dylan was essentially just trying to imitate Woody Guthrie, so maybe I should just give the whole argument a rest. In closing, Dylan's move to Electricland (one damn passable Bad Company tune) didn't affect his genius one Lee Iacocca. A few of these songs are harrowingly lovely - except for that voice, of course.

Reader Comments

M.Eisenkraft@Juno.com (Michael Eisenkraft)
I think this is my favorite Dylan album (yeah I know I've said that before, but this time I'm sure.) Bringing It All Back Home has THREE ultra-super-incredible Dylan songs; "It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)", "Subterranean Homesick Blues", and "Mr. Tambourine Man".

"It's Alright Ma" is powerful, catchy, and it features one of my favorite Dylan lines (I think, I suck at song titles) "even the president of the United States must sometimes stand naked."

"Subterranean Homesick Blues" is....great for lack of a better word. I've spent many an idle hour trying to memorize all the lyrics of that song ("you don't need a weatherman to tell which way the wind blows", "twenty years of schooling and they put you on the day shift"). Dylan is raging at the "establishment" with a rapid song/poem/speech that I still find amazing every time I hear it.

"Mr. Tambourine Man" is an exquisite song, that's the only way I can describe it. The melody, the words, the chorus, even Bobby's much maligned voice, they all click together to form one hell of a beautiful song.

By the way, the rest of the album is wonderful too, just not ultra-super-incredible (more on the ultra-super level). If you are foolish enough to only want one Dylan album, get this one.

mark_richardson@bigfoot.com
It is a little-known fact that Bob Dylan actually wrote songs in the 20th century, not the 19th as you've represented here.

hutchilj@aramco.com.sa (Lawrence J. Hutchinson)
Rating:8 - The first great Dylan album - both sides work so well, especially the 'electric' side - no-one could fail to be impressed by "Love Minus Zero" or "Mr. Tambourine Man", and the humourous songs in the middle of Side 1 are among his best.

starostin@geocities.com (George Starostin)
Oh yeah. Both sides work well... especially the acoustic one. It's really a paradox: Bob just switched to electricity, but he was at his acoustic peak at the same time. Four acoustic tracks here, and all four - top of the crop! Even on his best early acoustic stuff you cannot find a sequence of any four tracks THUS great. "Mr Tambourine Man" - an obvious classic; "Gates Of Eden" - one of the most majestic melodies/lyrics Bob has ever come up with; "It's Alright Ma" - another absolutely original and complex melody; "It's All Over Now Baby Blue" - what was that? Bob's saying goodbye to his folky past days? Sure.

Still, the electric side is fascinating. "Subterranean Homesick Blues" is fast and furious; "Maggie's Farm" has a great lyrical hook; "Love Minus Zero" is a great emotional ballad. There are some songs you could call 'filler' here, although I prefer to refer to them as 'the usual Bobstuff', and I like 'em nonetheless.

And well, maybe he's riding the Stones vehicle, but I wouldn't mind. In fact, I'd never even suspected that before, his style is so different. The bluesy melodies are often much too simple, but that's OK by me. Remember - "all blues sounds the same"?

Waterloo78@aol.com
"It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)" and "Subterranean Homesick Blues" are some of the greatest lyrics I've ever read. Oh yeah, the rest of the album is terrific too. A ten all the way.

erogozin@mtu-net.ru (Eric Rogozin)
Bob Dylan is genius! And he writes great songs. This album is brilliant!

Billsangry@aol.com
Has anyone else out there figured out that you can sing the lyrics to "Puff the Magic Dragon" over the top of "Mr. Tambourine Man?" Both are drug songs. Hmmmm...... This is the reason I dig Dylan. There's just so much there to absorb if you take the time to really LISTEN to the guy. Most people can't get past the voice. What a shame.

Muggwort@aol.com
I am a huge fan of bob Dylan. I think that he is the best lyricist ever, (and I think lyrics are really important) with bringing it all back home bob Dylan has some great lyrics (not as good blond on blond lyrics for sure but it still has "I try to be just like I'm/ but everybody else want's me to be just like them"), especial in the songs "subbterean homesick blues," "outlaw blue," and hilarious "bob Dylan's 115 dream."

8/10

Jcjh20@aol.com
Mr. Zimmerman goes electric! Amazing results of course, with the classic "Subterrianian Homesick Blues" and great rock 'n roll songs like "Maggies Farm", and "Outlaw Blues". Its not totally electricized though, of course. You can still hear the acoustic beauty of previous Dylan classics in songs like "She Belongs To Me", and "Love Minus Zero", just with a backing band this time instead of just Bob solo. Not to mention the hilarious intro to "Bob Dylan's 115th Dream" (although the actual song is kinda repetitive and overlong though)! And of course those great acoustic songs on side 2 are absolutely timeless classics. Especially "Mr. Tambourine Man", "It's Alright Ma", and "Its All Over Now, Baby Blue", which are actually the best damn songs on the album! Isn't that ironic... A nine.

screaminglife@operamail.com (Michael)
"Subterranean Homesick Blues" would you agree could be considered the first rap song?

watta502@yahoo.gr (Akis Katsman)
Great album which shows both the electric and acoustic side of Dylan. Although it isn't on the same level as the excellent Highway 61 or Blonde On Blonde, maybe due to a couple of generic garage rockers, it is still essential Dylan. The second side is pure bliss, with "Mr. Tambourine Man" being my second favourite Dylan song ever. 9/10

ddickson@rice.edu
HA!! RAAHAHAH! A HAHA!! A HM HM HAHAHA. . . hm?

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!

Oh, sorry, I was laughing at Bush W. Jerk's latest press conference. But what's this? THIS is funny too!! I CAUGHT you!! HAHA!! Always knew it would happen!!! You admitted you respect Beck for SOMETHING!! It's too late now!! You can't take back what you wrote a decade ago!!! Never ever!! Because people pick their positions at age 20 and never change them!! And I am Thomas F. Barton of Not in Our Name. I am a psycho who cheers when car bombs go off. Yay for mememememmm

Whew, sorry. Big stats test tomorrow.

Ah, you and your Beck Sucks fixation. I think you must've listened to all his albums that suck and nothing else. Odelay and Sea Change, goddammit. Read 'em and weep. Literally, I mean. Sea Change will make you cry. And he is NOT a groomed corporate MTV plastic-man, fuckdammit. Ska-funk-rap?? Must've done THAT on Mutations or some shit. Ah well.

But THIS album? Great LP, no question, but no comparison to Another Side, Highway 61, Blonde on, and Blood on. Like the entire rockin' side, looooove the original "Tambourine Man," dig the lyrics to "It's Alright Ma," hate absolutely everything else. I'm not kidding. How "It's All Over Now Baby Blue" came to be on one of his Greatest Hits compilations is way the hell beyond me--that song is uuuuuuuggly! Timely lyrics, yes, but the melody. . . yyyyuck. Same goes fer "Gates of Eden"--man can't sing worth a crap, but he pretends to. Still, that's two bad songs out of eleven. Better than any of the first three Pixies albums, that's what I say. I give it a low 9.

Hurricane Rita? More like Hurricane EAT A! (dick, that is.) I stayed in Houston for the big show. The highest winds we got were 60 mph, nothing exciting--and half the city left town anyway. Buncha weirdos. Oh well. Lake Charles got near wiped off the map, though. A girl I'm in love with lives there, and that's why I care so damned much. Unfortunately, it's the college equivalent of a Clapton-ish Layla situation, if you "Patti Boyd" my "George Harrison," and I think you do.

The point I'm trying to make with all this is: Watch the second part of the Bob Dylan Documentary tomorrow. It's gonna tear.

Hunter
Say Mark, since I know you were thinking about it today, I'd like to share with you my little music buying expirience today.

Well, you know me, we go way back. So obviously, I don't have to tell you that after a good few years of smashing my head on the punk rock (and other music from the 80s/90s/00s), I've finally started checking into some groups from the 60s and things. Among these new interests, I've been looking into Bob Dylan, who's songs I've always liked a bit, although I've only recently gotten any of his stuff.

Anyway, so I'm at Manifest Records today, and I see "Bringing It All Back Home" for 6 bucks used. "6 bucks?", I said. "Now that's my kinda price!", said the women next to me. Well, she didn't but oh this is stupid let's just cut to the cheese here.

I get the cd, take it home, cherish the artwork, put in the cd that would normally start with "Subteranian Homesick Blues" to find...some boring ass 6 minute long song that is NOT "Subterainian Homesick Blues"! No, rather, when I popped the cd out of my player, I find that somehow, somebody stuck in the cd of "Infedels" and nobody ever noticed it when they bought it or sold it to me! And it skipped on the first song! Almost as bad as the time I bough "Sorry In Pig Manner", only to find no cd inside the case. Actually, it was probally better then, because at least I didn't have to hear boring crap in lou of good crap! Thankfully, there were 2(!) used copies of that, so I made a quick exchange...

So I guess the moral of the story is, is that

Ben
Easily Roberto's first great album. I agree with your rating of a 9, and other than "Gates of Eden," I don't really have any negative things to say about this album. Very enjoyable, it's got EXCELLENT lyrics and I really like the fact that he did one side acoustic and the other one electric. Hard to say, but my favorite here is "Mr. Tambourine Man."

Add your thoughts?

Highway 61 Revisited - Columbia 1965.
Rating = 8


I know she's a classic and all, but too many of her songs sound just like the ones on the last album, and who the hell needs a retread, especially this early in the history of rock'n'roll? Eh??? There's more organ on this album though, so it's got a teensy bit more of a "soul" feel to it. Plus, "Like A Rolling Stone" is a bonafide classic rock anthem, even though we've all heard it way too many friggin' times to ever again be able to enjoy it to its fullest extent.

Do I like the album? Sure, I like it, but it's not necessarily a step up for Mr. Dylan. An overabundance of Stonesy rock'n'blues too often makes it feel like a retread of Bringing My Shoes Back Home. You know how it can be in life sometimes. The only tunes that really save it from a lower score on the Prickter scale are the dark piano grinder "Ballad Of A Thin Man," the sloppy sleepy blues ballad (and Beasties Boys sample) "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues," and then of course that last song. You know the one. The longest and most beautiful track he'd recorded yet? You know the one. The one with the lead and rhythm guitars coming together for a pretty "dugge-digge-doo-doo" there at the end of each verse? Oh man, you know the one. Ah yes, she's lovely. I could listen to her for the rest of my weeks without moanin' and complainin'. "Desolation Frank," I think she's called?

Reader Comments

M.Eisenkraft@Juno.com (Michael Eisenkraft)
You're overlooking two super-incredible things. The title song is incredibly cool, some of the best lyrics Bob's ever done (God said to Abraham, kill me a son, Abe said what, God said you can do what you want but next time you see me you'd better run, Abe said where you want this killing done, God said out on Highway 61; I LOVE IT!!!!). Also it connects to "Highway 51" on his first album (they both signify death). This album also has the best Bob Dylan line of all time "THE SUN AINT YELLOW, IT'S CHICKEN". It just doesn't get any better!

rpwinste@erols.com (John Winstead)
I've got to disagree with your opinion that Highway 61 is a retread of Bringing It All Back Home. I think of it as a progression from the previous album and hence a masterpiece. You can't find a fast tempo country tinged rocker like "Tombstone Blues" or a bluesy piano driven song like "It Takes a Lot to Laugh..Train to Cry" on the previous album. In the immortal words of Butthead, "I rest on your face."

alynn@erols.com (Alexander Lynn)
I disagree that this is a retread of Bringing it All Back Home. The A- or Electric side of Bringing it All Back Home was an experiment, a way of following through with the rock-n-roll rhythms and arrangements implied in Dylan's work as far back as Another Side . . ., Highway 61 is the production model, made after the prototype (Bringing . . .) has made her run successful. The guitar work by the sadly neglected Mike Bloomfield (check him out with the Paul Butterfield Blues Band) is the spark that galvanizes Dylan's electric venture here. It has more swing, volume, and speed than any of the guitar work on Bringing it All Back Home, and gives a lot to the simultaneously grave and Dada delivery of Mr. Dylan on this slab-o-wax. And dig that "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues". Fine Stuff. All that and a bag of chips.

mjb926@hotmail.com (Jim Blair)
This album kicks ass! I've heard "Like a Rolling Stone" lots of times, but I never get tired of it--it's such an intriguing song. I like it so much I find myself mentally replaying it or even singing it out loud when I'm walking around or showering. The other eight songs are also top rate, and "Ballad of a Thin Man" is especially amusing and disturbing (another song I love to sing or mentally replay). As much as I like Blood on the Tracks, The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, Another Side of Bob Dylan, Bringing It All Back Home, and John Wesley Harding, there's no way (at least in my mind) that any of these great Dylan albums should be rated higher than the great Highway 61 Revisited.

hutchilj@aramco.com.sa (Lawrence J. Hutchinson)
Rating:8 - I agree with you that this has been overrated over the years, and although this was the first Dylan album I bought, some 25 years ago, I went off it in a big way. I never understood why people liked "Ballad Of A Thin Man", and "Queen Jane Approximately" is so bloody dull, but the quality of "Like A Rolling Stone", "Tombstone Blues", and "Desolation Row" raises it right up. "Like A Rolling Stone" is simply the greatest song in the 44-year history of rock music - I just could never tire of it!

MSROELOFS@prodigy.net (Mike in Hawaii)
I have to agree with Mr.. Eisenkraft; you're missing everything that makes Highway 61 Revisited a truly great work. I certainly don't understand how you came up with the word "retread" to describe it. This record delivered everything that was promised by Bringing It All Back Home. Of course this is just my opinion, but lyrically this album represents Dylan's high-water mark. The fact that time and FM radio overkill have blunted some of the tracks' immediacy shouldn't detract from their significance.

dunciad@bc.sympatico.ca (Animal)
"BALLAD OF A THIN MAN"? "BALLAD OF A MOTHER-SHUCKIN' GOAT-SCOLDIN' GOLF-UMBRELLA-SWINGIN' THIN MAN"?? That song does more than just redeem the album (which would be dynamo without it, unnerstan'). My sweet-lovin' jesus, the 1980s, with their speedcore and their metallideth, and their rap and all never ONCE came up with a song as menacing as that. When Bob snarled, "something is happening, but you don't know what it is, do you, Mr. Jones?" you could smell corporate america crumbling. the fact that it never happened is just one of those great tragedies of the modern age.

starostin@geocities.com (George Starostin)
Nope. Not overrated. If that previous album was a 'treading water' piece, then this is the first Dylan's serious completely (or, well, almost completely) electric album. And let's see: everybody likes "Like A Rolling Stone". Everybody likes "Desolation Row" (except me, probably: I agree it's a classic, but as an overlong album-closer it pales in comparison to the far superior "Sad Eyed Lady"). Everybody likes "Ballad Of A Thin Man" (except Lawrence Hutchinson: if he doesn't understand why people like it, I'll tell him: it's one of the greatest counter-cultural anthems ever written. Point stated). Everybody likes "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues" (me too! me too! this is really the song that got me into Bob in the first place, especially the line about the authorities who "stand around and boast how they blackmail the sergeant at arms into leaving his post"). And the title track? I dig that whistling, man! And the line "won't you come see me, Queen Jane?" It's just stunning! "It Takes A Lot To Laugh"? Do you call this song 'filler'? And there's more beautiful 'Bobstuff': both 'Tombstone Blues' and 'From a Buick 6' may look re-writes of the earlier material, but they aren't. Of course, Bob was more of a lyricist than a composer, so these two last songs were obviously just made up for his endless stream of lyrics, but that's OK by me. I dig the lyrics. It's just that I wouldn't advise anybody to listen to this album right after Bringing It All Back Home. You might get tired: but it's not the repetitiveness, it's just a matter of style.

Everettxxx@aol.com
What difference does it make if he sounds like he is repeating himself (which he is definately not). I have listened to countless recordings from this period, and even after absorbing the finest music of Dylan's competitors, quite frankly I feel this is the finest album of the rock era-Elvis and The Beatles never put out a record consistently as rewarding as Highway 61 Revisited. Dylan's ambition is simply unbelievable-not only was he a social commentator, and songwriter, but also surrealist poet along the lines of Ginsberg and Rimboud. Listen to "Like a Rolling Stone" and tell me you have ever heard a finer song..listen to "Desolation Row" and ask yourself if there has been another artist with as much ambition. All of the songs here are simply thrilling, and since I discovered this album as a teenager I have never got bored with it-each song (From a Buick nonwhithstanding) continues to haunt and intrigue me. Blood on The Tracks is obviously one of rocks finest statements, but even it pales in comparison to Highway 61 Revisited. This should be your first purchase...

Waterloo78@aol.com
A masterpiece of music, not just rock. "Like A Rolling Stone" and "Ballad Of A Thin Man" are still significant social statements set to killer music. And don't get me started on "Desolation Row". Damn, what was he on? And where can I get it? Well, doesn't matter. I'd end up writing MacArthur Park or some shit.

malester@cpuinc.net (Lester)
i just got highway 61 a couple weeks ago. It's really great, but does anyone else feel sad after listening to it? i know that "Rolling Stone" "From a buick 6" and the title track are all good happy grooves, but the rest of the songs are tragic-sounding, kinda like Romeo and Juliet (the play, mind you, not a movie or soundtrack or the ballet by Prokofiev (although that music is pretty amazing too.)). Only Bob Dylan can write a song like that; one that is sad and uplifting and amazing and beautiful all at once.

auabraha@online.no (Aud Abrahamsen)
I can't believe it's highway 61 revisited you are talking about! This album is undoubtely one of mankind's greatest cultural achievements ever! Along with the pyramids, wall of china etc., this is one of the wonders of the world.The first and the last tracks (like a rolling stone, desolation row) are two of the best songs ever written. But the rest of the album is also fantastic. So full of life and death. Emotional, angry, bitter , sad, beautiful.....You must get this!!!!!

hutchilj@aramco.com.sa (Sean Hutchinson)
Animal, and George, I still feel that Highway 61 is an album that starts off brilliantly and finishes on a high, but gets rather weak in the middle. The soft centre runs from "From A Buick 6" to "Highway 61 Revisited" - for me, they're all 'fillers' - whatever Dylan is trying to say on "Ballad", and however much that might mean to you, the song is rather dull. "Queen Jane" is pretty - nice melody and Dylan sings it well, but there isn't much to the song. But, "Highway" is a great album anyway because of the other 5 tracks.

jason_a@earthlink.net (Jason Adams)
Well I may be a masochist but I love Dylan's voice around this era; just flat and nasal and pissy. I'm amazed at how many mean, bitchy songs are on here. Hippies liked this? I don't hear a dud on here, including "Desolation Row", which has some of the greatest, most picturesque lyrics around.

Billsangry@aol.com
In my opinion, this is the first "Punk Rock" album. The writing is mean and bitter and Dylan's voice is truly an example of an artist at odds with his art. He truly spits in the eye of the crooner. His venomous phrasings are harsh and not meant to be enjoyed as one enjoys a pop group, such as the Beatles. I'm suprised more "Punks" haven't caught on to this album. It's kind of a 60s version of "Never Mind the Bollocks."

slb23@shaw.ca (Simon Brigham)
HIGHWAY 61 REVISITED is, IMHO, possibly the best 60's Dylan album. It's also possibly in the top 5 of the best 60's albums. I know it's definately in my top 5. Every song is great. However, it took me a while to like "Like a Rolling Stone". Dylan's voice is in fine form, and his backing musicians really rock (especially on the title track and "From a Buick 6".) However, my only complaint is that the harmonica was mixed too loudly and with too much treble, so that it is sometimes piercing to the ear. Oh well. My favourite songs are "Desolation Row", "It Takes a Train to Laugh, it takes a Lot to Cry", "Ballad of a Thin Man", and "Queen Jane Approximately". I think that Bob Dylan is one of the greatest lyricists in rock music, and HIGHWAY 61 REVISITED does justice to that statement.

watta502@yahoo.gr (Akis Katsman)
Essential 60's album, both musically and lyrically. It contains my favourite Dylan song ever, "Like A Rolling Stone", as well as the epic "Desolation Row", clocking over 11 minutes. This album has some of the best Dylan lyrics ever. It should be in your music collection by all means, even if you hate Dylan! You cannot deny he's a genius! 10/10

imus3@webtv.net
If you knew how little about music you know. you'd just shut up, your are Mr jones.
and learn how to spell fuck, instead of frig.

gag05@bigpond.com
Unbelievable. Between 1963-1966 Bob Dylan was churning out classics like a motherfucker, and Highway 61 captures him at his peak. Sure he may not have been the greatest songwriter ever but if you write lyrics as good as the Desolation Row or Ballad of a Thin Man then fuck melody. Dylan was capable of melody though and am I the only person alive who thinks Like a Rolling Stone would’ve sounded angrier, bitter and overall a better song if it was acoustic ala Don’t think Twice its all fucking right? It’s really a cool album though, Dylan was so far ahead with his lyrics, and he knew he was wittier, deeper and overall better with words than Lennon, Jagger and Townshend so he writes “Desolation” as a slap in the face saying “there you little cunts try and compete with that!”. How people can get bored with that song is beyond me, Stairway to Heaven bores me, Wont Get fooled Again bores me, Free Bird etc…but something about Desolation grabs me, maybe the atmosphere or the lyrics or the way Dylan sings it, just the feel of the song is amazing and it totally absorbs me in every time. 10

ddickson@rice.edu
Say! You know that Clapton-ish Layla situation I was moaning and stoneing and Sloaning about three centuries ago? I've COMPLETELY moved past it!! I even had time to set up ANOTHER opportunity with ANOTHER rock star's girlfriend! And I COMPLETELY blew it! Blew it away! Away, away. God. SO far away. I'm getting good at that. So goddamn good. Just like Van Hagar, except without the "feels" part. With "at" added.

Blowing opportunites, I mean.

Away.

That is.

I'm GOOD (at that).

Love opportunities.

But DYLAN sure didn't! Good fer him and HIS huge fuckin' mojo!!!!&^% This was the first Dylan record I ever got, and I must've listened to it. . man, a wolloping TWO times before something (forever undefined) clicked. Suddenly, I realized, all these nine songs kick ass! Maybe it's a retread of BIABH (my cousin from Zimbabwe, whom Dylan treads on every so often), but I wouldn't know and/or care one way or your mother, because I heard this one first. Lyrics? Awesome, but the music is where it's at, mite. These chord changes. . . not everyone could come up with these chord changes. At least I couldn't, so that's at least one person. And although "Just Like Tom Thumbs Blues" is kinda lame by my estimation, it was a hit, and I have to yield to the masses, because they can kick my, as it were. Life sucks to the fullest extent (and that's a HUGE fuckin' extent) but Dylan does NOT. And Blood on the Tracks can suck me. Yeah, it's BETTER than this album, and yeah, it's FAR more appropriate to this situation than HSOR, "Desolation Row" notwithstanding, but I REFUSE TO YILED TO CLICHES FOR THE LOVE OF PETE! WHO'S WITH ME

KONG DELTA??

Well I'll be Kurtzed.

Buy Bob Dylan and the Smashing Pumpkins right now. Before Billy Crogan whines you to death. Or something.

Oi!

JOHN.J.DOYLE@nuim.ie
Deserves a 10/10. ferfucksakesssssss!!!!!!!!!!!!! Gawd, Mark, you really try my patience sometimes, you really do.........

Ben
An 8? That's WAY too low for this album. I'd give it a straight perfect 10. I think it's a huge improvement over bringing it all back home. This is my favorite Dylan album. It's also his roughest album. Yeah, looks like you need to give this another listen. Although I love every song, my favorite is "Like a Rolling Stone."

Add your thoughts?

The Bootleg Series, Vol. 4: Live 1966-The "Royal Albert Hall" Concert - Columbia 1998.
Rating = 7


Hyped all to hell and certainly of historical interest, but jeez the man was loose enough in the studio. What exactly were you expecting from a live album? Well, it's one disc featuring seven solo acoustic tracks and then a disc of eight electric full-band songs performed with...umm...The full Band, I guess you could might well say. Most of the songs sound great, but a few are ridiculously sloppy and irritating ("Desolation Row" and "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue" are particularly ruined by a non-shit-giving Dylan, and "I Don't Believe You" is slowed down to redneck blues tempo to nobody's benefit). That's what I think anyway. And I wrote a 45,000-page book about the album, so I should know.

The book? It's called Kind Of Live: The Making Of The Bob Dylan Masterpiece by Ashley FuckingprickwhomademewanttokillmyselfwhenIhadtoworkwithhimforthreemonths. But that's between me and my analyst.

And I DO mean "anal"!!!!

Reader Comments

cola@together.net
"Tell Me, Momma" is one of the best rock songs Dylan ever wrote, and it's only available on this Live: 1966. That alone makes it worth owning.

Billsangry@aol.com
This is essential. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Dylan's "voice" never sounded better then it does on the acoustic side of this CD. This is the only one I'd give preference to over Blond on Blond or Highway 61.

pedroandino@msn.com
mr.zimmerman goes electric! so what? this album is the document of the 1965/1966 tour that most people will never forget! the 1st disc is acoustic. acoustic folk jams that tell stories from maggie's farm to the lonesome death of hattie carrol. tell me momma is a great song! the 2nd disc is electirc and that is where folk fans hate! dylan goes CLANGGACHANGAJANGAJAJNAG! dylan does not give a shit! tambourine man rules! I don't belive you doesn't drag! desolation road is long! it's all over now baby blue is electric! most of the song are blonde on blonde and highway 61. if you love live dylan get this not at budokan! ew loved even though I do not agree with the bullshit reviews! they still suck!

bcs2h@mtsu.edu
This is the last review I'm writing tonight before I go to bed and remind myself never to spend another Friday night sober. That's when bad things like this happen.

So, the crowds didn't much care for Bob's electric friends in the mid '60s did they? Well, the crowds were full of idiots. Most crowds are. Seriously, try finding 5 intelligent people in a group of 100. It's hard. Very, very hard. Just think what that means for Congress. Like, 27 smart guys out of 535ish. This is why I can't tie my alligator to a fire hydrant in Virginia. That's Democrats for you.

But for the album review. Disc 1 finds Dylan performing acoustic tracks off his epic mid '60s trilogy to a silent crowd. They soak up every word, everyone harmonica riff, everyone strum of the guitar. And Bob plays some great songs for them. "Desolation Row," "Visions Of Johanna," "Mr. Tambourine Man," "Just Like A Woman,' "She Belongs To Me," and "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue." However, you can tell that Bob has grown a bit tired of playing these songs alone, the passion necessary isn't there. You can particularly tell on "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue." I have bootleg performances of Bob playing these songs from '65 where he's clealry having more fun and putting more into it than he does here. With all that said, it's still extraordinary to here solo concert versions of "Desolation Row" and "Visions Of Johanna." To be fair, I should also mention that this album has yet another live version of "Just Like A Woman" that just doesn't work.

Now to the electric disc. Bob and The Band don't waste any time, immediatley kicking into the best rocker of the album in "Tell Me, Momma." I don't believe Bob ever did this one in the studio, and that's too bad, because it's one hell of a song. He follows that with a certifiably awesome versiion of "I Don't Believe You (She Acts Like We Never Have Met)." Positively fantastic is the only way to describe it. I never get tired of hearing the opening with the interplay between the guitar and harmonica.

"Baby Let Me Follow You Down," "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues," and "Ballad Of A Thin Man" are all great cuts as well. The only weak song on the electric side is "One Too Many Mornings." I've just never thought it worked electric, mostly because it doesn't. "Leopard Skin Pill-box Hat" is serviceable.

So that leaves us with the JUDAS! version of "Like A Rolling Stone." An impassioned performance, no doubt. Bob's giving it his all. That said, I still prefer the Before The Flood version. Even I'm not sure why. And one thing I've never gotten is why critics like to write that Bob "dressed down" the heckler before he went into the song. All he says is "I don't believe you. You're a LIAR." Sure, he made his point, but I don't think he humiliated the guy or anything. Although I do imagine that jackass feels stupid everytime he hears his idiotic voice screaming out cries of betrayal when this record plays. Or maybe he's proud of himself, I don't know. But Bob asked The Band to "Play Fucking Loud," and they did. Good decision.

I rate it a 7. Same rating as Live 1975, even though I prefer '75. '75 isn't so much better than '66 to push it down a point.

marc.kreienbrink@gmail.com
Rock history, my friends. The moments after "Ballad Of A Thin Man" are priceless and can not be properly rated. I, however, am not proper nor have I showered today, so I'll just rate the whole album: 8 out of 10.

Ben
Now where the fuck did THIS come from? Riding high on the "Time out of Mind" tidal wave, I'm sure every Dylanhead must have gotten boners to the high heavens when this came out. This ain't my favorite live album, and it is more of a historical interest. The only song of interest here is a song you described perfectly: "Tell Me Momma". What a pity that never came out on a studio album. Elsewhere, all the classics from this era are here. I guess the best one is this version of "Rolling Stone". Even with some dickhead shouting "JUDAS!" right before it, it is a great version of it.

Add your thoughts?

Blonde On Blonde - Columbia 1966.
Rating = 6


America knows that I hate to be Steve Complaint, but I will never understand why this album is so universally loved and highly regarded. It's not that the songs are rotten; it's just that, with very few exceptions, Bob offers nothing new for us to sink our teeth into! (pud) These are the same riffs he used on the last two albums. And it's not just the generic blues "Leopard-Skin Pill Box Hat" I'm talking about; I think there are three different songs on here that have the exact same melody as "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues" from the last record (granted, it's basically just a '60s take on generic blues anyway, but did he have to make them all sound so Jesus-damned identical? What possible reason could I have for wanting to listen to "Temporary Like Achilles" or "Visions Of Johanna?" You tell me!!!!)

So, all son of a bitching and bastardizing aside, I'd like to confide that the major flaw I find with this ride is the length, the length, the filler just stinkth! Here's your Blonde On Blonde in a perfect world: Side one starts off with the sugary boppy poppy "I Want You," which flows into the heavenly murmur of "4th Time Around" which brings you just to the point of tears until the slaphappy hit epic "Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again" brings you back again before you are ahh, screw the diction, the side would end with the beautiful beautiful oh so beautiful ballad "Just Like A Woman." Then side two would be "Sad Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands," which holds the world record as Bob's lengthiest and loveliest tune. And that's your album. Screw all that mediocre stuff - including "Rainy Day Women #12 and 35"!!!!! Everybody must get stoned, my eye. Have you tried marijuana? If so, go to jail.

You know what I just realized? "Just Like A Woman" does the same exact tonic-subdominant-dominant-tonic thing that every other goddamned song on this album does (aside from the traditional blues bores). So knock that one off too. Plus the lead guitar and harmonica are too trebly the whole fucking album! Why do people LIKE this thing so much!?

Reader Comments

jay44@webtv.net (Jesse McClung)
While I haven't totally gotten into the whole Dylan catalog of albums or anything, Blonde On Blonde is the first Dylan record I've purchased, This album at least for me anyway lives up to its mystique and has me wanting to go after other albums such as Highway 61 and Blood On The Tracks.

Weigelda@aol.com (Dave Weigel)
While I would argue that Blonde on Blonde deserves at least one more pimple on your rating system, I tend to agree with you. Everything's great, except for the blues crap. I'm sorry, the blues just bore me. Anyway, this album inspired the second stupidest thing ever said by a rock critic--"'Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands' just plain drags".

For the record, the #1 stupidest thing ever said was by some bastard in the Rough Guide to Rock who called AC/DC's Back in Black "patchy". Hmm. I just noticed how similar the two titles of these albums are. Neat!

dube101@concentric.net (Dennis Dubrow)
I was giving this site a shot until your review of Blonde On Blonde, wait, okay I just erased the bookmark. Blonde On Blonde is arguably the greatest record of the 20th century. If it is not the greatest, it is in the top 10. Stop looking for mind blowing alternative ill-defined improvisations and turn this record up and listen to it. Everything that is American music is included in these 4 sides, and these 4 sides sum it all up. The Blues meet rock and roll head on. And then there's "Visions Of Johanna".

You need to rethink your misguided criticisms.

jeffsl@pacbell.net
Can I just put a plug in for "Pledging My Time" to make your pruned-down version? "I got a poison headache but I feel alright..."

MRichardson@HEWM.COM (Mark A. Richardson)
In addition to being way off on Blonde on Blonde as a whole (it's a solid 9, losing one point because it IS a bit too long), I must take issue with your assessment of "Visions of Johanna." Now, I may have never played guitar for the Low-Maintenance Perennials, but I do not believe "Visions of Johanna" to be in the 12-bar blues format or any 60s derivation thereof. The melody is stunningly beautiful and unlike anything Dylan had recorded up to that point. And the words! Please, Mark, give this album a few more spins and I think that you'll see it to be a solid progression from the previous two.

gstarst@rsuh.ru (George Starostin)
Well, I finally got Blonde On Blonde, so that now I know not only the hits, but the complete record as well. And I think you are making a big mistake. You're always expecting something revolutionary from old Bob. Don't! In this aspect Dylan is no John Lennon or Pete Townshend. Blonde on Blonde sounding exactly like Highway 61? Well, yes... probably. And John Wesley Hardin' sounding exactly like his first acoustic albums, for that matters. And everything else, too.

So just don't take it so seriously. Sure, "Temporary like Achilles" and "Visions of Johanna" do sound like "Tom Thumb's Blues". And you do not mention that "Sad-Eyed Lady" in a lot of places sounds exactly like "Just Like A Woman" (some lines are almost identical), and sometimes like "One Of Us Must Know". And the instruments are always the same, and the song structure, and the voice, and everything - it all sounds just like one seventy-minutes long track, in fact! And if we recall that this album is the logical successor to the two previous ones, this seventy-minutes track becomes even longer.

Sure, you may say: "Why the hell do I need to listen to this overlong piece of almost the same music when I can go out and get myself some Beatles instead?" But this is just a question of taste. If you really enjoy Bobbie and his musings - you must be prepared for this "boring", many-many-hours-long sequence. If not - just throw it away, together with all the other albums!

My verdict would be: either this album deserves a 9, or all the previous albums deserve a 6 like this one - depending on the taste. 'Cos it's ridiculous to accuse Dylan of being unoriginal! He never pretended to be original. He never tried to be original. He was just a genius, and all those things, they were coming out of his head...

hutchilj@aramco.com.sa (Lawrence J. Hutchinson)
Rating:8 - Here we disagree, I think! There are some very weak songs on the album, and it would have made a much better single album. However, every time I've fallen in love I just have to listen to "I Want You", and I think "One Of Us Must Know" is just wonderful too. "4th Time Around" may be Dylan's "Norwegian Wood", but he sings it so well. I can't help liking "just Like A Woman" too, despite a lot of criticism of it over the years. "Visions Of Johanna" is contentious - it used to thrill me to bits, now I find it rather boring after the first few verses. "Absolutely Sweet Marie" is gorgeous, of course.

Gillianmf@aol.com
of course, while the chorus of "rainy day woman..." alludes to drug use, the song is, in reality, an indictment of a culture which, despite the tenets of the constitution, seeks to oppress personal liberty and individuality. c'mon man, you're smart enough to know that it isn't about smoking weed. and as a rare someone who has previously championed Dylan's sense of humor, you should appreciate the double entendre (stoned pot vs. stoned the lottery).

Furthermore, to complain about the length of blonde on blonde is ridiculous; 13 bucks for 73 minutes of stellar music-perhaps there is occasional justice. ironically, you consistently refer to Dylan as one the greatest artists of 20th century while dismissing his greatest works as derivative; you are indeed the sort of fella to whom greatest hits are marketed. on a brighter note, your brand of maverick idiocy is well suited to the net.

MSROELOFS@prodigy.net (Mike in Hawaii)
I must say, I'm getting tired of having to correct you half of the time. Where can I possibly start with your review of Blonde on Blonde? You're so far off the mark with this one that I actually caught myself gaping slack-jawed at the CRT. Stunning! You're sure you actually listened to this album, right?

I won't go into detail on every track, but you can't approach Blonde on Blonde like some kind of product that provides its consumer with a particular flavor of instant gratification. This album is not supposed to reach out and grab you the `nads; instead, it takes some investment on the listener's part. Just sit back, close your eyes, and let Dylan's stream of stunning imagery weave its tapestry around you. These tracks have a groove all their own; a listener conforms to the record. Ultimately, this ride is well worth the price of admission.

By the way, "Visions of Johanna" ranks as one of my 20 or 25 unwavering favorite songs of all-time.

Waterloo78@aol.com
Let's face it, by this time the man could not be stopped. Everything he scibbled turned to gold. How else could you explain a line like "With your mercury mouth in the missionary times"? And it still sounds great. "Sad-Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands" goes beyond even "Desolation Row" in that it has more than 3 chords. It's such a hypnotic song. But every song is a keeper, even lesser ones like "Pledging My TIme" and "Obviously 5 Believers". It blows my mind to think this came right after Highway 61, which itself came right after Bringing It All Back Home. Who knows what else the man would've done if weren't for that damn motorcycle crash. Oh well, at least that gave us the Basement Tapes and John Wesley Harding.

renita@ncn.net (Dan Schmidt)
This is perhaps the most misguided of your reviews. Blonde on Blonde is not Dylan's best album, but its certainly his most musically accomplished: the music isn't being "recycled", its "evolved".

Sure, "Rainy Day Women #12 & #35" is stupid, but its supposed to be. The drummer was playing his trapset backwards for Chrissake!

I just hope that no one is persuaded into picking up Planet Waves or Nashville Skyline before this. You're insane if you think those are better albums.

Kevman0001@aol.com
"Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands" pretty much sucks.

OKAY, BEFORE ALL THE E-MAIL DEATH THREATS COMES FLOODING MY WAY, JUST READ ON A BIT

I mean that the melody isn't all that great; there's no shift in tone or time, it's just the same damn chords strummed over and over and over ad nauseam. The lyrics are old Bobo's best, second only to "Desolation Row." It can be better appreciated in his "Lyrics 1962-1987" book than on this album; if he had put a bit more musical effort into the song's production, it could HAVE BEEN THE GREATEST FUCKING SONG IN MUSICAL HISTORY!

I think the shorter "Visions of Johanna" is better (that organ in the background did it for me) and "Most Likely You'll Go Your Way" is one of the best cuts. "4th Time Around" is a fine classic; kinda like "Norweigian Wood" spread out over 4 minutes (I heard old John Lennon got spooked when he first heard this song). "Rainy Day Women" SATIRIZES instead of encourages the drug culture by the way; "Leopard-Skin," "I Want You" and "Mephis Mobile" are perfect examples that this coulda been a hit-laden album. Everything else is good to okay (yes, even that "classic" "Just Like A Woman).

Better off saving for Bringing It All Back Home, Basement Tapes, Blood On the Tracks, Desire, Highway 61, Time Out of Mind and both Bootleg Series (Volumes 1 - 3 & 4: Live At "Royal Albert Hall"). This is often referred to as the finest album of the 60's. What the fuck. But then again, what the hell do I know? I'm just a seventeen-year-old student who is on the verge of flunking senior math.

auabraha@online.no (Aud Abrahamsen)
You are approaching this album from the wrong angle. Do not think about Dylan's other albums when reviewing this. Just appreciate Blonde on Blonde as a whole. It's so playful, colourful, humurous, movind. Sure, all of the tracks are not THAT great, but all of them contribute to the album. And i don't understand what mean when you say that this album isn't varied. IT IS!!!!

And visions of Johanna is fantastic!!!!It's up there with Desolation Row. Rainy Day women is also a laugh.

I like this album because of the same reasons I like The Clash's London Calling; Diversity, layd-back charm, humour and the sheer length of the album

PRytur@aol.com
What I consider to be Bob at his absolute finest. A lengthy offering that never ceases to amaze. Extraordinary melodies, beautiful playing, and Dylan is in fine fine voice here. Where does one start to praise such a work of art? Do we begin by expressing the wonderment one feels at hearing a skinny white jewish kid from Minnesota playing the blues so commandingly as on "Leopard skin Pillbox Hat"? Or do we discuss how miraculous the multi-layered "Visions Of Johanna" haunts you for life with its unbelievable beauty? This double record (historically, a first I believe in rock music) is an indispensible addition to every record library. There is so much that is so right with this collection of songs, it belongs in a class by itself as a standard by which all other singer/songwriters should aspire. Monumental!

jason_a@earthlink.net (Jason Adams)
Longer and less consistent than the last album, but still full of gems. Not as pissed off, though. The opening track just blows. Terrible. "Visions Of Johanna", "Just Like A Woman", and "Sad Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands" make up for this in spaydes.

cola@together.net
Did somebody say that this sounds exactly like Highway 61 Revisited? If so, I take offense. Highway 61 is one of Dylan's very best albums, while this is only one of his best (that "very" was the difference, in case you missed it). There's plenty here to be amazed at, especially with regards to the sheer size and scope of the album. But I very rarely listen to Blonde on Blonde, and when I do, it usually feels like a chore. Probably deserves an 8.

It's quite relaxing, though. I've fallen asleep to it more than once.

Muggwort@aol.com
mark i love your reviews and all but on this one you are completly wrong blonde on blond is dylan's best work an easy 10

Billsangry@aol.com
ATTENTION EVERYONE!!!!!!

Has anyone ever heard the saying, "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone?" Well, that's what "Rainy Day Women" is about. It's not about getting stoned -- it's about being judgmental about others and "casting stones." Think about that the next time you hear Dylan wail, "Oh, I would not feel so alone. Everybody must get stoned." It puts the song in a whole different perspective.

They stone ya when yer driving in yer car..
They stone you when you're playing your guitar.. (Electric Bob?)

robchaundy@yahoo.com (Robert Chaundy)
I couldn't ever call Blonde on Blonde greater than Highway 61 Revisited, but the fantastic warmth and soul of the thing is a first for Dylan - this time creating a great song is more important than telling a great story, and how well it all turns out.

Disc one is far stronger than disc two - in fact (with the exception of Rainy Day Women and Pledging My Time) I think it might be the strongest single slab of shellac he ever laid down. Visions of Johanna is the perfect song on that heartbroken summer night, and Sooner or Later, in my fairly unhumble opinion, is a far greater rock song than Like a Rolling Stone. I Want You, meanwhile, is Dylan's greatest pop song by miles and miles.

As I said, the second disc is less good - mainly fairly derivative 12-bar blues - but it's hard to criticise any album that ends with Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands. It's long but not a second too long, and comparing it with Desolation Row is stupid - let them stand side by side as different but equal folk-rock masterpieces, the like of which would never be seen again (Joey? I don't think so!).

I am sure Blonde on Blonde loses some fans' affection because of its length, but it shouldn't. The best songs on here are just about the most heart-warmingly tender music ever made, and every lesser track adds to the whole - there is no filler. For anyone wondering whether or not to buy this record - JUST GET IT. Ask questions later.

Jcjh20@aol.com
Well, i gotta give this one a 10! At first, i thought the same exact way, that it sounded like one big long boring ass song with no melodys at all and the only song i really liked was "Rainy Day Woman 12 & 35" cuz its so fun and hilarious, but i had my head stuck up someones ass too! 'Coz now im incredibly fond of this album. I especially love all the beautiful ballad-like songs; "Just Like A Woman", "I Want You", "Temporary Like Achilles", "Sad Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands", "4th Time Around" etc. but basically i think the album is really damn great. I agree theres some normal, average 12-bar blues here and there but for some reason these really click with me. I love the lead electric guitar on "Leopard Skin Pill Box Hat", which was played by Dylan himself i believe.

watta502@yahoo.gr (Akis Katsman)
What can I say about this album? It's the best Dylan album, hands down. if you don't own it, your record collection sucks! It contains classics like "Visions Of Johanna", "Sooner Or Later", "I Want You", "Just Like A Woman" and the epic "Sad Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands". Plus it has that cool 'wild mercury sound'. Essential is too small a word. 10+/10

MatthewByrd@hotmail.com
Something smells like a dirty sphincter! That means, well, you're an ass. This is the first time I have been here (well, 2nd, I think I remember spotting those odd circular ratings before) and I must say-you are an obnoxious reviewer who could use a good gassing. But seriously, I think your reviews are fine, you're just missing a few 'artists'..... Elvis Costello, Prince, Randy Newman............ and........ hm, well, that's all for now. Oh yeah, Blonde On Blonde is a 10, I say, it's all relative......... and so is Beggar's Banquet, Rain Dogs, Abbey Road, Born To Run and........ well, NOT Quadrophenia, I agree with you there.

the_words@hotmail.com
The reputation of this record is a joke, and so is the idea that "Visions of Johanna" is a "classic".

I think your original review pretty much nailed it, and there was no reason to take back any of it. As for the man's vocals on this record, I mostly feel the urge to punch the self-indulgent bastard in the face for it.

The people who say this is classic are either in search for a very male white role model, just like the critics... OR it's pretty much the first record they ever picked up.

For as much as many of the songs are decent, there's still no answer to the question, WHY should I spend my money on a bunch of mediocre songs? "Visions of Johanna" for instance, is pleasant, but it's background music at best.

There's only one great song on his whole album, Sad Eyed Lady. I don't think there's anything to be puzzled about, about why this record is not nearly as good as its reputation. The truth is Bob Dylan isn't a very good musician. When people say he's fantastic, he's just good, and when they say he's good, he's crap.

davethefish42@gmail.com
Back to a 6? YOU FOOL!

Zimmerman110@hotmail.com
I can atest that even people who claim not to like dylan would like most of this album. hell, it's perfect for drinkin...

ddickson@rice.edu
WHY must you listen to "Visions of Johanna"? I'LL tell you why you must listen to "Visions of Johanna." 'Cause it's the best make out song ever. Just ignore the lyrics and you'll hit us a homer.

I'm not shore what Rainy Day you smoked last year, mister, but this album, she's a classic. Now, granted, I listened to it first while I was eating jalapeno and buffalo chicken pizza and playing Starcraft deathmatch (my entire base got massacred early by a mere 13 Dark Templars in the first ten minutes, all to the tune of the text taunt "where's your god now"; damn him to hell)--but STILL. 14 songs, all of 'em enjoyable happy fun. Except for that lengthy crapsong at the end--I've never been much of a fan of Bob's expressions of love. His expressions of breakup are MUCH more bonus.

Fer me, 't'weren't an intellectual thang--BOB--hey, that's his first name!!-- why am I hooked on hyphens??--is just a fun lil' goodtime album that happens to be pretty intellectual and heady at the same time. It seems to me the culmination of a period when Bob simply couldn't write an un-memorable song, either musically or lyrically. 14 songs, 13 of which should be hits, and one of which is probably at least good torture device for the terrorists, so it's good for something. The man's on fire here.

And you KNOW what that first song is about, write?

Ever read "The Lottery"? No? Good!

thepublicimage79@hotmail.com
I dislike disagreeing with ye, but goddammit, Blonde On Blonde is one of the greatest rock albums ever made. It's Dylan at his peak for 74 minutes. What more do you want? Yeah, "Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat" does sound like "Tom Thumb's Blues," but it's funnier and Robbie Robertson was a hell of a soloist back in '66. But "Visions of Johanna"?! How in God's name can you bash that song? It's the closest Bob ever got to a soul ballad (that bass...), and lyrically he's on the highest ground almost anyone could get to. What you call filler I call genius. And what about "One Of Us Must Know (Sooner Or Later)"? The most even-handed, sublime breakup song ever? Since you have a head on your shoulders, you do praise "I Want You," "4th Time Around," and "Stuck Inside Of Mobile," but while I don't adore "Temporary Like Achilles," I also don't adore "Just Like A Woman." Good God, what a condescending song...I think. the lyrics are actually pretty confusing (big surprise), but that line "breaks just like a little girl" sounds just a little too cruel for comfort. The music's great, but a little sluggish (at least have a little more drive to it, like "Visions of Johanna"), but it isn't as amazing as the other songs here. So what that they sound kind of close to each other? If that's your problem, what about "Motorpsycho Nitemare" and "Bob Dylan's 115th Dream?" They're the same exact song except one has a band and one doesn't. I don't get what's the problem here. I'd give it a 10.

Benjamin Burch
Wow, never thought I'd see a 6/10 rating for this album by a record reviewer. I do think it's a step down from "Highway 61," but I still give it a 10/10. I consider this to be the "quintessential" Dylan album, since it has pretty much everything he's good at on this album, and it's his most diverse. I agree it might be overlong, "Sad Eyed Lady" and "Memphis Blues" could have been edited a little bit (including the titles), but other than that I have no complaints. I don't really see how most of these songs are rehashes of "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues," but even if they are, I think they're GOOD rehashes. Even the blues stomper "Obviously 5 Believers" overshadows it. Now, I'm not even gonna recommend you give this one another listen judging by all the reader comments here.

Add your thoughts?

Greatest Hits - Columbia 1967.
Rating = 8


Contains lots of early classics, but it's missing way too many great songs to be considered an adequate substitute for the first seven albums. Plus, a few of these "standards" were never that amazing to begin with; "Rainy Day Women #12 & 35," for example, is just a dumb pot joke. "It Ain't Me Babe," for another example, doesn't seem to do a whole lot of anything in this context (although The Turtles later did a terrific cover of it). If you're not really into Bob but you dig "Subterranean Homesick Blues," "Like A Rolling Stone," and stuff like that, go ahead and buy this one. It'll do you just fine. If you think you might be more than just a casual Zimhead though, you should buy the original releases. You can probably get 'em all for about thirty dollars total.

Reader Comments

la314w@crown.icongrp.com (Jesse Lara)
I totally agree except "Like A Rolling Stone" & "Sub. Blues" are some of his greatest hits and should have got more recognition on your site. The stupid English didn't like it. (Shows how much they have a taste for good music.) He wasn't getting away from folk; he was showing everybody what Bob Dylan could do. He was a man of many aspirations.

Waterloo78@aol.com
Worth owning for "Positively 4th Street" alone, unless you've got enough money for Biograph instead. Ah screw it, just get Biograph and forget about this album.

Benjamin Burch
I find his first four albums pretty uneven, and I think this album is a perfect way to get into early Dylan, without sitting through all that crap from "The Times They Are A-Changin.'" I have also noticed there's absolutely NOTHING from his first album (that's a good thing), and instead there's the excellent non album single "Positively Fourth Street," which would have fit right in on "Highway 61."

Add your thoughts?

The Bootleg Series, Vol. 7 - No Direction Home: The Soundtrack - Columbia/Legacy 2005
Rating = 6


In my ever-increasing desire to pull a flutterby through the boundaries of modern parameters, I hereby present a hilarious 'Weird Al' Yankovic-esque parody of All-Music Guide's review of this album. Years from now, Folks from east to west will remember this review with the same affection they hold for "King Of Suede" and "I Want A New Duck." Here we go:

Review by Stephen Thomas GIRLYwine

The seventh volume of COB Dylan's Bootleg Series doubles as the GREYHOUNDtrack to No Direction E.T. PHONE HOME, FARTIN Scorsese's feature-length SCHLOCKumentary covering Dylan's SOMETHING GROSS IN THE REFRIGERATOR and WATCHING TV.

Okay now make a funny video and we're good to go. Thanks.

THEE ND

My notes page got ripped in half on the way to work, probably by an angry jealous rival record reviewer out to steal my 3500 daily visitors (and their 35,000 click-throughs), so I'm going to have to piece this together as best I can. First of all, the album appears to be called NO DLBESJIOM HOMO and is by who appears to be 'ROR DVIAM." Oh this'll never work. NEVER WORK! I'll have to review it from memory.

If memory serves, this double CD features 4 home recordings, 1 studio demo, 10 live recordings, 12 alternate takes and 1 album track of 7 Highway 61 Revisited, 4 Bringing It All Back Home, 4 The Freewheelin'..., 3 Blonde On Blonde, 2 S/T, 1 The Times They Are A-Changin' and 1 Another Side Of... song(s), along with 6 early rarities. If you were one of the first to purchase it, you might also have received a special bonus third disc, a record of B.D. Live At Carnegie Hall 1963 performing five The Times They Are A-Changin' songs and "Lay Down Your Weary Tune." Strangely, I find I like the Times A-Changin' songs a lot more now than I did back when I reviewed it for this lousy 8-year-old crap page that you should completely ignore because it sucks. I think the problem was that I didn't pay enough attention to the lyrics. Man, these songs are SAD! Did you notice that "Hollis Brown" kills his family and commits suicide just to save his loved ones from a life of poverty? Did you notice the depressing tale of the mine closing in "North Country Blues"? Did you notice the witty, sarcastic lyrics to "With God On Our Side"? I apparently didn't. Every day it becomes clearer and clearer exactly how big a dumbass I used to be. And probably will be now when I'm 40. Hah?

You want to know what the biggest disappointment is for me? When I heard about this Martin Scorcese movie, for some reason I thought it was going to be about Bob Dylan's entire life. Haven't we already heard enough about (and from) his classic early years? What we really need is somebody to (if they haven't already - if so, TELL ME!) trace his entire career, devoting special attention to boneheaded ideas like his attempt to actually 'sing' in the late '60s, the genesis of Self-Portrait (Actually, a whole movie could be devoted to that trainwreck alone!), his weird Christian phase, and that long string of horrific '80s records he made. What was he thinking? What happened to him? How did one of the most quick-witted and intelligent young men of the '60s turn into a hairy, clueless monster? And -- just as suddenly and jarringly -- suddenly become really GOOD again in the '90s!? Isn't anybody clamoring for a live version of "Tight Connection To My Heart"? Or his home demo of "Man Gave Names To All The Animals"? Who the hell needs to hear the fuckin' "JUDAS!" version of "Like A Rolling Stone" for the 50 thousandth time? Ahh I'm just a grouchy old man. With grouchy old ideas! Like this one -- FUCK YOU!

My more specific complaint about this release is that much of the material, although 'rare,' isn't all that great. None of the early rarities ("When I Get Troubles," "Rambler, Gambler," "This Land Is Your Land," "Dink's Song," "I Was Young When I Left Home" and "Sally Gal") rise above Dylan's basic folk/blues influences, and even a lot of his well-known material is presented in half-assed lazy versions that would look better on my bedroom floor, if some hot bitch in lust is wearing them down the street and aching for my touch. BULLET POINTS, PLEASE! (This next part will be presented in PowerPoint, by David Byrne)

* "Mr. Tambourine Man" somehow doesn't sound quite so good with Ramblin' Jack Elliott drooling heinously incorrect harmonies over Bob's shoulder the whole time.

* "Chimes Of Freedom" is shockingly lacking any sort of hook or melodic sense without the timeless input of David "Mustachioed Genius" Crosby. And what's with the ass-ugly tinny nasal hair-clogged-in-throat timbre of Bob's voice!? (let's) Y(f)uck!

* Maybe it seemed shocking and revelatory at the time, but the Newport Folk Festival rendition of "Maggie's Farm" today just sounds like a dopey bunch of unrehearsed losers goofing around on oompah bass, clumpity-dumpity drums, rhythm guitar that sounds like a toy and a lead guitarist pulled out of the Electric Blues Blues Rock Blues Combo. Bob's vocals are energetic, but the empty, crappy music sounds like shit! That's right - it's crappy and it sounds like shit! My parents paid for me to attend college, where I majored in English!

* "Desolation Row" lacks the 'diggy-diggy-dee-doo' bit at the end of each verse. And is thus long and dull.

* 12-bar blues snooze "Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat" and a bored boring bore bore bororiffic borley borton borpost boron borotomer boronimo version of "Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again" hit my ears as so depressingly underwhelming that it drove me to reduce my Blonde On Blonde grade from an 8 to its original 6. All without even listening to the album again! That's the power of negative thinking!

Soooo yeah. Enough reminiscing about the 'good' Bob Dylan. A more honest look at his entire life might not make for a more listenable CD, but it sure would be more interesting. Who the hell needs ANOTHER version of "Blowin' In The Wind"!? I'll tell ya who - some NITWIT!

I didn't mean to upset any nitwits out there.

Reader Comments

bcs2h@mtsu.edu
The soundtrack to the excellent documentary by Martin Scorcese. The music consists of mostly a bunch of alternate cuts of songs going all the way back to Bob's first album, and all the way up to Blonde On Blonde. Interlaced between the alternate cuts are a few rare songs (When I Got Troubles, Dink's Song, I Was Young When I Left Home) and live tracks (Blowin' In The Wind, A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall, Masters of War, Chimes Of Freedom, and Maggie's Farm amongst other).

Disc 1 features a young Dylan playing a some mostly underwhelming folk tunes that weren't released for a reason. However, the life version of "When the Ship Comes In" and "Chimes of Freedom" are very good. "Chimes of Freedom" in particular is impressive. Bob finally plays this song with the passion that it needs. To me, that is how the song should have sounded on Another Side.

Disc 2 is a little bit more impressive. It features mostly alternate cuts of songs of Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde On Blonde. There's nothing especially profound uncovered here, you can understand why these tracks weren't chosen for the album, but there are a few things that are enjoyable about them. The alternate piano line on "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues" is nice, and the live version of "Maggie's Farm" shows Bob in fine form.

The best cut off this disc is the alternate version of "Desolation Row." It features Dylan, a guitar, (which I believe is played by Al Kooper) and some guy on bass. As Kooper describes it in the liner notes, this version has a bit of a "punk" feel to it. Although the released track is clearly superior, it's interesting nonetheless, and is one of the tracks that makes me want to put that disc in the stereo every so often. Finally, there's an alternate cut of "Visions of Johanna" on here that just blew me away, but not in a good way. The "Visions of Johanna" from Blonde On Blonde is flawless. It's scary to think Bob even toyed with a rollicking rock version of this gem. It's not that it's bad. It just would have been about 50% as good as the Blonde On Blonde track. And I guess I should mention that the JUDAS version of "Like A Rolling Stone" is on here. I've covered that before, so there's not much else to say. I would've loved for them to have put one of the uncompleted cuts of "Like A Rolling Stone" on instead, but considering the context of the film, I can understand why they did that. The rest of the cuts are mostly average, and don't stray enough from the released version to mention, with the exceptions of "Stuck Inside of Mobile" and "Leopard skin Pill-box Hat." Unfortunately, both those cuts are vastly inferior to their album counterparts. The "Stuck Inside Of Mobile" version in particular is extremely weak on here. The accompaniment is sparse, and Bob really needed the guys to back him on that song. Fortunately, they figured it all out later in the session.

Overall, I give this album a 6. This is another one that's kind of hard to rate. Since I regularly listen to the cuts of "Maggie's Farm," "Chimes of Freedom," "When The Ship Comes In," "Just Like Tom's Thumb's Blues," and "Desolation Row," I think it should have a fairly good rating. That's fairly substantial for an album compiled of alternate cuts and rare live cuts.

fidelsjuarezg@hotmail.com
Please, people: It's SCORSESE with a triple 's'. Not "Scorcese". How would you feel if we, "non-americans" (sic!!!!!!!!!!!!; "americans"!!!!!!!!!!!!!), were to write "C(l)UNT(on)" instead of "CLINTON", or "BUSH" instead of "BUSH"? (That "BUSH" thing was out of line, I know.)

BTW, the documentary was fine, but not the greatest thing ever. Tell that to Mr. S.

Add your thoughts?

The Basement Tapes - Columbia 1975.
Rating = 8


Actually recorded in 1967, this double-album contains a bunch of songs that Robert wrote and played with The Band while he was recovering from his infamous motorcycle accident or diarrhea or something. Now me, I don't much care for Robbie Robertson and his gang of honky-tonk thugs, but these goodtime rock'n'roll songs will shake the juice outta your lemon and whip up a delicious frozen beverage for the whole neighborhood! You might get bored with the non-Dylan voices that show up a little too often (I do, anyway - get bored, that is; not "show up a little too often" - although it's certainly possible that I do that too, I suppose), but the songs are so very horse-tied fun! Songs of healing, songs of joy. Very little in the way of politics, just music for the love of music. Enjoy it.

Oh! And "This Wheel's On Fire" is pretty much amazing. A delightful record to perk you out of a bitter, melancholy, "I wrecked my motorcycle and my knee hurts" mood.

Reader Comments

Rating:6.5 - Some great stuff, but some very weak material mixed in, especially The Band's songs.

starostin@geocities.com (George Starostin)
Pretty average. Since there was no selection and they released everything, for every great tune you get yourself a duffer. Some good Band songs ('Kathy's Been Gone', 'Yazoo Street Scandal'), some good Bob tunes ('Odds And Ends', 'Lo And Behold', etc.), but a great lot of filler as well. And it's on 2 CDs when they could have easily made a single one! Which means I have to spend my cash on stupid songs I will never listen to of my free will. Sad sad sad... I wouldn't give it an 8. A 6 or 7 might do. Very raw. Music for the love of music, sure, but Bob wasn't gonna release it and he was partly right. Be careful.

Pierce.Brown@cbr.defence.gov.au
The Basement Tapes is one of the most enjoyable albums you are ever likely to hear and although I too was not a big fan of The Band, after listening to this delightful album I soon was. Many many classics from both Dylan and TB, The Basement Tapes is choc-ful of catchy and sublime melodies including the excellent Band material. You must own this masterpiece from the vaults. Stand outs: Orange Juice Blues, Bessie Smith, Crash on the Levee & You Ain't Going Nowhere.

Waterloo78@aol.com
This is such a departure from Blonde On Blonde, yet it's got a charm all its own. Of course, not all the songs work. But when they do, you get top-notch stuff like This Wheel's On Fire, Tears Of Rage, Goin' To Acapulco, Million Dollar Bash, etc. Of course, I've always wondered why superb songs like I Shall Be Released, Sign On The Cross, and I'm Not There weren't included? Oh well, that's why God invented bootlegs (wait, wasn't this a bootleg?).

InMyEyes82@aol.com (Zach English)
This double album is the peak of both Dylan's AND the Band's powers. Earth-shaking stuff, especially considering that there are hardly any of Bob's nonsensical ramblers or any of his time-tested, weather beaten political anthems which most critics tend to focus upon.

My highlight is "Tears of Rage," which depending on your viewpoint is either an account of a father's personal saga with his daughter or a broadly sketched metaphor for all the crap capitalism hath wrought upon this country. The melody is so beautiful it seems powerful enough to move mountains; listen to the way Garth Hudson's organ weaves its way in between the choruses like some loom on loan from the Confederacy, or the way Dylan slides his voice with a confidence and vulnerability he would only reach again on Blood on the Tracks.

Oh, and let me be the lone voice in the darkness on this point: I am a huge fan of the Band (well, their first two albums at least). Richard Manuel is one of the few vocalists out there capable of making me cry. His voice has this strangely feminine, vulnerable quality to it (listen to "Katie..." on this album for proof). They've written some of the most gorgeous rock songs of all time, and I think it's high time somebody reviewed them here.

Anyway, I'll chalk this baby up with ten stars. Peace.

jfiero1@lsu.edu (Joshua Fiero)
Unlike our esteemed webmaster, I, sirrah, am a Southern boy who has not forsaken his heritage. Unike the dastardly Prindle, I love the things that make these former slave states great, like frosty glasses of iced-tea with lemon wedges, trailer parks, Lynrd Skynrd, raping your sister, and those "honky-tonk thugs" themselves, the ever-lovin' blue-eyed BAND!! So I, a true southern gentleman, unreservedly give _The Basement Tapes_ a 9. It ain't that dirty jew Bob Zimmerman's best album or nuthin', but it's the most fun, and it's the best one for rapin your sister to! So there!!

gardner@localline.com
It doesn't hurt that I dig The Band, but I've always gone for this music in a big way. My first exposure to some of it was on an album by McGuinness-Flint, "Lo and Behold," that does the material up with polished, folk-rockin' arrangements. Like the Byrds and Turtles covers of some other Dylan material, "Lo and Behold" really brings out the pop qualities that aren't as apparent in some of Dylan's one-off recordings. It's a great album and the music might appeal to you more if you hear it done by this capable band.

One of the reasons Dylan recorded a lot of the Basement Tapes material, according to his biographers, was to generate cover versions. At the time, those were making him more money than his own records, IIRC. He laid down a bunch of these tunes for the purpose of getting other artists to record them (which apparently led to the McGuinness-Flint album). According to the "Down The Highway" biography, IIRC, someone stole the tape that was made to register the copyrights, and that tape was the source of the original bootlegs of the Basement stuff.

If you ever do get a taste for this material, there's a new bootleg set, "A Tree With Roots," that presents a lot of it with sound quality rivalling the legit release. Me, I can't get too much of it.

poorroyschieder@hotmail.com (Derek Nicholson)
Ya did it again. Will miracles never cease. You singleds out my favorite track on the legendary basement tapes. This wheels on fire is an absolutely beautiful and haunting song. My second favorite tune of all time. If you're interested #1 is A day in the life and #3 is Brown shoes dont make it. I tell ya ,every time i read another review on this site, I'm getting closer to believing you might be GOD!!!!!!

ddickson@rice.edu
Gotta warn you guise, I'm pretty dunk as a donut right now, so forgive my plagiarism from the Prindle Mark E. Smith interview. . .

WHY THE FUCK FUCKING FUCKALL FU(*gets zapped by Dobson's Ray of Death*)

I'm wondering. Why do folks rag on this album? It's no worse than most of Bob Dylan's '60's output, except he's suddenly lost his gift for wild mercury cougar blues Alan Jackson god that's a great song even though the artist sucks lyricism. Reeeal grungy and off-the-cuff, but if there ever was a dood better at off-the cuff shitake, I have yet to here it, hear. Not a song blows, except maybe "Tiny Montgomery." And the Band has rarely been better. And there WAS selection, all right, maybe a little slanted in favor of the Band, but slanting's all right by me! Especially if you slant the scales in my favor on the Scale of Mojo-Favoring Lover-man Kickassitude. I apologize fer sharing my inner, personal werkings with you gize. I'll stop now. Time to hoogle down without love!!! YEE-HAAW!! (eh.)

^
I
I
(that's Canadian. Robbie Robertson is from Canada. He speaks Canadian like a Canuck from Canada. I know these things.)

This album gets a rejection. I mean, a rejection. Dammit I mean, a NINE!! I mean. . . a rejection. Reject reject reject reject reject. .

Add your thoughts?

John Wesley Harding - Columbia 1968.
Rating = 9


One of the most surprising, unexpected and just plain NEAT (!) albums of his career, this one totally forsakes all that high-falootin' pop instrumentation from Blonde On Blonde to get back to the roots of dark folk music. While his comrades were still smokin' LSD and resting marijuana postage stamps on their tongues while singing about shimmering starlight moonbeam trees, Bob was dragging the concept of "song" back to an era when men were men and a broken leg just bled and bled until gangrene set in and the damn thing fell off. What era is this? How the hell should I know? I don't read! But dig far-out titles like "I Pity The Poor Immigrant," "I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine," "The Ballad Of Frankie Lee And Judas Priest," and "The Wicked Messenger," and maybe you cats can groove on the Harding bag.

The melodies are simple but harrowing, low-key but powerful, minimal but incredible - especially when taken as individual sections of a larger piece of art; song for song, there aren't a whole slew of hits here, but the twelve songs (plus the grimy album cover) work together to create a mood of such understated woodsy folk coldness that it's nearly impossible to remember that you're dwelling in late 20th century Manhattan while you're listening to it. That subway train? She's a horse! That crack addict? He's a lonesome ol' hobo!!! That Mayor Guiliani? He's a cruel shipcarpenter!!!! Oh, life is such a blast when you live in the past. Kudos to Bob for taking a chance on a completely different type of music and pulling it off with flying burritos. So why not a 10? Because the ugly squealing harmonica is mixed about forty times louder than every other instrument.

Reader Comments

M.Eisenkraft@Juno.com (Michael Eisenkraft)
You know I sort of like the harmonica; maybe it's some sorta masochistic impulse, who knows? Well I loved this album too; it was incredible. I love the John Wesley Harding ballad though the words were kinda boring. After all, how much can you say about a brave and true cowboy without sounding completely sappy (around three words I think)? My favorite song though is that Judas Priest one; I'm not sure why but it sticks in my mind. The melody is nice, but the words are incredible. I'm still not quite sure what he's talking about, but when I figure it out I'm sure it will be earthshaking (at least it better be, I've been looking forward to it for so long). Tell me if you've figured out the story. It's something about a friend going to a whorehouse, then he goes to heaven (figuratively speaking), then something else happens.

bluebird@tsixroads.com
How many stars would you give Christ for his Sermon on the Mount? What do you have to do to get 10*? You sound more like a Tiny Tim fan.

hutchilj@aramco.com.sa (Lawrence J. Hutchinson)
Rating:8 - A great album, we're all agreed. "Watchtower" is one of Dylan's Top 5, and "Frankie Lee", "Immigrant", "St. Augustine" and "As I Went Out One Morning', are all highly placed in my 'All-Time Best Of Bob Dylan'.

starostin@geocities.com (George Starostin)
I love everything about this album. The harmonica is simply beautiful. Indeed, these scary lines on 'Watchtower' blow away Hendrix's electric wailings on his stupid cover. And yes, you're right, this album just carries us away to an older world. Like, you can sometimes fall into oblivion and just dream of yourself as a lonesome hobo or a poor immigrant... 'Frankie Lee' is a bit dumb (the lyrics are somewhat crude), but that's my only complaint. I used to prefer Side A, but now I think each and every side is wonderful. And don't forget 'I'll Be Your Baby Tonight'! One of the best love ballads ever written, no doubt.

Waterloo78@aol.com
This album was responsible for my favorite Dylan cover (thank you Jimi), and paved the way for other similar, countryish albums. And oh, what nice songs, too. Although after the 1000th listen to Ballad Of Frankie Lee And Judas Priest, I'm still not too sure what the hell happens. But I love that song anyway.

danzig9@hotmail.com (Daniel Lawrence)
Another consistent album from Bob. What can I really say about it? Great lyrics, nice simple acoustic lines, and nice overall feel to it come to mind when I think of this. "As I went out one Morning" is one of his greatest songs. 8

QUINN1856@aol.com
This is the only album review of yours that I agree with entirely; you go uot on a pretty long ledge for a few of these, especiall Highway 61 and Blonde on Blonde. If only that there God damned harmonica could be dropped a few decibles, than John Wesley Harding could very well be Bob Dylan's finest of all.

robchaundy@yahoo.com (Robert Chaundy)
Great review; great album. I think this is how people who don't know what Bob Dylan sounds like think Bob Dylan sounds like, and that's good. I just love the America Bob conjures up here... outlaws lurking in the swamps, the badlands of Dixie, card games on deck on midnight paddlers, hoedowns and showdowns, the good, the bad and the ugly, Gatsbys grating, mockingbirds being killed, that kind of thing. As I went out one Morning, All Along the Watchtower and I Dreamed I Saw St Augustine are awesome songs.

I think 'the moral of this story, the moral of this song, is simply that one should not be where one does not belong' might be my favourite Dylan line of them all.

And the harmonica is rather loud, but I like to think of it as an aural representation the red-hot iron cauterizing that gangrenous leg...

markphilipevans@hotmail.com
Spot on review Mark. The only truly weak cut is the Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest. A couple of other tracks are fillerish. However the rest is very good and even the awful harmonica playing can't spoil this fine album, which is an underrated classic. See I do agree with you sometimes!

ddickson@rice.edu
When I said "aspirin" I was referring to the gigantic bloated Earth-size headache I'm about to heave. Never thee worry. But this album SHOULD worry, because it's kinda below-par for '60's Dylan. Too monotonously minimal and fast-tempoed. 8 out of 10. This is the end of the paragraph.

bcs2h@mtsu.edu
An interesting, interesting album. Rarely has an artist made two albums in succession such as Blonde and Blonde and John Wesley Harding that were so incredibly different and so incredibly good. Add that to the fact that Dylan was still recovering from a near fatal motorcycle wreck, and it makes this album's triumph all the more amazing. Perhaps his brush with death pushed him to look back at his musical roots. Maybe he thought this would darken the spotlight on him. Either way, he managed to both surprise and delight his fans (true fans. Not those who solely liked the rock stuff or the acoustic stuff).

"All Along The Watchtower" has been the most enduring song off this album. With powerful, foreboding lyrics, Dylan crafts an amazing song that invokes biblical imagery to great effect. Although Jimi Hendrix's version is arguably better, they both have their own unique charms. However, the Dave Mathews version is god awful, as are most things that involve Dave Mathews. If Bob was dead, he'd spin in his grave everytime Dave played one of his songs.

"Dear Landlord" may not be the best known song off the album, but I consider it one of the best. Dylan has one of his best piano lines here, and the underlying bass part really works. On that note, I should mention that the bass does wonders for most of these songs. Charley McCoy did a heck of a job.

Other memorable tracks include "As I Went Out One Morning," "The Wicked Messenger," "I Am A Lonesome Hobo," and "I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine." Dylan weaves biblical imagery throughout most of these tracks, and although he'd been doing that through most of his career, this was probably the most pronounced it would be until Slow Train Coming.

The only things that really take away from this album are the title track and "The Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest," which drags on and on. Though Dylan has an incomparable ability to keep his marathon-long songs interesting, this one doesn't work out. (Of course, it's not half as long as "Desolation Row" or "Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands," but it's still the longest song of the album.)

And one more thing about the album: Dylan's harp playing is at its absolute wheeziest. On some songs it works, on others, not so much. It doesn't seem to really add or take away much.

So overall, I give this album an 8. Extremely novel, and very, very strong. Another triumph in his already highly successful career.

Ben
This is a very smooth album. After Bobs legendary motorcycle accident he took a year and a half off and came out with this. It has more in common with the first four albums rather then the last three. This is the third dylan album in a row that I'd give a straight 10/10 to. No complaints about this one. Love the atmosphere (as well as the songs of course) for this one.

Add your thoughts?

The Bob Dylan/Johnny Cash Sessions (with Johnny Cash) - Bootleg 1969
Rating = 4


This CD is a copy of the rare recording featuring Dylan/Cash that took place at Columbia Studios Nashville February 17/18 1969. Track listing is as follows: 1)One too many mornings,2)Mountain dew,3)I still miss someone,4)Careless love,5)Matchbox,6)Thats alright mama,7)Big river,8)Girl from the north country,9)I walk the line,10)You are my sunshine,11)Ring of fire,12)Guess things happen that way,13)Just a closer walk with thee,14)Blue yodel,15)Blue yodel No.5.

At first I thought to myself, "Hmm. This was a bad idea, because Johnny Cash's low manly voice doesn't mesh well with Bob Dylan's weird late-60s high warbly vocal approach." Upon further reflection, I realized, "No, actually there isn't a human being alive or dead who would have meshed well with Bob Dylan's weird late-60s high warbly vocal approach." Have you heard it? The "Lay Lady Lay" voice? It's not human! And when it's placed directly alongside one of the most powerful voices in popular music history, the result can't help but sound like Johnny Cash has granted a Make A Wish Foundation request to do a session with a dying retard.

Me, I find it at least amusing. You see, Bob Dylan even at his most musical simply cannot sing in harmony. And Johnny is hardly the most disciplined, note-perfect vocalist in the world either. So to put the two together - oh, it's Hell On Ears! Ain't nobody else gonna know the way she fears! (My wife, that is. The one who responded to this CD with (a) "Do you have to listen to this while I'm home?" and (b) "This is the dumbest idea that Johnny Cash ever had! Aside from the whole 'Christian' thing.")

Although some of the tracks feature JC and BD dueting on acoustic guitars, most of the disc appears to be Karaoke duets atop previously recorded Johnny Cash instrumental tracks. At least that's the feeling I get, as it's all very boom-chicka-boomy like Johnny's classic work, with drums and bass and everything. Incidentally, I love Johnny Cash. I now own all of his studio albums except for 10 or so, and almost always get a kick out of him, even when he's backed by horrific '80s pop-country music. So if you're looking for a reason behind the '4 instead of 1' grade, that's it. Johnny sounds wonderful and lovable in every single one of these tracks. And to be honest, Bob sounds fine too, when he's singing ALONE. It's an odd voice, but a memorable one. The problem with this session is that they try to sing together on nearly every track - sometimes in harmony, other times the same notes, but it always sounds messy, ugly and amateurish. I know they respected each other a good deal, but Christ, couldn't they hear themselves? It's a HORRIBLE CACOPHONY OF FOULNESS!

Still, you can tell that Bob and Johnny had a terrific time singing together. This is especially evident in "Careless Love," a hilarious back-and-forth exchange of gun rhymes that they appear to have made up in real-time for each other's entertainment. Sample verse: "You can pass my window, you can pass my door - but you'll never make it past my .44" (followed much later in the song by "You can pass right by my windowpane/You can pass right by my windowpane/But you'll never make it past my .44... AGAIN.") (pr. 'a-gayn') (for rhyme joke's sake)

Other highlights include Dylan's so-bad-it's-funny-and-so-funny-it's-hysterical attempt to warble "Ring Of Fire," the carefree run-through of "That's Alright Mama," and an honestly not bad at all run-through of the Johnny classic "Big River" (that's the one that starts 'I taught the weeping willow how to cry, cry, cry...."). To be honest, "Big River" is probably the one Bob should have put on Nashville Skyline; "Girl From North Country" is kinda draggy. Maybe copyright issues were a problem or something. At any rate, you can find this album or CD on ebay pretty much any time you want so if you're up for a laugh and some bad vocal stylings, look not elsewhere!

On a similar topic, Henry The Dog is going nuts about the kitty-cat that moved in next door a few months ago. One of his favorite things to do now is to run across the terrace to the kitty-cat's door and bark,bark,bark until the kitty-cat comes up and jumps all over the screen trying to claw his eyes out. Then he tried to bite the kitty-cat through the screen while bark,bark,barking, the kitty-cat keeps jumping all over the place, yowling and scratching, then eventually they get tired and stop, take a little rest and eventually start up again. I've no clue why they both enjoy it so much, but Henry's always begging for me to open the terrace door and the kitty-cat always comes when Henry barks. Maybe it's some sort of animaly 'love-hate' relationship. Interesting to note is that Henry has learned three new word/phrases because of this experience: (1) kitty-cat, (2) Satchmo (the cat's name) and (3) "Want me to open your door?" #3 in particular makes him haul ass up the spiral staircase faster than a grease-oiled fire demon comes a-sprayin' outta the bowels of

Ooo, I shouldn't have said 'bowels.'

Say! Anybody have a use for a brown smelly chair?

Add your thoughts?

Nashville Skyline - Columbia 1969.
Rating = 8


A country-western album. Bob's voice sounds weird, too. High and goofy instead of wheezy and crumply. Some say he had stopped smoking; who cares? Good songs, that's the important thing. A few of 'em are just your basic boring ol' country garb, but the mood is fun and a couple of the ballads ("I Threw It All Away" and "Lay Lady Lay") are as pretty as a flower without smelly brown dogpoop all over it. It's certainly not the most groundbreaking record in the history of mankind, but it was yet another musical experiment in a career of musical experiments, so you gotta give him credit for that. Plus, all the songs are just fine! No foul play at all.
Reader Comments

hutchilj@aramco.com.sa (Lawrence J. Hutchinson)
Rating:6 - Too much 'country pie' for my liking, despite a couple of great songs.

starostin@geocities.com (George Starostin)
A pretty little record, even though somewhat short (c'mon now - 27 minutes for a Dylan LP? It's not worth the money!) I enjoy most of the songs, but trouble is, I just don't understand what makes it differ so much from Selfportrait. The fact that Dylan sings self-penned material and not covers? Well, this works pretty much against him, 'cos if seen from an unbiased point of view, the covers on Selfportrait are the originals from which the rip-offed copies on Skyline are derived. He just turned from imitation to covering, that's all. 'Lay Lady Lay' is wonderful, but 'Let It Be Me' surely matches it. One more musical experiment, that's all. A 6 for this record, just because it's too short.

darrenm@primus.com.au (Darren Moss)
This is in my opinion, Dylan's most underrated album (which I admit is a phrase being bandied about quite often on this page).

Fact is, this is a brilliant and consistent album (one of Dylan's most consistent).

Beautiful and simple (this is not a crime, get his other records off the shelf if you're looking for word pictures) the album kicks off with a ramblin' version of "Girl From The North Country" with Bob and Johnny Cash trading off lines in super casual mode, and along the way we get the absolute classic "I Threw It All Away" and the gorgeous "Lay Lady Lay".

I have always loved his vocal performance on this record.

In fact, for anyone brand new to Dylan this is the perfect entry point. Simple catchy songs, played by a soulful unit of Nashville's finest country musicians - and a smoother less abrasive vocal.

If this was put out under a different name than Dylan's, it's praises would have been sung a lot louder, a lot sooner.

Waterloo78@aol.com
Although I'm not overly fond of this album, Lay Lady Lay, Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With You, I Threw It All Away, and hell, even Country Pie are all great songs. But I absolutely hate the Johnny Cash duet (not Johnny's fault, it's just a limp remake).

PRytur@aol.com
Really nice stuff on this record. My only real beef with it, is that it's so damn short! Feels like it's over before it's even begun! But this is a minor point. What does matter is the music...and Dylan is in fine form and seemingly quite at home penning C&W flavoured tunes.

Also the mellower tone of his "smoke-free" vocal cords is a definate bonus...lending a lovely element to this record (I wouldn't say it sounded "goofy" at all. Are we listening to the same record here, Mark?) You want goofy...listen to Bob sing that insipid "Wiggle Wiggle" song from 1990's Under a Red Sky! Now, that's goofy!

And I do like the duet with Johnny Cash...I think those two old pros worked nicely off one another! In spite of its brevity this record rates a strong 7.5 out of 10, for me.

robchaundy@yahoo.com (Robert Chaundy)
I adore Nashville Skyline - it completes the set of Dylan's classic 60s albums (the debut, the quantum leap, the big sulk, the warning shot, the groundbreaker, the pinnacle, the heartwarming giant, the dark beauty and the country pie). And to those of you who criticise the simplicity and supposed banality of country-era Dylan I say this: I actually quite enjoy listening to one of the man's records without feeling I am having the meaning of life preached at me. Just as it is fantastic to hear a great artist pushing at the boundaries of his art, there's a lot of satisfaction to be gained from hearing him exercising some self-control and keeping it simple. That's what Dylan does here.

This version of Girl from the North Country may be a little syrupy, but it's still a very pleasant listen, and there's really nothing on here that's in any way weak or fillerish (filler on a 27-minute album WOULD be a bit of a cheek, even for Bob). I Threw It All Away and Lay Lady Lay are simply gorgeous, and the best weapons in the war against the 'Dylan songs are nasal and ugly' forces. The Russian makes a very good point though: Let It Be Me is just as wonderous (as some band may once have misspelt a really quite simple word). It may be time to give Self Portrait a second chance.

You know what? I think a nine is in order! Especially when he's a-smilin' a smile and a-tiltin' his hat like he is. What a gentleman. What a lovely record.

martijn.magendans@kuehne-nagel.com
Like a Hurricane! It comes, conquers, and is gone before one knows it... After listening to 95% of Dylan's work, including hundreds of his concerts, I simply like this album the best. Dylan brings even songs like "I Threw It All Away" with an "optimistic" ease that is hard to find again in his other work. His vocal performance is fantastic as well.
"Nashville Skyline" - sweet, short, and simple, where simple here = better! For me this album rates nine out of ten.

MatthewByrd@hotmail.com
Hunh, odd......... I'm starting to doubt that I think Blonde On Blonde is his best........... nope, it is. But still...... as an album Nashville Skyline is much more modest, modest...... that doesn't describe Blonde On Blonde. The only problem with these deceptively simple tunes is that welll......... sometimes you get the feeling is making a parody. I hope not, I'd be unhappy. But, otherwise, I think this album is somewhat of an overlooked quiet classic. It will probably remain that way...... and I hope it does.

bcs2h@mtsu.edu
Few times in the history of popular music has an artist taken such a strange turn in their career as Dylan did with Nashville Skyline. I suppose it wasn't as surprising as it would have been without John Wesley Harding creating a buffer zone between it and Blonde On Blonde. Nonetheless, it was shocking at the time. And if you listen to Highway 61 and then throw in Nashville Skyline, it's still shocking.

Everyone will mention the change in Dylan's vocal style, so I'll avoid being redundant and worrying about that. So how good is the actual album? It's pretty good. It's great to hear a duet between two legends (Dylan and Cash on "Girl From the North Country"), though the song does seem to drag a bit. And "Nashville Skyline Rag" is a waste of 3 minutes. But the good thing about the album is, if you don't like a song, that's okay, because it will probably be over pretty soon.

Of course, "Lay Lady Lay" is the album's signature song, and one of Dylan's bigger hits (which might prove how underappreciated he was in his day. Seriously, "Lay Lady Lay?" That was one of his bigger hits? Really? Damn.) It's still a good song though. And "Country Pie" is incredibly enjoyable in its simplicity. "Tonight, I'll Be Staying Here With You," is the closer for the album, and a fantastic one at that. Beautiful piano, wonderful lyrics, a great way to end it. I'll still take the Live '75 version over it though. "I Threw It All Away" and "Tell Me That It Isn't True" also hold up after all these years. Only "Nashville Skyline Rag" and "One More Night" are of low quality. But through it all, you can tell Dylan is enjoying himself. He rips off a short album full of feel good numbers, and there's nothing wrong with doing that every now and then. I give it a 6. Good, fun album, and some of the only country I've ever been able to stand.

douglasbutcher@yahoo.co.uk
I think the album is another interesting example of how a Dylan backup group would go on to form a unique entity on their own, similar to The Band. Here, you have the formation of a seminal country band of the 1970s under Charlie Daniels. What has gone unnoticed in most of Dylan's career is how he has surrounded himself with quality musicians and this is another fine example. Secondly, I always find it amusing when people talk about the simplicity of a song like "Country Pie" without noting the definitive euphemistic qualities of the song as a song about oral sex. You see similar passing references in a song like "Tombstone Blues" and "Desolation Row" and in "Country Pie" you have more than a passing reference, but an entire song dedicated to an elaborate play on words that may have been a playful tweaking of the censors at Columbia.

Ben
After taking yet another year and a half, Dylan comes up with another country album. Where "John Wesley Harding" was a perfect country/western style album, this one falls a little short. It's certainly a good album, but the problem is that it's way too short. Only 26 minutes long and full of lightweight country melodies that seemed to have been tossed off in about 5 minutes. But they're actually good lightweight country melodies that seemed to have been tossed off in about 5 minutes. There's a much happier atmosphere on this album than on "JWH," even if the majority of the songs aren't as good. Still, I'd take "Tonight I'll Be Staying Here with You" over anything on that album.

Add your thoughts?

Self Portrait - Columbia 1970.
Rating = 2


Huggama buggama, talk about a nosedive! Nine great albums into his career, Bob suddenly completely forgot how to discriminate between "that which is good" and "blowing your nose on the tape recorder." There's twenty- four songs on this double album, and about eighteen of them rank up there with the most underwritten, crappily-arranged, and lousily-performed songs in Dylan's history. Self Portrait? More like Self Loathing! It's got the countryish feel of the The Basement Tapes without an ounce of the rough creativity and expert wanky twang goodtime feel that made aforementioned album such a gas to sit through.

Now then, that said, this could've been a fine little four-song EP. All three of the near-instrumentals, (the boogie woogie "Woogie Boogie" and two ridiculously horn-and-string-tarnished "All The Tired Horses" and "WigWam") are funner, funnier, and perrier than a bucketful of candied yams, and "The Mighty Quinn (Quinn The Eskimo)" is a total hoot, though a completely tossed-off amateurish piece of silliness.

So what's the problem with the rest of the album? Well, all the 12-bar country blues rock in the world isn't gonna make up for a total lack of innovative melody. Bob does worthless covers of stupid songs ("Blue Moon"?), and complements them with a huge pile of dopey "roots rock" tunes that entirely tarnish the near-perfect reputation he had accidentally created for himself throughout the sixties.

Get it? ;) No? He hated his fame, and this was his clever way of doing away with Dylan idolatry. Or so he later claimed....

Reader Comments

bluebird@tsixroads.com
Hey, if everybody was following me around and saying I was the best thing to come along since Jesus Christ, I would probably make an album that sucks and not take a bath.

gstarst@rsuh.ru (George Starostin)
I just don't get your hatred towards this album. Yes, it may look rather naive and even uninspired after so many chef-d'oeuvres, but on second listen the album is far from banal. Hell, I don't see even a SINGLE bad song here! Not even a SINGLE! "Blue Moon" IS a stupid song, but the cover is absolutely not worthless: Dylan sounds charming on this one. And there are some more covers, like Simon and Garfunkel's "Boxer", and they are quite OK. "Take A Message To Marie" is just great! Stupid - yes, naive - yes, incredibly uncomplicated after all he's done in those past years - sure, but not less wonderful because of that!

So why does everybody throw this record in the trashbin? Simple. This is a SIMPLE album, see? No philosophical complexities, no endless acoustic ballads, no protest, no ushering in of new radical concepts, etc. No wonder it's called Self-Portrait: Bob just wanted to show there WAS a much simpler, softer, romantic side to him than was usually suspected. He succeeded. And nobody understood him. Not even Mark Prindle. Mind you, I am far from saying this is his best album or anything like that; but everybody who despised it should relisten to it a few more times. Just forget that this is the man who penned "Blowin' In The Wind", or "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues", or "Masters Of War", or "Subterranean Homesick Blues" or anything like that! He "threw it all away" on this album. Instead, listen to it whenever you're in a relaxed mood, and you'll understand its deeply hidden charm. Trust me!

Yes, you're absolutely right that "he hated his fame". A similar thing happened to Eric Clapton in the seventies: he just told all his fans "fuck you!" and released several reggaeish/country/gospel albums with no guitar solos at all. And many fans hated him for it, but the most intelligent ones understood it and maybe even loved him all the more for it. And Dylan also got tired of his image. It was like saying: "hey guys, I'm sick to death of another side of Bob Dylan! Here's yet one more side to you." And it didn't work - at least, not for the fans. But I think Bob has got every possible right to be proud of this album. Thanks, Bob!

Waterloo78@aol.com
Hate this album, with the exceptions of All The Tired Horses, Days of '49, In Search Of Little Sadie, and Mighty Quinn. I hate this album.

PRytur@aol.com
Holy Smokes, Mark! Who pissed in your Cheerios before writing this venomous review? Let's all take a deep, cleansing breath before we proceed....

There. Better? O.K. Here we have a double album that is not Blonde on Blonde...(sigh) Tell you what...just scroll up and read George Starostin's noble defense of this album, again. He pretty much feels the way I do about Self Portrait. Like New Morning, this is Dylan with his hair down and his feet up. The great songwriter at rest but, by no means compromising himself.

Hell, I'm sure even Leonardo DeVinci doodled along the margins of the Mona Lisa, if you catch my drift...

Worst thing about this record, other than people simply dismissing it? That hideous oil painting that's on the album cover. Ugh!

ADHector777@aol.com
I have to admit I love this album... I'll go ahead and tell you right away that I am, and have been for some time a big Dylan fan... But I love the simplicity and stripped-downness of it... And though I have heard criticism in it's, perhaps, lack of depth, some times lifes key puzzles are laid out in the simplest of expressions... I love this album not as a work of art, but as an _expression... So I can't hate it... While I admit there are several more valuable albums in philosophic terms, I cannot condemn this one to the trash-bin... I find it enjoyable as a fun listen... I think Dylan meant this album to be a departure, and I think it is... A departure from his former inspirational greatness into a comfortable low-key brilliance... If an album like Bringing it all Back Home is a Vera Wang Wedding dress, Self Portrait is an old comfortable sweater... It make lack style and intensity, but it pervades warmth and feel-good vibes...

apollo@apple-o.com
I totally see your point (heh, "Self Loathing"! ) but I must say I really enjoy this record in a post-everything malaise sort of way, so I fully agree with ADHector777@aol.com's comments. It just feels good. "All the tired horses" and the intro to "take a message to mary" are completely brilliant, in an inverted kinda way, which is what I think ole Bee Oh Bee was going for. On the other hand, how can anyone NOT be disappointed by the plainness of this material in comparison to "it's alright ma" or his other 60s work? But he obviously did this music because he wanted to - it's not like he needed $ or fame or anything. It sounds like the dude just went back to his roots - country, blues, etc. and played music for the love of playing music, and most of all, just being him self. Honestly, knowing his roots and all the records leading up to this, what's so out of character or wrong with this record??? I wouldn't call it a nosedive so much as a logical continuation of what he'd always done. If you want nosedives, then Nashville Skyline would be it, where it all sounds as cheap as possible. Or John Wesley Harding, where he seemed to just give up. Or when he went electric? Baby On Board kept changing, probably to keep things interesting for himself, so just pick where you think he jumped the shark and draw your line. Self Portrait might not be his deepest work (then again in a zen kind of way, maybe it is) but I wouldn't tell someone to avoid it. If you're like me and have worn yourself out on JR "Bob" Dobbs obviously brilliant 60s stuff, give this a try, it might be a pleasant suprise. It's less obvious.

Several months later, after repeated listenings: I *love* this album! In Search Of Sadie (both versions) - just so wack, it's awesome, the song has such great changes, you can sing along to it for days... Days Of 49, comon now - the horn part is incredible. Alberta (both versions), Woogie Boogie, Gotta Travel On... I can't think of a single song on here that isn't GREAT. Even "Like a rolling stone", which I originally thought was a toss off lame ass version, works on a certain don't-give-a-fuck Meat Puppets level. Blue Moon is just a good tune, and Dylan wields it punk rock style and pisses off all the yahoo revolutionaries in rock around the time (1970 was a crazy year sociopoliticalmusically for better or worse). Copper Kettle, Let it be Me, Belle Isle, Living the blues, all hit me about a month after some of the other tunes, and they rip! Heavier than Slayer and the Melvins, conceptually. I try and turn everyone I come across onto "Self Portrait" nowadays. If you hate it,! I can't say I blame you, but trust me, I have good taste! I won't deny Dylan was interstellar in 64-66, but when you're ready for the next step, get Self Portrait.

PS If you can find it, get an original analog copy - the CD version is a little thin, the horns on "Days of 49" are mixed too low for instance.

Oh yeah, and "I forgot more than you'll ever know" is mind blowing! The cover tunes on here are tunes I would have never heard anyway, and they're damned good.

muttley230875@fsmail.net (Matt Price)
i heard this album when i was 12 and thought, well ok whats the deal here. tis ok but nowt special. then as i got older and read loads of reviews and books on dylan i realised just how despised this album was by the general dylan fan- it was his vinyl equivalent of going electric at newport. i was hungover, and i mean seriously 4 in the afternoon and still psaced out hungover laying on a couch in a front room in canada with a crappy stereo and this album spinning on the turntable and after not hearing it for aeons it suddenly clicked and i got the joke!

it is the greatest joke in musical history, bob dylans mona lisa trick, and it gets better with every listen just not everyone has the lifetime to do it justice.

bobs a funny man

love yer site mark!!

Benjamin Burch
Nashville Skyline gets an 8, and Self Portrait gets a 2.... It seems like EVERY Dylan fan is taught to watch out for this album. I was indeed one of those people, and found there's not much to watch out for. My view is Nashville Skyline is too short and this one is too long. I understand that Bob was trying to kill off his his fanbase with this album, and from my perspective he didn't do a good job of it. I really like most of the songs from this album, and fortunately I was one of the few people who liked this album after hearing it for the first time. It's not supposed to be another "Blonde on Blonde."

Add your thoughts?

Dylan - Columbia 1973.
Rating = 3


If I am to believe everything that I hear (which I do, and should), Columbia released this album in '73 to get revenge on Bob for leaving the label. Rumor has it that this album is comprised entirely of Self-Portrait outtakes, which is extremely curious as a few of these tracks absolutely kick the SHIT out of anything on that record.

Only a few, though, mind you.

Oh, okay, one. The first track on here, "Lily Of The West," is a great cover of somebody or other's great song. The others are iffy, but at least fun, which is more than I can say about the majority of Self Portrait. It's still essentially a bunch of half-assed, countryish coversrming. Not MANY parts, though, and the album is essentially another pile of yawns and tootin'. What is he, riding Insanity's Horse?

Reader Comments

nugget@holly.colostate.edu (David)
Well, no one else commented on this but I just got done listening to it so I'll comment briefly. My friend found this album on vinyl at a local flea market and I was amazed with it's strange on content and sound from he beginning. But I have grown to love it and even though he obviously did not intend to release this material, I am glad it was released. I think that "Spanish is the Loving Tongue" is the best version ever. Also Big Yellow Taxi, a Fool such as I, Lily of he West, Sarah Jane.. they all sound real cool I think... Good luck finding this one though, it has never been released on Cd from my research, only vinyl and tape...

gkwood@ozemail.com.au (Kerist Wood)
I may be only 17 but I have a good ear for music. When I picked this one up for $7 at a second hand record store, I didn't know I was getting a Bob rarity. I love Bob and went "oo! Lily of the West!" and got it as opposed to Hard Rain. I like my choice (after a few listenings). I hate his version of Lily of the West- hear it on Joan Baez volume 2 (acoustic) and you WILL understand! So, I was like: I shouldve got Hard Rain, but then I adore his Cant Help Falling In Love, Big Yellow Taxi and Sarah Jane. The fact it is something that people older Bob lovers(George Starostin ) dont have makes me feel somewhat like a special fan as well

Vincent.C.Tumminello@ssa.gov
This was released on cd sometime ago, but has been long out of print in the states. Occasionally, an original cd pops up on ebay for about $110.00 - $185.00. A well done bootleg version is usually available on ebay and contains bonus tracks. Keep your eyes peeled. I have it in my collection ( the original cd ) and will dub it for you on cd if you want.

jmulligan@spike361.plus.com
This is an album that is much maligned...i believe unfairly. It's obviously not Bob's greatest work but is fun to listen to and is a little document of it's time. It is well overdue a cd release.

Ben
A 3?! Wow. No, it's not that good of an album (even if I give it a 7), but it shows Dylan just playing around in the studio. Only a few things are downright pathetic (the worst offender is "Spanish is the Loving Tongue") but I do really like a couple of tracks, like "Sarah Jane" and "A Fool Such as I."

Add your thoughts?

New Morning - Columbia 1970.
Rating = 3


Hmmm.... If you've already made the worst record you're capable of making, why repeat it? Why, because you've temporarily RUN OUT OF IDEAS, of course!!!! This one isn't as blatant a piece of bad art as Self Portrait (there are no silly covers or horrendous live versions or anything), but it's nearly as rotten. Plus, it isn't even car-wreckily intriguing like that last disaster - it's just DULL. Bob's playing tons of piano, but not really doing much with it. Most of the songs have the same riff, his voice is at an all-time low (a cross between his beautiful croon and darling wheeze that comes across more like a constipated drunk than either of the above), and it sounds like they were all high on the reefer and pretending to be black.

Unfortunate this, as both the lead-off track "If Not For You" and the way-too-short gospelly closer "Father Of Night" are terrific little semi-anthems. The other ten tracks are duller than a Doobie Brother (except possibly for the curious waltz "Winterlude" and the goofy jazz beat poem "If Dogs Run Free," which are at least novel). By all skips, mean it.

Reader Comments

leonard@lyco.lycoming.edu (Brian Leonard)
Hey, I kept quiet through the semi-disses of Highway 61 and Blonde on Blonde (two of the greatest albums ever), but I ain't sittin' still for this one. Maybe the arrangements are a little weak, but the songs are terrific. In particular, "Day of the Locust" and "Went to See the Gypsy" are incredibly catchy and lyrically strong--how can you resist it when Bobby trumpets, "he did it in Las Vegas and he can do it here!"?? Have to admit, though, I've always wanted to hear this song with an all-out rockin' arrangement. I'd give this an 8, myself.

chriss@pro.net
I really can't get angry at an Unrest fan, so suffice to say that you lost me on this one and Self-Portrait. I can't believe "All The Tired Horses" and "Belle Isle" don't make you feel warm all over. You obviously have the willingness to embrace the "Schmaltz Side of Bob Dylan" if you dig Nashville Skyline. There is just as much filler on that one as NM (although this is no slight-I love 'em both).

starostin@geocities.com (George Starostin)
How-wow, how-wow! I really wasn't going to comment on this album, but as it is, I see that some poor chap might listen to you and actually SKIP it. All right, this is Captain America calling: don't listen to Mark for this one! If there is at least some reason to detest Selfportrait (Dylan singing covers, for example), there is certainly no reason to bypass New Morning. The melodies are great, the lyrics are quite Dylanish, and I just don't understand any complaints about his singing here. "If Not For You" is a wonderful countryish tune (although I confess I do prefer George Harrison's cover version); "One More Weekend" - a great piano blues; the title track is really a symbol of Dylan's returning to life; "Time Passes Slowly" is, naturally, slow and moody, and most of the other songs do not fall short of the standard. While it's not a 9, it at the worst deserves a 7. But A THREE? My God! Just relisten to it!

It's just that you don't get this quiet, self-contained side of Dylan. But people can't spend their lives writing universal anthems, see. As for you people - go out and buy this album! You won't regret it!

PRytur@aol.com (Paul Ratte)
Hey,go easy on Bob! Alright so this isn't Blond on Blond, but it isn't a piece of crap! And "SKIP IT?"...what kind of advise is that? This isn't a WHAM record! Dylan exposed a different facet of his genius that wasn't groundbreaking (true), but the simple pleasure to be had from this collection of songs is quite simply that: a simple pleasure. Lovely gentle arrangements. Charming melodies. I really enjoy Winterlude, it has a down home warmth to it... ("skip it"...yeeesh!)

nugget@holly.colostate.edu (David)
Well, I just have to throw my voice in here. New Morning is a great album. If Not for You has such a great feel to it, those first few licks when it starts up get me excited every time. also, went to see the gypsy, day of the locusts, time passes slowly, and Man In Me all rank among my Dylan favorites. The only tracks that I dislike at certain times on here are Winterlude and Three Angels. Dogs run free suffers from the woman singing on it but the words still inspire some great thoughts in my head. If dogs run free, why cant we... exactly. I think the main point is... if you are a fan of Dylan's voice, this is a great album, if you find it wearing on your nerves...well you just aren't a true fan then, and I feel sorry for you cuz you're missing out on some of the best music history has to offer... This album just like most of his other great albums conveys so much in so few words I cant help but like it. The more you learn the more it makes sense... Since this is my only comment I think I will add, I have to say - Stop comparing albums to others of the artist or other artists... it doesn't make any sense! Each album represents a period or a frame of mind, or even random things going on in the band/artist heads. I mean, if you compared your thoughts of ten years ago to how you think today you'd probably think those sucked too... He not busy being born is busy dying...... wake up..

Danz235@aol.com
Time Passes Slowly should be a Dylan classic. Great, dreamy melody and lyrics.

Jcjh20@aol.com
No friggin' way!!! I usually agree with you about like 95% of the time on this site, but this is one of the 5% where i don't agree at all! It might seem weird, but i think this is one of Bob's best albums. I find myself listening to these wonderfully catchy and soulful piano sounds more then Blonde On Blonde, or anything by Elton John for that matter. "Time Passes Slowly" is probably my favorite song on the album, but "Day Of The Locusts" (wonderfully catchily anthemic) "Sign On The Window" (Bob sounds lovely on this), and "If Not For You" (wonderfully laid-back pop song) are also grand! I really like most of the songs on here, give or take maybe 1 or 2. I even like "If Dogs Run Free"! cuz i like jazz. I give this one a 9.

pedroandino@msn.com
let me ask you why I liked the album! if not for you is lovely! I still say dylan is the king of the songwritiers! lyricly,yes! argue if you want but I say beck and dylan are number one in my book. blood on the tracks, desire, and this are dylan's best! why hear a dumbass repetitive classic rock station when you can hear the good ol' days of putting this on record player next to elton john. idiot wind is so pissy! norah jones may cover the songs but I hear people saying that this is a piano album. fuck vh1 up it's gay ass! say did anyone catch fuse?

bcs2h@mtsu.edu
Well, New Morning is one of the more unique Dylan albums if nothing else. Not to call it a bad Dylan album, but I think we can all agree it doesn't belong anywhere near his mid '60s peak recordings. That said, it does have its share of good songs.

The first four tracks are all strong (If Not For You, Day Of The Locusts, Time Passes Slowly, and Went To See The Gypsy). I particularly enjoy listening to Dylan's ode to Elvis ("Went To See The Gypsy"). Elvis certainly isn't the kind of star you'd have expected Bob to admire when he was coming up as a folkie in his early years. Other strong tracks include "The Man In Me" and "New Morning."

One thing I really do like about this album is Bob's return to the organ sound. It may have had something to do with Al Kooper helping with the production, I don't really know, but it works for these songs.

Although I mentioned that New Morning is unique, the more unique songs on the album don't work particularly well. "Winterlude" features some of Dylan's worst lyrics to date. The first time I heard him sing "Winterlude, this dude thinks you're fine," I threw up a little in my mouth. It still makes me sick to my stomach every time. Although not as bad as that song, "Three Angels" doesn't work much better. Only "Father Of Night" and "If Dogs Run Free" are passable as far as the unique songs are concerned. And did anyone else notice that the woman who scat sings on "If Dogs Run Free" is named Martha Stewart? If only it was THAT Martha Stewart. It'd probably kick this rating up an entire point. But it isn't her, so my overall rating is a 5. Pretty average stuff for Bob. It's got its moments, and it's not bad by any means, but there's no way it can compare to his best stuff. Tragically for Bob, he could never actually be the happy domesticated man that he pretended to be in these songs. But hey, if he'd succeeded, we'd have never gotten the bitter heartache of an album that is Blood on the Tracks, or even later career songs like "Love Sick" and "Sugar Baby." And that'd be a real tragedy.

paul.pittman@vancouver.ca
Sign On The Window is one of my favourite dylan songs. The rest of the album is pretty great as well.

Ben
Voice at an all time low? You must have forgotten about "Together Through Life." This album doesn't suck as much as you make it out to, and it certainly is not worthy of a 3 (...) I'd go 6.5 or 7.

Just like "Self Portrait," it's VERY uneven, and you're right, the bad songs on here aren't even intriguing, they just suck. Bob messing around on the piano doesn't bother me, but "If Dogs Run Free" and "Winterlude" do, even if I kind of like "Three Angels." "Sign on the Window" and to a lesser extent "Time Passes Slowly" also bore the shit out of me.

Bad things aside, there are some GREAT songs on this album, and these include "If Not for You," "One More Weekend," "Father of Night," "The Man in Me," "Went to See the Gypsy" and "Day of the Locusts," a bunch of lightweight piano numbers that work wonders. But despite the extremely high points of this album (that outnumber the low points thank god), this album is more of a curiosity than anything.

Add your thoughts?

Greatest Hits, Vol. II - Columbia 1971.
Rating = 7


He'd only released about four albums since the last greatest hits compilation, so this for the most part is weaker material. And let me warn you casual Bobbies who bought and enjoyed the first greatest hits album: this one has a lot of songs that sounded great on the original releases, but, all jumbled together out of context like this, it far too often sounds like jaded ol' Bob just isn't interested in trying at all (see "The Mighty Quinn" and "All I Really Want To Do," for two of many possible examples); he grunts instead of singing, strays from the melody, doesn't bother sticking to any sort of rhythm - it's just irritating! In the context of the original records, these songs made sense. Here, they just sound like demos. Lots of 'em were improved mightily by more professional cover bands later on (Byrds, Manfred Mann, and Jimi Hendrix, to name a few), but these originals just sound half-hearted and cluttered.

Reader Comments

la314w@crown.icongrp.com (Jesse Lara)
Not weak; strong and lovely.

starostin@geocities.com (George Starostin)
Improved by the Byrds? Hah! Nobody could beat the master at his own game. The Byrds just turned his beautiful songs into nice, but average smooth pop hits - so to say, 'popularized' them, and for that they deserve some praise, but 'improved'? Jimi Hendrix 'improved' 'Watchtower'? He did a passable version with some fantastic guitar solos but I already said that without Bob's harmonica this song works only as an overblown rocker, losing all of its medieval magic charm. A fine 'improvement', I say. Bob strays from the melody? That's one of his trademarks, you gotta know that. I used to be angered by that myself, but the more I listen to tracks like 'Days Of '49' (where it seems that he does everything to ruin the line and then suddenly he makes a little hop and it comes out straight and fine), the more I convince myself that nobody in the singing world could control his voice better than old Bob. He just commands it: 'Turn right! Turn left! Straight ahead!' And it does. So, quit bashing these songs. I don't have this record since I detest compilations, but I know the songs, of course, and don't confuse Bob with just anybody.

Waterloo78@aol.com
You forget to mention that this is the only place to find great songs like Watching The River Flow and When I Paint My Masterpiece. Plus, some not-as- great remakes of a few Basement Tapes songs.

PRytur@aol.com (Paul Ratte)
This is where it all began for me. I was fifteen and my best friend's older sister was playing this LP in her room. I inquired and she lent me the records...I have been consumed by his artistry ever since. Twenty three years later, whenever I hear "Tomorrow is a Long Time" I am hurdled back in time and space to my boyhood. That song marked the first time I ever cried listening to music. Amazing. As far as I'm concerned, it still ranks as the most beautiful love song I have ever heard. Period. Greatest Hits Vol. II will always maintain a very special place in my heart and record library.

nugget@holly.colostate.edu (David)
The Byrds... hah.... Hey man, I like the Byrds.. but to think that any of their Dylan covers is better than anything on this album is one of the strangest comments i've heard... I think I am starting to see where you're coming from, please go back there....

Ben
The album begins with one of my personal favorite Dylan songs "Watching the River Flow," which features Mr. Leon Russell playing a great piano part. There's also "When I Paint My Masterpiece" (I like this version, but the Bands version is better), a lovely acoustic song "Tomorrow is a Long Time," and acoustic run throughs of Basement Tapes classics like "You Ain't Going Nowhere" and "Crash on the Levee" (titled here "Down in the Flood").

Overall, another essential album, and not one to be passed over because it's a greatest hits album. There's a number of well known songs on here that wouldn't have fit on the first greatest hits album. I actually prefer this album to volume 1.

Add your thoughts?

Pat Garrett And Billy The Kid - Columbia 1973.
Rating = 6


Not bad! This is a movie soundtrack - a lovely acoustic traditional folkie movie soundtrack. And it's pretty! And it has "Knockin' On Heaven's Door"! It gets a little dull what with most of the songs sounding pretty much identical and all, but at least the melodies are pleasant, which is more than I can say about the two previous records. Good work! The groundwork is thus lain (laid? lye?) for Bob's finest album ever, which would come out in just a couple more years! Just a couple more years! Hyal!
Reader Comments

gstarst@rsuh.ru (George Starostin)
Oh, I'm glad you like this album. It is usually overlooked just because it is a soundtrack and almost entirely instrumental, but it still contains some of the most beautiful melodies Bobby has ever committed to tape (both audio and video this time). And no, I don't mean "Knockin' On Heaven's Door"... well, no, sure I mean it, too, but I really would like to draw attention to "The Final Theme" - its flute/recorder sound just sucks your soul right out of you! It goes on for something like five minutes, but man, I wouldn't mind if it were twenty-five! It's really much too short for me. And then there's "Turkey Chase" which I just LOVE - it's pure country, but Dylanish country, and quite unique in its own way. And most of the other themes are quite pretty, too!

So what if the album lacks lyrics (besides the Billy ones which are too damn repetitive)? Big deal! Hey, give soundtracks a chance. Especially if it's mr Zimmerman who writes 'em. Go buy it. Now.

Ben
I agree with the rating for this one. Not a great album, but it's pleasant. Those three "Billy" songs lack diversity and I have trouble telling them apart, and "River Theme" is just weird. However, a couple of stunning melodies like "Knocking on Heavens Door" and "Final Theme" are on here, and really help out the album. "Turkey Chase" is also pretty intriguing.

Add your thoughts?

Planet Waves - Asylum 1974.
Rating = 7


Countryish with The Band. This is pretty good stuff! Real similar to the more "serious" Basement Tapes stuff except that Bob's voice is lower, gruffer and cooler, and The Band sound even tighter and more talented than they had in '66-'67, or whenever.

One thing I gotta say here: I absolutely am NOT a fan of The Band or their country-rock brand of songwriting, but they sound abdabsoputely wonderful backin' Mr. Bob on these hoedown tunes! Every instrument plays together just perfectly... the piano, the rhythm guitar, the sprinkly jankly lead guitar, the drums, the bass - I understand that a band is supposed to sound like a unified people with a unified mission, but rarely does a band sound this wild, loose, and free while still sounding so darned perfectly in tune with each other (spiritually speaking, of course).

Unfortunately, no matter how good they are, they're still mostly playing basic generic chord sequences, and Bob's not singing about a heck of a lot. As such, most of it seems more fun than good, if that makes any sense to you, my consumers. That complaint waged,, I must now vehemently lavish praise upon "Forever Young" and "Dirge" - man, do I dig "Dirge." The rest are fine too (except the Band-free "Wedding Song," which just reminds me of that semi-rotten Times A-Changin' debacle), but unless you're a huge Band fan, there's no real good reason to run out and buy this one tomorrow morning or early afternoon.

Reader Comments

leonard@lyco.lycoming.edu (Brian Leonard)
..and "Hazel" is a great song to sing when you've...uh...had too much medicine, as Ringo Starr might say.

MSROELOFS@prodigy.net (Mike in Hawaii)
How you can rate this truly mediocre Dylan album higher than the classic Blonde... is way beyond my admittedly limited comprehension. Shame on you; based on your review, some unsuspecting twerp might actually go out and add this to his collection without even hearing the higher-quality stuff from 1966.

PRytur@aol.com
How refreshing to hear a reviewer who actually likes Planet Waves! I am a fan of The Band's countryish stylings and think they are a great backup band for Dylan. Maybe even the best...

Many people diss this record usually citing that it sounds like a tossed off quickie by Bob and the boys from The Band. I disagree. What many claim sounds "half rehearsed", to my ears sounds loose and easy. The whole record sounds like a laid back jam session in a barn. Great feel to the project.

True, Planet Waves is no masterpiece, it is still a fine effort. And a worthy addition to anyones record collection. My final comment on this album? HEY PEOPLE! NOT EVERYTHING BOB DOES CAN BE HIGHWAY 61, ALRIGHT! (whew...) This really is a pretty cool record, you know.(Now that was my final comment!)

NMcpherson@fac.unc.edu (Earl McPherson)
In my opinion [if it really matters], The Band makes the sloppy sound work around Dylan. Some of the music reminds me of a demented merry-go-round. If I heard right, they made this one in only a week or two and this is the only Dylan album that went directly to number one after it's release. -An eight.

tomplotkin@sbcglobal.net
This LP kicked off my favorite Dylan period, his epoch of high melodrama and crazy stylistic diversity and lots of booze. He'd been holed up in Woodstock rusticating with the wife and kids since 1966, when suddenly the itch to reclaim his crown came upon him in'74, and he launched a series of deranged tours that cost him his family and sent him flying into the arms of a VERY angry God. Along the way we get:

Planet Waves -- drunken reminiscence of his first sex in the frozen north, backed up by raucous cohorts the band, sounds like the Pogues.

Before the Flood -- I know you hate this album, but the Dylan/Band sides to me sound like the Faces or the Dolls, precision and anarchy...

Blood on the Tracks -- the axe falls on his marriage and he coughs up a quiet maturefolkie album that once heard remains written in your soul forever, his absolute best,

Desire -- showboating folkie troubador shills for a couple of convicted homiciders, but if you skip Joey, this is fun Gypsy-troub music.

Bootleg Series Rolling Thunder - what the F is Mick Ronson doing with Dylan? Did Bobby go down on his Gibson onstage the way Bowie used to? Still, great showboating troub stuff, the songs from Desire benefit.

Street Legal - Weird-ass Lyle Lovett Large Band sound, terrible mix, Dylan sounds hammered, songs uneven, BUT "Where are You Tonight/Journey Through Dark Heat" is THE GREATEST SONG HE EVER WROTE, and the story of my life as well as his.

Budokan -- well, Surrender rocks.

Ben
FINALLY a good review for this album. Even I was bored shitless when I first heard this album, but now I like it a lot. Has a number of great songs (most of them on side 1),"Tough Mama," "On a Night Like This," "Going Going Gone," "Something There is About You," and "Forever Young" (both versions). The album loses steam on it's second side, as I'm not a fan of "Dirge" and yes, "Wedding Song" does kind of remind me of "The Times They Are A-Changin'" even if I like it a lot better than pretty much anything on that album.

Add your thoughts?

Before The Flood - Asylum 1974.
Rating = 5


Ummm.... Okay, regardless of the nice things I may have said about The Band in previous entries, they render about half of this live double-album nearly unlistenable. I mean, it's fine for Mr. Dylan to rework his old hits - nobody understands more than I the importance of keeping a song fresh - but did he have to let The Band transform them into sluggish and stupid redneck anthems? Ugh. Still, Bob's songs have always been great, so we'll make do. The genuine obstacle presented to modern-day listeners of this early-'70s tour document is that eight of these 21 songs are BAND songs!!!! "Up On Cripple Creek"??? "Take a load off, Fanny"??? Why, Bob, why???? I hate The Band. I hate their hick country-gospel nonsense. In my opinion, The Band's contribution to this album alone fully necessitated the creation of punk rock. And thank God for The Ramones!!!

"It's Alright Ma" sounds wonderful, though.

Reader Comments

hutchilj@aramco.com.sa (Lawrence J. Hutchinson)
Rating:8 - I can't understand your low rating for this! The Band are superb, including on their own songs, like "Stage Fright" and "Up On Cripple Creek". Dylan's performance is incredible. You just know how the audience feel during "Watchtower" and "Rolling Stone" and wish you could have been there!

starostin@geocities.com (George Starostin)
Disagree once again. Disagree STRONGLY. This album is to Dylan as Love You Live is to the Stones: a hell of a good time. I don't mind the Band's songs too much, they may be not too entertaining, but they're certainly not crappy or 'sissyass' or pop or anything. Just a bit bland, really. Anyway, I far prefer listening to their 'country-gospel nonsense' than to ninety-nine percent of whatever punk rock there is. And Bobbie is in a great form, full of energy and everything. His acoustic set is lovely ('cept for 'Just Like A Woman' which is just not fit for such a performance), and the regular set is very strong too, especially 'Highway 61' and 'Most Likely You Go Your Way'. I could do without the obligatory 'Like A Rollin' Stone' and the closing 'Overblown In The Wind', but that just means pushing the Stop button two tracks before the end. Anyway, rating this as a 5-star album just because of The Band's contribution is unjust: even you have to admit that Bob's terrific here. An 8 will certainly do.

jarwood@ui.urban.org (Jay Arwood)
Enough! Enough Awready!

I sat still while you dis'ed the great Blond on Blond, said nothing while you criticized the fantabulous Highway 61, and have borne your insults of The Band with quiet grace. But enough is too much!

I LOVE this album. Bobby's songs (by and large) have NEVER sounded better. From the hard driving guitar lick on the opening "You go your way..." to the hardest rockin', head bobbin', feet tappin', best ever version of "Like a Rolling Stone" you'll ever hear...culminating with the absolutely gorgeous "Blowin' in the Wind" with that beautiful Robertson solo, that should bring tears to your eyes. THIS ALBUM RULES.

Clearly your self-admitted hatred for all things Band have influenced your underrating of this collection, but you might have at least had the decency to recuse yourself from rating the album at all rather than give in to your hate (Luuuke!).

Waterloo78@aol.com
There are some good renditions of his songs, like Like A Rolling Stone, Lay Lady Lay, and Don't Think Twice It's Alright. I think the shouting is kinda nice.

bcs2h@mtsu.edu
Before the Flood is a confusing album. It's highs are very high, and its lows are extremely low. However, most of the lows belong to The Band. I've got to agree with you Mark, Up On Cripple Creek is terrible. Positively awful. No other way to describe it. Out of all of The Band's songs, only "The Weight" is remotely listenable (well, actually, it is a pretty good song. But you get the idea).

As for Dylan's output, on disc 1 "Most Likely You Go Your Way (And I'll Go Mine) gets the hard driving guitars behind it that the album version should have had. "Lay Lady Lay" and "Rainy Day Women" are both enjoyable. "It Ain't Me Babe" is a disaster. Bob cuts out a few verses from "Ballad Of A Thin Man," which never ceases to enrage me. And everytime I hear that damn synthesizer play a note, I just get madder and madder. It's particularly bad during "Ballad Of A Thin Man."

For the second disc, Dylan's solo version of "Just Like A Woman" is lacking (as has been every live version I've heard of the song), and "Don't Think Twice" is merely serviceable. However, "It's Alright, Ma" is positively fantastic. Although he does omit one verse, which irritates me, it's a very passionate performance. No doubt it is much better than the early version of the song from the "Live 1964" album, where Dylan is stoned out of his mind. For a Dylan fanatic, that cut is worth the entire price.

The remaining 4 electric songs go from great "Like A Rolling Stone," (wonderful piano on that one) very good "Highway 61 Revisited," okay "All Along the Watchtower," and absolutely terrible "Blowin' In The Wind" (that damn synthesizer again!) Really, the synth is just terrible on that song. Absolutely awful. It's a verifiable molestation of the song. Painfully bad. Thank God the Live '75 version is good.

So is this album worth purchasing? Depends on who you are. If you're like me and "It's Alright, Ma" is one of the most important songs to you, then you'll love this album solely for that song. You'll also get a good version of "Like A Rolling Stone," one that I enjoy more than the Live '66 version (despite it's significance). Dylan's stuff is hit or miss, but the hits are big. The Band's stuff is almost all miss. I rate it a 5.

jbp703@gmail.com (Jeff)
You've said you don't like the band cause they sound hicky or something, I don't remeber where, maybe neil young, or the richard zimmerman page, wahtever. The fact of the matter is they wrote some kill tunes. Robbie Robertson is a still an asshole, though.

tomplotkin@sbcglobal.net
Mark, you know I am a huge fan of your reviews, you're clearly a man of wealth and taste, but your assessment of The Band is soooo off-base. The only reason I take you to task for this is because you are depriving yourself of some truly great music. I mean, you dig Springsteen, who to me is their true inheritor -- their myths of an eroding rural America fade right into his myths of streets, cars, factories, he picks up where they left off....plus, three great singers, five awesome (and unpretentious) virtuosp players, 2 great songwriters who got regular assists from Dylan - add 'em all up, and you've got the North American Beatles. Except where the Beatles made 100 great albums, the Band made 2 great 'uns. 2 near great'uns, 2 dogs, and a buncha great live crap and Dylan collaborations.

If you haven't, give Big Pink and the self-titled album and the live Rock of Ages for a spin. If you're judging these guys from the friggin' ghastly Last Waltz (sub-par self congratulatory over-blown piece o'crap, wholly unrepresentative of who these guys were, biggest aesthetic mistake, it's like knowing who The Beatles are solely from the movie of Let It Be or Help! the movie), and their weak Dylan-less performance of Flood, you really do not know these guys, or know what it is your missing. I'm tryin to convert you, bro!

Ben
Awww a 5? I know you don't like The Band, but 8 out of 21 songs isn't that much to complain about. As a huge fan of the Band myself, I had no problem with the fact that they are on this album. Their set was great, I especially liked the versions of "The Weight" and "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down."

Onto Dylan's set, it's his acoustic set that drags this album down, sure the line about the president in "It's Alright Ma" is entertaining, but it's that song, "Just Like a Woman" and "Don't Think Twice" that are presented here in rather half assed renditions, and don't match up at all to the studio versions. Other than that, I have no complaints, "All Along the Watchtower" is fuckin great, hearing Robbie let loose is relatively new to me. "You'll Go Your Way" and "Lay Lady Lay" are much better here than their studio versions and even "It Ain't Me Babe" is given a good hard rock treatment. Because of the acoustic set, and the fact that the Band did a pretty sloppy version of "When You Awake" I have to drag the rating down to an 8.5.

Add your thoughts?

* Blood On The Tracks - Columbia 1975. *
Rating = 10


Although I no longer find this album as flawless as I did ten years ago, I still think that it's the best bet for any listener who's having trouble getting into Bob Dylan. Mainly because it's the most melodic and traditionally musical album he's ever done, highlighted by extremely clear production, sparkling acoustic guitars, and Bobbaroo actually sounding excited by the project! His delivery in hot tracks like "Tangled Up In Blue" and "Idiot Wind" are among his most inspired and listenable of all-time. For once, his scraggly voice is an asset! Crazy fun. Some blues, some country-western, lots of balladry - all done with the strictest professionalism and without an ounce of bombast - everything you'd hope for from the guitar-strummin' genius who had recorded Freewheelin' thirteen short years ago. And, written as it was during a painful divorce, many of the songs are heartburstingly sorrowful and beautiful. Please buy this album, so you'll understand how it could be that anyone might refer to a Dylan track as "beautiful." The man could write and, as demonstrated here, sometimes he could sing, too! "If You See Her, Say Hello?" "A Simple Twist Of Fate?" I'm in tears just typing the titles!

Reader Comments

bluebird@tsixroads.com
This record charged my life and seems to reveal my soul as well as his. I've played these songs on my 12 string too many times and it's never enough. I don't think he would be alive if he had continued composing at this intensity. Those were magical years remembered with joyful sadness. I wish I could give him one of my abstract expressionist paintings because he influenced them in some way not yet explicable in modern science. I was in the village a lot in 74 and 75. I think I saw Dylan go by on an antique bycycle. A strange place for a kid from the red clay hills of Mississippi. My advantage is where he is singing about is where I grew up. This album helped heal my broken heart along with some blotter that I bought from a mysterious dude behind a statue in a concrete park in Brooklyn. Imagine that.

reech@dorsai.org
Absolutely the greatest Dylan album ever. This one is his last great jizz shot onto the face of the world. "Idiot Wind" is the original Punk song (from the original punk!). Mssr's Rotten and Strummer must've creamed their jeans when they heard this one. The venom just drips out of the speakers when that puppy is on. Christ what an epic I gotta put it on right now.

"Tangled up in Blue"- phenomenal!

If this was the only album he ever came out with it would've been sufficient.

cshin@aecom.ye.edu (Cathy Shin)
Hey, I stopped by to see what you had to say about Tom Petty and decided to spend a little time here after checking your taste. According to the Blood on the Tracks touchstone test, it appears to be on right on target. This is one of the (if not THE) greatest albums in existence. The best single in existence has "Tangled Up In Blue" on one side and "If You See Her Say Hello" on the other. I once gave a recently purchased copy of that single to a guy at a party while I was drunk and generous and he practically kissed my feet. Right on!

hutchilj@aramco.com.sa (Lawrence J. Hutchinson)
Rating:9 - Yeah, one of the best 2 Dylan alums ever. Unlike you, I don't think Dylan has ever made a perfect album, but this comes pretty close.

pmtapia@worldnet.att.net (The Chameleon)
Wow, I'm really glad I was able to pick up this album. This is the first Bob Dylan album I've ever heard. I wasn't too fond of the guy after seeing parts from his little film Don't Look Back. The thing is back in 1965 he was a huge jerk from what I've seen, so I was hesitant to get anything by him. Well I hope he's much nicer now. Anyway, even if he was a jerk he sure could write some really good numbers. Like I said, I had never heard him and now I'm playing this album everyday over and over and not even thinking about the other music I own. The songs like "Tangled up In Blue", "Simple Twist of Fate", "If you see her, say hello" and "Shelter from the Storm" are just down right beautiful. If you've heard this album you can't deny that. What else I love about Dylan is the fact that the man is a damn good poet. Ahh man, even if you don't like the music I would buy the album just for the words. So pick it up for sure if you see it cheap like I did, and get it definitely anyway. Easy 10 to this album.

starostin@geocities.com (George Starostin)
This album is a mystery to me. Sure, it's good, it's even great. I enjoy it lots and lots and lots of times, and there's not even a single bad tune on here. What I don't understand, however, is why for such a lot of people Blood On The Tracks stands so much out of the pack. It's not greater than Blonde On Blonde, or Hardin', or Highway 61, or Freewheelin', hell, I'll go and say it, not greater than New Morning or even Selfportrait!

It's just standard Dylan - with catchy melodies and lyrics, even a bit annoying now and then, especially because most of the lyrics are built on the same principle, namely, the title of the track is repeated at the end of each verse - check this out, it applies to more than half of the songs. And how do you not mention that most of the melodies can be easily tracked to their predecessors? Just one example: parts of 'Idiot Wind' are blatant, obvious rip-offs of 'One Of Us Must Know', even the organ sounds just like the one on that track.

So, while I do agree that this is a great album, I'd never give it a 10. I do suspect, though, why everybody loves it: it's just because they are told this is the greatest one, they go and buy it, they love it, and then when they go on to other albums, they naturally regard them as rip-offs from Blood On The Tracks, when in reality it's the opposite. Nope. Listen to me guys: if you're new with Dylan, don't start with this one! Take my word and first of all go buy the 1965-66 stuff. Mind I dig Blood On The Tracks, I'm not saying it's bad, I'm not, I'm not, I'm not! It's CLASSY. But get the primary stuff first.

mjb926@HOTMAIL.COM (Jim Blair)
Yes, this is a great album and one of Dylan's best, but I wouldn't consider it his one best album. In fact, there are two Dylan albums that I like better: Bringing it all Back Home and Highway 61 Revisited. Those albums are a lot more fun and have more of a game-playing atmosphere at times, whereas Blood on the Tracks is pervaded with a feeling of "Life can be really cruel!" with little relief from the intense emotional pain and weariness. Yeah, it really works and I can identify with the suffering Dylan must have felt around that time, but I find the more upbeat, fun, and irreverent stuff from '65 a lot more pleasurable.

Waterloo78@aol.com
Idiot Wind is Dylan's most pissed off since Positively 4th Street, and I love it to death. Though I like the version on Hard Rain even more (how come that album wasn't reviewed? It's a good one). This album is astounding, though it'll make you think twice about getting into a relationship. Divorce sucks. Oh well, Bob's loss is our gain.

cola@together.net (Colasacco)
You know, I purchased this figuring it couldn't possibly be better than Highway 61 Revisited, or Blonde on Blonde, for that matter. Boy, was I wrong. This album has spent more time in my record player than everything else in my collection combined. It's just SO great, straight through! "Tangled Up in Blue," obviously, is a masterpiece, just as "Like a Rolling Stone" was. I love "Simple Twist of Fate" even more -- in fact, it just might be among my five or six favorite Dylan songs. "You're a Big Girl Now" and "Idiot Wind" flow together almost like one big opus, and both are magnificent (there's no mistaking the change in tone, though).

I won't bother listing everything. Just know that "Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts" is underrated. Really underrated. In my humble opinion, it battles with "Simple Twist of Fate" as the best song on here. True, it's awfully repetitive. But isn't that sort of the point? Dylan gets into a groove like the best of the funk bands, but his are very intellectual, lyrical grooves that flow like poetry (mainly because they ARE poetry) and, at their best, are intriguing stories. "Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts" is Dylan at his absolute BEST -- mysterious, inspiring, and poignant. The song really could mean anything you want (most say it has no meaning whatsoever, but I disagree). Every time I listen to it I do just that...listen, listen, listen!!! The best lyrics he ever wrote. Period.

Billsangry@aol.com
The best thing about this album is that it pleases Dylan's fans and -- uh, those other people who bought it. you know, the simple folk..

jwkuhn@yahoo.com (Janssen Kuhn)
Directly Mark Himself,

Here is my review for the fine, fine album:

It's strange. Every Bob Dylan album I have has taken me quite a while to like, or even appreciate. I bought Blood On The Tracks a few months ago, and after listening to it a few times placed it somewhere below Desire. It just didn't speak to me, and the production was too clean and perfect for my badass self.

Then last night the thought came from nowhere (or peraps from the Master Computer!) to put it in my CD player. For the next 40 or so minutes I couldn't do anything else but listen. I wondered if "Tangled up and Blue" was supposed to be about blue balls, but when I realized how sad it was I decided against such an interpretatation. In this listen I realized how amazing the melodies are, how poetic the lyrics are, and how honestly it describes things. Just like he sings about in "Tangled Up", it's like I wrote this thing myself in some past life, it just so perfectly describes how I/Bob feel(s)/felt.

By the way, I sense more scorn and anger in "You're a Big Girl Now" than "Idiotwind." The latter has an over-the-top, sarcastic feel to it, while the former is nothing but the purest form of heart-broken resentment. That's why I've adopted it as my theme for the girl that left me to pursue a shallow material existance at UCLA. At least until I write my own version of the story, which you will hear on my breakthrough album of self-penned folk tunes. You might not know it's me though, since I'll likely have a stage name. Robert Zimmerman, perhaps? The album will probably remind you of "Freewheelin," but with more swear words.

robchaundy@yahoo.com (Robert Chaundy)
GREAT music to drink red wine to. Preferably in the living room, on an autumn evening, when you've got things on your mind.

I think, pound for pound, that this might be the greatest album Bob Dylan ever recorded - the freshest mix, the catchiest guitar melodies, the most consistent vocal rhythms, the cleverest sequencing - but is the greatest album Bob Dylan recorded the same thing as the greatest ever Bob Dylan album? I don't think it is, and I don't think Blood on the Tracks is both. You see, it's not quite Maximum Bob in the same way those timeless albums from the 64-67 period were - the songs, fine though they are, don't feel like they're totally HIS. It sounds as if he's trying to please someone other than himself (record company execs? the press?? the fans???), which is understandable after the mixed successes of the early 1970s but not a tactic that ever really worked for him artistically. Here, the lyrics are simpler and more direct than on those albums, which works up to a point... but only up to it, not beyond. The complexity and obscurity of Bob's lyrics was always his strongest suit, and whilst the simplicity of these lyrics may make them more emotionally affecting (and easier for music critics to 'get'), they don't sound as if they're right out of his top drawer creatively. But the lyrics of Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde on Blonde are, and these remain his greatest albums. Period.

Not that I am having a go at Blood on the Tracks; rather, suggesting that it is not the unmatched pinnacle of his career so many take it to be (considering WHEN it came in his career, it may be even greater than it first seems). It is of course a brilliant album, the first side of which does incredible things. Each song better than the last, culminating in the mighty Idiot Wind... oh, the power and the glory. Very very special. The problem is that side two is weaker, considerably so. The overall effect he is aiming for is the 'calm after the storm', but the storm only really lasted as long as Idiot Wind in any case, and the mood repeats itself too much on the first three songs, especially Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts - the real dud of the record. The last two though really cut it, don't they? Shelter and Buckets... aah yes.

Nine out of ten then - anyone with a conscience simply has to give the ten to one of the 1965-66 records - but that's not to say Blood on the Tracks is worse than those classics; it's original and beuatiful, but when all is said and done just a little less Bob.

watta502@yahoo.gr (Akis Katsman)
This is Dylan's most overrated record. It's still great, but after a lot of listens it doesn't hold that much interest than say, Blonde On Blonde. The first four songs all rule mercilessly, especially "Idiot Wind", my personal favourite. I like "If You See Her Say Hello" a lot too. The rest is flawed, though. The epic piece of the album, "Lily, Rosemary And The Jack Of Hearts" is okay, but repetitive and overlong. I don't care about "Meet Me In The Morning" or "Buckets Of Rain" that much either. Sure, they're fine songs, but somewhat more 'generic' and not among Dylan's finest. Still, this record deserves no less than a 9/10.

MatthewByrd@hotmail.com
Oh, come on people, he burned out (though not completely) after Blonde On Blonde. This one gets no more than a 7.

(a few days later)

I frickin' hate this album.

ddickson@rice.edu
hIS BEST!@!!! Every track rules, INCLUDING "Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts." Why anybody doen't love that tune is beyond me.

Screw love up the bum-hole. Whoever thinks it exists at all is lying and probably very unpopular and smelly.

. . present company excepted, of course.

bcs2h@mtsu.edu
Bob's loss is our gain. The slow, painful destruction of his marriage brought us this wonderful album, his masterpiece for the '70s.

Although I feel it is slightly overrated by some Dylan enthusiasts, (I would never argue that this is his greatest album. I'd have to go with Highway 61. But then again, the two albums are quite different stylistically. Almost unfair to compare the two.) it's certainly a startling return to form, especially after the 8 or so years he spent pretending to be happy in his domestication.

Of course, the historic album opener is "Tangled Up In Blue." Now, I'm a young man, and I wasn't around when this album first came out. And I'll admit that I just didn't get what was so special about this song the first few times I heard it. But like all truly valuable music, it grows on you. It's healthier for you than the musical junk food that radio and television tries to cram down your throat. Now I understand. The guitar line is beautiful, and the final harmonica solo is vintage Dylan. Dylan has said that he was opening to write a song "like a painting." A song where time had no meaning, and you could only see one little piece of the story at a time. Considering how well the song has endured, I think he was successful.

Although some dismiss it for its childish cruelty, I've always loved "Idiot Wind." Maybe that makes me an angry person. I don't know. I just know I love some of those lines. "There's a lone soldier on the cross/smoke pourin' out of a box car door/you wouldn't know it/you wouldn't think it could be done/in the final end he won the war/after losing every battle." Gets me everytime. Love those lines.

"You're A Big Girl Now" is another one of the bitter love songs that Dylan pulls off with perfection. And although the album consists mostly of bitter love songs, "You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go," and "Buckets of Rain" show Dylan reminiscing about a slightly less painful side of love. And "Lily, Rosemary, and the Jack Of Hearts" is surprisingly fun. I really love that song, and I have no idea why. Sounds like a hoe-down. But it's great.

Finally, I should mention "Shelter From The Storm" as well. This is another song I didn't quite get at first. It took me awhile, but I really appreciate it now. Simplistic and beautiiful, it finds Dylan using some of his potent imagery from ten years earlier. I can't think of anyone else who can do more with just a guitar, harp, and some guy playing a bass.

So overall, I rate it a 9. A lot of people on here has given it a 10, but for some reason, it just doesn't feel quite like a 10 to me. I don't really have anything bad to say about it (Although I'm not crazy about "Meet Me In The Morning." Still an okay song, I just don't think it's quite up to the quality as the rest of the tracks.). I just think a 10 has a certain feel to it. And I don't feel it when I listen to Blood On The Tracks. Ain't nothin' wrong with a 9 though. I haven't heard a new album from anybody worthy of a 9 in a decade.

JOHN.J.DOYLE@nuim.ie
You can't beat the real thing. 10/10.

Ben Burch
I no longer find this album flawless, but I still think it's pretty awesome. Bad things first, some songs ("You're a Big Girl Now") get kind of boring, and some just don't fit in ("Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts") and "Up to Me" was left off. Good things next, NONE of the songs are actually bad, and this might be the most pleasant listening experience for any Dylan fan. Though I'm not the biggest observer of Dylan's lyrics, even I have to admit they're pretty great here. "Tangled Up in Blue" (my favorite) probably has the best on any of his songs. What came as a shock to me, is after having a couple of good (but not particularly "great") albums since Nashville Skyline all of a sudden he decides to pull his head COMPLETELY out of his ass and come up with the best album he's done in like, 10 years. This album should actually be the starting point for any Dylan newcomer, even thuogh it doesn't really sound like anything else he did. 9/10.

Add your thoughts?

Desire - Columbia 1975.
Rating = 8


Very good, but a bit overblown to my rock and roll ears. The stripped-down sound of the last record has been replaced by violin and accordion "augmentation" that clutters up a bunch of otherwise really good ditties. That's my only complaint though. I enjoy the melodies just fine, but the extra instruments make it sound like John Cougar's The Lonesome Jubilee. In case I haven't said it enough times in the last three sentences, "Fantastic melodies though." Pat him on the back if you see him in 1975 any time soon.

Reader Comments

letson@mindspring.com (Pete Williams)
Desire is highly underrated as an album. I feel like it's every bit as good as Blood On The Tracks although no one ever agrees. "Hurricane" is just as powerful today as the day I bought the record which was only about ten years ago. It was the second cd i ever bought. The real strength of the record lies in the loose feel and great stories told. "Romance In Durango," "Black Diamond Bay" and "Sara" come one after the other and take you to many places with words and music. I love Emmylou Harris' vocals and Ronee Blakely's too ("Hurricane"); the only throw away is really "Mozambique" which is still pretty good. I just wish he had put "Abandoned Love" on instead. I read in the Dylan recording sessions book that the majority of what you hear on this record was done on one July night in 1975. That makes it all the more amazing. While I prefer the live version of "Isis" from Biograph this version is great in it's own right. The Biograph one is just more energetic.

leonard@lyco.lycoming.edu (Brian Leonard)
I used to think Desire was better than Blood On The Tracks, but I've changed my mind...however, I agree that it's generally underrated. But there has never been an album so basically good that was marred so badly by two horrid tracks: the clunky, patronizing "Oh, Sister", and especially the laughable "Joey". I guess if Dylan could believe that Joey Gallo was a hero, then he can believe in just about anything...

hutchilj@aramco.com.sa (Lawrence J. Hutchinson)
Rating:6 - What a poor album - what an anti-climax after Blood On The Tracks. Some of it is just awful - "Hurricane" is half-decent because Dylan cared, and because of Scarlet Rivera's violin, but "Joey", "Sara", and "Mozambique" are fucking awful! How could he do it?

MSROELOFS@prodigy.net (Mike in Hawaii)
While the album may or may not be the equal of Blood On The Tracks, the songs all-time coolest tunes.

starostin@geocities.com (George Starostin)
This is probably the last truly EPOCHAL record for Dylan - not the last great album, but the last over-important one. In some ways it resembles Lennon's Sometime In New York album, parts of it being obvious protest songs. In fact, 'Hurricane' has striken me as probably Bob's first song with straightforward and non-metaphorical storytelling lyrics - a thing I couldn't even suspect of him. But never mind the dumb lyrics: the melody is sensational, and Rivera's violin on this track is enough to either drive you to tears or scare the shit out of you - whatever you prefer.

Unfortunately, the other tracks fall short of the standard given by 'Hurricane', but they're still good: both 'Isis' and 'Black Diamond Bay' have strong melodies, 'One More Cup Of Coffee' is one of Bob's most emotional late-period wailings, 'Oh Sister' is interesting (although, strange as it is, I far prefer the live version on Budokan), 'Mozambique' is Bob experimenting with strange chord sequences and complex singing, and 'Romance In Durango' returns us to the main theme on Pat Garrett. Doesn't it?

The only track I don't appreciate on here is 'Joey'. Some more dumb lyrics set to a mediocre melody, this could have been passable were it not eleven minutes long. Still, I don't think Dylan believed Joey was a hero - he was probably just thinking how tough it was to be a gangster. Anyway, this album is an absolute must for even an unserious Dylan fan. It marks the end of an era. After this, Dylan has completely lost his status as leader and frontman of the nation.

Pierce.Brown@cbr.defence.gov.au
desire is an ordinary release mainly because it came as a follow up to the blood on the tracks masterstroke. stand-out tracks are the underrated 'isis' and 'mozambique'. i love the story of 'isis' but 'hurricane' grates but not as much as 'joey' or 'one more cup of coffee'.

smuskol@online.no
I think this album is BETTER than BLOOD ON THE TRACKS. I think many of the tunes is highly underrated. The best songs on the album is the wonderfull "Oh Sister" and the Hebrew instrumentation on "One More Cup Of Coffee", is just great. I also think songs like "Joey", "Huricane" and "Sara" is wonderfull tunes. The only mistake on the album is "Mozambique". I think DESIRE is Dylan`s best album ever!!!!!

nugget@holly.colostate.edu (David)
This was the album that started my Dylan obsession. The songs on here are amazing, I actually enjoy listening to this album more than Blood on the Tracks. Hurricane is the obvious favorite of most people.... but every song is Stellar except Joey in my opinion. Isis just blows me away, I could listen to that song over and over. Not to mention Emmy Lou Harris's duet on Mozambique. They're all good, if you don't own this album you should sell all your others for 50 cents and then get enough to buy this one.. it would be a worthy trade... but don't sell your Zeppelin... that be like selling your soul....

david@cteainc.com (David Torres)
This is my favorite Dylan album. Absolutely just a matter of taste, of course, because I can see how the other albums would be considered "more important". This one just sounds so beautiful to me. To my ears, it doesn't fit in any of his eras (acoustic folk, country, blues) so I think it really stands out in that respect. The extra instrumentation, the longer more drawn-out verses, the backing female vocals - all makes me feel warm and fuzzy. It drives with strength in the "Hurricane", then it swoops up and down effortlessly in "Isis". "Romance in Durango" makes you feel like you're in another country. There's this other-worldly feel to this album that is more consistent throughout than on his other efforts. "Blood on the Tracks" does give it a good run for it's money, in this respect though. Sure, "Joey" is a bit corny but, damn it, I listen to it all the way through every time (and like it).

Kick me in the ass if I'm wrong with this statement but - I have always thought that this "sound" is what the Grateful Dead could have sounded like had they progressed and artistically grown. But they didn't. And they were never even close to this album - EVER.

One more thing, Prindle, you are nuts with your "Self Portrait" review. It's a great album with great songs. (Damn, that was one hell of a clever sentence, huh?) I think it's simple, countryish Dylan at his country-ass best. "Take a Message to Marie", "It Hurts Me Too", "Days of '49", "Quinn the Eskimo" all really stripped down, great songs. Prindle, do yourself a favor and listen to this again.

MatthewByrd@hotmail.com
I'll be god-damned if this isn't one of my favorite Bob Dylan albums. The violin....... yeah, it's the violin. If you just don't really like Bob Dylan and aren't really interested in trying to like something like Blonde On Blonde..... then get this one...... it's easy to like........ but not his best... but if that doesn't matter to you then Desire will work for you without a hitch (whatever THAT means).

pedroandino@msn.com
pack yer bags cause we are going to dylan's world like the backpack on the cover this is desire!

1.HURRICANE: I SAW THE DENZEL WASHINGTON MOVIE ABOUT THE FAMED BOXER TURNED CRIMINAL AND DYLAN WENT TO PRISON TO TALK TO HIM. HE WORTE THE FOR WHAT WAS TO BECOME THE HURRICANE. GUITAR PLAYS THE CONGAS PLAY AND DYLAN SINGS PISTOL SHOTS RANG IN THE RESTAURANT 3 MEN DEAD! BLOOD ALL OVER THE FLOOR AND SHE CALLED THE COPS RUBEN THE CHAMPION BOXER WAS ARRESTED. JAIL DAMAGED HIS LIFE BUT NOT HIS LEGACY! THE VIOLIN BY SCARLET RIVERA AND BACKING VOICES BY EMMYLOU HARRIS DRIVE THE SONG and the congas do sound a bit disco sounding but It drives the song and never missed a beat. for the whole 8 minuets dylan scores a hit and it is played at discos.

2.ISIS: NOT THE TV SHOW BUT THE SONG. ABOUT A DRIFTER WHO GOES TO EGYPT LOOKING FOR GOLD AND DIAMONDS. WHAT HE FOUNDED WAS A TOMB FULL OF SNAKES BUT HE GOT THE GOLD ANYWAY! ISIS IS A SEXY CLEOPATRA LIKE WOMAN! AND HE AND ISIS MARIIED AND THE GOLD WAS IN THE BEDROOM.

3.MOZAMBIQUE: AFRICA. DYLAN AND EMMYLOU GO TO MOZAMBIQUE. THE AFRICAN COUNTRY WHERE THE SUN IS BLAZING AND THE DRINKS ARE BEST SERVED WHEN YOUR HOT!

4.ONE MORE CUP OF COFFE: TASTY FOLDGERS COFFE AS WE GO TO SPAIN WERE DYLAN SINGS A KINDA SPANISH MELODY WAIL.

5.OH SISTER: TEXAS. OH SISTER WHEN I'M GONE YOU KNOW YOU LOVE ME. I DEDICATE THIS SONG TO MY SISTER MAXINE.

6.JOEY: OKAY. SAY WHAT YOU WILL BUT JOEY IS GREAT 11 MINUTE EPIC! JOEY GALLO THE GANGSTER IS POTRAYED AS IF DYLAN WATCHED A LOT GODFATHER. PAPA QUOTES LINES FROM THE GODFATHER. JOEY WAS A MEAN GANGSTER AND KILLED MOST MEN. BY THE TIME HE GOT OUT OF THE JOINT HE WAS SHOT AND KILLED.

7.ROMANCE IN DURANGO: MEXICAN ROMANCE. HEPA! HOT CHILLI PEPPERS IN THE HOT BLISTERING SUN! THE DRIFTER WITH A GUITAR ON HIS BACK. LA DUENA CON LOS CHI CHI'S! HEPA! HEY ESTE PENDEJO ES UN LUCHADOR QUE ES UN CARA DE MOCO! EW! MIRA LOS CHI CHI! AY! MIRA PA YA!

8.BLACK DIAMOND BAY: MARDI GRAS HOME OF YOUR TITS SHOWING AND SEXY PARTY GORES GET DRUNK!

9.SARA: CONFFESIONS ARE HARD DYLAN SINGS TO HIS WIFE.

THE ADVENTURE ENDS THANKS FOR RIDING AT THE PERDO ANDINO EXPRESS. 10!

rgrant@shaw.ca
Mozambique is one of my favourite Dylan tunes.

bcs2h@mtsu.edu
Desire is one album that seems to be strangely forgotten in Dylan's catalog. Much of this is likely due to the fact that any new Dylan album that is well-received is referred to as the "best Dylan since Blood on the Tracks." It's as if Desire never existed. I will never understand this.

The album features Dylan using Emmylou Harris for back-up vocals. Their voices work well together, certainly much better than any of the back-up singers from Street Legal through the Christian albums ever did. But on to the songs.

Desire kicks off with "Hurricane," Dylan's first real protest song since the single only release, "George Jackson." Although it's certainly a good song, it becomes a bit tiresome after about the 5 and a half minute mark. By then I just wish Bob would wrap the story up and move on to the first great song of the album - "Isis." One of Dylan's patented story songs, "Isis" has a companion piece in "Black Diamond Bay." Both are vintage Dylan, and follow in the footsteps of "Tangled Up In Blue" and "Lily, Rosemary, and the Jack Of Hearts" as far as story songs are concerned. "Mozambique," "Oh, Sister," "Sara," and "Romance In Durango" (another story songs) help round out an excellent follow-up to Blood on the Tracks. The only weak songs are "One More Cup Of Coffee" which I've never been able to like, and after I found out the White Stripes covered it, I liked it even less. And of course, "Joey," which is a waste of 11 minutes.

However, the strength of the other songs more than makes up for those two. The album is a solid 7, and certainly worth remembering. Unfortunately, it has fallen by the wayside.

tomplotkin@sbcglobal.net
Joey is hands down the worst song Zimmerman ever wrote, or ever will write. To equate a psychotic sadistic mafia goon with Hattie Carroll only makes me doubt Ruben Carter's innocence (and there are a lot of drowned-out voices who have made convincing arguments that while Hurricane did not get a fair trial, he still probably did it...)

Ben Burch
Hearing this for the first time directly after "Blood on the Tracks" I found this to be a huge disappointment. The production's great, but the songs are just boring. The only ones I go for are the first three tracks. "Hurricane" is one of his best songs he ever did though, and I like it more than anything from the last album. Meanwhile, "Joey" is by far my least favorite Dylan song, definitely doesn't deserve its placing on an album. "Black Diamond Bay" and "Sara" are way too long and "Romance in Durango" is flat out lame. 5.5/10. Definitely his most overrated album.

Add your thoughts?

The Bootleg Series, Vol. 5 - Live 1975: The Rolling Thunder Revue - Sony 2002
Rating = 8


Like many people in Hollywood today, I recently wrote an educational song for children (kids). My song is for parents who want to give their kids a "head start" in Sexual Education. Schools might even consider using my song alongside all the Redd Foxx albums that currently make up their sex ed curriculum. It goes like this (pay attention - you just might learn something!):

Did you know that without copulation
There would be no population?
It's true! It's true!
I taught it to you!
That's why our country's turning into a WOPunation

Did you know that without puberty
Boys would never find you purty?
It's true! It's true!
I taught it to you!
It's a shame there weren't more Italians in that McDonald's visited by James Huberty

Did you know that without testosterone
You'd never get to feel Bess frost your bone?
It's true! It's true!
I taught it to you!
I used to get my bone frosted a lot too, until I contracted syphilis from that filthy whore Rosa Pescastarone

It's also appropriate for Civics classes, nor is it included on Bob Dylan's Live 1975 album recorded on the Rolling Like Thunder, Under The Covers world tour with Elton John in 1983. This dandy tour found Dylan (or "Bobby Dylan" as The Who called him in their timeless anthem "The Seeker") transforming his classic material into redneck country-rock, performed by a rollicking goodtime reckless abandon band complete with violin, bottleneck guitar and pedal steel. Normally I'd rage and complain about such The Band-style arrangements, but the mix is so strong, the guitarwork so lovely and the playing/singing so energetic that I have to admit it even made ME want to sit on the porch with some turpentine and dandelion wine, alternately taking swigs from each one.

Dylan (or "Zimmerman" as John Lennon called him in his timeless anthem "God") plunges excitedly into his back catalogue as if it came in the mail from Victoria's Secret (masturbate), complementing six then-new Desire tracks with three from Bringing It All Back Home, two each from Freewheelin' and Blood On The Tracks, and a baker's one apiece from Nashville Skyline, Another Side, Times Are A-Changin', Highway 61 Revisited, Blonde On Blonde and Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid. Hey! I just thought of something hilarious! Check this out:

"The Times Are A-Changin'? Yeah, more like The Songs Are A-Borin'!" I totally just made that up, creating jealousy in all who witnessed it.

Six of the tracks feature Dylan (or "The Jester" as Don McLean called him in his timeless anthem "American Pie") accompanied only by his own acoustic guitar and/or a female folk singer named Joan Baez. These songs are quite lovely indeed, and a nice break from the sloppy full-band hoedown of the other 16 numbers. There are also three rare tracks on here, which is another good reason to buy it. Another reason also is that Bob sounds REALLY into it, wheezing loudly and proudly to a nation of millions holding him back. These are all fine, fine reasons to purchase a record album. In fact, I think I'll purchase one right now.

(*leaves; returns*)

I chose Diabolical Conquest by Incantation. I can hardly wait to hear Bob Dylan's confident vocals and bluesy acoustic licks in such tracks as "Ethereal Misery" and "Unto Infinite Twilight/Majesty of Infernal Damnation." I wlll, however, do so, for I want to wish you a happy listening. If you've been waiting your life to hear a bad country-rock rewrite of "It Ain't Me Babe" with a bass line stolen from the soundtrack of CB Hustlers; if you can't breathe again until your ears say hello to a yucky dub reggae piss-remake of "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll"; if your knees are already giggling at the mention of "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" set to the musical theme of "I'm A Man"; if you somehow don't consider "Oh Sister" to be the musical equivalent of what your fingernail smells like after you scrape the back of your tongue; if all these things indeed. Have a good shit!

I just mean in general; I'm not specifically referring to fecal matter. Which reminds me -- who in the hell is supposed to be interested in a book like this????

Reader Comments

bcs2h@mtsu.edu
I, like most people who were late to get into Dylan and familiarized themselves with the album versions of songs before they found out about his live reworkings find Live 1975 a bit disorienting at first listen. However, after you get accustomed to the strangeness of the electric versions of "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" and "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carrol" you can find some gems. "Tonight, I'll Be Staying Here With You" works wonderfully in this setting. The band really pushes the song forward, and Dylan's lyrical revisions top the original. "It Ain't Me Babe" also sounds surprisingly good with this band. When Dylan gets to the end of the song and pushes out his first harmonica solo of the album, the crowd reaction is pure ecstasy. After the first listen, any subsequent listens find me waiting to get to that part of the song, and relishing the tension buildup right before he launches into the solo.

Other album highlights include "Mama, You Been On My Mind" with Joan Baez, solo versions of "Tangled Up In Blue" and "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue" (which has more passion and energy behind it than any of this released performances of it from the 60s), and "Mr. Tambourine." Unfortunatley, most of the songs off Desire don't come off as much more exciting than the album versions with the possible exception "Isis." Overall, my favorite of Dylan's live albums, and solid 7.

Add your thoughts?

Hard Rain - Columbia 1976.
Rating = 5


Oof. This certainly isn't a very good live album! Hideously shitty sound and annoyingly rearranged versions of Bob classics. He actually goes out of his way to make "Lay Lady Lay" into a crappy song! What a cod.

Reader Comments

smuskol@online.no
I tink this is the greatest live-album ever. It`s almost perfect from the begining of "Maggie`s Farm", to the end of "Idiot Wind". Espesially the versions of "I threw it all away" and "Shelter From The Storm" is very good.

nugget@holly.colostate.edu (David)
I agree with the first comment, one of the best live albums ever.. this tour was truly a Tour de Force... do your self a favor and hunt down a full show from this Rolling Thunder tour... there's a video from NBC too of the Fort Collins, Colorado show in 76..... Killer.....

NMcpherson@fac.unc.edu (Earl McPherson)
Yeah, it's pretty bad. I kinda liked the "Hard Rain" show that came on ABC back in the seventies if any of ya'll can remember that. Mick Ronson was always one of my favorite pickers but he adds very little to this thing. Pick up Dylan's recent '75 Rolling Thunder album if you want to hear something good. I wonder why in the Hell did they wait so long to release it?

slb23@shaw.ca (Simon Brigham)
I'm pretty sure this is the album that got me interested in Dylan. Favourite songs: "You're a Big Girl Now" and "Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again" and "Idiot Wind".

carlandprod@telia.com
the hard rain album is without a doubt one of the true masterpieces of live recordings. the sound is semi-bad, the track-listing is utterly incomplete (if you have any bootlegs of this period you know what i'm talkin about), there are only 9 songs...way too short...but there ARE 7 of the greatest live performances EVER...and i don't mean just among bob-takes here. and by the way...the story about how dylan changed the set list and included idiot wind (and what a version!!!) just minutes after his (to be ex-)wifes lawyer confronts him backstage is beyond all comparison. 11 out 10. maybe 12. unbeatable stuff. say no more.

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Street Legal - Columbia 1978.
Rating = 6


And here we reach the beginning of a long, long period of underwhelming Dylan records. Street Legal just doesn't have very many good melodies. The music is bogged-down '70s crud and the female back-up vocals may well be the most irritating background voices ever etched on a cassette tape (with the possible exception of those in "Keep Talking" by Gilmour-era Pink Floyd - or "Stink Floyd," as I affectionately refer to them as, as). A few of the numbers might grab your nutsack and squeeze like the dicknose, but this is Bob hurtin'. With titles like "True Love Tends To Forget" and "Is Your Love In Vain?," you gots to be wonderin' if he's spent the last three years away from any musical influence whatsoever. No inspiration. No real point.

Did I really use the word "nutsack" a few sentences ago? That was good stuff.

Reader Comments

pbfss@qldnet.com.au (John Maitland)
Hey man, street legal went off!!! I do believe that while "pony" is one of the saddest moments in the history of recorded music (apart from selected David Byrne solo material), the rest of the album is just great especially "Senor", "journey through dark nite" and "changing of the guard". I love and listen regardless.

hutchilj@aramco.com.sa (Lawrence J. Hutchinson)
Rating:9- Yes, this is the 2nd-best Dylan album ever -- really! I urge you to keep listening to it - it took me 15 years to really appreciate it. Dylan's singing is wonderful, even on the songs with weaker lyrics, and there isn't really a bad song.

Gillianmf@aol.com
if "sara" is not one of the most beautiful songs ever written....

Everettxxx@aol.com
For my money, the most underrated album (along with Self-Portrait) of Dylan's career. It's certainly not on pair with any of his 1965/1966 work but there are too many good songs here for the album to be dismissed. "Changing of the Guards" and "Senor" are very intriguing songs from a lyrical standpoint and they both sound so very surreal and dreamlike.The other songs are nothing to be ashamed of either-"Baby Stop Crying" is simple but catchy and "True Love Tends To Forget" coulda been a radio hit had Dylan been in vogue during the period. I would give this one eight out of ten stars definately...this is a much better album than Desire, which preceeded it. Yeah, I'm a Dylan fan so I naturally like most of his albums, but honestly, this is not a very challenging or intimidating album and strangers to much of his work will find more than a few songs they like...

starostin@geocities.com (George Starostin)
A stately bore, this album, but it is really the logical predecessor to both At Budokan (the opera-style grandeur with the brass, backup singers,etc.) and Slow Train Coming (you can feel the onset of Christianity). I don't think the back-up vocals are irritating, anyway, if you want to enjoy at least part of Dylan's 1976-89 catalogue, you have to get used to them. And I don't mind his staying away from influences (that may be one good thing, too), but I'll agree that this album is not very inspired. Depressing and sad, that's what the songs are, but not in a thoughtful and profound way as on Blood On The Tracks, rather in a desperate and painful way. Heck, did you see that photo inside the CD? He looks like a wretched old geek!

Enjoyable, still. The only real letdown is 'No Time To Think' because the lyrics are dumb to the extreme. Even idiotic. But most of the other stuff is not really bad. 'Is Your Love In Vain' in particular fascinates me. But I gotta agree this is the first album on which you're not really flooded with musical ideas. I think Slow Train is a serious improvement over this one.

Ben
Wow, another bad review of this album, what a surprise! Yeah it's depressing, but so is "Desire." This album also has melodies, and good ones. Although it is a little long (and gay) "Changing of the Guards" provides a breath of fresh air from the downer atmosphere of the two albums from two years earlier. The horns on that song are pretty cool too. But they're even cooler on "Where Are You Tonight?", which is by far the best song on the album. Other favorites include the bluesy "New Pony" and the two soul-ish songs "Baby Stop Crying" and "Is Your Love in Vain?."

Shit, I'll take this album over "Desire" any day of the week, and even "Blood on the Tracks" on somedays. But where "Desire" had one awesome song on it, there is one absolutely atrocious song here: "No Time to Think," which is about as boring as any non acoustic Dylan song can get. Some dull repetitious melody surrounded by a bunch of shitty lyrics. Anyway, you shod get the remastered version of this album. It'll change your view about this instantly.

Add your thoughts?

At Budokan - Columbia 1978.
Rating = 5


Although this is considered by many to be a career nadir for ol' Link, it's actually not bad at all. What Dill's done here is completely change his entire back catalogue, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse, but always at least for the interesting. For once, an artist has released a live album that doesn't sound exactly like his or her studio work, and that in and of its own yeah is worth mentionin'. So for every lovely rewrite ("Mr. Tambourine Man" played by about fifteen musicians at once, "Like A Rolling Stone" with three of the original five verse chords eliminated to strikingly lovely effect, "All I Really Want To Do" recast as a bouncy McCartney-esque pop song), we have to deal with garbage like the atrocious reggae version of "Don't Think Twice, It's Alright," the completely forkin' awful "hard rockin'" rendition of "It's Alright Ma, I'm Only Bleeding," and the mindless and monotonous run-through of "Shelter From The Storm." But that's the price you pay, for hoping every slip's not a slide. It's a double-album and you'll probably like half of it. Pick it up if you see it cheap! At least it doesn't have any damn BAND songs on it.
Reader Comments

gstarst@freestamp.com (George Starostin)
Hmmm... I guess you're right about this one. The fantastic thing is that not even a SINGLE song sounds close to the original. And I'd say that old Zimmerman scores one for this. Even if none o' the versions overshadow the original releases, he still oughtta have plenty-a-lot of imagination for this. Actually, this record puts him as number three on my list of most ingenious live performers (The Who and the Stones are the only one to beat him at it). So yeah, this album is HIGHLY recommendable to anyone who'd like to witness "more sides of Bob Dylan".

The actual arrangements are quite cool, except for two of them (and not half, as you say): "I Want You" (I just cannot force myself to listen to this song without the fast backing track! it kills me! this SHOULD be a fast song!) and "Knockin' On Heaven's Door": this version sounds like a parody on Eric Clapton's version which, in turn, sounded like a parody on the original version found on Pat Garrett. But the other tracks are really fine: "Mr Tambourine Man", I'd say, nearly equals the original; and "Don't Think Twice" is very funny; and "Blowin' In The Wind" shows us the deeply-hidden potential of this song; and... well, everything else is pretty much listenable, too. I guess the critics who bashed this record were nothing but a bunch of milk-sucking, brainwashed pups. They'd be much happier off with the studio tracks with overdubbed applause. Sheez!

WJones@charrisondavis.com (Warren Jones)
I have been a fan of Bob for many many years now, although i have only just purchased Budokan on cd, i totally loved it, it was all ,,well what i would call the ol classics in a totally new form, i just cant stop listening,,,,,

Add your thoughts?

Slow Train Coming - Columbia 1979.
Rating = 6


Here's where Zimmerman became a Christianman. So, although it's not tons more creative and vibrant than Street Legal, it's at least weirdly intriguing. Plus, some parts are kinda jazzy and funky in that trademarked vomitous L.A. cocaine way. How could he have expected anyone to take this stuff seriously? The most hilariously sarcastic loudmouth of the '60s suddenly announcing that he's devoted his life to Christ of all silly people? Come on....

Still, "Gotta Serve Somebody" would have been a damn fine Dire Straits song (Mark Knopfler plays second guitar on this album), and a few others are cool enough, as far as post-prime Dylan goes. You know how it is. I think in life we all do, at times.

Reader Comments

gstarst@rsuh.ru (George Starostin)
This is a very good album. Most Dylan albums are. So what if it's Christian? "Christian" doesn't necessarily mean "bad", don't it? And how can one confound Dylan's Christianity, which is really deep and moving, with the faked sweet gospel-based-but-not-real-gospel style of someone like, say, Elvis?

"Gotta Serve Somebody" is a pure Dylan song. Maybe it could have been good in the hands of Knopfler, but it is one hundred percent Dylan. Maybe the lyrics are a bit shallow, but they are great. I love them. And then there's "Man Gave Names To All The Animals", which may be lightweight, but which is indeed very funny and original (the only letdown is Dylan omitting the last line for the listener to finish it: "I think I'll call it a snake"). And "Precious Angel"? Wonderful! And several other fine tricks to be found here: the great changes of tempo on "When You Gonna Wake Up" is one.

A very good album indeed. Well, I wouldn't advise anybody to skip the classic albums in favour of this one. But do not skip this one in favour of all that Elvis crap!

dan@sssnet.com (Dan Streb)
I think the title track is one of the finest, most powerful songs that Dylan's ever recorded. When this comes on in the car, you reach for the volume control and sing along at the top of your lungs. (well, I do)

Billsangry@aol.com
To each his own. While I do believe in Christ - I don't like being preached to. I guess that's the problem I have with this one and Saved.

QUINN1856@aol.com
Precious Angel is one of the most beautiful songs I've ever heard. When you listen to it, you feel like Evander Holyfield getting ready for a fight. It's a Christian sing- along, and it just goes to show that Dylan could do it all. This album is pretty good, with Slow Train and other classics included, but certainly do not pass up the 60s stuff for this average Dylan album. Far from one of his best, but hey; it would have been a classic had anyone else done it!

watta502@yahoo.gr (Akis Katsman)
The first of the three 'christian' Dylan albums, it's not that great but very enjoyable. My favourites are "Gotta Serve Somebody", "Slow Train" and "Man Gave Names To All The Animals". The rest goes from good to just unmemorable (not awful, though). The album lacks in diversity too. Not classic Dylan, but a nice album to buy if you have bought all of his early period 'classic' albums. 7/10

Zimmerman110@hotmail.com
1. sorry for bobby, but i'll be damned if this ever stands as his best work. folk and christian don't go so well together, on account of all them folksies are a bunch of pinko commies.

seriously. it's our motto.

just to clarify, that's the motto of us commies. just so nobody thinks i'm meaning any insult.

JOHN.J.DOYLE@nuim.ie
Blasphemer! I'm keeping an eye out for you Marky baby. 9/10.

Ben
I'll give this one a 7.5. Even though Dylan's fans were probably prepared to expect anything by this point, I'm sure this one blew all their minds, which is the exact way Dylan intended it. Sure all the self righteous crap in the lyrics get annoying after a while, but the melodies are pretty cool. My favorite here is "Do Right to Me Baby" but another cool one is "Slow Train." The production is fantastic too. Only problem is the WEAK piano ballad at the end, and it's so awful I don't even wanna type its name in. Fine, I will because I'm at work and bored as shit. "When He Returns." HE being Sara I'll bet.

Add your thoughts?

Saved - CBS 1980.
Rating = 2


Chalk it up as another promising life cut short by Christianity. "Are You Ready" has a nice groove, but all the others are either icky gospel wannabes or just slow horrid ballads with no clear melody at all. BAD!

nereid-26@home.com
Hey buddy, Dylan's christianity was such a deep and moving experience that he dropped it like a rotten potato and became a "christ killing" jew, which I respect a great deal (even though the historical jesus was a mass of forgeries, I would still take credit if it was offered). The album was terrible for a Dylan album: for any album. Nobody has loved him any more than I have, but I don't have to lose touch with reality, just to be loyal. His career has been a bit like mohammed ali's. Great beginning, great middle.....and then brain death, with a few spurts of brilliance. However I still get chills when I see the old fellow on TV. Ever hear his live voice singing just before the accident? He was God. I wish I had a voice like that. He told the world, just with his tone of voice, that he would do whatever the fuck he wanted and to just try and stop him. Kids today have no idea what went on back then, but their world is like disney in comparison. So is their music.

Billsangry@aol.com
Hey Mark, are you prepared to accept Jesus Christ as your personal savior?

jschneek@yahoo.com
I’m sorry, but I have to defend Saved from its unwarranted reputation as one of the worst Dylan albums. I think this one is a blast - it’s Dylan doing gospel! That in itself is funny and at least deserves some Ween-like respect as a genre experiment.

Actually, I look at Dylan's whole “Christian phase” as his “psychedelic-freak-out-twelve-years-after-everyone-else” phase. And I don’t take Christians or anything they believe seriously so lyrically I would put stuff like “In The Garden” and “Saved” on a similar plane as, say, Barrett’s “Bike.” So don’t ignore the lyrics – listen to them and marvel at their unabashed insanity!

This was also a really inspired period for Dylan musically – check out one of the full “religious” shows he used to play around ’79-’80 and you’ll hear some pretty sophisticated stuff, at least for Bob. I’m not as into the coked-up/hippie reunion vibe of the ’75 live stuff as I am with this period, because there’s an added “fuck you” element to the performances where he knew he wasn’t going to give the crowds what they wanted but didn’t care. Maybe it’s just after listening to Dylan for so long and hearing the same musical formulas over and over that I can just appreciate him trying some different progressions like “In The Garden” and “Pressing On.” And putting all the wacky religious shit aside, “Saving Grace” is just a great song where you can really dig what he’s saying about hitting bottom and fucking up bad and realizing you still somehow came out okay.

So yeah, get into Saved and really picture it – the intro spiritual impromptu jam leading into the big “blow the roof off the tent” title track, the harmonica spotlight solo on “What Can I Do For You?”, the “audience full of hicks clapping along” vibe of “Pressing On”, the album cover art with the hand coming down – the whole thing. This album rules.

Brad.Saltzberg@serebra.com
Two stars? Oh Mercy! Is “What Can I Do For You?” not one of his best songs ever? If not it certainly has his best Harmonica playing ever. The title track is incredible- he says “I’m standing on a solid rock made before the foundation of the world” and judging by the power in his performance we know its true. Solid rock, Solid album.

Add your thoughts?

Shot Of Love - Columbia 1981.
Rating = 4


Weak macho cock rock snooze blues pallid ballad claptrap for Christ. The first seven songs offer us not one single creative musical or lyrical idea (although the self-satisfied "Property Of Jesus" is interesting in that Zim actually admits that everyone is making fun of him for his moronic lifestyle decision), so the good solid quality of the final three tracks (the jaunty "Trouble" and el (o los) gorgeous, though admittedly generic, "In The Summertime" and "Every Grain Of Sand") comes as an extra added bonus special surprise extravaganza! Or maybe they really blow and just sound good in comparison to the others.... Either way, you don't really need this record. It's mediocre to the point of being downright annoying.
Reader Comments

starostin@geocities.com (George Starostin)
Ooops... just passing by, don't mind my dropping in. Never heard this album, but I have the first three tracks somewhere on tape, and man, are they good! The title track (I presume it is the title track - I don't even know their names) is downright great - with Bob furiously shouting 'I need a shot of love'. I like it. And 'Property Of Jesus' has a great melody and interesting lyrics. I REALLY look forward to getting my hands on this album, but I can't find it. I think even the first three tracks, though, apply for at least a 6. Anyway - wait for me getting it and adding more comments.

steveuzzell@yahoo.com
For me Shot of Love is the best of the 80s records by far, by far. Only serious competition is Infidels, but it's horrid drum-and-bass clank and watery melodies is given far too much respect by yer average Dylanite (which Mark isn't, obviously. He's an exceptional scholar. But way wrong on this one...)

1. I like Lenny Bruce. Lyrically corny maybe, but full of truth and light and benevolence. Sad and funny, just like Lenny. Which is the point, I guess.
2. Groom's Still Waiting...Bob's best-ever Rock-Out song in my opinion. A terrific thumping riff and snarling vocal propel this turbo-charged blast into the Big League. Also very possibly the best Hangover Cure yet devised.
3. Every Grain of Sand. Buy the CD for this 6 minute heaven-sent tower of song alone. Bob at his most revealing and inspiration and the blue-print for every Thinking Band's Epic Touchy-Feely number since (cf. Everybody Hurts, I Still Haven't...) One of Dylan's Top 3 songs. The other 2 being Visions of Johanna and Tangled Up In Blue. For tonight at least...

Billsangry@aol.com
I think "Saved" scared a lot of people away. This is actually a very good album.

Brad.Saltzberg@serebra.com
I think “Lenny Bruce” is a terrific song, but his most under-rated song has to be “Watered Down Love” – listen through the whole thing before you make up your mind. Play it on its own and make sure you hear the end part “Yes you do, you know you do”-nice touch, great tune. “Property of Jesus is fab- great lyrics, among his best. Title track is outstanding- Dylan speaks highly of this one himself, produced by Bumps Blackwell who was a producer for the Specialty label-think Little Richard. Both Shot and Saved are good records, both of them are better than Time out of Mind IMO.

Ben
Another one you're missing out on. Though I wasn't impressed with it at first, this is another one that grew on me with repeated listenings. Sure, there is some appalling shit on here ("Lenny Bruce," "Property of Jesus") but there are some great ones on here too. The title track, "Every Grain of Sand," "Heart of Mine," "The Groom's Still Waiting at the Altar" and a couple of others I forgot about. Even though it seems to be placed in the same league as the two albums preceding it, this actually has a lot more in common with the one after it.

Add your thoughts?

Biograph - Columbia 1985
Rating = 8


I saw Tom Petty And His American Heartbreakers live at Madison Square Garden tonight, and found my temporal lobe perceiving nerve impulses transduced by my ear from vibrations containing the following auditory information:

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers - Breakdown, American Girl
You're Gonna Get It! - Listen To Her Heart
Damn The Torpedoes - Refugee
Southern Accents - Don't Come Around Here No More
Full Moon Fever - Free Fallin', I Won't Back Down, Runnin' Down A Dream
Into The Great Wide Open - Learning To Fly
Greatest Hits - Mary Jane's Last Dance
Wildflowers - You Don't Know How It Feels, Honey Bee
Mojo - Jefferson Jericho Blues, First Flash Of Freedom, Running Man's Bible, I Should Have Known It, Good Enough
Other - Fleetwood Mac's "Oh Well"

I liked it.

On a related note, this Bob Dylan box set contains two songs each from Freewheelin', The Times They Are A-Changin', Another Side, Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited, Blonde On Blonde, John Wesley Harding, New Morning, Planet Waves, Before The Flood, Slow Train Coming and Shot Of Love; one song each from Bob Dylan, Nashville Skyline, The Basement Tapes, Blood On The Tracks, Street Legal, Greatest Hits Volume 2, Saved, Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid and Greatest Hits; and 20 non-LP live tracks, b-sides, alternate takes and rarities. Many are swell. The gross live 1966 version of "I Don't Believe You" stinks though.

A box set like this is always a questionable proposition because if you're fan enough to buy a box set, chances are that you already own most of the studio albums represented. And if not, how well served are you by a compilation that (a) doesn't include more than two songs from any of his albums, and (b) only covers the first 20 years of his massive half-century career? Plus, even if you think it sounds fun to own a sampler of Bob's first couple decades of output, what are the odds that the Biograph compiler would pick the same songs that you would? For example, my compilation sure as hell wouldn't have "Dear Landlord," "You Angel You," "On A Night Like This," "Solid Rock" or "Million Dollar Bash" on it. None are among the worst songs ever written, but there are certainly stronger tracks on every one of those LPs!

So let's concentrate on the rarities, which include:
- "Mixed Up Confusion" - Dylan went electric in 1962 and nobody noticed! What a Judas, right there from the getgo.
- "Baby, I'm In The Mood For You" - Excitable 1962 outtake featuring the lyric "WHOA! WHOA!"
- "Lay Down Your Weary Tune" - How could he not have put this 1965 recording on an album!? Even before being Byrd-ized, it was BEAUTIFUL!
- "Percy's Song" - Ridiculously overlong and tedious 1963 folk song that includes the line "Turn, turn, turn again" something like 500 billion times
- "Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window?" - 1965 single with The Band; that classic early electric Dylan sound, and lots of fun
- "I'll Keep It With Mine" - 1965 jaunty piano/melancholy melody -- goodly!
- "Jet Pilot" - Sub-minute 1965 rocker that appears to be about a transvestite. Eat your heart out, Lou Reed! (Literally, because you're an asshole)
- "I Wanna Be Your Lover" - Apparently this 1965 rock'n'roller was intended as a parody of "I Wanna Be Your Man," but I'm not sure what differentiates "parody" from "ripoff" in this case
- "Up To Me" - 1974 Blood On The Tracks outtake that sounds nearly identical to several other songs on Blood On The Tracks
- "Abandoned Love" - 1975 country harmony vocals, strummy acoustic, violin, eh whatever pbbl
- "Carribean Wind" - In a year as shitty for Dylan as 1981, how on Earth did he end up dumping this delightfully energetic and melodic composition? Some day you should listen to it and formulate a hypothesis.
- Live and demo versions of some other songs

So it's up to you. My rating is a high 8 because the majority of this material is excellent. However, you should probably just purchase the entire Dylan discography -- even the terrible records are charmingly awful.

Besides, what kind of Dylan retrospective would have the gall and very nerve to not include a single song from his masterwork Self-Portrait!?

(Answer: a GOOD one!)

Add your thoughts?

Infidels - Columbia 1983.
Rating = 5


A more easy-to-enjoy record than the past few, particularly due to a couple uptempo rockers and a few intriguing hooks (the choruses to "Jokerman" and "License To Kill" are particularly non-Dylany - and interesting for it!), but still an unclose weep (far cry) from his actually good material. Essentially it's '80s bullhockey R'n'R. Mellencamp, Stones, and Bob Dylan, all hangin' out playin' speedy 12-bar blues-based sissy rock and generic ballads. Nice production and plenty of guitars, but most of the actual pieces add not a wit to the Zim legacy. "Jokerman" is a stupid beachy tune that I love for the same reason that I love "Margaritaville" (i.e. because I lack taste), and "Neighborhood Bully" is one hell of a Cars song, but the rest of 'em show no signs that Bob's planning to return to his original state of grace any time soon. Real disposable stuff. The melody of "I And I" might grab you - it actually contains more than three chords - but it's still '80s Dylan, and it's still not terribly inspired.

At least, those are my feelings concerning this matter. I love music, and I'd hate to recommend a weak album and ruin your afternoon, so I'm giving this one a 5 on the grounds that, although Bob displays a nice level of energy and enthusiasm, he also demonstrates his same old '80s lack of original song ideas. If you like it, good for you. Hell, I love The Ramones and they didn't come up with an original song idea for the last fifteen years of their existence! Each to his own, my main man.

Also, I forgot to listen to the lyrics.

Reader Comments

djonesl@flash.net (Doug Jones)
Disagree strongly. This crisp, well-executed piece of work is among Dylan's very best. The disillusion and weariness of trying to shake the slobbering Zimmy worshipers come anti-Christian whiners ("moronic lifestyle choice," indeed) off his coattails finally wore him out, evidenced by the somewhat contentious and sloppy SHOT OF LOVE, but this is refreshed Dylan, staggeringly poetic, political, strong.

kltresch@ionet.net (William Kyle Tresch)
Agree with Jones. To characterize "Jokerman" as a stupid beachy song, is to cause me to question whether one actually cared to listen to the lyrics. This album not only characterizes a departure from Dylan's previous three albums (which by the way I enjoyed as well), but reveals a dark, mysterious side of the artist that I think many of us enjoy catching glimpses of from time to time.

Waterloo78@aol.com
I agree. Jokerman is one of Bob's best songs, and that's saying a mouthful. But really, the rest of the album doesn't quite hold up. Though there are some fine moments with Don't Fall Apart On Me Tonight and Sweetheart Like You.

seberg99@earthlink.net (Stephen Berg)
I disagree as well. This is a great album. Crisp, well produced, and the lyrically sound. Dylan constantly evolves, and that is the thing that irriatates people the most. I loved this album, and still do.

DDBLaLuna1@aol.com
"License To Kill" is one of my all time favorite Dylan songs.

In my humble view, if you ever wondered what a soldiers mother might feel like, listen to this.

If you've ever wondered how a man can be manipulated by his own feelings, listen to this.

If you've ever thought about how our culture violates the sacred, listen to this.

It's well known that Dylan likes to record at a fast pace; catching the immediacy of the moment like lightening in a bottle, which I very much appreciate, but the addition of Mark Knopflers immaculate production only adds to the power of most of these songs.

Benjamin Burch
"Jokerman" is way better than Maragritaville or anything that fuckin' loser Jimmy Buffet ever put out (as well as every other song on here). I've often heard complaints for this album that it would have been better had a couple of songs been switched out, but judging what I heard from the Bootleg Series, this album is just fine. Sure "Foot of Pride" and "Blind Willie McTell" would have been nice additions, but I think the album is good enough.

My personal favorite here is the (for whatever reason) often disrespected "Neighborhood Bully" but I like the other seven as well. Great production too. Shame that this was the last album to feature Mark Knopfler.

Add your thoughts?

Real Live - Columbia 1984
Rating = 5


People often walk up to me on the elevator and say, "You know, you're not a very good writer." And you know what I always say? I always say, "That's because I'm not a writer -- I'm an EXCITER!"

Here, let me give an example of what I'm talking about. Take Bob Dylan's Real Live album, just as an arbitrary example. A "writer" would go 'Tappity tappity tappity word word word' and out would pop some boring old review. An EXCITER, on the other hand, would write something so profound and insightful that it would make the world rejoice at his eloquence.

I'm glad we were able to clear that up. Now you are prepared mentally and psychologically for my review of Bob Dylan's Real Live LP, which we'll rejoin after the jump.

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MUSICAL REVIEW: Bob Dylan's Real Live LP, recorded July 5-8, 1984 in Europe.

What is this crap? Do you hear this shit? What a bunch of - Jesus christ! Listen to what they're doing NOW! I can't even - don't even look at it. Don't even think about it!

- Mark Prindle, www.markprindle.com

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Hay asshole,

My name is Mick Taylor, I played guitar on Bob Dylan's Real Live LP and I don't need to take any of your guff about it. You don't think I already took enough guff back when I was in Rolling Stones, from all those Brian Jones fans mad at me for drowning him in that pool? Come on, I'm sick of taking guff. We worked really hard on Real Live. I remember saying to Bob one day, like "Hay, these songs have too many melodies, can we make them boringer." And he agreed and now "Highway 61 Revisited," "Maggie's Farm," "Masters Of War" and "Tombstone Blues" have no melody at all! That's progress, and no amount of guff is going to change my accomplishments.

I also remember saying to him "Hay Bob, everything you've done since 1966 has been a piece a shit, can we skip all of it cuz it sux?" Next thing you know, we're playing two songs from Infidels (his latest piece a shit at the time), one Blood On The Tracks rewrite and BALLS-ALL ELSE from his last 53 albums! Seriously, besides those three all we played was classics from Bringing It All Back Home, Freewheelin', Another Side and Highway 61 Revisited! Christ, we played THREE songs off Highway 61 Revisited! In 1984!!!! So don't go around calling me a dick because YOU'RE the dick if anybody's the dick.

Worst,
Mick Taylor
Lead Guitarist, Mick Taylor's Tumbling Dice
Former Lead Guitarist, Mick Taylor's Torn And Frayed Band
Previous Lead Guitarist, Mick Taylor's Rocks Off Revue

EDITOR'S RESPONSE:

Mick,

The lady doth protest too much, methinks. Asses are made to bear, and so are you. You are the portrait of a blinking idiot, and your letter a carcass fit for hounds. O villain, villain, smiling, damned villain! The man that hath no music in himself, nor is not mov'd with concord of sweet sounds, is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils. May all the infections that the sun sucks up from bogs, fens, flats, on you fall, and make you by inch-meal a disease.

Sincerely,
The Editor

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Diamond Jim,

They're getting ready. Look out, I'm coming in! So spin that wheel, cut that pack and roll those loaded dice. Bring on the dancing girls and put the champagne on ice. I'm going in to....

Sincity,
Mr. Hilarious

P.S. Also, this album features three songs by Bob alone with his acoustic guitar and harmonica (two of which -- "Girl From The North Country" and "Tangled Up In Blue" -- are the clear highlights of the record), and seven with his full, dull choogle-rock band backing him up.

P.P.S. Why on earth are they playing "Masters Of War" as a stupid Tuff Rock song!? I'm beginning to think you hit the nail on the head when you said, "What is this crap? Do you hear this shit? What a bunch of - Jesus christ! Listen to what they're doing NOW! I can't even - don't even look at it. Don't even think about it!" and then signed it "- Mark Prindle, www.markprindle.com.

The rest of your review is horseshingles though. Why did you have to give so much guff to Mick Taylor? He's the best lead guitarist that Mick Taylor's Turd On The Run ever had!

Add your thoughts?

Empire Burlesque - Columbia 1985.
Rating = 2


More like Empire GROTESQUE, if you ask me! Eight more worthless Dylan "compositions" (unless some of them are covers; it's impossible to tell the difference, they're all so bad) shoved between two bookends or sandwich slices or some crap that are actually quite good! The first is "Tight Connection To My Heart," a song that tastes similar to the way that the Caribbean tastes when you bite into the vinyl, and is probably not a very good song at all, but I loved it when I was twelve and goddammit I can't just deny my entire youth. What am I, made of stone??? Is that what you think???? Oh I see, you've been enjoying my penis.

And the album ends with "Dark Eyes," which is a near-painfully gorgeous reminder of why so many fans gave up on him the day he "went electric." He was (and probably still is) a lovely acoustic songwriter. The rest of the album is '80s genericism all the way, with fake drums and synth horns and chick back-up singers and not a memorable melody to speak of.

You know, I don't have a record contract. I could make an album better than this one with my head shoved up Joan Baez's ass. And nobody's giving me a record contract. What a worthless world in which we live in.

Reader Comments

starostin@geocities.com (George Starostin)
Disagree.. at least a little. 'Tight Connection' and 'Dark Eyes' are really good (although the former sounds painfully similar to 'Precious Angel'). Plus there's 'Clean Cut Kid' which is a poorboy's 'Hurricane' but still catchy. Indeed, this is the only song on the album which manages to get a little blood flowing. All the other stuff is pretty much dispensable, but wait - none of it is really nasty (well, maybe except the filthy disco 'When The Night Comes Falling From The Sky'. Still, it's funny 'cos when I heard the first chords I thought he was gonna do a disco rearrangement of 'All Along The Watchtower'. Imagine that!)

Just a little historical background: this was 1985! That year Clapton released his loathsome synthy poppy Behind The Sun with almost no audible guitar, the Stones were recording Dirty Work and McCartney was recording his electronic monster Press To Play which for me is pretty much the worst effort by any Beatle ever. So much for the dinosaurs. And I must say that compared to this 'music' all of Bobby's 80-s output is really great. See, there's nothing particularly exciting or outstanding about this record (as well as about Down In The Groove; I haven't yet heard Knocked Out Loaded), but there's nothing to hate about it as well, that is, if you don't go comparing it with the 60'-s stuff. He hasn't 'run out of ideas'; rather he's exploring the same ideas over and over again, this time in disco form. However, the reasons of his suddenly embracing disco and electronics are way beyond me. When everybody was freaking out in the 60-s, he was playing country; in the years of heavy metal he was playing quiet acoustic; in the years of punk he was playing gospel. Why the hell had he to go electronic in the years of electronics? Who can explain?

Waterloo78@aol.com
Emotionally Yours is one of my fav Dylan tunes. It's got such a great melody. Dark Eyes is equally fine, but I hate the version of When The Night Comes Falling From The Sky. The outtake on Bootleg Series is far far better. Sometimes, ya just gotta wonder what the hell he was thinking. I mean, where was Blind Willie McTell and Foot Of Pride on Infidels? Some people would kill their families for outtakes like that.

StephenLawrie@aol.com
I BLAME ARTHUR BAKERS POOR PRODUCTION FOR THE LACK OF APPRECIATION. A GOOD REMASTER WILL ALLOW A FAIR REAPPRAISAL. WE'LL SEE. TRY TO FIND THE LINES FROM MARLON BRANDO MOVIES JUST FOR FUN.

MBerry@OrlandoSentinel.com
Tight Connection is an okay song, but the longer, dreamy version on Bootleg Series is far superior. Listen to how he signs "The streets just WIND around until they disappear," his voice doing the exact same thing.

Ben Burch
A 2?! I think that might be going a little overboard here. I mean you gave Desire and The Times They Are A-Changin' higher ratings than this. I find this album to not only be the best 80s Dylan record, but more enjoyable than anything before Bringing it All Back Home. The main problem with this album is probably why so many people are turned off to this album in the first place -- it's WAY overproduced. There are some great songs on here (that contain melodies) that are slathered in that 80's overproduction and weren't executed properly at all. It effects the ballads the worst, and I think it was a rather smart move to leave "Dark Eyes" the way it was. That song turned out to be the best song on the album in my opinion. The overproduction works much better on the faster songs, like "When the Night Comes Falling from the Sky" and "Tight Connection to My Heart" (although as much as I like both of those songs, the versions on The Bootleg Series are better than the ones on here). "Seeing the Real You at Last" is another forgotten gem that is easily the funkiest song Dylan has ever done. I think another listen from not only you, but plenty of other people is needed. A remastered version would certainly help things out a lot more as well.

Add your thoughts?

Knocked Out Loaded - CBS 1986.
Rating = 3


THE GREAT '60S FOLK POET AT THE TOP OF HIS GAME!!!!!..... is what I might be saying if this album weren't so truly awful. I know it's presumptuous to go around declaring albums "bad," but I honestly can't imagine why ANYBODY would enjoy listening to this album, including the people that played on it (Tom Petty's entire band is on one song!!! And it's a bad, bad song!). The production is hideous; the boring drums are mixed about 59 trillion times too loud and there's so much annoying reverb on everything that it sounds like you're way in the back of an auditorium listening to the musicians perform a sound check. A BAD sound check. Most of these songs are just ickily yucko. Generic chord sequences, embarrassing lyrics, and the ten-minute "Brownsville Girl" is a laughably self-loving, smarmy, boring, stupidass story of the sort that could only be accomplished in conjunction with a laughably self-loving, smarmy, boring, stupidass poet like Sam Shepherd (no relation to the laughingly loving, smart, adorable, cuteyass German Shepherd).

Fuck this album up the ass.

No no, not that ass!

Reader Comments

DDBLaLuna1@aol.com
What a shame!

From what I have read, the rehearsals for this album, which Petty insisted on ,were truly inspirational.

Supposedly a stunning version of "I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine"with Dylan on piano backed by the Heartbreakers is sitting in a can somewhere.

S Fall
This album is too often dismissed as being merely 'rubbish' (it may well be rubbish, but I'd argue that it's fairly interesting rubbish, rather than just rubbish rubbish), so here's a partial defence.

Twelve reasons why Knocked Out Loaded is worth listening to:
1. There's a joyful exuberance in the weird reggae of Precious Memories.
2. There's an engaging surrealism when the child choir kicks in on They Killed Him.
3. People sometimes slate this record for not including enough original Dylan songs, but the presence of cover versions hardly makes an album less of an artistic statement (Good As I Been To You being one of Dylan's most focused and powerful records). Bob chose the songs and they mean something to him.
4. At least Bob is trying something new with a 'modern sound' (okay, the '1980s rock' stylings and the booming drums don't work). It would presumably have been easy enough for him to knock out ten acoustic songs and get rave reviews, but he bravely chose a more tricky path.
5. The wonky gospel trimmings have the power to surprise and delight this listener (when in the right mood).
6. Lyrically, Brownsville Girl is different to pretty much everything else in Dylan's catalogue (or anyone else's, come to think of it). Enjoy its strangeness.
7. This album is sometimes written off as a compilation of studio bits and pieces. But a variety of studio sessions/recording locations does not in itself make for a bad album. Who cares when/where a set of songs were taped? They are unified by being selected to appear together here, and offer each other contrast. In the same way, Death Is Not The End improves the Down In The Groove LP, despite being taped five years before the bulk of that material.
8. Knocked Out Loaded may be a failure, but its an interesting one. Even Dylan's lesser works are worth hearing. This isn't the case with most artists.
9. Overall, it's a more satisfying listen than Empire Burlesque, which has worse-sounding production and fewer good songs.
10. Under Your Spell is a pretty good ballad and works well as a closer. If this was on another album (at the end of Saved or Infidels, for example) people would rate the song more highly.
11. Weird sleeve art.
12. It's a short album. More people should record short albums.

Ben Burch
I was pleasantly surprised to find some good things on this album. I for one, love "Brownsville Girl" and that unexpected wall of sound that was thrown on it. "Under Your Spell" and "Maybe Someday" are great ballads and "Precious Memories" is a cute reggae song. But unfortunately, that's only four songs on here. "You Wanna Ramble" and "Drifting Too Far from Shore" are okay bluesy songs, but they don't really leave much of an impression after they're finished. I also agree that the drums are way too loud on this album (and they're also electronic...) "Got My Mind Made Up" is uplifting I guess, but the real low point of this album (and possibly Dylan's career) is "They Killed Him" which is an excruciatingly boring ballad that features a fucking children's choir. Even if it was a joke, it wasn't funny. In my eyes, that song is right down there with "Joey" and "All the Tired Horses" (even though it doesn't really count) as the worst song in Dylan's catalogue. I'll go for a 6.5 here.

Add your thoughts?

Down In the Groove - Columbia 1988.
Rating = 3


Just a bunch of lame blues rock songs. Production is decent, but the backup singers are as unnecessary as the album as a whole. Has two great songs -- the weird gospelly "Death Is Not The End" (later covered by NICK CAVE!!!) and the bouncy high-speed "Silvio" -- as well as a couple other fun guitar passages tossed between all the blues rock cliches, but it's still hard to imagine that this is *THE* Bob Dylan. The same one who put out the classic Knocked Out Loaded album just a few short years earlier. Oh how the tighty-whities have fallen.

Have you ever heard the Wipers? I got a box set of their first three albums, and a lot of these songs are GREAT!

Oh yeah, it's Christmas. Merry Christmas. I'd like to say Merry Christmas especially to Rock Hudson and Pete Townshend cuz one's a dead fag and the other one should be.

Oh come on! That joke is a seasonal CLASSIC! What kind of PC world is this in which we are living in where a harmless family-oriented riddle can't be enjoyed like a pleasant ride on a horsey trapeze?

Reader Comments

Brad.Saltzberg@serebra.com
Down in the Groove has two great moments: 1. When did you leave heaven? Great song- “I am only human but you are so divine”- wow. With killer vocal delivery. 2. Rank Stangers to me- the Stanley brothers(bluegrass duet) did the original and Dylan’s version is outstanding- ESPECIALLY the vocal- pure outsider torment, the alienation from humanity Bob would know all too well. The rest can suck eggs.

Ben Burch
The tighty-whities have fallen indeed. They fell halfway between Empire Burlesque and Knocked out Loaded but they've fallen off all the way between Knocked out Loaded and this one. Down in the Groove has three good songs: "Let's Stick Together," "When Did You Leave Heaven?" and "Silvio" (good call) and that's it. Where Knocked out Loaded had one awful song, this one has four of them, and they're all depressing, generic and boring ballads that have no redeeming qualities in them: "Death is Not the End" (bad call) and the last three. Yep, this is the worst Dylan album up to this point. Only Dylan fanatics and diehards would appreciate let alone even listen to this.

Add your thoughts?

Dylan & The Dead - Columbia 1989.
Rating = 6


Maybe this is the marijuana talking though I doubt it because I've never smoked any but i think that it's hard to ruin a great song. Bob fails to ruin several great songs on here, including "Balls Along The Crotchtower," "Joey," "Queen Jane Approximately" and "Gotta Serve Somebody," which most people consider a poor excuse for a suck job but I consider a darn fine piece of fellatio. "Slow Train" is a shittyass song though and Bob ruinks "Nocin' On Henry's Door" even worse than A. Wxl Rose did on his Use My Illusion Pg. 4 LP Jenkins. And The Grateful Dead play the music. They're okay. Maybe you've heard one of their four hit singles or smelled one of their four googol smelly hippy fans. Certainly more organic than most of the backup-type bands he could have chosen. And I'm not just saying that because they have an organ and I don't!

Reader Comments

Billsangry@aol.com
I would have preferred "Dylan & the Dead Kennedys."

Ben Burch
WOW, talk about a disappointment. For an album credited to both Dylan AND the Dead, it's kind of weird to find that all the songs on here are Dylan's. Not only that but there are only seven songs on here, and most importantly not all of them are good! "Joey" makes an unwelcome appearance here, yes it's two minutes shorter than the studio version (not to mention even an improvement!) but it still sucks nonetheless. I'll also never forgive them for doing a sloppy version of "Knocking on Heaven's Door," which sounds like they couldn't have given any less of a shit about it. The playing also isn't that great, but it is a pleasant surprise to hear an ass kicking version of "All Along the Watchtower" and a version at all of "Queen Jane Approximately," which was never performed live until these shows. "Slow Train" and "I Want You" also work pretty well here. 5/10.

Add your thoughts?

Oh Mercy! - Columbia 1989.
Rating = 3


Bob's critically-acclaimed "comeback" album. Well, sir, I'm sure you already saw the meager number of cute little records displayed above, but I'll go ahead and write it in stone anyway: If this is a comeback album, then I'm a humpback whale. 'Cause this blows.

All he's done is allow his latest collection of poorly-conceived melody-free blurts of poor vocalization to be produced by Daniel Lanois (of U2 production fame). Meaning what? Meaning that the guitars sound crisp, clear, vibrant, and way way way too echoey, tremoloey, and all those other "ethereal" overkillys that Dan just adores. No matter. The songs still pale in comparison to nearly every other song written in 1989. The ballads "Where The Teardrops Fall" and "Most Of The Time" are melancholy, emotional, and gorgeous; the other eight songs aren't. Yeah, it is nice to hear Bob with his guitar and harmonica and very little accompaniment playing slow relaxed music again, but it's awfully disconcerting to have to finally face the fact, once and for all, that the problem with '80s Dylan was never the synth horns, back-up singers or disco beats - it was the boring material.

Reader Comments

Ram.Elisha@fin.gc.ca
I must tell you that your eval of Oh Mercy was a tad on the harsh side. I mean, granted, I would like to personally put songs 7 & 8 on a rocket to Bhagdad, but other than that a very solid performance. For one thing, Zimmy Boy's delivery is coherent enough to understand the lyrics for the first time since, oh, Blood on the Tracks. In another development, there are only a couple of biblical references, and neither is a plug for Bobby's True-Faith-of-the-Week, which on the whole is positive. I truly think that Dylan is hampered more than anything by the genius of his early work; if Oh Mercy had been done by anyone else, it would have been considered a major achievement. I resent that. I also occasionally object to the silence of the 'l' in Talking Heads, but perhaps this issue is best left for another time.

hutchilj@aramco.com.sa (Sean Hutchinson)
I think that this is neither a dreadful album, as you suggest, or a "stunning return to form", as some reviewers suggested. I'd give it a rating of 6.5 because, although it doesn't contain any truly great Dylan songs, there are really no bad ones, and most of them are pretty good. Dylan does sound like he's going through the motions a little, protected by a typically smooth American production sound (I don't mean that as a compliment, by the way), and great backing musicians. However, he sings well,the lyrics are mostly good, and the ballads are all very good, especially "Most Of The Time". I think "Shooting Star" is a better song than "Where Teardrops Fall", actually. Plus, there's "Man In The Long Black Coat", "Ring Them Bells", and "Disease Of Conceit". So, that's 6 good songs out of 10. Not essential, but not awful. By the way, you were right not to buy Under The Red Sky - it's so poor that you feel almost embarrassed listening to it - shaky voice and nursery rhyme lyrics.

darrenm@primus.com.au (Darren Moss)
I generally like Oh Mercy. Not an album I often play in it's entirety, but most of the songs are really good.

"Where Teardrops Fall" is a nice song (beautiful saxaphone outro) with Dylan leaning towards his Tin Pan Alley side (I mean that in a good way).

"Most Of The Time" and "What Good Am I?" use the same songwriting device (every line of each song revolves around, explains or elaborates on the title) and these songs to my ears point towards what Dylan and Daniel Lanois accomplished nearly a decade later with the brilliant Time Out Of Mind album.

Points too for the trio of songs that close the album "Disease Of Conceit", "What Was It You Wanted" and "Shooting Star" (although I prefer the MTV Unplugged version).

Lastly "Political World" and "Everything Is Broken" are two uptempo numbers that I like, but don't love.

The remaining songs I could take or leave, but all up it's an album really worth having once you own the more consistent ones.

Billsangry@aol.com
What? Are we talking about the same "Oh Mercy?" This is the one that got me into Dylan in the first place. I'd even take it over "Time Out of Mind," the other Daniel Lanois produced classic.

bcs2h@mtsu.edu
Man, I whole-heartedly disagree with just about every point you make in this review, Mark. Not only is "Where Teardrops Fall" one of the two worst songs on this album (along with "Disease of Conceit"), but Oh Mercy is a legitimate comeback album. Although I will admit, most of Dylan's creative lethargy during the '80s was due to poor writing, although there's no way the horns and back-up singers helped. Working with a bunch of second-rate writers didn't help him much either.

But this album is one of Dylan's two successful (and only) collaborations with Daniel Lanois. Though I don't always care for Lanois' production, apparently he had a way of pulling better performances and better songs out of Bob than other producers. "Political World" starts the album off right, only to be undercut immediately by "Where Teardrops Fall." But then the album hits its stride with "Everything Is Broken," "Ring Them Bells," and "Man In The Long Black Coat." Ring Them Bells is particularly well done, although I don't like the echo Lanois puts on the piano. The lyrics appear to point out that although Bob no longer feels that he must focus every song on the subject, he still holds on to some of his Christian beliefs. Is he still "property of Jesus?" I don't know. Jesus could probably get a lot on the black market for him. Okay, I'm no longer making sense, time for a new paragraph.

"Most Of The Time" continues the string of good songs for Bob. It's a beautiful ballad. Now that I think about it, "Man In The Long Black Coat," isn't that good. Not bad, but not so great either. I always want to think about Johnny Cash when I hear the title. Unfortunately, the remaining tracks render 3 average songs and one terrible one ("Disease of Conceit").

I'm gonna give this album a 6, which may seem confusing considering the fact that I've been pretty critical of it. But it's better than New Morning and Bob Dylan, and I gave them both 5s. Plus, I love hearing the end of "Ring Them Bells." "Oh the lines are long/and the fighting is strong/and they're breaking down the distance between right and wrong." The man can still write some great lines after all these years. If nothing else, this album told us all that Bob still had something left in the tank. It makes Time Out Of Mind a little less unexpected to those of us that actually liked Oh Mercy. But only a little.

Ben Burch
Where most people tend to think this is a full on comeback, and you seem to think this is just another crappy Dylan album, I'm gonna stand on both sides of the fence here. On the one hand, it's a big improvement over Down in the Groove (not like that was hard to accomplish), but on the other, it's not any better than say Empire Burlesque or even Infidels. I guess the success of the Traveling Wilburys project must have gotten to Dylan somehow, because this doesn't seem like it was effortlessly tossed together like Down in the Groove was, but instead it feels like a real album.

The only two rockers here are fuckin great, "Political World" (fresh from the movie "Man of the Year") and "Everything is Broken are rough as hell and are easily the best two songs on this album. "Where Teardrops Fall" is a beautiful ballad with a great slide guitar part, "Most of the Time," "What Was it You Wanted?" and "Shooting Star" aren't as great as the first three, but they're still very pleasant songs deserving of repeated listens. However, the album is pretty monotonous, pretty much every song sounds exactly the same and Dylan's voice is starting t really give out here. "Ring Them Bells" and "Disease of Conceit" are insanely boring, just nothing but Dylan growling on a piano. That being said, the production is great, and gives the album a creepy nighttime feel.

Add your thoughts?

Under The Red Sky - Columbia 1990.
Rating = 4


I don't find this CD quite as loathesome as the ones preceding it, but I think that's just because of the production. The Was Brothers (Not Was Brothers) give it a no frills, guitar/bass/drums/keys/scraggly Bob production that could have just as easily come out of 1980 or 2000. Plus, the first half of the CD is awash in simple little uptempo rockers reminiscent of "Subterranean Homesick Blues" but, you know, dumber and such. Unfortunately, an album can't ride on pure energy and a good mood for very long, and by the time side two of the CD rolls around, it's just a bunch of ink and words on HEY WAIT A MINUTE!

By the time the second half of the CD rolls around, it's clear that Bob has nothing new to contribute to the world, either musically or lyrically. Nor does his son, I assure you.

Reader Comments

Billsangry@aol.com
I can't believe you rated this higher then "Oh Mercy." The vocals on this sound like Dylan was messed up on cough syrup or something.

ddickson@rice.edu
Bringing Down the Horse gets an 8.

nicholas.tyrone@mail.thomson.com
"Wiggle Wiggle" gets my vote for the worst Dylan song of all time. And that is really, really, really, really saying something.

Ben
I checked this out of my local library back in 2009 (shortly after hearing "Oh Mercy") expecting to hear the very worst. It didn't take me long to realize I not only liked this album, but I even grew to like it better than "Oh Mercy."

In terms of the songs themselves, I only have a problem with one of them, the generic blues song that goes absolutely nowhere "10,000 Men," and the lyrics to "Wiggle Wiggle" are appaling (but the music is probably the best on the album). Other than that, my favorites are the pleasant title track, the other blues song "Unbelievable," the "Like a Rolling Stone" ripoff "Handy Dandy," "God Knows" and "2 X 2."

Add your thoughts?

The Bootleg Series: Volumes 1-3 (Rare & Unreleased) 1961-1991 - Columbia 1991.
Rating = 8


Oh! Hello there! This is a three-CD set of Dylan outtakes and rarities. Starts off with a truckload of old Woodyish folk covers (all good), careens on over into creativeyoungmanland (with such coolnesses as piano versions of "When The Ship Comes In" and "The Times They Are A-Changin'," an acoustic run-through of "Subterranean Homesickghing fit in an instrumental "Suze," and one america of a depressing folk ballad called "7 Curses"), heads on through some '70s babies (early versions of Blood On The Tracks classics and such), turns sickening with some wretched '80s hilarity ("Need A Woman?" Whatever...), and (surprisingly) ends with a spectacular quad-punch comprised of the bitter, judgmental "Foot Of Pride," the chillingly somber acoustic blues "Blind Willie McTell," a wonderfully upbeat major-chord version of "When The Night Comes Falling From The Sky," and a Phil Collinsy popper called "Series Of Dreams."

Cool, dude. There's about sixty songs, and a large number of them are well worth your while. Just fast forward through that '80s stuff and you will undoubtedly be blown away by the fact that there was once a human being so talented that these great songs were his outtakes. Pretty impressive, Weezer.

Though don't take that to imply that Weezer is in any way impressive, or ever has been.

Reader Comments

hutchilj@aramco.com.sa (Sean Hutchinson)
Although I'd only rate this as a 7, because of some of the weaker early outtakes, and later tracks that couldn't even make it onto "Shot Of Love", this is an essential Dylan album! It's worth buying just to have Disc 2 alone. Anyway, you get 58 tracks in all - Mark has already mentioned the wonderful "Blind Willie McTell" and "When The Night Comes Falling From The Sky", but he didn't tell you about "She's Your Lover Now", which is simply thrillingly wonderful "Rolling Stone"-type Dylan, originally recorded for the "Blonde" album, or about Dylan's gorgeous singing on "I'll Keep It With Mine", far better than the piano version which appeared on "Biograph". Not to mention (but I have to) the waltz-time demo of "Like A Rolling Stone", or the superior fast version of "It Takes A Lot To Laugh", the superior lovely demo version of "Every Grain Of Sand", and the original "If Not For You", recorded with Georgeare full of surprises and delights, and it's very hard to understand that these songs were not considered good enough to release!?!?!

Waterloo78@aol.com
She's Your Lover Now, Mama You Been On My Mind, I'll Keep It With Mine, Blind Willie McTell, Foot Of Pride, Let Me Die In My Footsteps, Nobody 'Cept You, Serieis Of Dreams, If You Gotta Go, Go Now. Or for that matter, the songs on Biograph: Lay Down Your Weary Tune, Abandoned Love, Carribean Wind, Up To Me (and why couldn't they have included George Jackson? I can only find it on pricey imports that I don't need). All great songs that could've spruced up his albums a bit. But for some reason or other, they weren't there. What was he, insane?!? Or maybe he knew what he was doing all the time. I'd like to think so.

bcs2h@mtsu.edu
Why am I up at 2 AM writing reviews for Dylan albums? I'm not even high right now, and I probably should be. At least then I could feel good about wasting my time like this. Whoever said college is the best years of your life is an ass. But since I'm already here, I guess I'll go ahead and do this.

Alright, so just how good is this 3 disc set? It varies from disc to disc. Disc 1 has some good moments "Talkin' John Birch Paranod Blues," "Let Me Die In My Footsteps," and piano versions of "When the Ship Comes In," and "The Times They Are A-Changin'" (why do I feel the urge to spell out that whole title almost every time?).

But the real meat is on disc 2. The unfortunately unfinished "She's Your Lover Now" is the highlight of the set. However, you can see parallels between the vocal delivery at the ends of lines in the song to the way Bob sings on "One Of Must Know." It's likely that the songs would have been a bit too similar to put on Blonde On Blonde had they both been completed. That wouldn't have been true for "I'll Keep It With Mine," though. It's a beautiful song, and this unfinished version is vastly superior to the heartless version off Biograph. It appears that Bob just got bored with the song and then half-assed a version in the studio just to get it finished. Otherwise, I can't imagine how the finished version on Biograph could have decreased in quality as much as it did in comparison to the early version on here.

Other great cuts off disc 2 include "Mama, You Been On My Mind," (though it doesn't quite stand up to the live duets with Ms. Baez) "Farewell, Angelina," the solo acoustic version of "Subterranean Homesick Blues," and finally the New York versions of "Tangled Up In Blue" and "Idiot Wind." Although I like these NY versions, I've never been one to claim that they were superior to the released versions. They're interesting certainly, but I simply can't believe some professional critics who claim that the acoustic "Idiot Wind" trumps the electric. I've heard a lot of complaints that "Idiot Wind" is childishly vitriolic. I don't know about that, but apparently the critics think Bob should have handled the song with kids gloves and softened it up. I think that's insanity. Insanity, I tell you!

So what about disc 3? Ummmm........ A lot about disc 3 is best left unsaid. However, "Blind Willie McTell" is the masterpiece many have called it. Although it may take a few listens to realize that. "Series Of Dreams' also stands head and shoulders above the rest of the songs. It definetly should have made it onto Oh Mercy (replacing "Disease of Conceit"). But Bob seems to enjoy leaving some of his best songs off the albums. That's just how the man rolls. As for the rest of disc 3, the Desire outtakes are pretty lousy. So is a lot of the stuff that was left off of Shot Of Love.

Some additional highlights: The wonderful early piano version of "Like A Rolling Stone." To have been in the room while Bob fleshed that out would have been incredible. Al Kooper is a lucky bastard. "Nobody 'Cept You" is also an unearthed gem, would have worked well on Planet Waves.

Rating this kind of album is kind of hard, you definetly have to take a different approach. Considering the sheer amount of good material that will incur repeated listenings, I'll have to give it an 8. You just don't expect this much good material to be discovered on one of these things. That said, you'd have to uncover a "Like A Rolling Stone" level song for the first time on a set like this for me to give it a 9 or 10, and there ain't much chance of a song that good not seeing release for 30 years.

Ben
Overkill. This could have been made into a great two disc set rather than an okay three disc. Also could have used a better album cover. I'm not a big fan of acoustic Dylan, but I have to admit "Let Me Die in My Footsteps" is a gem. It would have fit in perfectly on "Freewheelin'". The "Times" outtakes are surprisingly pretty good considering what ended up being released on that album. "Paths of Victory" and "Walls of Red Wing" are better than more than half of it. The "Bear Mountain Picnic" and "John Birch" songs are other highlights on disc 1, and I really like the upbeat piano versions of "Times" and "When the Ship Comes in". "Last Thoughts on Woodie" is a total bore however.

Disc 2 might be the most interesting (and the best). We learn that "Like a Rolling Stone" was a weird waltz-ish song, and "Takes a Lot" started out as even better than the released version. I love the break on there, and it's one of the few times Bob has ever rocked out. "Sitting on a Barbed Wire Fence" and "If You Gotta Go" would have fit much better on "Bringing it All Back Home" in place of "Gates of Eden". "She's Your Lover Now" would be much better if it wasn't six minutes long (it's still good though). The rest of the songs here are good, except that ultra boring acoustic "Idiot Wind".

Disc 3 has some fascinating stuff on it. "Seven Days", the "Infidels" outtakes and "Series of Dreams" stand right out among crap like "Angelina" and "You Changed My Life". But the biggest surprise here (and probably in the entire Dylan catalogue) would be this version of "When the Night Comes Falling from the Sky". Lyrically it sounds exactly the same, but musically it's a completely different song than track 8 on "Empire Burlesque". Another case of Dylan rocking out, the synths and females are replaced with Danny Federici and Little Steve (on piano and guitar I think). It's fucking great, and easily the best song he did in the 80's.

Add your thoughts?

Good As I Been To You - Columbia 1992.
Rating = 8


Well, looky there. Bobby gives his old fellow whinin' a rest, tries his hand at a few traditional folk ballads, and winds up with his first good album in about fifteen years! Say what you will about the elderly fellow (I know I do!) - he may not be able to write a good song any more, but he sure can recognize one! Or thirteen, as the case may very well be. A grand way to finish up a career, if that had been what he was plotting at the time. Full circle, you see. This is all Dylan (and nobody else!), all acoustic, and all covers of old folk songs you've probably never heard (I'd only heard three of them before I got this CD) - and, wouldn't you know it, it's all really really good!

You know me well enough to know that I wouldn't give an eight to any ol' crappy record just to show respect to the artist. Bob honestly DESERVES an eight for this one. Mainly upbeat tracks of various old school styles, each and every moment is as charming, smooth, and roughly-crooned as anything recorded he during his illustrious "acoustic" era. The most interesting thing about the record, though, is that it brings up the question, "Did Bob get his style from this old music, or is he simply transforming the songs to fit his sound?" 'Cause darnaroonie, can you hear Blood On The Tracks in beautiful ditties like "Canadee-I-O" and "Jim Jones." Darnaroonie, you can. Darn.

I'm totally surprised, totally impressed, and totally proud of Mr. Zimmerman for realizing that an artist doesn't have to keep churning out new songs until he's 726 years old; it's perfectly alright for him to show his love for music by giving us a chance to hear the music he grew up with. That is, if he does it well. In the case of The Ramones's Acid Eaters, for example, it just doesn't work. Here, it does does does, oh how it does. Even with his sneezy ol' voice, he makes it darn clear that he digs the living darn out of these bluesy, poppy, long and lovely old tuners. Buy it! Then sit back, relax, and mellow out with Mr. Dill.

Reader Comments

MSROELOFS@prodigy.net (Mike in Hawaii)
For once I totally, unreservedly, and gleefully agree with you. Good As I Been To You gave me one of those chilly shiver-up-the-spine sensations when I first heard it. It was like having an old friend, presumed lost, return from the dead. Bob was back (for awhile at least). Also, on this record we were reminded what a truly remarkable acoustic-guitar player Mr. Dylan is.

By the way, I almost didn't buy this one when it came out; I was naturally skeptical given Bob's previous five or six stabs at record-making.

PRytur@aol.com
This was the last Dylan record I've purchased (after the touch-and-go 80's, can you blame me?) and I too, was very impressed! All kinds of cool melodies from these obscure folk and blues songs. The only thing I recognized was Sittin on Top of the World. Everything else was a new discovery.

And he's in excellent voice throughout this record, too! Bob sounds pumped and right into this project and it reflects in his performances. All kinds of energy in his rendition of "Step it Up and Go". But, my personal fav is "Tomorrow Night". Did anyone else who first heard this track ever imagine they'd hear Dylan crooning? Crooning!

The production is clean and highlights Bob's great acoustic playing and harmonica. Nice job Mr. Dylan. Highly recommended!

NMcpherson@fac.unc.edu (Norman McPherson)
My ex-brother-in-law gave me this one for Christmas. Bob's guitar playing ain't too bad on Frankie and Albert and his vocals are pretty damn good on "Tomorrow Night". His hair looks like that it's been rolled up in a quilt for the album cover shot. A nine.

Ben
Infidels gets a 5... Empire Burlesque gets a 2... Oh Mercy gets a 3... Red Sky gets a 4... This album gets an... 8. I'm going for a 6. None of the songs here are bad, but this isn't an album I'd ever go back to. It's nothing but a bunch of acoustic covers released to give bob an extra wad of cash. "Step it Up and Go" is the only song with any energy here. There are a couple of other songs I liked, but this albums release wasn't really needed. If Bob didn't have anything to say, he should have just not released anything.
Add your thoughts?

World Gone Wrong - Columbia 1993.
Rating = 8


More amazing covers of cool traditional blues and folk songs. DAMN, does this guy know how to pull a great song out of his hat! This album feels a bit darker than the last one (hence the album title, I suppose). Most of the songs involve death and murder and betrayal and pain and that kind of shit. And old Bobby is playing the acoustic guitar like an old bluesman would! Sure beats the hell out of that Oh Mercy woo woo.

Reader Comments

Billsangry@aol.com
Wonderful. Sounds like it could have been recorded 40 years ago in a shack in Mississippi. In league with "Folk Singer" by Muddy Waters.

princess_vachtangov@yahoo.com
I have to get this off my chest. I?ve owned this thing for some years, and I do appreciate the somber yet horny sincerity of Blood in my eyes and similar songs, but my god the melodies of these songs BLOOOOOWWW! If someone would manage to express these endless bothersome dirges in a single sound, that sound would be metal sheets dragged against concrete while someone is pissing in your ear. FUCKING HORRIBLE! (With the exception of one fast track on side two.) No wonder people in the 19th century wore metal collars around their ears.

OK, so maybe they weren't PEOPLE. Maybe they were horses. What is this, botany class?

Ben
"Good as I Been to You" got entertaining in certain parts (which is why I gave it a 6), and this album doesn't get entertaining at all, and that's why I give it a stone cold 4. Sure this isn't as bad as that "Times They Are A-Changin'" misstep, but this album (unlike that one) has no songs that stand out. Just one depressing folk ballad after another. After hitting rock fucking bottom five years before this, he just starts getting his shit together (with and without the help of The Traveling Wilburys (you heard their records? they're pretty good)) and then releases this shit. If the best songs from this album and the best from the last one were combined, it probably would be enough for a solid 8.

The best thing about this album is its cover. The second best thing is Dylan stayed away from the recording studio for four years. Served him right.

Add your thoughts?

MTV Unplugged - Sony 1995.
Rating = 6


Great song selection, from the classic ("Like A Rolling Stone," "Rainy Day Women #12 and 35") to the amazing yet obscure ("John Brown," "Tombstone Blues"). And Bob even sounds really into it, singin' his little heart out in "Knockin' On Heaven's Door," "With God On Our Side" and whatnot, with nary an irritating female backup vocalist for miles around. The only problem with the record, and I feel terrible for saying this, is that Bob's voice is at an all-time low - so nasally and irritating that even I have trouble sitting through more than two or three songs at a time. If you can get past that, you'll probably enjoy it. I simply cannot.

Plus, I'm offended by the wretched version of "The Times They Are A-Changin'" that's included. "Shooting Star" and "Dignity" kinda generate an involuntary twitch in my suck canal, too. And they've done away with that neat "diddy-diddy-doo-doo" guitar thing in "Desolation Row"! Bastards! Maybe his voice isn't the only problem.

And there's another thing!!!! Why the hell do those idiot audience members feel the need to all clap together the moment that they recognize what a song is????? And why does it take them an ENTIRE VERSE to recognize "Desolation Row"???? God, I fucking hate people with every ounce of my being!!!!!!

Reader Comments

hutchilj@aramco.com.sa (Sean Hutchinson)
I never considered buying this, until I heard how good Dylan sounded again on Time Out Of Mind. It's great - I'd give it a 7.5 rating. I agree with Mark that Dylan doesn't sound too good on a few of the tracks, but Dylan brilliantly re-invents songs like "Tombstone Blues" and "Desolation Row", actually improving them, gives us a thrilling "Watchtower" (a real tribute to Hendrix, as on Before The Flood), introduces us to the stunning anti-war song "John Brown", and moves me almost to tears with the "How does it feel" lines in "Like A Rolling Stone". Basically, this is Dylan showing us that he truly does care about songs that he wrote and recorded 30 years before. If you're put off by his voice on some of the songs, listen to them a few times - they really do grow on you. As for the audience, it amazes me too how long it takes them to recognise some of the songs. If they didn't really care, they shouldn't have been there!!

Uweinat@aol.com
tombstone blues is obscure..i didn't know....

Waterloo78@aol.com
I absolutely love the version of Like A Rolling Stone here. And also Dignity. John Brown's nice too, but it ain't new. It dates back to 1963. Love those lyrics.

nugget@holly.colostate.edu (David)
Short comment: I hate the idiots clapping on every MTV Unplugged album I own! Dylan, Clapton, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and more.... of course MTv's never been known for intelligence or good music in my opinion... I actually have noticed this on quite a few old Dylan bootlegs from pre-1965. Could it be that society is retrograding? This album is definitely a must buy for 90's Dylan material, the other being Time Out of Mind obviously....

NMcpherson@fac.unc.edu (Earl McPherson)
C'mon Mark, Dylan don't sound that bad. I'd give it a strong eight. He looks kinda young on the album cover too.

Ben
This could have been a lot worse. The only official document from the Never Ending Tour, this album is all over the place. Ranging from the great to awful, obscure to "Like a Rolling Stone", there's not only better live Dylan (though maybe not from this era), but better Unpluggeds in general. But still, this album isn't bad at all, it just gets really boring in places. The most obvious one would be this version of "With God on Our Side". It even accomplishes being worse than the studio version, and that's pretty hard to do! Elsewhere, we get cool versions of "All Along the Watchtower" and "Tombstone Blues" (among others, but those are the best), and even a couple of unheard tracks (that are actually pretty good).
Add your thoughts?

Time Out Of Mind - Columbia 1997.
Rating = 8


WHERE THE FUCK DID THIS COME FROM????? Time Out Of Mind? More like Head Out Of Ass! What the hell? How, after over two decades of sub-par albums (aside from those cool cover tunes, of course), did Dylan all of a sudden manage to come up with an album this cool? Well, this is just my opinion of course, but I think the high enjoyability of this record has more to do with Daniel Lanois than it does Mr. Dylan. Because see, the songs themselves aren't really all that great. Essentially, it's just a bunch of 12-bar blues songs with lyrics about getting old and being unlucky in love (probably an honest look into Bob's aging mind, but also completely stereotypical blues subject matter). What really separates this albums from all his other recent losers is how goddamned GOOD it sounds. The music honestly sounds TIMELESS. You hear the songs on the radio, and you can't tell what decade they're from! The music is immediate (whatever the hell that means, if anything), fresh, raw, and full of beautiful guitar licks, jazzy organs and somber as hell bass lines. The band backing him is soooo good. Who are they? Do tell! I only have a dubbed copy of the album. That's how I support my favorite artists.

Also, Bob's voice has made another grand transformation, from the unlistenably nasal wheeziness we've grown to ignore to a bitter old phlegmy bluesman's growl. And it sounds forkin' GREAT, man! Do you think the success of The Wallflowers pushed him to this level of quality? Or his recent brush with unhealthiness? I don't know what it is, but dude - believe the hype. I wouldn't necessarily say "Bob's back in top form!" but I would definitely, without hesitation, say, "This is one of the most enjoyable albums I've heard in quite some time!" It's only got one or two weak tunes, and the rest are just straight-up jazzy dark blues utterings for old men and lil' babies. The lyrics aren't that great, but they're not bad either, by any means. And, regardless of all the great things you've heard about the epic "Highlands," it's no "Sad Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands Part Two." It's really just a long, long, long 12-bar blues tune. And, unlike the brilliant stories of young Dylan that took you on a visual journey every time you listened, "Highlands" is the story of an old man - long, boring and essentially pointless. Ha! Still catchy and fun to listen to anyway.

So let me reiterate - though I don't necessarily agree with the REASONS that critics loved this album so much (i.e. the lyrics, Bob's renewed songwriting talent, etc.), I definitely give it the thumbs up, and hope that Dylan continues to work with Lanois on fine projects in the future. Sure, Dan sucked on Oh Mercy, but this time around - hoo! He's captured the essence of '90s culture - pretend you're in the 70's. Good work, Danny!

Oh... and Bob too.

Reader Comments

Michael_Eisenkraft@Brown.edu
Slow, sad, and really bluesy this is an old man's album. Luckily for us Bobby D. is a really, really talented old man. This is a quality album. There are no bad songs on this album and most of them are really good. Most of the songs are melancholy blues tunes and Bob Dylan sings them in a rough voice that is eerily powerful. Bob Dylan has loved and cried for over forty years and it shows. This album is SEVENTY TWO minutes (yes, for the price of one 1 CD) of listening pleasure. I played it five straight times (72 minutes times 5= a LOT) and I would have continued if my room-mate hadn't threatened my life. This is not Bob Dylan's best album, but it's really good. 8 or 9 Records

gstarst@rsuh.ru (George Starostin)
To my opinion, it is absolutely impossible to rate Dylan on the same scale with such great 60-s bands as the Beatles, etc. When listening to a Dylan record - be it one of his "best", like John Wesley Hardin', or be it one of his "worst", like Shot Of Love - one almost immediately gets the impression of his greatness. But, on the other hand, this is not the kind of greatness one feels is present in the Beatles. The Beatles' greatness is HUGE: it makes you forget everything in the world and go totally ecstatic. The greatness of Bob Dylan is more balanced, more calm, and it is also spread over all of his records in a much more careful way than the greatness of others. It looks like he just took all of his talent - way back there, in 1962 or even earlier - then cut it into three/four hundred equal parts and even now, after all these years, he has still some of these parts left.

That way, I cannot determine what can be called "the best record of Bob Dylan". Blood On The Tracks? Maybe... but hey, are the songs on it REALLY better than on, say, Freewheelin'? Hardly. And Self Portrait? Is this a bad album? Yes - at first sight; but then again, it's the same Bob Dylan, is he not? Not that he's changed a lot over the years. The Beatles have changed - you couldn't believe Please Please Me and Abbey Road could have been written by the same person. The Stones have changed. A lot. The Who have changed. Everybody. But not Dylan. So what if the man traded his acoustic for an electric one day? Big deal. He's always been writing the same things - over and over again. And in that way Self Portrait or Shot Of Love are not much worse than Hardin' or Blood On The Tracks. They're all about the same thing, see. And it's all about Bob.

Somewhere in your reviews you accuse Dylan of his sudden adherence to Christianity. Come on now - he's ALWAYS been a religious person, and this is obvious since his very first records! Maybe his religiousness wasn't exactly Christian religiousness (which it was), but you cannot deny it. Bob never was an atheist or something. 'Tis no surprise for me, at all. Now if Mick Jagger... !!!!

In all, I would say that if one loves Bob Dylan, he should buy ALL of his records and not choose favourites. If one hates Bob Dylan - well, then he will not understand even a single thing about him. And he was never "infuriatingly banal", as you write in your Self Portrait review. Never! If you really think so, well... you've missed a big part of Mr Zimmerman's world.

hutchilj@aramco.com.sa (Lawrence J. Hutchinson)
Rating: 7 - Flawed, but still a joy to listen to after very little good stuff for 20 years! "Not Dark Yet" and "Cold Irons Bound" just make you want to shout "Yeah! Fuckin' Yeah!" Everybody else in rock music should just give up and go home - they're not in the same league. How can a man of 57 write and sing like that!?! Welcome home, Bob!!

cliffnorth@localaccess.com (TAD)
Let's not 4get that GREATEST HITS is 1 of the best comedy records of all time, right up there with BEACH BOYS PARTY! It's just side-splitting! Turn it up & whine along! I LOVE it! It shows 1nce & 4 all why Bob Himself Dscribed his voice as sounding like "a cow with his leg stuck in a fence"! Plus, "One of Us Must Know" is on it! "I Want You"! "Subterrainean Homesick Blues"! "Like A Rolling Stone"! What else could U want?!

Well, 4 me, if "Positively 4th Street" & "Tangled Up in Blue" were on this, I probly wouldn't need 2 hear NE other Bob stuff EVER....

darrenm@primus.com.au (Darren Moss)
I love Time Out Of Mind. It is my favourite Bob Dylan record. I personally like it better than Blonde On Blonde, Freewheelin' and Blood On The Tracks etc etc.

I expect to get howled down for saying that, but I have now spent a year and a bit with this record, and don't say it lightly.

I wouldn't call this a "comeback"... how crass... you see, Bob Dylan is an artist. A real artist, (unlike most of the calculated unimaginative sample ridden money making record company puppets of today) and this record I believe is best listened to in a single sitting, as it really seems to be designed as a set of songs more or less dealing with the same issues song after song, ageing, lost love, regret, and (as has been the case on every record he has released) America as it was pre World War 2 (riverboats, gamblers, midnight trains, hobos etc).

Agreed that Daniel Lanois has a huge input to the sound (which I love).

I hope Dylan continues on this path, but as an artist, he will follow his muse, and I am interested to see what he comes up with.

There are many greater single songs on other albums, but this is the one that works as an album from start to finish.

bjbosch@halstad.means.net (Brandon Bosch)
Time Out Of Mind has got to be one of Bob Dylan's greatest albums. For me it ranks right up their with Blood on the Tracks and Highway 61 Revisited.... and far above Blonde on Blonde. Without watering his lyrics down, Dylan largely abandons his "epic" poem songs which to me are obscure and largely crap. Instead he injects his heart and soul into every track with understandable lyrics. The one quibble I do have about the album is the final track, which I find unbeliably boring and stupid, particularily the scene in the resturanting filled with drawing sketches and hard boiled eggs. Perhaps I'm just to stupid to understand the metaphors and symbols. If any of you true Dylan fans know what he's alluding to in that part of the song, by nearly all means, do tell (I suspect most of you merely pretend to understand it, as much of his Blonde Over Blonde album).

bgreenstein@nctimes.net (Ben Greenstein)
Yeah, Bob Dylan is great. There is nothing I like better than mind-numbingly repetetive, boring, and underwritten music that simply rambles on for five and a half minutes until the "story" is over - actually a collection of very lame, unatmospheric images spat out by some ass who thinks he's Woody Guthrie.

What I'm saying is - I'm not afraid to admit that this artist almost totally blows.

I know I'll get a lot of flack for saying this, but Dylan just does nothing for me. He's not a great songwriter (three or so chords and repetetive melodies), he's not a great lyricist (check out Andy Partridge of XTC - he could kick Bob's smelly Zimmerman ass!), and he's certainly not even close to a good singer. Sure, he inspired a lot of people, including a heap of groups that I really like, but he really was doing nothing that's at all interesting. And even when he could write a tune that's catchy and well-done, he screws it up by dragging it on for five minutes, without even throwing in a middle 8 for good measure! Look at "Tangled Up In Blue" and "Ballad Of A Thin Man," for example. They're great at first, but then, after the third identical verse or so, the boredom factor kicks in - and quite hard, too.

Maybe you all like him for his lyrics. I don't know, but I find it kind of hard to listen to a guy's lyrics when he can't even sing clearly! Plus, I've read some of his lyric sheets (in a desperate attempt to find a reason people like him), and was struck by the distinct lack of memorable lines present. Someone out there find me a Dylan song with GOOD lyrics, and I'll gladly ridicule you for having such a naive defenition of poetry.

And wait a sec - people complain that Elvis Costello has an ugly voice, yet they love THIS GUY? My currently malfunctioning toilet sings better than Dylan! And could probably write music better, too! I imagine that "Flush!!!!!" has a better chance of getting to number one than anything off of Time Out Of Mind.

That being said, I love some of the man's work. The first Greatest Hits album is of jaw-dropping quality. A real stunner, along with a few of his later pieces. But, after hearing that, I was dissapointed to find that most of his other work is made up of pointless, repetetive, unmelodic rambling - even the short songs go on for way too long!

Give me Black Sea, Nevermind, A Night At The Opera, Imperial Bedroom, Us, Plastic Ono Band, or Life's Rich Pageant over this any day. Hell, give me that awful Tom Petty album, and I'll like it more than Mr. Zimmerman's "music"! Just don't sneak in that Blood On The Tracks crapfest - I've said it before, and I'll say it again - overrated!!!!!

starostin@geocities.com (George Starostin)
Response to Mr Greenstein:

Very sad. You know, when I'm contemplating other people's complaints about Dylan, I'm always hoping to find something original - and never find anything new. You could have thought of something more entertaining, Mr Greenstein, than complain of Bob's lack of good voice, un-understandable lyrics and derivative melodies - complaints that have been voiced probably millions of times by people whose fault is that they are just totally unwilling to get into Dylan's world. The amazing side of the whole story, for me, is that Dylan manages to be a great artist IN SPITE of all these things. He has a mysticism and a magnetism of his own that, unfortunately, isn't available for everybody - and yet can be understood by a majority of people who give a serious attempt at understanding Dylan music. Here, on this site, by flushing these insults at Dylan, you're basically either insulting millions of people or, rather, just showcasing the limitations of your own personality. Now I had no idea that I'd have to write these lines at the Prindle site, but let me just tell you what Dylan is all about. After this you may send me to hell as much as you want.

Dylan is not about creative, original melodies - he steals/borrows as many of them as possible, and later begins to recycle himself. He is not about any life philosophy - basically, he has none (and thus steers clear of pretentiousness and pomposity). And, of course, he is not about gorgeous singing (although you should check out some examples of his voice on Nashville Skyline and Selfportrait to see that he could if he would).

Dylan is all about The Small Guy. His closest analogy in British music seems to be Ray Davies whom you adore so much; but Ray was never as lyrically complex or deep as Dylan was almost from the very beginning. His songs are all about The Small Guy - the voice seems to tell you: 'hey, I can't sing, so I'm close to you!', his melodies seem to tell you: 'hey, I really can't write, so I'm even closer to you!', while his lyrics basically all deal with his (and everybody's like him) personal problems, confusions and inner changes. And by doing so, and adding a spoonful of inner Dylan magic which is non-describable, he is able to become more of a personal friend to you than anybody in rock music. He infiltrates your mind, seems to shake hands with you in mid-air. Put on an early Dylan record when you're depressed and it'll comfort you. Put on a later Dylan record when you're depressed and he'll share your troubles. Put on Blonde On Blonde when you're happy and you'll be happier.

'Naive definition of poetry', Mr Greenstein? Thousands of people have been writing theses on Dylan's poetry and taking lectures on them - you claim that your opinion is more worthy? Jeez, you're really embarrassing. Take just one more note, please: when you overthrow an idol, try to do it with at least a little respect. I enjoyed some of your reviews and comments on this site, but this message made me (and not only me, I dare say) lose any respect for your musical opinions that I ever had. OF COURSE you're entitled to your own opinion. But you're also entitled to good manners, and this is what I don't find here. Have a nice day.

bgreenstein@nctimes.net (Ben Greenstein)
Okay - sorry if it was a little rude to post my Dylan-hating comments on the Dylan page, but let me say some things in my defense....

I am not "totally unwilling to get into Dylan's world." I gave the guy many chances, where I listened to his records - Blood On The Tracks, Blonde On Blonde, etc. - and found that I didn't like them at all! I really wanted to like Bob Dylan, but eventually I realized that I was wasting my money on records that I didn't ever want to listen to!

And I don't see how the fact that lots of people complain about the same things as me makes my opinion any less valid! On the contrary - the fact that a lot of perfectly intelligent people agree with me should back up my argument quite a bit!

The silliest of your arguments (and, George, I love you as a person, but it is dang silly) is the "Dylan the Small Guy" excuse. By saying that he is an "everyman," does that give him an excuse for not being creative? There are plenty of "everyman" rock stars that were incredibly creative - Springsteen, Ray Davies, Elvis Costello... In fact, come to think of it...

How is Dylan any more "the small guy" than John Lennon or Paul McCartney? They're all just songwriters - I don't relate any more to Bob because he's American than I do to either of them! I happen to be a "small guy" (aren't we all, in this great big world?), and I have to say that I don't see anything in common between me and Dylan. If you're going to say that YOU admire him, go ahead - just think twice before you speak for all of the underdogs of the world.

And we have plenty of "small guys" who CAN sing and CAN write creative melodies - check Paul Simon. I mean, he's at least twice as small as Dylan!

AND... In defense of my condemnation of his lyrics - the fact that lots of scholars study his lyrics means NOTHING!!! In Nazi Germany, schools studied Hitler's writings. I know that's kind of a stretch, but since "trained scholars" looked at his work, then he must be a genius! Plus, I asked for examples - send me some!

Look, George - I don't want to be enemies. In fact, I'd much rather get along well, seeing as we like a lot of the same groups. I wrote those comments in an attempt to express MY veiws on Dylan, and guess I got a little carried away, accidently bringing his fans into the crossfire. I have nothing against Dylan fans - I'm very good friends with some of them - I just wanted to make it clear to people that there is another world out there of great music that is not in the mainstream of "classic rock." And, yes, Dylan is put into the "classic rock" grouping, though I find it every bit as ridiculous as I'm sure you will. Anyway, my hand is extended in a peace offering, so don't hate me! I'm just an ignorant "intellectual music" fan who doesn't like Bob Dylan! That's my story, and I'm sticking to it!

Thanks for listening.

HowlinTomFan5@aol.com
Andy partidge?XTC?EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!

That said, you sir (and I mean this in the nicest way bennie boy) are a fucking cultureless boob.............I mean fuckin XTC's lyrics better than Dylan's lyrics? Come the fuck on!

Next up for Ben Greenstein: going to the beatles site and telling everyone that Dramarama and Flock of Seagulls could outwrite Lennon and McCartney anyday!

cbunnell@ix.netcom.com (Rich Bunnell)
In defense of Ben (though not so much about Dylan himself)--

I'm just wondering-- do people who bash XTC's lyrics when Ben argues that Andy Partridge's are better than [any given artist]'s lyrics have ANY reference point other than "Dear God"? Obviously no one ever goes past the lyrics to that song since basically everything else Partridge ever penned contains about a trillion times more lyrical depth than that song (which, admittedly, contains quite cliched lyrics).

And really-- XTC equated with Dramarama and Flock of Seagulls? You have your priorities seriously messed up Mr. "HowlinTomFan,"; their music is VERY different from the various '80s one-hit wonder music being produced at the time. But oh, they made "Dear God"! The lyrics to that song suck, therefore everything else they ever wrote must suck as well!

"Cultureless boob"? How does it take more culture to appreciate Dylan than XTC? Everyone's heard of Dylan, for Christ's sake! It's not like you have to dig too deeply into culture to find him!

Oh and please, people, don't take this as a stab at Dylan; merely a defense of Andy Partridge elicited by the true "cultureless boob" on this page. I have nothing against Dylan, unlike Ben. Honest.

walrath@gene.com (Erich Walrath)
I'll be the first to admit that I'm not as hep as some of the young'uns on here - but it might be worth pondering, if only for a moment, a world without Dylan:

This guy single-handedly created the folk-rock genre, which for many is reason enough to hate him - but consider! No folk-rock = no psychedelic! No impenetrable lyrics set to oddly-paced blues riffs... No Byrds hence no Airplane or Dead which means no Doors... no Velvets ...and especially no Hendrix...

Lennon would have followed... who? Herb Alpert? as his muse...hence no Sgt. Pepper's... no "Day in a Life"...

No oddball juxtaposition of Beat poetry and electrified folk-funk hence no Patti Smith... no Henry Rollins...

No Dylan means no Fall, no Clash... Maybe Brian Wilson would have taken up the slack - which would make an interesting alternative history and maybe that wouldn't be so bad - but without Dylan we, for damn sure, would not be listening to the music that we actually have. Everything that is worth listening to has been touched by this guy: Neil Young, Kurt Cobain, Lou Reed, Iggy Pop...

Even stuff that is not really worth listening to... no Dylan = no "Alternative" (with the exception of the 57 varieties of Techno, which are also not really worth listening to - but you can't blame Bob for that.)

And for damned certain: no Dylan - no Wallflowers...

My point is that Dylan is not just another recording artist anymore than Elvis was. Whatever your opinion of the man and his talents, he deserves his due.

Homelessperson22@cs.com (Zach English)
How the f*&% on God's green earth, as I sit here typing on my personal home computer, can you people say that Bob Dylan was not a talented songwriter? Even the defenders of Dylan here are "admitting" that he couldn't write melodies!! Hello? How can you possibly deny the melodic qualities of, say, "Tangled Up In Blue", "It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)", "Desolation Row"...I mean, Jesus. Andy fucking Partridge was a better lyricist than Dylan? No offense, but that's the kind of comment that can get you banished from any kind of musical conversation with me. Not only was he powerful with imagery and metaphor, he sung his lyrics with such breathless bravado that no one in rock's rich history can compete with (except MAYBE Patti Smith). I guess Dylan is just over your heads; stick with your quirk-pop and new wave, Mr. Greenstein, seeing as how your affinity for "artists" like Sting and Dexy's Midnight Runners abstains you from experiencing genius like Bob Dylan.

mprindle@nyc.rr.com (Rich Bunnell)
I won't get into a huge argument here since that's a waste of space....but as much as I don't like Sting and Dexy's Midnight Runners myself, why can't fans of roots rock and quirk-pop simply find a common medium? Both genres certainly have quite a large amount of merits, and throwing one off just because it doesn't have the lyrical deepness of the one you like is certainly an unfair thing to do. I personally think that both Dylan and Partridge were more-than-worthy songwriters of two very different genres.

LPOWERS@TNSTATE.EDU (Lucas Austin Powers)
The reactions to this record are symptomatic of the Dylan fixation. We want him to make a great record--want to believe he can still do what he did once in '65 and once in '75--so we call this a classic. It sucks. Dylans's lost his mind. Just listen to the rhymes: "I wonder . . . rob and plunder . . ." I mean, if he hasn't lost his mind, he's at least lost his rhyming dictionary.

millerman@egebamyasi.fsnet.co.uk (Andrew Miller)
I notice that bgreenstein has managed to bring up the single most boring and pointless argument in popular music: 'Bob Dylan can't sing'. This beats the next most boring and pointless: 'Hip Hop/Electronic music isn't 'real' music' by some considerable margin. I can't believe that people still think in these terms, it's like saying that Jackson Pollock can't paint. Christ knows what he'd make of MES.

And as for argument that that he can't right decent melodies and simply repeats a musical phrase ad nausea. Whilst being patently bollocks, even if it was true all I would say is 'Get thee to The Fall page and lean your three R's' (Repetition Repetition Repetition).

nereid-26@home.com
Oh my goodness, the guy doesn't even like blonde on blonde or blood on the tracks. No one in the world has sung with a voice as authoritative or wonderful, and the lyrics speak for themselves. What does he like? Well I don't care to know, because it gets to be tiresome having to ridicule so many imbiciles. Come on, is he 12 years old or does he just get off on being arbitrary and wasting Mark's space?

Paul Simon???? How about that.....He likes the man who rips off other people's culture when he runs out of ideas, as if he ever had any. His condescending showboating with africans is reprehensible. He doesn't belong on a stage with anyone, let alone folks who have a beautiful tradition and then watch it butchered before their eyes and ears by an american celebrity. There's a lot of that going on. When are folks gonna realize that fusion works about one per cent of the time, and only when the content is 99% of the culture that is being ripped off for personal gain.

jmaitland@vtown.com.au (John Maitland)
Is it possible to love both dylan and XTC.. I do Snowman and ballad of a thinman. Ball and Chain and Queen Chain. Sargeant Rock and Up to me.. No one mentions Up to me, one of the most beautiful songs ever written, Did bobby ever get the girl in the officers mess? I don't know, Was Andy converted to Jesus as a great man (if not god) in Peter Pumpkinhead? Why compare and berate great artists by lining them up against each other. Save your vindictive for REM, because they do suck...

Jcjh20@aol.com
As for the album, its really great. Its good quality stuff that hasnt been done by Dylan in years. 8/10.

And as for the rest of these arguments, i definatly agree its all a matter of taste. If Ben wants to say Andy Partridge is better then Dylan, thats his opinion. No one has the right to tell him he is wrong, except maybe if he refuses to respect Dylan for being so influencial and what not (which Ben didnt seem like he was doing, but still, he probably was). I love both XTC AND Dylan, and i think they shouldnt be compared, since they are both great in their own genres and styles, and i think its idiotic for some people here to blatently put down XTC just because someone said they personally didnt like Dylan. Thats just plain stupid. A lot of people do the same thing on this site to Prindle as well, putting him down, calling him names because of his opinion that they disagreed with, and its pathetic that people are that moronic. This site is supposed to help people with buying or listening to music in general, not to fight against it. Music is all a matter of taste, and personal opinion (although you should respect artists like The Beatles or Dylan at least for what they've done to music), and it doesnt make you more "classy" or "artistic" to like Dylan. But anyway, thats my 2 cents...

Thatcoolbrotha@aol.com
I sort of agree with Ben on this whole debate regarding Dylan. I find his lyrics to be sort of boring. They're not as filled with interesting imagery as much as people say they are. His best songs i.e Rolling Stone, Subhomeblues, watchtower and others are filled with interesting ideas like a man with a siamise cat or that joker talking about how life is a joke. While others can be sort of boring. Without him though, The Beatles would not have had grown as artists and went beyond simple love themes, so strictly speaking he is the most influential artist on the face of this earth, but he's probably been more of an influence through the Beatles than anyone else. Dylan sometimes had the melodies and sometimes didn't have the melodies to back up his great lyrics. The Beatles always had great melodies to back up their lyrics.

Billsangry@aol.com
Reply to Thatcoolbrotha..

Give the Beatles a million years and they never would have come up with anything close to "It's alright Ma, I'm only Bleeding." And please remember, the Beatles were trying to write like Dylan on their RUBBER SOUL album. Dylan never tried to write like the Beatles. That's right brother - She loves you, yeah fuckin yeah, yeah.. Ob-la--de-Ob-la-frickin-da.. Goo Goo Ga joob.. Na,na,na,na,na,na - na,na,na,na - Hey Joob...

Thatcoolbrotha@aol.com
Uh... is it me or did that post not make any sense? The point I was trying to make was that more people most likely listen, or have listened to the Beatles than Bob Dylan and, through his influence the Beatles went beyond simple moon-june-spoon love themes to really cool lyrics not about love. AND the Beatles have influenced like...EVERY ARTIST EVER(exaggeration past couple decades)! So, through his influence the Beatles helped influenced people not to write just about love, but other cool things like "Losing my Penis to a whore with a disease".

I wasn't saying the Beatles were better or that Bob Dylan tried to write like the Beatles....you stupid poop head! I'm sorry, that last sentence was uncalled for. Just forget the "you stupid poop head" part....you stupid poop head!

pedroandino@msn.com
why don't YA'LL SHUT YO' FAGGOTY ASS UP!

thank you scot livingston for the lengthy document on dylan. to all faggots like greensteen, go suck 50 cent's cock! 50 is as ugly as my cock! do not sell out, cocksucuking faggots! anyway them faggots are making me testy! okay no more fag talk. loving bob dylan is like watching an underrated classic like the majestic, cactus flower, butterflies are free, with yummy goldie hawn! ooooooooooo yea! lovely beautiful shimmering golden goldie hawn. her underwear! ooooooo! glory, awakenings. anyway is till say dylan is the best songwriters outta everybody! not a cliché!

fapw@hotmail.com
Well, may all of you and your loved ones be fucked as hard and as long as you ever wished for ("to each his own" as Bob would say).

Back to Bob (if you don't like him find another site, we're just not interested). As I see it there are three kinds of Bob: Bob the critic (times changing, answer blowing, masters war), Bob the lovesick (if you see her, dirge and ... lovesick) and Bob the weirdo (thin man, wheels on fire and Franky & Judas). Some albums mix these diferent Bobs more than others. Time out of mind is disproportionally lovesick, even the weirdo-songs all have a lovesick element. Luckily we left Bob the critic behind in the sixties. In my eyes Blowing and Times changing (songs for hippies) are what I wanna hold your hand and Please please me were for the Beatles.

Where Love and Theft finds a relaxed elderly singer lingering over the facts of life (some memories you can live with, some of them you can't), Time out of Mind features a desperate man struggling in every song (no place left to turn, nothhing left to burn). Even in Blood on the Tracks the man just doesn't sound this destitute.

I'm seeing Bob coming friday in Rotterdam for the first time in my life. Some new angles to his songs and constructive criticism is welcome. A rat race between Bob and XTC I could do without (wouldn't be close call by the way).

bcs2h@mtsu.edu
Not many artists make a legitimate comeback album when they're pushing 60. Hell, most rock stars don't even make it that far. But Bob did, and this album marked his first quality work of new material in 8 years. And though I've never been too fond of Daniel Lanois' production techniques, the man did a good job here. The production really fits the songs. "Love Sick" just feels dirty. I can see Bob walking through a dusty alley, lamenting lost love everytime I hear that song. It's beautifully done. "Not Dark Yet" has a disembodied feel to it, which meshes perfectly with the lyrics. I'd love to here the version of "Mississippi" that Dylan recorded for this album that he never released, just to know what Lanois tried to do with it. I doubt it would have worked very well, the "Love & Theft" production fits it perfectly. Nonetheless, it'd be interesting.

In comparison to Dylan's other late career releases, I'd consider the songs on here to be stronger than Oh Mercy, and essentially equal to Love & Theft. I'd consider the best of Love & Theft (Mississippi and High Water) to be stronger than the best of Time Out Of Mind (Love Sick, and Cold Irons Bound) but that's just a personal preference. It's really hard to choose between the two.

Dylan's become a bit more plain spoken in his old age, no longer invoking poetic imagery as often as he did in his youth. It works with his age though, and his sound. Bob sounds tired, too tired to skirt around what he wants to say. He's love sick, and that's exactly what he tells you. Perhaps the only exception is in the album's closer, "Highlands," which features some of the conversational language of his younger days. Actually, I find that 16 minute long juggernaut to be one of the weaker tunes on the album. But some will enjoy hearing Dylan being playful again.

Aside from the tracks I've already mentioned, I also give "Million Miles," "Can't Wait," and "Tryin' To Get To Heaven" high marks. "Can't Wait" in particular resonates. Bob sounds impatient, aware of the fact that he doesn't have the time to wait around much longer.

Overall, I give this album a 7, same as Love & Theft. I've been listening to it a lot recently, and am tempted to give it an 8, but I pride myself on having a fairly steep ratings system (why I, or anyone else should care, I don't know). So a 7 it is, for the album that gave Dylan a good release in 4 consecutive decades.

I tried to fit a "Soy Bomb" joke in here, but couldn't find a place that made sense, so I'll put it here. Remember when that guy with SOY BOMB written on his chest ran onto the stage during the Grammy's while Bob was playing "Love Sick" and started doing some weird, spastic dance? I sure do! That was wild! Didn't seem to faze Bob a bit though. He gave one glance at him and kept doing what he was doing. I forget what that guy was trying to teach us about Soy though. Should we free the soy? Save the soy? Eat more soy? Less soy? He should have been more specific. This was also the album that Bob licensed songs to Victoria's Secret from. Now, this is just my opinion, and as a man, it could be skewed. But I imagine that when a woman sees a commercial for underwear, the withered face of a '60s songwriter doesn't entice her to buy. At least not Bob's withered face. Maybe David Crosby. Women love him.

Ben
"WHERE THE FUCK DID THIS COME FROM?????" -- that was my reaction hearing "Machine Gun Etiquette" for the first time, but that's another story for another time.

Yeah, I'd say "Head out of ass" is the most appropriate title for this album. I'm sure the world was not expecting much from the Bobinator, so I'm sure this must have shocked the shit out of everyone when this came out. Not me of course, this album came out when I was five and this was actually the first Dylan album I remember hearing (or at least hearing about). So I had to endure all those (allegedly) subpar albums after hearing this one. To get this out the way, this is my favorite of his since "Blonde on Blonde". Yes, I like it that much. Every song is a winner. Even "Highlands" is pretty good. My least favorite song of here of course, but fuck it, that's like the only bad thing I can say about this. My favorite song here is "Trying to Get to Heaven" (what a beautiful song), followed closely by "Make You Feel My Love" (fuck you Adele and Billy Joel) and "Cold Irons Bound". I'll give this a well deserved 9.

On the cover, it's not quite as cool as the one for the previous studio album, but it's still pretty fucking cool.

Add your thoughts?

Love And Theft - Columbia 2001.
Rating = 8


Clobbert Billan does it agayn! He's siXXXty years old now, and decided to celebrate his siXXXtiest birthday by donning his white cap, growing his plantation owner Clark Gable mustache and gathering a bunch of bumpkins in a barn for a good old '20s-style country hoedown! Slow swing tunes for flappers, "Froggy Went A Courtin Style" folky tunes, toodly-doo violin/fiddles, lots of slide and acoustic guitar, a banjo and accordion when appropriate -- NO HITS ALLOWED!

Actually, I'm exaggertating. A couple of these songs sound like they could have come from Blood On The Tracks-era Dylan ("Mississippi" and "Sugar Baby") and a few others are sort of Chuck Berry-style blues rockers, though they honestly sound more like the early '50s r'n'b music that probably influenced Mr. Charles Barris, host of the Gong Show, than it sounds INSPIRED by your "Maybelline" and your "My Ding-A-Ling." So keep your head in the past and it's not unpossible to enjoy the living, breathing cuntflaps out of this collection of wonderful good time music! SO MUCH FUN! You'll grab your baby and shake a rug at the groovin' brush strokin' drummin' and the sound of a happy old man playing music for the grandkids.

Wow. "Sugar Baby" is a beautiful song. Just thought I'd mention that.

So that's two really, REALLY good Dylan albums in a row -- actually FOUR, if you count the two covers albums. Speaking for myself, I'm astonished that this album is so tremendously entertaining. And not even just entertaining, but CATCHY! Even the songs that seem a little limited by genre specificity at first soon hit home with awesome melodic breaks, harmonizing organ tones in the background and/or surprisingly singalongable vocal melodies. It sounds not a whit like Time Out Of Mind, but is just as much a winner.

What the hell was that noise?

AUGGHHH!!! IT'S A PAIR OF LIVING, BREATHING CUNTFLAPS THAT I HAVE ENJOYED OUT OF THIS ALBUM!!!! THEY'RE GOING TO SWALLOW ME ALIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII

ve. That was stupid. Somebody rewrite this ending. I don't care who. As long as you've got a big juicy cock I can suck on.

Rewrite that part too.

Reader Comments

AteWaySatan@hotmail.com
Proper/alternate ending ending:

Leif garret: What was that noise???
Buddy Holly: I don’t know but it came from the basement!
Michael Stipe: Guys, I’m really scared I think we should call the Authorities.
Freddy Mercury: Shut the fuck up Stipe! And for the love of GOD, grow some Testicles.
John Lennon: Leave him ALONE FREDDY!
Freddy Mercury: [To Lennon] you want a piece of me you semen-craving, black boy?
Leif garret: GUYS! We HAVE to focus on the issue here.
Michael Stipe: I say we call Authorities.
Freddy Mercury: I say we call you’re MOTHER for another HANDJOB! What do you think if that Limp wrist?
Leif Garret: Well I’m going down to the basement.
Michael Stipe: NO, Leif, DON’T! you will get hurt!
Leif Garret: It’s raining men stipe.
Michael Stipe: I know. I just… care about you....
Leif Garret: {Puts hands on stipes shoulders} It will be ....o k

(the all travel down to the basement holding hands)

well, Basically to make a long story short Leif Garret gets addicted and busted for heroin a couple times, Freddy mercury dies of Aids, John Lennon gets Brutally stabbed to death, Buddy Holly dies in a fatal plain crash and Michael Stipe CONTINUES to torcher people with his dreadful radio friendly music a happy ending indeed for the entire crew.

cathiejohn@optushome.com.au
OK, I'd say I'm sticking my neck out except I'm not because I live in Australia and you'll never find me: this is better than "Blonde On Blonde", better than "Highway 61" and a shit-load better than that over-rated dud "Time Out of Mind".

Sure it won't change the world like the first two (but Bob's already done that at least once) and it won't give the same buzz to the alt.rock nerds who think that if they talk about Harry Smith to the politically active chick in their English class she'll blow them (she's never heard of Harry Smith, or "Mojo" for that matter), but for the rest of us this is simply a masterpiece.

A long elegy for his mother. A playful meditation on "Saviours"...

Some of Dylan's best songs ever played by his best studio ensemble since The Band and no Daniel Lanois to fuck the sound.

Beautiful.

NMcpherson@fac.unc.edu (Earl McPherson)
Yeah, he's got a good backing band on this one. He had a good band back in the late eighties with G.E. Smith and those other two guys and I wondered why he didn't record with them. At first, this didn't impress me all that much but it got better. Wasn't the release date for this one on September 11, 2001? -An eight.

vkk@hutchtel.net (Samuel L.)
To the critic on this site-

Yes, bob has created a history of music that is the 'same'.

Every musician that was ever anything finds their niche. He's damn good at what he does. he is the best songwriter and the best at piercing our souls than anyone. He is what we can't be, which is why we talk about him. Stop making a fool of yourself and be positive!

mcramahamasham@hotmail.com (Scot P. Livingston)
A CONTRARIAN'S VIEW OF DYLAN'S DISCOGRAPHY

by Scot P. Livingston

I first became aware of Bob Dylan in the late eighties. I'm sure my parents must've been aware of him, and maybe even liked him back in the day, but I certainly don't remember hearing them played around the house. They mostly listened to musical theatre. As a result, when I was a teen I could enjoy The Beatles without the stigma of knowing that my parents liked them too (even though they probably did). All through high school and junior high all I listened to were Weird Al and The Beatles. And seeing as George was my favorite Beatle, when I heard about the Traveling Wilburys project and rushed out to buy it even though I had never heard of any of the other guys before. Immediately I fell in love. By the end of the summer I had accumulated Jeff Lynne's Armchair Theatre, Tom Petty's Full Moon Fever, and Bob Dylan's Oh Mercy! (if I hadn't hated "Not Alone Anymore" I probably would've ended up with Roy Orbison's Mystery Girl too). I loved the album - but unlike my Tom Petty fixation, it never went farther than that. Until about five years ago, upon my request, a friend of mine got me Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits, Vol. I, II & III. I first noticed it during "Subterranean Homesick Blues". I got it. I understood the appeal of his Bob-ness. Around this time I started a new job as a security guard, and the bank where I went to cash my checks was right across the street from a Tower Records. And at the Tower Records they were getting rid of all of their old cassettes - 3 for ten bucks. So every two weeks I'd walk in there flush with cash and buy another trio of Dylan albums for my car (which only had a tape deck). I had done no reading on the life and times of Dylan, so I had no idea who these albums were seen or thought of or in which order they came in chronologically. And with really no liner notes to speak of (not that I should be reading that while I'm driving anyway), I just sort of absorbed Dylan's entire oeuvre randomly and simultaneously. But I still loved it. Well - most of it. Finally out of curiosity I read a few books of criticism of Dylan (most notably Clinton Heylin's works) and some of the mountains and mountains of stuff posted on the web. And I was pretty shocked to find that everything that I particularly liked on those tapes was the stuff that everyone else thought was sub-standard, while most of the stuff given the masterpiece designation I felt was overdone. I wasn't disagreeing with the majority intentionally (like I am often wont to do). I still thought of myself as a Dylan fan. I had all of the albums right? Where did I go wrong? So this is what I think, hopefully it'll encourage others who aren't familiar with his catalog to give it a shot - and those who think they are, to give some stuff a second look.

Now, most people think of Bob more as a lyricist than a melody-maker. Whether we're talking about his more straightforward protest songs or his later drug-fueled mishmash of metaphors, Bob's words are complex, layered, and sometimes undecipherable. They're the meat of his songs. His melodies are usually stolen from some forgotten 16th Century Scottish ballad. His chords progressions are usually just 3 or 4 chords repeated over and over. He rarely writes a separate section for the chorus, much less a bridge. But personally that's what I really look to Bob for. I know his lyrics are brilliant. I'm not arguing with that. Of all the lyrics I've ever heard, his are sometimes some of the best. It's just that I don't care that much about the deeper meaning of the words. It's the music that really sells what might otherwise be pure gibberish. Sure, his songs are fairly simple and unschooled, sometimes little more than just a riff. But there's something particularly powerful and sincere in his insistence in playing them. It's almost Punk. So to my ears, something with fairly simple or stupid words ("Wiggle Wiggle" or "Wigwam") is much more interesting than his great epics ("Desolation Row", "Sad Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands", "Joey", "Brownsville Girl" and "Highlands"), which tend to be the same three chords for eleven-plus minutes.

Bob Dylan

Popular perception holds that Bob Dylan is first and foremost as a brilliant songwriter, an adequate guitar player, and a horrible singer. So it's kind of a surprising to most people to hear that his first album as a complete unknown was composed almost completely made of covers. Only two originals ("Song To Woody" and "Talkin' New York") are included. Clearly, Columbia thought that had something in this twenty year-old's voice and guitar picking. Not to mention his taste in traditional material. In fact the two originals are some of the weakest tracks on here. Both "House Of The Rising Sun" and "Man Of Constant Sorrow" are on here years before they became hits for The Animals and O Brother, Where Art Thou, respectively. Even though Bob himself didn't actually write them his ear is impeccable. Another great song (that still could be re-discovered and turned into a hit is) "In My Time Of Dyin'" which is also notable for being the first and only time we get to hear Bob's amazing/primitive slide guitar playing. Why?!? Bob Dylan is really more of a Blues album than Folk (witness songs like "Highway 51", "Fixin' To Die", and "See That My Grave Is Kept Clean"). Bt was a good thing that, at that time, most people classified the album as Folk. Which during its big early 60s boom was mired in Ivory league intellectual-ism, bright harmonies and the squeaky-clean image of say the Chad Mitchell and Kingston Trios. None of them injected such humor as Bob into these old songs that were then considered somewhat untouchable (see "Pretty Peggy-O", "Freight Train Blues" or "Talkin' New York"). Which makes the two originals, as unimpressive as I think they are, that much more important. He was putting himself back into the process, returning it to the rough-hewn self-made form of Woody Guthrie. And in the process making the term folksinger to mean something closer to solo-singer-songwriter with an acoustic guitar rather than someone who actually just sings and plays the kind of songs passed on down by the oral tradition.

The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan

Bob rarely does the same thing twice (well - he rarely does the same thing three times in a row), and here on his second album he's already changing things around. Gone are most of the covers (only "Corrina, Corrina" remains). Instead we get a lot of Bob Dylan in his own words. In fact two of the songs include his name in the title ("Bob Dylan's Blues" and "Bob Dylan's Dream"). And furthermore The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan is a good album. He manages to create a fairly wide diversity of styles with his limited instrumental palette of voice, guitar, and harmonica. Although there is one song one here, "Corrina, Corrina", which features outside musicians - upright bass and brushed drums - for the first time (unless you count the deleted single "Mixed-Up Confusion") already showing Bob's frustration with that limitation. While the album is best known for its finger-pointing protest songs ("Blowin' In The Wind", "Masters Of War", "Oxford Blues", and "A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall"), there's a lot more to it than that. There are a couple of great touching sad songs (the classic "Girl From North Country" and "Don't Think Twice"). And there's also a lot of fun goofy songs that are as well remembered - "Talkin' World War II Blues", "Honey, Just Allow Me One More Chance", and "I Shall Be Free". There's also a couple examples of a common Bob Dylan M.O.: a standard 12-bar blues progression that he plays like he invented it, as a vehicle for some of his wild and wooly words: "Bob Dylan's Blues" and "Down The Highway".

The Times They Are A-Changin'

While most Dylan fans seem to prefer The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan to its consistently dour follow-up, I actually like The Times They Are A-Changin' better. Sure, The Freewheelin'­ Bob Dylan does feature a lot more diversity of styles, the almost constant barrage of "protest" songs makes Bob's activism seem like less of a pose. Besides, putting the lyrics aside (as I tend to do), the subject matter must've spurred Bob into writing a much stronger set of pieces from a musical standpoint. "Ballad Of Hollis Brown" and "Boots Of Spanish Leather" are better than anything on its predecessor. Besides, not all of the songs are about causes. "One Too Many Mornings", "Boots Of Spanish Leather", and "Restless Farewell" could all probably count as love songs. Although I will agree that there isn't much on here that's upbeat (either lyrically or musically), I think that it's a much more heart-rending and powerful album for it. Besides there is some optimism in the title track and "When The Ship Comes On" and some humor in "With God On Our Side". It's not completely bleak. Really, my biggest complaint comes from "With God On My Side". First of all - it tends to drag on a little long for a song with only one guitar and no new parts. It also features something that crops up a lot on these early Dylan albums. He seems completely unsure what kind of accompaniment he wants on the guitar. Sometimes he's got this wild strumming on the triplets, but when he gets tired and can't keep up he switches to just hitting the downbeats. It's very distracting whenever it happens. Luckily, we don't hear much more of it after "with God On Our Side".

Another Side Of Bob Dylan

Another Side is right. Two albums of finger-pointing songs and Bob's already bored again and ready to move on. Although many critics tend to think of Another Side­ Of Bob Dylan as an electric album without the electric instruments, since the words have a lot more in common with Bringing It All Back Home or Highway 61 Revisited than they do with The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan or The Times They Are A Changin'. But really it's another acoustic album. And of Bob's first four solo acoustic albums, this is my least favorite. I'm not sure why I don't like it more. It features some of the last of Bob's out-and-out funny songs (only "Bob Dylan's 115th Dream" really remain until the Traveling Wilbury days), and a lot of them ("Motorpsycho Nightmare", "All I Want To Do", and "I Shall Be Free No. 10"). He's once again attempting to expand his range with the piano-playing "Black Crow Blues". It's not that I'm upset that his lyrics have abandoned the sloganeering of Woody Guthrie for the rambling of Jack Kerouac. It's just that funny songs aren't as funny; the love songs aren't as touching. The music isn't as interesting. "My Back Pages" and "It Ain't Me, Babe" are good songs, but these performances are so uninspired that it'd take other performances (by Bob not the Byrds or the Turtles) to really show them off. "Chimes Of Freedom" is just annoying. Really, my favorite song on here is the one that everyone (including Bob himself) seems most embarrassed by: "Ballad In Plain D". First of it's a great title. The main reason I think everyone doesn't like it is because it's too personal, too mean, reveals too many details. They probably are, but I don't really mind. Not being the kind of person who digs through Bob's garbage to find out more about his private life, I couldn't tell. Really they only part of Dylan's personal life is the part he puts down on record. The rest is really none of my business - or even interest.

Bringing It All Back Home

It's kind of disappointing that Bob hedged his bets and didn't make this album all-electric. Although the fact that he chose to put the acoustic songs on side 2 rather than first side or mixing them together sort of undercuts whatever kind of compromise he was trying to make with the die-hard folkies he was leaving. Who knows? This is one of my all-time favorite Dylan albums. Bob's idea of rock'n'roll is certainly just loud, slightly sped up 12-bar blues with some strange words on top. There's "Maggie's Farm", "Outlaw Blues", "On The Road Again". "Subterranean Homesick Blues" takes the 12-bars and stretches it into 24 or so to fit in all of his fun (if not terribly meaningful) words. Clearly the rest of band - who play enthusiastically and with great talent, don't have any idea when the next chord is coming. Listening to all of the attempt to keep up (or at least catch up) with Bob makes this some great rough-hewed risky rock that demands as many repeated listenings as something as exquisite and intricately constructed as say ­Pet Sounds. And not that side 2 is just a bone thrown to his old audience. "Gates Of Eden" and "It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)" are two of Bob's best songs ever. And both featuring single solitary one-note blasts from the harmonica at the end of each verse to remind of you of what Bob used to do - and to let you know how much different this is. Not that Bringing It All Back Home is perfect. (No Dylan album is perfect. Each has a couple of stinkers and at least one or two moments of genius. The only question is how much of each - and how good are the rest.) Neither "She Belongs To Me" nor "Love Minus Zero/No Limit" (which is a great title) do much for me. Maybe I've just heard it too many times from the Byrds - and William Shatner - to really appreciate it, but I always thought that "Mr. Tambourine Man". And is it just me, or is the second guitar that is noodling around in the background of "Mr. Tambourine Man" and "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue" completely unrelated to what's going on in the rest of the song and slightly out of tune? Whatever it is, it ruined "It's All Over Now" for me forever. Still, a great album.

Highway 61 Revisited

Highway 61 Revisited is not nearly as good as Bringing It All Back Home but still an amazing album. More fun up-tempo blues numbers: "Tombstone Blues", the title track, "It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry", and "From A Buick 6" (two more great titles!). "Like A Rolling Stone" deserves its reputation as an all-time rock'n'roll classic. Bob is stretching with "Ballad Of A Thin Man" and it works. Creepy and funny, it's my favorite song on the album. Side two is a problem though. Other than the title track, it's filled with somewhat tedious, mid-tempo, too long excuses for clever lyrics: "Queen Jane Approximately", "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues" and "Desolation Row". "Desolation Row" even features the return of that incessantly jamming slightly off-key guitar from "It's All Over Now". Sure, nothing could be as good as it, but highway 61 Revisited is still a worthy follow-up to Bringing It All Back Home.

Blonde On Blonde

Why this album is considered the height of Bob's mid-60s electric trilogy is beyond me. (Why these three albums are considered his only really good sustained period escapes me too). Blonde On Blonde is nowhere near as good as Bringing It All Back Home or Highway 61 Revisited, just much longer. The tedious songs ("(Sooner Or Later) One Of Us Must Know", "Visions Of Johanna", "Temporary Like Achilles") are growing greater both in number and in length. "Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands" takes up one whole side and forces the whole thing into a double album. Even the title of "Stuck Inside Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again" is too long. And yet the rocking blues songs are getting scarcer. Only "Pledging My Time", "Leopard Skin Pill Box Hat" and "Obviously 5 Believers" (the three best songs on here) from the whole 2 record set. The more balladic love songs are getting better. "I Want You" and "4th Time Around" are better than "She Belongs To Me" or "Love Minus Zero". "Just Like A Woman" is just okay. With much more room to stretch out and show off his range, the only really different or experimental cut on here is the drunken Salvation Army band of "Rainy Day Women #13 & 35", another song deserving its lauded reputation. Not that I don't like Blonde On Blonde but really, I put on the double-album Self-Portrait far more often.

The Basement Tapes

Much like Blonde On Blonde, I don't get the appeal of this double-album either. First of all I don't understand why they have to sell this on two CDs. At 76:41 it could easily fit onto one. ­Blonde On Blonde and Self-Portrait are both sold as single discs. And The Band's songs ("Orange Juice Blues (Blues For Breakfast)", "Yazoo Street Scandal", "Katie's Been Gone", "Bessie Smith", "Ain't No More Cane", "Rubin Remus") do not belong here. Neither historically nor thematically. They're part of some other album. And they're not nearly as good. Even the two Band songs that Dylan wrote ("Long Distance Operator" and "Don't You Tell Henry") are misplaced. For me a song Dylan sings but did not write has a lot more business being on a Bob Dylan album than a song Bob Dylan wrote but someone else sang (except maybe "All The Tired Horses"). If you took off these songs, you'd have plenty of room on the disc for such legitimately released Basement material as Biograph's "The Mighty Quinn (Quinn The Eskimo)" and The Bootleg Series Vol. 1-3's "I Shall Be Released" and "Santa-Fe", as well as such illicit songs as "I'm You Teenage Prayer", "Sign On The Cross", "Get Your Rocks Off", "All You Have To Do Is Dream" and the superb "I'm Not There (1956)". While the entire 5-disc bootleg The Genuine Basement Tapes (which I have not actually listened to) seems a bit much, it's probably a better representation than the officially released 1975 version. But song selection is hardly the worst problem with The Basement Tapes. While Bob's motorcycle accident did afford him the excuse to stop touring and slow down his lifestyle, it was not responsible for the "amnesia" that gripped Bob around this time, causing him to lose the ability to unconsciously write the kind of songs that fueled his electric heyday. In fact, if anything, the songs on The Basement Tapes certainly do sound like a piece of and further continuation of the "wild mercury sound" of its predecessors. Both in terms of the free-associated imagery in the lyrics and in the Blues-y Americana of the music, it certainly has a lot more in common with Blonde On Blonde than John Wesley Harding. The main difference between the two albums is that Blonde On Blonde was recorded in a real studio, with real quality recording equipment, and sympathetic professional Nashville session musicians. The Basement Tapes was recorded on some crappy tape recorder, in the basement of some farm, with the sloppy spotlight-stealing showboating of the Band. There are some great (written) songs on this album, but you can hardly hear them under the murk of the tapes and the omnipresent backing vocals. Really, compare The Basement Tapes versions of "Crash On The Levee (Down In The Flood)", "You Ain't Going Nowhere", or "I Shall Be Released" with the versions Bob recorded in 1971 with Happy Traum for the Greatest Hits, Vol. II compilation. They're so much better, cleaner, and more audible. A record isn't just a performance; you have to be able to hear it. And while Bob may not have consciously went into The Basement Tapes project with the idea of ever releasing this material, and with the legends surrounding these sessions, it was probably inevitable that it would've leaked, he should've thought twice about the actual record that he did put out eight years later.

John Wesley Harding

And once again Bob's shifted gears on us. Gone are the electric guitars that so inflamed the Newport audience. At the height of psychedelia, Bob the rebel comes out with what in the 90s would be considered an Unplugged band. Also the tenor of the lyrics has changed. Instead of the random fleeting images of Blonde On Blonde, we have a set of fairly literal straightforward story-songs, the original definition of ballad. Regardless of how interesting or dull the events described, you could always tell exactly what was going on. Oddly enough, the one song with the most surreal lyrics, "All Along The Watchtower" was also the biggest hit (not for Dylan, but Jimi Hendrix). This time around Bob is only using a bass and drums in addition to his acoustic guitar and harmonica. Only while Bob's earliest albums, which didn't even have that rhythm section, managed to sound interesting and diverse, this new arrangement strangles and limits Bob. While Bob would make this line-up work to great effect on Blood On The Tracks, here it has a very static and dull quality musically. Most of the songs are kind of hard to tell apart from each other: the title track, "As I Went Out One Morning", "I Am A Lonesome Hobo", "Dear Landlord", "Drifter's Escape", "I Pity The Immigrant", "I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine". As for "The Ballad Of Frankie Lee And Judas Priest", goes on way too long, particularly if you find the lyrics to be unimpressive. By the time the Pete Drake shows up for the last two songs (even though usually I think of the pedal steel guitar and the audio equivalent of a headache), it's almost a relief to get some more scope. A couple of songs are worth mentioning. "All Along The Watchtower" manages to be just as wild and heavy as Hendrix's version, even without all the distortion and effects. "The Wicked Messenger" (my personal favorite) is just a simple riff, repeated with such single-mindedness that it becomes something much more impressive. "I'll Be Your Baby Tonight" could be seen as an interesting one-off genre experiment if it weren't for the album that follows.

Nashville Skyline

Apparently Bob's balladeering, acoustic trio phase only lasted the one album, John Wesley Harding, and once again it's off to something new. "I'll Be Your Baby Tonight" wasn't a fluke, it was an omen. Here Dylan's trying his hand at making music as a business. Even though at this point he's a happily married family man, Bob's songs celebrating love found ("Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With You", "To Be Alone With You", "Peggy Day") sound no more intimate and personal than the songs lamenting love lost ("I Threw It All Away", "Tell Me That It Isn't True"). He's trying to emulate the Tin Pan Alley, Brill Building, and Nashville's Music Row School of songwriting. Detached, popular, mechanical. The thing that makes the album work is how bad he is at being this kind of songwriting hack. His earnestness at trying to write a good, commercial, popular song is almost enduring. Musically - well, I really don't like country music, but I don't mind it so much here. Sure, the duet with Johnny Cash ("Girl From North Country") takes one of my favorite Dylan tunes and drains most of its beauty. Dylan also showcases his first instrumental, "Nashville Skyline Rag". While normally I would laud such a move, this ditty is little more than a jam - which since it's being performed almost entirely by session musicians, shows off little originality or insight. The tune "Country Pie" is so off its attempts to describe domestic bliss that it almost seems like one of Bob's weirder Blonde On Blonde kind of moments. It's my favorite on the album. The other real classic is "Lay Lady Lay" with it's unusual cowbell/bongo percussion, subverts the otherwise stereotypical country sound, helping make it stand out all the more. I've got to say that it's sub-30 minute running time also makes this trip into the actual Nashville sound that much more endurable.

Self-Portrait

Although Bob has certainly released albums that in popular and critical perception were worse than Self-Portrait (Knocked Out Loaded, Down In The Groove, even 1973's Dylan album) none have receive the amount of derision and scorn. Why exactly? Of all of Bob's musical U-turns that could've turned into career suicides (going from covers to originals, going from protest to personal, going from acoustic to electric, going from rock star to recluse hermit and then returning as a country gentleman) this was the only one that didn't bring him for fans that he alienated in the process. It was the first move he made that didn't seem wise in retrospect. Plus the title, Self-Portrait, certainly promised a far more in-depth and personal view of the artist than it delivered. But I think the thing that still bugs Dylan fans about Self-Portrait is the big question that hovers over the entire album: Why'd he do it? Was recording an album almost entirely of covers a big F.U. to Albert Grossman who he was suing for control of his songwriting royalties? (Much like Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music). Or even a big F.U. to all of those rabid fans who were dissecting even the trite clichés of Nashville Skyline hoping for a deeper meaning? Much like the motorcycle accident, a way/excuse to slow down the star-making treadmill he was trapped on. Or had the "amnesia" set in and this was the best that Bob could do? He has claimed that Self-Portrait was in his own way his "bootleg" record. What did he mean by that? It's not like this was previously unreleased (legally) material that he put out, like The Bootleg Series or even The Basement Tapes, he deliberately recorded this to sound like a bootleg that didn't exist. Considering that the big Bob bootleg at the time was The Great White Wonder, which mixed 1961 Dinkytown recordings with 1967 Woodstock demos, he might have meant that Self-Portrait was just as jumbled, schizophrenic and incompatible with itself. For those looking for something Bob's lyrics, this double album was certainly a disappointment. He didn't even write 2/3rd of the songs. And those he did write were either really sloppy live versions from the Isle of Wight Festival of previously released songs, or songs with no words ("Woogie Boogie", Wigwam") or only two lines repeated ad infinitum ("All The Tired Horses"). Really the only new lyrics on here belonged to "Living The Blues" and "Minstrel Boy". But I like it. It's one of my all-time favorite Dylan albums. Of course, that may just be my tendency to root for the underdog. Plus the fact that I was not around to be disappointed during its initial release. But really it's not that bad. If you look at it right. Don't think of it as an accurate, in-depth look into Dylan's whole life. Rather see it as a blurry snapshot from a day in the life. Singing along to a couple of pop tunes on the radio that he kind of likes ("The Boxer", "Early Morning Rain"). Remembering some old tunes from his past growing up in the 50s ("Blue Moon", "Let It Be Me"). But mostly some older folk tunes that he discovered later and inspired him in the early days playing ("Copper Kettle", "Belle Isle", "Little Sadie", "Alberta #1" & "#2"). Even trying to figure out the chords to one of them ("In Search Of Little Sadie"). Goofing around outside the studio making music, ala _The Basement Tapes_ ("Woogie Boogie", "Minstrel Boy"). Trying to figure out some words ("Wigwam") or at least the next line ("All The Tired Horses") of some new songs he's just started writing. Going to his day job singing songs he doesn't really feel connect to anymore (the live versions of "She Belongs To Me" and "Like A Rolling Stone" with the forgotten lyrics). It's almost Dylan's most recorded record (at least until _Empire Burlesque_). Unlike all Dylan albums up to this point (and most after) which sound like they were recorded in under a week with a new group of under-rehearsed musicians learning the songs for the first time. This album features what is Dylan's first vocal overdub, when he harmonizes with himself (almost) on "The Boxer". And while there are some definite recording tricks and time taken on this album there is still a certain amount of the usual sloppiness on the album (like the unmistakable error that ruins the otherwise perfect "Days Of 49"). But it's like he's taken these little doodles on crumpled up napkins and put them into these ornate gilded frames. Much the same way Phil Spector's production transformed the Beatles' Get Back project into the perplexing Let It Be. Definitely not what anyone wanted or expected at the time. In some respects, it was so weird, that every album that got decent critical or popular acclaim after it (New Morning, Blood On The Tracks, Infidels, Oh Mercy!, Time Out Of Mind) were considered comebacks.

New Morning

To my ears, New Morning always sounds a bit like Nashville Skyline ... only without the country. No fiddles or pedal steels, but it's still Bob trying once again to work in the songwriter-for-hire mode. Sure two of the songs are lyrically little more than veiled anecdotes from Bob's life (meeting Elvis in "Went To See The Gypsy" and getting an honorary doctorate in "Day Of The Locusts"). But for the most part this is Bob writing outside of himself. He's doing work for other writers and projects ("Three Angels" and "Father Of Night" from the nowhere near completed Devil and Daniel Webster musical). On my two favorite songs off this album, he's showing off his range and versatility with a schmaltz-waltz that would be perfect for the Lawrence Welk show ("Winterlude") and then switching directly into Jazz ("If Dogs Run Free"). Even the Blues (which Dylan had often played with and stretched into his own image) is given a fairly straight run-through with "One More Weekend". He's even trying to write straight-ahead pop songs like the title track, "The Man In Me", and "If Not For You" (which sounds like it should be a hit for Olivia Newton-John... and it was). While New Morning is not nearly as brave or interesting as Self-Portrait or even Nashville Skyline, it's a solid, fun, and occasionally weird album.

Dylan

Although an album of outtakes from Self-Portrait (all covers) was certainly considered by most to be the worst idea imaginable, it didn't anger die-hard Dylan fans as much as Self-Portrait simply because, they knew Bob wasn't to blame for this. Dylan was in fact released apparently by Columbia without Bob's permission as a form of revenge for (temporarily) signing with David Geffen's Asylum label. There wasn't that question of "what was Bob thinking?" hanging over this album, making it much more forgivable and much less interesting. In fact, since this is the only album in the oeuvre that Bob hasn't officially released on CD (although it's still available on cassette), it's often considered fairly apocryphal to the official canon. However it clearly wasn't enough of a thorn in Dylan's side to keep him from returning to Columbia, where he remains to this day. It is also, despite sounding very similar in tone and (non-) authorship, most of these track are not from the Self-Portrait sessions. Just compare the la-la-la's on "The Man In Me" and it's impossible to deny that these songs were recorded during New Morning. While Dylan has denied that the all-original New Morning was recorded as a response to the critical hammering that Self-Portrait took (and the fact that he recorded most of New Morning before Self-Portrait's release does bear this out), the fact that he pulled all of the covers songs that were going to make up a large portion of that album may have been an indication that he was listening to what his fans wanted instead of trusting his own instinct. Because Dylan isn't bad. It's not great. It's not even as good as Self-Portrait, but it's pretty good. It takes a lot of guts to cover not one but two Elvis songs ("A Fool Such As I" and "Can't Help Falling In Love") - especially if one isn't known as a vocalist and interpreter of other people's material. It is kind of odd that he chose to re-write the one line from which Joni Mitchell's "Big Yellow Taxi" in which the title actually appears. He had no problem singing from or even writing from the woman's point of view before ("House Of The Rising Sun", "North Country Blues"). I guess singing that you had an "old man" doesn't necessarily mean one is female. The version of "Spanish Is the Loving Tongue" is often derided for being cheesy and lounge-like. Its worst crime seems to be failing to be the solo piano version that appeared as the B-side to "Watching The River Flow". Personally, while it may not be as intimate, it's far more cohesive, interesting and fun to listen here. Overall, it's a fun weird goofy album, even if "The Ballad of Ira Hayes" drags on a bit too long. It definitely deserves to be released on CD, although it appears unlikely (at least until after Dylan croaks).

Greatest Hits, Vol. II

Generally, I don't pay much attention to compilation packages. While they are a good way of introducing a neophyte to an artist, generally they don't represent the artist's most interesting work... namely the kind of stuff that isn't a greatest hit. It's through one's flaws and failures that one really gets to know what makes someone tick. Besides, if you happen to have a different taste or sensibility than the majority, your favorite songs from an artist may have no relation to those that sold the largest number of 45s. And usually the weakest track on any compilation is the one new (or previously unreleased) track used to force the completist collector who insists on owning everything. Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits, Vol. II­ is worth mentioning (unlike Vols. I and III) because of the four sides of vinyl, one whole half-record of new material is presented here. Besides if you add the two singles released at the same time, "George Jackson [Big Band Version]" and "Watching The River Flow" (which is also included on Greatest Hits, Vol. II) and their B-sides "George Jackson [Acoustic Version]" and "Spanish Is The Loving Tongue" and the one outtake from the "George Jackson" sessions included on The Bootleg Series Vol. 1-3, "Wallflower", you've got enough for a whole album. In fact if you put all A-sides the stuff that Leon Russell produced on one side, and all of the B-sides with the Happy Traum duets on the other, you've got a half-electric, half-acoustic LP much like Bringing It All Back Home. And for my money, one great (purely hypothetical) album. Why Dylan chose to spread this out over a couple of singles and a compilation is hard to say. It was in the middle of a relative dry spell for Dylan - he could've used a stopgap. Remember when the year and a half between Blonde On Blonde and John Wesley Harding was considered sacrilegious? Nowadays, we don't even expect a new album from Dylan (or anybody else) for three or four years. And as compilations go it fairly interesting. Most of Bob's actual hit hits were included on Greatest Hits, Volume I. So instead we've got songs like "My Back Pages" and "All Along The Watchtower", which were hits but not for Bob, included with songs that the fans seem to really like ("Stuck Inside Mobile", "Tom Thumb's Blues") that were never even released as singles. Interesting.

Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid

Most people see Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid as nothing more than a really long super-maxi-single for "Knockin' On Heaven's Door" with several unnecessary re-mixes of the B-Side, "Billy". While it's hard to argue that there are any other songs on this album (or any other album by Dylan or not) as good as "Knockin'", if you're only interested in Bob for his words you're going to miss a whole lot here. It is easily Bob's most instrumental heavy album (and since it's really a soundtrack, that's too be expected). Most people can't even really tell these songlets apart. Which means they miss all the fun goofy humor in the banjo-laden "Turkey Chase" (my second favorite song on the album). And of the songs that do have words, you get three different vocal versions of "Billy" (numbered 1, 4 and 7 for some reason) as well as another instrumental. Sure, all three offer up pretty close to identical lyrics - all which are little more than dumbed-down Cliff's Notes versions of the plot of the movie. Musically they do each convey a subtly different mood. Okay, "Billy" is not a particularly great song, but despite its reputation as an all-time classic, "Knockin' On Heaven's Door" actually is. And regardless of Eric Clapton or Axl Rose's attempts to steal this song, the Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid version remains the definitive one. Sure, this album is a lost great classic, but it's certainly worth more than just that one song.

Planet Waves

I've got to admit, I really don't like Planet Waves. For one thing I'm not a big fan of The Band. I've not particularly liked any of the stuff they've done as a group. Robbie Robertson always seemed like a smug, condescending, pretentious rock-star (like Sting or Phil Collins). Back when they were just a band and not The Band, they were good for what Dylan was doing on tour in 1966 (namely loud), but there's a reason why he always ended up using the Nashville session players on his album. (The fact that drummer Levon helm was too chicken to endure the boos of Tour '66 is another stroke against them). Their playing has always been as subtle as a sledgehammer. But it's not entirely The Band's fault that I don't like this album. On Planet Waves, Bob finally achieves what he was aiming for on Nashville Skyline and New Morning; he becomes a completely detached, uninvolved songwriter. But where those two discs were charming in the sincere ineptitude, this one actually pulls it off slickly - much to its detriment. And as a result songs like "Tough Mama", "Hazel", "Something There Is About You", "You Angel You", and "Never Say Goodbye" are almost impossible to tell apart. It'll become a bad habit that'll pop up again and again in Bob's career. The opening number holds some promise. The Cajun Zydeco of "On A Night Like This" promises more of the weird genre experimentation of New Morning's "Winterlude" and "If Dogs Run Free", but never follows up on it. "Going Going Gone" is in fact a really good song, but you can hardly tell over The Band's showboating. (Although I like most of At Budokan, the version of "Going, Going Gone" on there proves it could be much much worse). "Forever Young" ends Bob's tradition of adding more than one version of the same song to the same album ("Alberta" and "Billy"). While the slower second version is pretty darn good (and proof that Rod Stewart is a thief), the fast version makes the song seem almost as forgettable as the rest of the album. Compare "Dirge" with the similarly arranged (just piano and acoustic guitar) "Blind Willie McTell" from The Bootleg Series Vol. 1-3, and see how distracting Robbie Robertson is in comparison to Mark Knopfler. His little scratching the string thing is all over here and really annoying. Even without The Band, "The Wedding Song" sounds about as tacked on as it really was. Not that the album is painfully unlistenable or anything. With a musician as talented as Bob Dylan, even when he's coasting there's bound to be a certain amount of quality to endeavor. It's just that there's a real lack of anything interesting or risky going on here.

Blood On The Tracks

I know it seems like I'm just disagreeing with the commonly held Dylan perceptions on just about everything. But I'm not doing it just to be contrary. Case in point: I, like most everybody else, actually like Blood On The Tracks. I've never heard the original New York pressing, but for my money the Minneapolis tracks fit in and work perfectly. In fact, I can't even tell which ones were re-recorded. I know most people like to look at this album as an emotionally raw and painful, if cathartic, album of heartbreak (much like John Lennon's Plastic Ono Band.) But if you don't pay to much attention to the lyrics, it's a fairly upbeat, up-tempo collection of songs. Particularly bouncy are the two songs with some of the most maudlin words: "You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go" and "If You See Her, Say Hello". "Meet Me In The Morning" is yet another one of Bob's re-interpretations of the 12-bar Blues format. In fact, even the lyrics to "Lily Rosemary And The Jack Of Hearts" are light-hearted. Really, only "Idiot Wind" and "You're A Big Girl Now" are particularly slow, sad, or are in a minor key musically. While "You're Big Girl Now" is one of my favorite songs on the album, I never quite understood what the big deal about "Idiot Wind" was. It's a good song, but really the weakest one on this collection. And it does just go on and on. "Tangled Up In Blue", "Shelter From The Storm", and "Simple Twist Of Fate" are all bona-fide classics. "Buckets Of Rain" not so much. And while overall this is an unarguably great collection of songs, I don't find myself listening to it that often. Clearly it's not because the subject matter strikes a nerve. I don't know - maybe it's just too perfect and there are not enough weird fun little flaws to get caught up in. Still I always do enjoy it on those rare occasions when I do play it.

Desire

Most of Bob's albums up to this point (except for Self-Portrait) sound like the rehearsal tapes of Bob's new backing band warming up for a tour. It's just one group of musicians trying to learn a new batch of songs quickly. And whatever you think of that particular group of musicians (Nashville's finest session men, Mike Bloomfield and Company, The Band formerly known as the Hawks), that's all your going to get on that album. But rarely has a group of musicians so strongly imprinted a Dylan album as the ones on Desire. If you don't like Emmy Lou Harris's vocals and Scarlet Rivera's violin, you might as well turn this album off now, there's nothing on it you'll like. Even the best songs ("O Sister", "One More Cup Of Coffee") are sometimes hard to distinguish from the rest of the album. Lyrically, the songs have a very cosmopolitan, international flavor to them (thanks in most part to Bob's only long term collaborator, Jacques Levy). Musically there are some moments in here where Bob shows off a bit of sophistication (the double-time in "Romance In Durango" for example), but it's mostly just typical high-quality Bob. While the Rolling Thunder sound does get a bit grating at times, both "Sara" and "Isis" are particularly strong - perhaps just because they manage to stick out. "Hurricane" actually is a good song regardless of whatever factual errors the lyrics may or may not contain. "Joey" on the other hand... while I'm often in disagreement with the rest of Dylan aficionados over Bob's over ten minute epics, at least here everyone sees my point: it's boring. It goes on too long. It'd be a fine song if he just cut like seven verses out of it. Why they can only see it in "Joey" and not "Sad Eyed Lady of the Highlands" or "Lowlands" is beyond me.

Street Legal

While most of Bob's big band sound is in tact from Desire, trading the violin for the saxophone and Emmy Lou's lone back-up vocals for a trio of female gospel singers suddenly turns the ragged gypsy caravan into a slick Vegas production. I've always been really conflicted about Street Legal. On one hand you've got this brave new experimental band giving the songs a wide variety of possible sounds. On the other, the LP was recorded almost as muddily and murkily as The Basement Tapes leaving most of the subtle nuances buried in the mix (subsequent attempts to re-mix the album have produced no effect audible to my ears). On the plus side you've got three of my all-time favorite Dylan tunes: "Senor (Tales Of Yankee Power)", "New Pony", and "Changing Of The Guards". "New Pony" even shows a return of Bob writing an entire song around one simple magnetic riff, something we haven't heard since "The Wicked Messenger" on John Wesley Harding. However, the other two-thirds of the songs on there are as unremarkable and forgettable as Planet Waves. The band on this album is great. I don't know why it gets knocked as too show-biz-y. I even liked their live At Budokan album. I generally don't pay much attention to live albums (If the songs are too close to the original arrangements, then why not just listen to the original. If the songs are too far off of the arrangements, then they just seem sacrilegious). But the constant way that Bob and his quote-unquote Vegas band deconstruct and rearrange the most notable songs from Bob's catalog is both fascinated and brave, if not always successful ("Going, Going, Gone"). I find myself listening to Street Legal a lot - if just out of curiosity, though not usually enjoying it as much as I think I should.

Slow Train Coming

This album bugged out a lot of people, particularly when it first came out, almost solely because of its unremitting message. But really if you ignore the lyrics, there's a good record in here. Not great but good. And as the fear that Bob has totally lost his mind and will be doing nothing but singing Jesus songs for the rest of his life, this album's stature has grown. Clearly, whether you agree or even care about what he's singing about, he really means it. Personally I don't care if the lyrics are about sins, salvation and Satan or if they're about hoboes, immigrants and landlords. I'm only interested in the music. And musically, it's a lot more consistent than Street Legal. Although there aren't any songs as good as the three good ones on that record, overall it's much better. Clearly "New Pony" has re-inspired Bob to write more songs around a single riff. "Gotta Serve Somebody", "Slow Train", "Gonna Change My Way Of Thinking" and "When You Gonna Wake Up?" all follow this formula. They're best songs on this album. The slower numbers, "Precious Angel", "I Believe In You" and "When He Returns" are powerful, but not nearly as impressive. Also included is a whole new category for Dylan, Kid's songs. Since the first songs most of us ever learn are Bible songs, it does make since. "Man Gave Names To All The Animals" is silly and fun (which is nice on such an otherwise heavy record). And "Do Right To Me Baby (Do Unto Others)", with it's extra beat added every fourth measure (going from 4/4 to 5/4) is one of the most musically complicated things Bob's written since the jazz chords of "If Dogs Run Free" or the constantly shifting keys of "In Search Of Little Sadie". Overall Slow Train Coming is a pretty good album, and despite being a fairly staunch atheist, I enjoy listening to it.

Saved

Most people see Saved and Slow Train Coming as two sides to the same coin. And while they may share a common lyrical focus, for my money Slow Train Coming has a lot more in common with its predecessor, Street Legal, than it does with Saved. Looking past the words, Slow Train Coming's songs sound a lot Street Legal's. They're basic pop-rocks songs with the same basic arrangement of horns and backing singers. Sure you've got Jerry Wexler doing a much better job recording it, and Mark Knopfler adding some more zing on the guitar, but really it always sounded like Bob just added the word Jesus to whatever songs he was working on at the time of his conversion. Really, Saved is the first of the quote-unquote born again albums that really sound like it. The music here is Gospel. I don't get why Slow Train Coming is always more respected than Saved either. I mean if the Jesus words bother you, you're not getting much help from either album. I think at the time, Slow Train Coming was seen as a weird one-off diversion, but the fear with Saved was that this would be all that Bob would sing about from here on out. Plus with the music so clearly Gospel, it's harder to pretend that the lyrics aren't really so dogmatic. I think the two are just about equal in terms of quality. I love the extended genre exercise into the Gospel milieu. The title track, as well as "Solid Rock" really rock out. "A Satisfied Mind" is a slip, but a brief one. "Covenant Woman" is really the only bad song on here. It's a solid uncompromising album.

Shot Of Love

Shot Of Love is one of Dylan's most confused, schizophrenic albums (the all-over-the-map Self-Portrait was at least done deliberately). I'm not just talking about the half-secular half-sacred lyrics. While the personnel remains fairly consistent throughout the album, the feel, the producer, and even the studio seems to change from song to song. Other than Street Legal, this is the album I'm most undecided about. There are some great songs one here. Shot Of Love continues in the vein of Slow Train Coming and Saved in that the title track is one of the best songs on the album. "In The Summertime" and "Every Grain Of Sand" are two of the strongest of the slow ballads during the whole born-again period. "Trouble" is another great, but sadly forgotten, song composed almost entirely from a single riff. "Dead Man, Dead Man" chugs along with a modest aplomb. "Heart Of Mine", "Property Of Jesus" and "Watered Down Love" just lay there limply. The worst song on here though - by a wide margin - is "Lenny Bruce". Forget the fact that the lyrics give no indication why such a non-Christian kind of man should be so lionized by the same guy who wrote "Property Of Jesus". According to this song, Lenny's greatest accomplishment was just being misunderstood by his peers and persecuted by the government. The same reason Bob idolized (and wrote songs for) Joey Gallo, or Billy the Kid, or Rueben Carter and George Jackson. Actually, if all it takes to gain Bob's admiration is to be wrongly accused and punished, then Dylan's Christian conversion makes a lot more sense. But putting the horrible lyrics aside, "Lenny Bruce" is still a long boring annoying song. And while Bob has a habit of changing his mind at the last minute on his albums (The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, Blood On The Tracks), his decision to add the B-side "The Grooms Still Waiting At The Altar" to line-up several years after the fact, is kind of cheating. But it does make a big difference. Now the balance of the album is finally tipped towards the good songs. And "Groom", another simple riff-song, is one of Bob's best. It's almost impossible to think of Shot Of Love without it.

Infidels

While no work of art should be judged on the basis of what it isn't, no album is more defined by what isn't on it as much as Infidels. At first this was a good thing, because what isn't on it are any songs with an overtly Christian message. Except for "Man Of Peace" which everybody chose to ignore (maybe the blatantly pro-Israel "Neighborhood Bully" canceled it out). But as reports surfaced of even greater songs being recorded and not released on this record, its reputation sank. While there are rumors of superior versions of almost every album Bob recorded languishing in the vaults, from the most beloved (the original pressing of The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, the New York version of Blood On The Tracks) to the most despised (the Argentinean misprint of Down In The Groove with "Important Words" on it) none have suffered so much in comparison to what it could have been as Infidels. And it's not hard to see why. Not only is "Foot Of Pride" easily the equal of anything on that album, but "Blind Willie McTell" is as superior to the rest of Infidels as "Knocking On Heaven's Door" is to the remainder of ­Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid. Although, I suppose it could always be worse, the few good songs on Infidels could've been replaced with "Julius And Ethel" or "Death Is Not The End" or "Lord, Save My Child". In fact "Blind Willie McTell" and "Foot Of Pride" manage to be some of the best things on The Bootleg Series 1-3 on which they finally do appear. "Blind Willie McTell" is now played live far more often than anything that did end up on the album (which didn't even get the same sort of historical revisionism that added "The Groom's Still Waiting At The Altar" do Shot Of Love). But, what of the actual album that was released? "Sweetheart Like You", "Don't Fall Apart On Me Tonight", "Neighborhood Bully", and "Man Of Peace" are all about as unremarkable and pedestrian as anything on Planet Waves. "License To Kill" actually is a good song, but I had no idea until I heard Tom Petty singing it at the 30th Anniversary Celebration. This version does it no justice. Regardless if you agree with the politics behind the rather trite and simplistic lyrics of "Union Sundown" it is actually fairly good rocking tune from a musical point of view. The only track on here that can go toe-to-toe with "Foot Of Pride" (if not "Blind Willie McTell") is "I And I". I have no idea what it's about, but I like it. I don't know why "Jokerman" was picked to be the single, and is still used in all the subsequent compilations (Greatest Hits Vol. III, The Essential Bob Dylan). The whoa-oh-oh-ohs that Bob sings before the title are not only completely off, which isn't a horrible or surprising sin for Bob, but it doesn't even sound like he's missing the same notes each time. Maybe he's going for that kind of vocal extemporizing I don't even like in the R&B singers who can really do it. Whatever it is, it ruins the song for me. And like the rest of Infidels, it's a disappointment.

Empire Burlesque

Usually the nicest thing anyone can say about Empire Burlesque is that the songs would've been pretty good without Arthur Baker's production. In fact, bootlegs of pre-Baker-ized tunes would fetch a pretty penny. But personally, I think the synthesizer-laden sound actually adds a lot to the album. Maybe it's just because I was ten and totally unaware of the album when it first came out, that I am able to see it as not so much of a crass commercial attempt to jump on the latest fad. For me the cheesy '80s production is no more anachronistic that his '60s sound. Of course, his '60s sound wasn't exactly the dominant style of the period, especially the anti-psychedelic John Wesley Harding. But that's what makes this album so fascinating, never had Dylan tried so hard (and failed) to pander to his audience. Check out the Miami Vice threads on the cover. It certainly shows the most time and care spent in the studio since Self-Portrait. Just take a look at "When The Night Comes Falling From the Sky" (my favorite track on here). Now compare it to the E-Street Band backed version on The Bootleg Series 1-3, which is far closer to the kind of arrangement you would expect from Bob, without being nearly as good. But thanks to Arthur Baker, the song becomes far more memorable and fascinating (and not just like a car crash that you can't help but look at). Just listen to those octagonal electronic drums! You can also do a side-by-side comparison of "Tight Connection To My Heart (Has Anybody Seen My Love)" with the earlier unreleased "Someone's Got A Hold Of My Heart". In my mind, there's no contest. One of the biggest disappointments of Infidels was despite having Sly and Robbie produced by Mark Knopfler, you don't really get a Reggae-Dire Straits sound. It just sounds like any other Dylan album. At least he's trying something new here. I love "Tight Connection", "Seeing The Real You At Last", "Clean Cut Kid", "Trust Yourself", "Something's Burning, Baby" and "When The Night Comes Falling". And I don't know how much I would've without Arthur Baker. They are kind of part of the Planet Waves mold. Only the slower songs "I'll Remember You", "Emotionally Yours", and "Never Gonna Be The Same Again" suffer from this high-paced sleek design. Actually the biggest drawback to the album is everyone's sole favorite, "Dark Eyes". In returning to the solo acoustic guitar format, it reminds most people of Bob's entire back catalog - something no one Dylan album can stand up to - instead of forcing the listener to accept the "new" Dylan. "Dark Eyes" hedges Bob's bets, and Empire Burlesque suffers because of it.

Knocked Out Loaded

While Empire Burlesque wasn't a failure in my mind, it was not a success commercially - which is what it seemed like what it was aiming for. So for the next two albums Bob gives up on trying to record an album as a single entity. Both Knocked Out Loaded and Down In The Groove are more like of compilations of various recording sessions from a broad time period, rather than one group musicians recording one album in one week. Not even Shot Of Love (which at least kept a consistent core of musicians even as it rotated through the studios of L.A.) sounds this patchwork. But like the deliberately bootleg sounding Self-Portrait, it was definitely intentional, and it works (although not nearly as well). Of the two albums, Knocked Out Loaded receives the most scorn - with the biggest exception. Everybody likes to think of Knocked Out Loaded as nothing more than a really long single for "Brownsville Girl" with a lot of really bad B-sides to ignore. Which is too bad, because personally, "Brownsville Girl" is the worst moment on the album (other than the children's choir that pops up on "They Killed Him"). Much as the solo acoustic guitar of "Dark Eyes" undermined the rest of _Empire Burlesque_, so does the epic length of "Brownsville Girl" remind fans of Dylan's earlier style and works against the rest of the album. Only, where "Dark Eyes" merely tainted as an added on tag, "Brownsville Girl" dominates, consisting of nearly a third of Knocked Out Loaded's thirty-five minute running time. Frankly I find "Brownsville Girl" not only lacks the musical sophistication to justify its eleven minute length, but the lyrics themselves seem to be over a dozen verses about a guy trying to remember the name of some movie. But people focus on that song and erroneously compare the rest of the album to it. When in fact the rest of the album holds up quite well on it's own. Not that the album's great, but it's nowhere near as bad as everyone makes it out to be. "You Wanna Ramble" and "Got My Mind Made Up" are my two favorite songs on here. Shuffling up-tempo rockers of the kind that Bob really should record more of. Sure, "They Killed Him" deserves it horrible reputation. If Kris Kristofferson only wrote three verses there is no need to have Bob and the back-up singer and that eardrum-splitting children's choir each take a turn to sing all of them in various combinations. This album features the highest number of co-authors of any album since his collaboration with Jacques Levi on Desire. Not only did he write songs on here with Tom Petty, Carole Bayer Sager, and playwright Sam Shepard, but Bob also wrote "Steel Bars" with Michael Bolton, "Heartland" with Willie Nelson, and "Waiting For The Morning Light" with Kiss's Gene Simmons around this time, none of which he ever recorded. Clearly Bob was hoping to find someone new to write with, but the two solo originals ("Maybe Someday" and "Driftin' Too Far From Shore") though are truly forgotten gems that would not have embarrassed Empire Burlesque or Infidels. "Under Your Spell" is still a little unformed, but the mandolin and steel drum arrangement of "Precious Memories" gives it a very nice feel without specifying any genre (Appalachian-Caribbean?). Give Knocked Out Loaded another listen, this time skipping "Brownsville Girl" and see if there isn't something there.

Down In The Groove

The second (and final) album during this piecemeal phase is often derided as Self-Portrait part two. And while it's a sad state of affairs that the original Self-Portrait engendered so much shock and outrage at the time of its release, while Down In The Groove received only a disappointed shrug of the shoulders, what this album really is closer to is Knocked Out Loaded without the "Brownsville Girl". Both feature the (unique for Dylan) co-writers. Both feature their share of covers. Both have a couple of originals thrown in. Both have an entirely different group of musicians backing him on each song. Both are filled out with outtakes from previous albums: "Brownsville Girl" was originally slated for Empire Burlesque while "Death Is Not The End" was recorded during the Infidels sessions. "Shenandoah" is Down In The Groove's "Precious Memories". "Let's Stick Together" sounds so much like "You Wanna Ramble" that it's surprising that they weren't cut at the same sessions. If nothing else Down In The Groove proves that Knocked Out Loaded's sound and methodology wasn't a fluke. "When Did You Leave Heaven" shows the Empire Burlesque synthesizer sound working on a traditional song. While "Sally Sue Brown" doesn't take full advantage of the members of The Clash and The Sex Pistols playing on it, it's still a walloping good time. The two collaborations with Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter are also pretty rocking. It's too bad that "Silvio" is the only one people are really familiar with (appearing on Greatest Hits, Vol. III as well as numerous live shows), because "Ugliest Girl In The World" is just as good. The lyrics manage to be simultaneously insulting and flattering to its object of desire, plus it the first time Bob's tried to this funny since Another Side Of Bob Dylan. In fact, it's those fun upbeat tunes that really make the album. Only the slower songs (like "Death Is Not The End") don't work as well. "Ninety Miles An Hour (Down A Dead End Street)" and "Rank Strangers To Me" all sound like the freely improved intros to some other song. I keep waiting for the drums to kick in and the real tune to start, but it never does. If these songs had been replaced by some of the other upbeat songs for movies he did at this time ("Band Of the Hand (It's Helltime, Man)" for the movie Band Of The Hand and the version of John Hiatt's "The Usual" he recorded for his own starring vehicle, Hearts Of Fire) as well as the cover of "Important Words" that mistakenly got stuck on copies of the album released in Argentina, well then Down In The Groove would've been something to really write home about.

Oh Mercy!

Once again Bob switches tracks on us. And much like I hated to agree with the popular consensus about Blood On The Tracks, I've got to admit I really like Oh Mercy!. Of course the fact that this was the first Dylan album I ever bought (okay... permanently borrowed from my father) may have something to do with it. Sure "Man In The Long Black Coat" threatens to bring up comparisons to his earlier work in much the same way "Dark Eyes" or "Brownsville Girl" did, but luckily the song is strong enough to stand on its own - and the atmospheric touches Daniel Lanois added, help it seem like less of a throwback. Aside from that song, my other two favorite numbers on here are "Political World" and "Everything Is Broken". Two up-tempo rockers based on simple blues riffs that help keep this album from being a complete refutation of the two albums that came before it. Personally my least favorite tunes are the ones that everyone else liked: the slower material like "Where Teardrops Fall", "Ring Them Bells", "Disease Of Conceit", and "Shooting Star", but they're not bad. Every Dylan album has its ups and downs, but it's really the quality of the songs in the middle ("What Was It You Wanted", "What Good Am I?", "Most Of The Time") that really make the album work as a whole.

Under The Red Sky

While it may not be as good as Oh Mercy!, I don't understand why Under The Red Sky has such a bad reputation. Sure those looking for lyrical profundity are going to be disappointed. Almost all of the songs feature the title phrase, or some variation thereof, repeated at the beginning of each line (or every other line). Even the title track features each couplet sung twice once right after the first time. Only "Born In Time" and "TV Talkin' Song" avoid this kind of repetitiveness. But really, it's Bob's most silly, fun, straightforward, rocking album ever. "Wiggle Wiggle" may inspire even fewer people to do a Dylan dance that "The Wilbury Twist", but still the idea is too funny! And having Slash play on it cinches the deal. I think "Unbelievable" was an inspired choice for the single, and I'm kind of disappointed that the title track was used instead on The Greatest Hits, Vol. III. "Under The Red Sky" may feature a great George Harrison guitar solo, but it is not only the slowest song on here, but other than "2 X 2", the only slow song on the album. It's not very representative. "God Knows" sounds like it's going to be another song composed entirely of an intro (much like those on Down In The Groove) so that when the real tune does belatedly kick in, it's a bit of a surprise as well as a relief. "TV Talkin' Song" may be Bob's most musically unsophisticated, featuring only one chord, but it's played hard and strong and isn't very long, so it's hard to quibble. While not perfect, this is the kind of album that I really wish Bob would make more of. Unfortunately the reception to this album was so chilly that Dylan radically changed gears again.

Good As I Been To You

Once again, Bob tries something new. Or rather, something old - really, really old. Another collection of traditional folk tunes with just the acoustic guitar, harmonica and voice, it makes everything that came after his 1962 debut, Bob Dylan until now seem like a diversion. A long and pleasant diversion, but still just a detour from Dylan's main calling: folksinger. And what of the grammatically incorrect Good As I Been To You? Where John Wesley Harding showed off his harp playing and New Morning demonstrated his piano playing ability, here Bob gets to spotlight his fingerpicking prowess. Compared to his debut, his improvement as a guitar player is not only stunning, but also surprising since we've never heard anything like it on any of his previous efforts. But the biggest difference between this album and his first is in song-selection. While history could eventually prove me wrong on this, the songs Bob dug up for this album are not nearly as good as the ones on Bob Dylan (why, I heard some character on the Showtime series Dead Like Me singing "In My Time Of Dyin'" just last night). There's not nearly the range - none of the songs are as goofy and funny as "Pretty Peggy-O" or "Freight Train Blues", and whereas he added his own personality and wit to those song, on this album he's much more of a strict historian, performing these traditional ditties the way they are meant to be sung. While there are many great tracks on this album ("Blackjack Davey", "Sittin' On Top Of The World", "Step It Up And Go" and "Tomorrow Night" are my favorites), overall the album is too monotonous to be truly enjoyable. Really the song that stands out the most is the closer, "Froggie Went A-Courtin'". For the first time since Slow Train Coming, Bob's doing children's songs. He also recorded a version of "This Old Man" for the charity album For Our Children around this time. Maybe someday he'll do a whole kids' album. That would be great, but Good As I Been To You is an album that was probably a lot better for Dylan to make than for us to listen to.

World Gone Wrong

While Bob often goes through these phases that last two or three albums, never has one album sounded so much like another as World Gone Wrong does to Good As I Been To You. It's another solo acoustic album of old folk tunes. Really everything I said about one also applies for the other. Rumor is that World Gone Wrong is bluesier while Good As I Been To You­ is more folksy, but I'll have to double-check that. I have a hard time telling them apart. It's too bad that their combined running time doesn't allow you to put both albums on one single CD-R. It would make a good Self-Portrait part IV (part one being New Morning and Dylan, part two would be Knocked Out Loaded and Down In The Groove). "Love Henry", "Blood In My Eyes" and "Tow Soldiers" are the best tunes on here. There's nothing as interesting as "Froggie Went A Courtin'", but the literal knocking on the guitar during "Broke Down Engine" is priceless. World Gone Wrong does earn some points for being shorter and having those deliriously non-illuminating linear notes. The biggest drawback to this album being: that he's already done it.

Time Out Of Mind

Bob's had a lot of comebacks. He's comeback from periods of waiting (the motorcycle crash that preceded John Wesley Harding, the break from touring or even releasing anything other than soundtracks and compilations before Planet Waves) periods of supposed weakness (the early '70s albums that came before Blood On The Tracks, the mid-'80s albums that pre-dated Oh Mercy!) and even periods of weirdness (New Morning breaking from the shadow of Self-Portrait, Infidels breaking from the dogma of the born-again albums). But certainly no Dylan album has had to make a return to the public consciousness of all three: the wait (the four years since Bob's last album, seven since the he last penned an original song), the weirdness (the two acoustic folk albums) and the weak (the critically reviled Under The Red Sky). All of that coupled with the fact that Bob nearly died during the release of Time Out Of Mind made this album a slam-dunk with the critics and fans when it came out. And as much as I hate to be seen as a follower - they're right: Time Out Of Mind is a great album. Plus its title taken from "Accidentally Like A Martyr" by Warren Zevon. "Dirt Road Blues", "Can't Wait" and "Million Miles" once again find Bob subverting the 12 bar blues paradigm. "Love Sick" and "Cold Irons Bound" are both scary cool tunes of which Daniel Lanois can really sink his teeth into. "Make You Feel My Love" is the kind of song you'd expect Billy Joel or Garth Brooks to think would make a big hit if only someone with a decent voice were singing it, completely ignoring the fact that it's the grit in Bob's voice that gives this otherwise syrupy song its power. Even the slower songs ("Standing In The Doorway", "Trying To Get To Heaven", and "'Till I Fell In Love With You") are as good as their counterparts on Oh Mercy!. Really the first hour of the album is one of my favorites, but then Bob has go into the 16 minute "Highlands", making Time Out Of Mind as long as the double-record Blonde On Blonde. And of all the Dylan epics, it's my least favorite. There are some good lines in here talking to the waitress, but we've got ten verses or so before we even get to the diner. The music in background is as uninteresting and repetitious as anything Bob's done. Just skip that song, and you've got Oh Mercy! part II.

Love & Theft

Love & Theft is to Time Out Of Mind what Under The Red Sky is to Oh Mercy!: a fun, goofy follow-up to a dark, murky, serious Daniel Lanois produced comeback. Although the perception of it has waned a little since, I don't know why Love & Theft was so hailed at first while Under The Red Sky was so reviled. Perhaps the four years (instead of one) that separated Love & Theft from its predecessor gave rise to fears that Time Out Of Mind was going to be Bob's last big hurrah. Maybe producing it himself with his touring band instead of using flavor-of-the-month Don Was and his stable of rock stars, helped lower expectations a bit. Who knows? I liked it when it first came out - and I still like it. Lyrically it's his funniest since Another Side Of Bob Dylan. Knock-knock jokes? Booty call? Hunting bare? "Throw your panties over board"? "I'm sitting on my watch so I can be on time"? "Call down to room service/ Said send up a room"? I know Bob's words don't usually affect me that much, but this is great stuff. And musically - it's all over the map (crooners, blues, '50s rockers), but thanks to the touring band backing him, it's still cohesive. Most of the songs are more versions of the 3 (or less) chord blues ("Tweedle Dum & Tweedle Dee", "Summer Days", "Lonesome Day Blues", and "Honest With Me"). Yet, "Moonlight" and "Bye And Bye" use some the most complicated jazzy chords since "If Dogs Run Free" from New Morning. And to keep the album from getting too monotonous, the occasional accordion, banjo or violin just shows up. As hard as it may be to believe, Bob's latest really is one of his best.

And that's where we are now. While the Never Ending Tour continues to live up to its name, Bob's only been releasing albums every four years lately. Which should mean something in 2005, but expecting Bob to keep doing what he's been doing is foolish. Hopefully there'll be a new record soon, though. As great as Dylan is as a live artist (I've seen him a couple of times, so I know it's true) you only get that Bob for one night. The only way a kid like me, who was born while Dylan's brother was busy convincing him to re-record his second or third comeback, is going to get to experience the Bob of his heyday 60s or mercurial 70s is on vinyl (or CD). And as uncomfortable as Bob seems to be in the studio environment, these are the only permanent snapshots we get of an artist constantly in motion.

You can also view this at http://www.geocities.com/mcramahamasham/bob.htm to see it with all the italics and pics and stuff.

ddickson@rice.edu
Scot P. Livingston KICKS ASS. God, he kicks so much ass.

That said, I haven't read a word of his reader comment. I'm just impressed with its length. One of these years, I will read it, and so should everyone else.

You kick ass, Scot Livingston. Seriously. Keep blessing us with your ass- kickage.

JOHN.J.DOYLE@nuim.ie
Hey Mr. Livingstone, or should I say Raymondo Carverinio, ok then, I will. That was magnifique. But you still ain't sold me on "Under The Red Sky", still, one day cochese, one day................. "Love And Theft". What a humdingeroonio of an album. 9/10. And those reviews were pretty much as enjoyable as listening to it. Bravo!!!

bcs2h@mtsu.edu
It's nice to finally hear an album late in Dylan's career that works without the fog-thick production of Daniel Lanois. Not to say that Lanois didn't do good work, but Dylan always seems most at ease in a "real" environment. Just him, the band, and a mic, not a lot of production tricks. With that said, I wouldn't necessarily claim that Love & Theft surpasses Time Out of Mind, but the two are certainly neck and neck. And in my opinion, Lanois' production would never have worked for these songs. Considering that Dylan refused to release the version of "Mississippi" that he recorded during the Time Out of Mind sessions, it appears he agreed. But as far as the songs go, there's not a bad one in the bunch. There are two greats ones in "Mississippi" and "High Water (For Charlie Patton)" and a number of very good ones in "Tweedle Dee," "Honest With Me," "Sugar Baby," and "Cry A While." All the other songs complement the rest of the album well, there is no "Disease of Conceit" in the tracklist to bring the quality down. Compared to what else is going on in popular music at the moment, I'd give it a 9. In comparison to the rest of Dylan's catalog, it's a solid 7.

Add your thoughts?

1966-1978: After The Crash DVD - Chrome Dreams 2006
Rating = 7


Bob Dylan is the world's most important man. There is no human being ever born who can compare. After all, he brought poetry to rock music, thus discovering a number of important scientific principles and curing cancer. However, many people - both fans and foe - have noticed how right after John Wesley Harding, he suddenly lost all his songwriting talent for like eight years. This DVD explores these interesting years through the words of those who lived, learned and loved with Bob Dylan during what have come to be known as "The Years When Bob Dylan Sucked, Before He Made A Couple Of Good Albums And Then Sucked Again For Another Fifteen Years."

Please be advised that the opinions on this DVD are completely independent. This DVD is not authorised by Bob Dylan, his managers, Columbia Records or any other companies associated with the release, publishing or ownership of Bob Dylan's music. This is why there's hardly any Bob Dylan footage or music in the 2-hour documentary at all. But who in Sam Hill buys a Bob Dylan DVD to listen to Bob Dylan!? I'll tell you who - people with no imagination!

This DVD has no right to be as compelling and fascinating as it is. You're supposed to laugh at DVDs like this and go, "Ha! They're trying to rip me off by selling me a Bob Dylan DVD with no Bob Dylan music in it!" But the thing is -- there's no Bob Dylan music in a book about Bob Dylan either, and you've bought plenty of those so shut your (lovely, sultry) ass. This is a critical examination of the man's work, meant to be enjoyed by people who already KNOW the man's work and don't need to have their hand held like a little boy at Disneyland, dying of a heart defect after stepping off that ride that keeps killing everybody.

And even though you don't hear much from "Zim The Shim" himself, you hear from a lot of people who have both studied his work at length and collaborated with him over the years, including writers and critics who prophesize with their pen Clinton Heylin, Nigel Williamson, Patrick Humphries, Al Aronowitz and Derek Barker, as well as Desire co-songwriter Jacque Levy, Desire gypsy violinist Scarlet Rivera, Rolling Thunder Revue bandleader Rob Stoner, Self-Portrait/New Morning guitarist Ron Cornelius, Blood On The Tracks musicians Eric Weissberg and Kevin Odegard, long-time Dylan collaborator Bruce Langhorne, Isle of Wight Festival organizer Ray Foulk and celebrity stalker A.J. Weberman. As Jacques Levy and Al Aronowitz both DIED during the filming of, and AS A RESULT OF, this DVD, it would only be the nice thing to do to buy yourself a copy. Besides, all proceeds go to charity.

(Disclaimer: no proceeds actually go to charity)

And about that whole "Hey! Where's the Bob Dylan?" issue. The DVD DOES feature tons of interesting photos of the man, as well as a few rare pieces of footage that are sure to interest you, including his duet with Johnny Cash on The Johnny Cash Show, his awkward performance at The Isle of Wight Festival, the original movie trailer for Pat Garrett And Billy The Kid, and a taped phone conversation with his obsessed nemesis Weberman (whom he finally beat up after catching the asshole digging through his garbage one too many mornings).

(and a thousand miles behind)

(no wait, he never would have caught him if he were that far back)

(actually, maybe he had a jet ski. He could have caught him with a jet ski.)

(no wait - he lived on land. A jet ski wouldn't have done him any good.)

(unless he had a flying jet ski!)

So if you've ever wondered, "Was Dylan actively aware of how tremendously he 'lost it' in the late '60s?" or "I wonder what Dylan was really like after he became a legend -- how did he operate in the studio and treat his fellow musicians and such?" or "How can I acquire a flying jet ski?," this is the DVD for you. I don't want to give away the ending, but apparently he was really lazy in the studio and just tried to teach everybody the songs as quickly as possible, record them one time each, and move on. You'd never guess that such a work ethic would result in timeless masterpieces like Self-Portrait and Street Legal but sometimes we all get surprised sometimes.

The Bottom Line is this: Bob Dylan looked really, really Jewish in the late '60s. It's hilarious! He had this short little beard and wore his eyeglasses everywhere. Like a little Jewish man, running off to play with his dreidel.

Add your thoughts?

Modern Times - Columbia 2006
Rating = 7


As you already know if you have any ears on your goddamned face, the last two Cob Dylan CDs distinguished themselves by featuring unified musical styles all the way through -- Time Out Of Mind yer blues and Love And Theft your oldtimey "Big Bad Bill Is Sweet William Now" music. With Modern Times, the 65-year-old legend puts his unique stamp on funk-metal with a wild new slap bass appr

With Modern Times, the 65-year-old legend foregoes the predictable "songs that actually go together" route, instead smacking your ears to and fro with 4 uptempo generic 12-bar r'n'b/blues songs, 3 romantic oldtimey honeydrippers, 1 Leonard Coheny minor-key song of bitterness, 1 smoky bar early Tom Waitsy ballad, and 1 choppy folk song. It's a very guitar-focused record (starring FOUR guitarists, often all in the same track!), with only an occasional boogie-woogie piano or sultry violin/cello/viola added for sweetness' sake. And his voice? As clear and sweet as a brisk spring day, covered in tar!

But the really strange thing about the CD is the liner note reading: "All Songs Written By Bob Dylan." Seriously!? Bob Dylan wrote "Rollin' And Tumblin'"? The Jewish Robert Zimmerman put pen to paper and came up with "When The Levee Breaks"? America's Favorite Folk Singer protested out the "Boom Boom" riff that drives "Someday Baby"? Eric Burdon will be simply agog at this news!

Mmm, I could go for some eggnagog right about now.

Also - and I realize this is pretty much a given with Bob Dylan, but I'll reiterate it here anyway - the songs are too fucking long and they never, ever, ever change. Sure, "Rollin' & Tumblin'" is a shuffling, rollicky good time.... but for SIX MINUTES!? Maybe for TWO, yeah, but after that it starts feeling a little, you know, BORING and STUPID. In fact, the shortest of these ten tracks -- the little baby of the pack, the teeny fly-by-night pop tune -- is FOUR MINUTES AND FIFTY-FIVE SECONDS LONG. Look, here's my Bob Dylan impression: "Hay look at me! I'm in Yes! (*plays Tales From Topographic Oceans in its entirety, but with no changes*)."

I apologize for that 80-minute impression.

But then I started thinking, "Hey, come on Mark. Admit it -- you enjoy listening to this CD." And it's true! The r'n'b songs, though generic, are guitarfull and smiley on the ears; the oldtimey romancers, though repetitive and overlong, are still beautiful pieces of nostalgia; and the three remaining tracks are lyrically brilliant, melodically affecting, and interestingly annoying respectively, even if I didn't say in which order I was talking about them. Furthermore, the mix is wonderfully live-sounding and raw, he sings the lyrics as melodically as he can, and there is thankfully no attempt at all to keep up with the "Modern Times" of the title (musically at least).

On the lyrical foot, the bluesers mostly discuss bluesy issues, the oldtimers mainly sing of love, and the others dwell on longing, poverty and anger. Here are a few particularly striking passages:

"Now I'm all worn down by weeping/ My eyes are filled with tears, my lips are dry/ If I catch my opponents ever sleeping/I'll just slaughter 'em where they lie" (in fact, this whole song -- "Ain't Talkin'" -- is remarkably evocative and worth listening to closely)

"More frailer than the flowers, these precious hours/That keep us so tightly bound/You come to my eyes like a vision from the skies/And I'll be with you when the deal goes down" ("When the deal goes down" a metaphor for "Dying of natural causes at a delightful old age," you figure!?!?)

"Beyond the horizon, behind the sun/At the end of the rainbow life has only begun/In the long hours of twilight 'neath the stardust above/Beyond the horizon it is easy to love" ("Beyond the horizon" code for "Being old and facing mortality as I, Bob Dylan, am in real life" perhaps!?!?)

"I'm wondering where in the world Alicia Keys could be/I been looking for her even clear through Tennessee" (where the hell did that come from!?!?!)

"All the ladies in Washington scrambling to get out of town/Looks like something bad gonna happen, better roll your airplane down" (a 9/11 reference maybe?!?!)

The lyrics to "The Levee's Gonna Break" (Hurricane Katrina, eh!?!?!)

"Well, the place I love best is a sweet memory/It's a new path that we trod/They say low wages are a reality/If we want to compete abroad" ("NAFTA"? Did somebody say "NAFTA"?)

Mmm, I could go for a Nafta Grape right around now. Or Orange? Do you have Orange?

My bottom word is that, regardless of a few over-traditional 'compositions,' Bob Dylan's ninth-inning hitting streak continues. Keep it up, Ol' Zim The Pim!

One warning, though -- the opening track is the most derivative and tiresome song on the entire disc, so don't just give up on the whole CD if you hate it. If W. Axl Rose were still with us today, he'd agree with me that "All you need is just a little patience."

Then he'd squirt another gallon of Restalin into his face.

Reader Comments

spinaltomek@hotmail.com
yes, although it's completely unexciting record, i enjoy this one too. Thunder On The Mountain is Johnny Be Goode without any chorus, which is cool. I enjoy When The Deal Goes Down and Spirit On The Water especially. The lyrics are great as always. It's cool to have Bob Dylan around somehow.

MBerry@OrlandoSentinel.com
This album won't convert non-Dylan fans but's it's a satisfying continuation of the mood set by Love and Theft. (Time Out of Mind is in a league of its own.) It's true, the songs go on too long, and sometimes I wish the band would really cut loose. But as a vocalist Dylan has finally become the kind of old bluesman he must have heard as a boy crackling through radio on a late Minnesota night. Great harmonica break on "Spirit on the Water."

Favorite lyric:

Sometimes I wonder
Why you can't treat me right
You do good all day
And then you do wrong all night

mabewa@yahoo.com
Another excellent album from Mr. Goodvoice, extending his unlikely late-career critical and commercial comeback. By this time, it can be officially confirmed and proved: Dylan really has figured out how to consistently write and record good albums again. It’s been a LONG time since he’s managed to put out 3 winners in a row (I’d say "5 winners" if you count the 2 acoustic cover albums in the early 90’s). Head-out-of-ass indeed.

Anyway, this album has a lot of similarities with "Love and Theft," which is kind of weird in itself: since when does Dylan put out 2 similar albums in a row? OK, so those two acoustic albums in the early 90’s were pretty similar, and Knocked Out Loaded and Down in the Groove were similar in their overproduction, lackluster songwriting and sheer incoherence. But, anyway, when Dylan is good and actually writing his own sings, he rarely puts out two similar albums in a row. This album, however, like its predecessor, is rootsy up the yin-yang, with nothing that sounds like it’s influenced by anything put out in the last 30 years. Also like the last one, it’s warm, well-played, funny as hell and yet pretty sad at the same time. Actually, that’s the main difference: this album is definitely darker than its predecessor.

Another thing that’s like Love and Theft, though: I enjoyed the first few listens, but was kind of underwhelmed. Both records really need a lot of time, and repeated listens will reveal more and more over time. By this time, I’m really starting to love it. Yeah, the songs are kind of long, but this is Dylan, after all--he was putting out multi-verse epics back in 1962, fer crissakes. But, the important thing is that just when you start to think the song is wearing its welcome, he comes up with another engaging line, and I’m suddenly glad that the song hasn’t ended yet. Really, these songs don’t SEEM long to me.

The first "side" (or the first 5 songs) is pretty good. I too was a bit negative about "Thunder on the Mountain" at first, but now it seems like a perfect combination of goofiness and ominousness. "Spirit on the Water" is tender, sad and lilting. "Rollin’ and Tumblin,’" a fast shuffling blues number, has great energy and playing--the most effective blues number on the album in that regard. "When the Deal Goes Down" is the album’s first masterpiece--a truly moving lyric backed by a haunting melody, and perfect, tasteful playing and singing. "Someday Baby," the third blues number, is a bit generic, but there’s still plenty of humor, a good groove, and some more malevolent singing from Mr. Goodvoice.

It’s the second "side," though, that really makes this album an essential Dylan release. "Workingman’s Blues" is one of the catchiest songs he has ever written, and the pretty melody is a great contrast with singing about the "buying power of the proletariat." "Beyond the Horizon" is another one of those lovely, lilting, timeless and totally ancient-sounding tunes like "Po’ Boy" from the last album. "Nettie Moore" is classic lump-in-the throat number, with Dylan sounding like he’s singing from the grave--funny how he can put lines like "The world has gone black before my eyes" to such darn effective melodies. "The Levee’s Gonna Break" is another obvious blues rip off, but well done and timely, with more crack playing from his excellent band. If Led Zeppelin could steal it and credit it to themselves, why not Dylan? Finally, "Ain’t Talking" would have fit in nicely on Time Out of Mind--ominous, hopeless, threatening--"I’m trying love my neighbor and do good unto others--but oh mother, things ain’t going well." And yet, the music, with that violin and the creepy little guitar riffs, is beautiful.

One thing about this album: I’ve actually had to resist playing it as much as I want to, because the melodies are so catchy that they get stuck in my head, and I can’t sleep. By THAT yardstick, it’s one of the best Dylan albums ever: I have to make myself not play it.

So, is there anything NEGATIVE I can say about this album? Well, the overall sound, while really excellent and well-played, is a bit polite and mannered for my tastes. The 4 blues numbers could have been a mite more distinctive, but that problem decreases more and more on repeated listenings. And, yeah, to be honest, he probably could have chopped off some of the less essential verses and made the songs a bit more manageable in terms of length.

But, really, this album couldn’t be anything less than an 8 in my book, and is probably a 9. Then again, there are several Dylan albums I’d give a 10 to, but this one is no slouch. I’m still trying to figure out whether it’s as good as the last two, or a just a bit weaker, but it’s an excellent work regardless.

jamesagardner@yahoo.com
The true Master of All Media! His book is amazing (shouldn't there be a v. 2 Chronicles soon?). His radio show is the best thing on the air, IMO; very addictive. His sense of humor is kind of shocking, too.

He's doing incredible concert after concert. And unlike the Stones, he makes GOOD records, and unlike McCartney, can SELL them!

Modern Times isn't quite up to the standard he set for latter-day excellence with Love & Theft, but still,

it's a good album, without qualification (like "good for an old man" or "good for a relic").

It does kind of suck that he appropriated Rollin' and Tumblin and some lyrics as his own; I try to excuse that as part of the folk tradition, but still don't feel right about it.

How about the album cover? It's an old NY photo (Ted Croner’s “Taxi, New York at Night," 1947) that was used a few years back on a cover (Hedgehog) by Luna! Not really Bob's fault, I reckon. The Dylan album designer said he'd never seen Luna's e.p.

What I wish he'd do is a whole album of rockers like the opening tracks from his last two albums. Or that cover of Born To Be Wild he threatened to do, decades ago!

jschneek@yahoo.com
My first reaction to this one was 'Why can't he play more folk stuff?' but I guess that whole argument was played out 40+ years ago so I'll keep my mouth shut. You just have to take what you can get with Bob and usually it's great or at the very least interesting. And there's some great on this: raw production, tight arrangements, and a general cohesiveness that feels like a real album and not just grist for those IPODs that the kids all seem to dig. "Ain't Talkin'" is the real classic here, but "Nettie Moore" and "Workingman" have some cool atmospheres and dynamics as well. Nice sound.

Then there's the usual country boogie/12 bar blues stuff he's been doing since side one of BIABH and you either like those or you don't and usually I like 'em. These are okay, nothing great but nothing too bad either, some good lines here and there. But I'm NOT into this Bing Crosby shtick and those are the songs where this one really starts to grate on me. If the ones on "Love & Theft" were like "Big Bad Bill Is Sweet William Now" then the ones here are treading dangerously close to "Love Walks In" territory in terms of roteness. That's bad.

But still it's Dylan and it is cool to have him around and I'll probably eventually love this album at some point but right now this seems like the weakest of the modern trilogy. 7/10 seems about right.

Best line: "I can't go back to Paradise no more/I killed a man back there."

john@koury.net (doc)
i would like to write my rewview of the bob dylan career in music. he is the most important popular songwriter in the last 100 years. his worst songs would be the best by anyone else. his great albums are legendary, i've seen bad reviews of the basement tapes, those people must not have hearing, it's better than anything else put out in the last century. as for recent recordings, they are above average, the thing that dylan hooks you in on are the lyrics, the music is good, but the lyrics are still great, nobody is even close, oh mercy is a great album, there's no bullshit, don't compare it to his past recordings, compare to all the other shit that's been pushed on the public, it is a great album. time out of mind is great, love and theft sneaks up on you and modern times is also great. nobody writes songs anymore and dylan has been doing it for over 40 years and is still the best. man in me off of new morning (a fairly rated album) is better that 95% of the crap put out today. if you cannot appreciate all that dylan puts out, you might as well give up on poplular/rock music and go strictly to jazz/classical, because he is on a different level. by the way, tom waits is misjudged also, he's writing songs too, which is nice.

Add your thoughts?

The Bootleg Series, Vol. 8 - Tell Tale Signs: Rare and Unreleased 1989-2006 - Columbia 2008
Rating = 5


Dear Mr. Dylan,

Hey pecker, what's up? This is Tim "Ripper" Owens, former lead singer of Judas Priest. You probably know me from such kickass classic Priest tunes as "Burn In Hell," "Machine Man" and "You've Got Another Thing Coming (Live)." Listen man, I just picked up your new album Tell Tale Signs and I gotta tell ya, dude: GREAT job. However, I gotta tell ya something else, in addition. Dude, your singer blows.

Don't get angry. I know you guys are buds and shit, but this guy just isn't 'cutting it' anymore, if you know what I mean. I was expecting more beautiful crooning like "Lay Lady Lay" but I put the thing in the thing and was like, "What's wrong with this pecker? Did he swallow an ashtray or some shit?" That doesn't reflect on your songwriting; hell you're probaly as great as always. And it's cool that this double-CD has early demo versions and/or live versions of four Love & Theft songs (one TWICE! I counted), three Oh Mercy songs, and two each from Time Out Of Mind and Modern Times. It's even wicked doper that the other 18 songs are unreleased and soundtrack rarities. I gotta give you props on that, pecker.

So here's what I'm gonna do. As you know, I've been really busy with Iced Earth, Beyond Fear and Yngwie Malmsteen since the Priest decided to scab it up with a gayfer, but I'm willing to come on over there and become your lead singer. I envision the new Bob Dylan sound as a 'grungier Dio,' and I've already written a great new song called "Blood Stained Decapitated Brain Meat in Hell" that I think rivals your own "Most Of The Time" for beautifulness, your own "Huck's Tune" for loveliness, your own cover of "32-20 Blues" for hilarious violentness, your own "God Knows" for bouncy uptempo John-Lennon-style pop rockiness, and your own "Cross The Green Mountain" for worried mood, intelligence and song length (8:14 indeed, my good Epicster!).

See you Wednesday, Bob Dylan!

Best,
Ripper Owens

------------------------------------

To whom it may concern named Bob Dylan,

This letter is in regard to Tim "Ripper" Owens' recent assertion that he is the new lead singer for Bob Dylan. Excuse me for intruding for I mean not to argue with your personnel decisions, but let me just say that there's a reason that Tim is called "Ripper." It's because he constantly "rips" his underwear off onstage and twirls his phallus around like a windmill or oscillating fan.

Please allow me to introduce myself. I am none other than the great "Blaze" Bayley Alexander Cook, former lead singer for Iron Maiden. I realize I need no introduction as you certainly know me from such Maiden classics as "Man On The Edge," "The Angel and the Gambler" and "Run To The Hills (Live)." As such, I'd like to offer my services to you as Lead Singer, Bob Dylan.

I've heard your latest release, The Bootleg Series, Vol. 8 and must hand it to you: the songs are exceedingly lengthy! Unfortunately, you don't seem to grasp the concept of 'dynamics.' Although 20 of your 27 latest tracks exceed the 4-minute mark - and most actually range around 6 minutes - very few of them feature the light/dark, fast/slow, instrumental/vocal, Dionysian/Apollonian dichotomies that mark true works of extended genius (e.g. "The Clansman," "Don't Look To The Eyes Of A Stranger," "The Number Of The Beast (Live)"). Instead, you and the rest of your band seem to just play one simple chord sequence over and over and over again, benumbing the brain and blinding the faculties.

I beg of you -- allow me the chance to become your new lead singer and take Bob Dylan to the next level. I envision the new Bob Dylan sound as bold, bombastic Broadway metal with giant operatic manly vocals. I've already written a 14-minute song called "Look For The Fortunes Of The Lord On The Cross" that I think is far superior to your latest middling batch of compositions -- particularly your pissy Lennon-style blues-rocker "Can't Wait," abysmal '50s boogie take of "Dignity," meandering adult contemporary ballad "Ring Them Bells" and truly grotesque country waltz duet "The Lonesome River (With Ralph Stanley)."

I appreciate your continued patronage of my work,
Blaze Bayley

------------------------------------------

Hay Corn On The Cob Dylan!

Listen up. I've been a fan of your great music since I was just a kid (36), and now they tell me you're letting "Blaze" Bayley sing for you! Dude, that's BS. I don't know if you know this, but the reason they call him "Blaze" is because he sets peoples' dogs on fire. Trust me man, he is the WRONG GUY for you. If you're really looking for a new singer, the man you want is I.

Please allow me to introduce myself. I'm Gary Cherone, former lead singer of Van Halen. I'm sure you know me from such classic VH tunes as "Without You," "Fire In The Hole" and "Jump (Live)." And you're in luck, Mr.ister. Van Halen is currently touring with a replacement singer because of a canker sore I suffered in 1999 so I'm all free to come sing for you! I envision the new Bob Dylan sound as 'me trying to sound even raspier than Sammy Hagar,' and I've already written a spectacular new power ballad called "Year To The Hole Without The Ballot Or The Primary" that I think stands up to anything on your sexy new album Rare And Unreleased. One thing though: your melodies and chord changes are exceedingly simplistic and repetitive. I wanted you to know that I like that, and if I could help to make them even more predictable and tiresome, then it will be a happy day in the Cherone household.

Thanks,
Gary Cherone

--------------------------------------

Mr. Dylan,

My name is Glenn Hughes and I used to sing for Black Sabbath. I was on Seventh Star, which led impressed critics to praise my "Overblown operatic big hair mid-80s laughable throwaway shitvoice." Things have been tough here with the recession and all, and I could really use the work if you have room for a back-up singer or a houseboy or really anything at all.

Also, I noticed that "Tell Ol' Bill" is a Tom Waitsy shambling sea shanty, "Born In Time" is a '70s Eaglesy country-rock ballad, "Everything Is Broken" has a bass line reminiscent of but happier than that of "Brand New Cadillac," "Marchin' To The City" is soul-blues, "Series Of Dreams" sounds like U2, "Can't Escape From You" is a '50s-style piano ballad, and "Miss The Mississippi" is a ballad with ukulele, horns, harmonica and many other things. Were these decisions on purpose? I ask because these pieces don't sound like your normal "Bob Dylan" songs and would have made good album tracks. I also wrote a new song called "I'll Suck Anybody's Dick For A Buck And A Quarter" that would be a good match for this diverse new material of yours. It's just me screaming and crying, generally in the fetal position.

Please look into your heart and take pity on Glenn Hughes,
Glenn Hughes.

------------------------------------------

Hey Mark,

Hope you enjoy all these emails I found in Bob Dylan's Recycle Bin. Let me know if I can help you out with anything else.

Best,
Alan Jules Weberman

Reader Comments

MBerry@orlandosentinel.com
You can't really rate this album in a traditional way. It's got some dull live songs and pointless alternate takes that are rarely superior to the released versions. But hidden among all that are a few of the great lost Dylan blues songs, most specifically the unbelievably haunting "Dreamin' of You."

"Feel like a ghost in love," he sings and man, does it pack a chill.

Yeah, much of this is monotonous. Just gotta make your own mix here

billy.barron@tx.rr.com
Dear Mr. Dylan,

We heard you need a new singer. But all these other guys are losers. We (Jeff Scott Soto, Mark Boals, Joe Lynn Turner, Goran Edman, Mike Vescera, Mats Leven, Doogie White, Ron Keel and Graham Bonnet) are the men for the job. We have all fronted for Yngwie Malmsteen (hell, three of us were the singer for Rainbow too) and we all know how his songs are the ultimate tests for singers. You may know us based on awesome classic vocal masterpieces such as "Evil Eye", "Incubus", "Black Star", "Overture 1383", "Overture 1622", "Trilogy Suite Op. 5", "Krakatau", "Far Beyond the Sun (Live)", "Guitar Solo", "Cantabile (Op.10 No.3 RV428 'Il Gardellino')", "Instrumental Institution" and of course the whole album "Concerto Suite for Electric Guitar and Orchestra".

We have already written a new song for the new incarnation of Dylan called "Always Look for Quantity over Quality" which will go to show that having 9 singers is far superior to the 4-5 singers you had in the Traveling Wilbury's.

With the economy the way it is, we will do the job for the price of one guy!

Please call us now.....

nanja_monja@hotmail.fr
This review should become a classic!

john@mccain.com
Dear Mr. Dylan,

I used to be a Presidential Candidate for the United States. Well, since I was voted down, I'm looking for a new career. You may know me for my instant classic song "Bomb Bomb Iran". It's gotten over a 1 million views on YouTube and been on every TV network known to mankind - an artist can't buy that kind of coverage.

I suggest since I'm the world's most famous Beach Boys parody cover artist (screw Weird Al) that we release a whole album of such songs. I've already got some parodies already written: "Deregulate, Deregulate, Deregulate", "Do You Wanna Reach (Across the Aisle)", "Be True To My Friends", "Good Suspensions", and "Maverick Girls".

I hear that Sarah Palin plays a mean flute. I'm sure that she has time to tour with us. Plus she'll bill her travel to the State of Alaska and get the Republican party to buy her clothes.

Yours Truly,
John

Add your thoughts?

Together Through Life - Columbia 2009
Rating = 4


He finally tanked, recording his first bad album in nearly two decades. But before we get to that, check out this hilarious off-the-cuff play-on-words I made up while walking H-Man The D (Henry The Dog) yesterday. He stopped to pee on a tree (a no-no in the city), and I spoke thus:

"Henry, why can't you pee on a pole like a good dog would.... instead of peeing on a good dogwood like a Pole?"

WHEE! Not only was it a fantastic play-on-words, but did you catch that Polack joke at the end? I NAILED 'em!!!

As for Together Through Life, here are some highlights from a FaceBook thread I started a few nights ago after some vodkas had tickled my brain. By the way, if you don't want your name here, let me know and I'll remove it. Thanks!

Mark Prindle thinks that everyone raving about the new Dylan album should try listening to it while imagining it as a Jim Belushi album. It's a generic piece of shit. Get over his history and accept that there is not a single creative idea on this record.
May 10 at 9:36pm

Andrew F. Moncrieff at 9:40pm May 10
Yeah but it's not as bad as his last few

Gus Ingebretsen at 9:52pm May 10
Generic maybe, but I wouldn't call it a piece of shit... Probably would give it a 6 on your scale.

Tad Baierlein at 10:03pm May 10
Can't say I've heard the album all the way through, but the couple of non-"It's All Good" cuts that I have heard are pretty lame (and "It's All Good" is basically a pretty good Modern Times track).

Josh Rouan at 10:15pm May 10
I think we need to dispose of the idea that an album needs "creative ideas" in order to be good. "Together Through Life" was cut in a very short time. Think of it like a modern "Nashville Skyline." Short, nothing magnificent, but a fine little record.

Mark Prindle at 10:20pm May 10
Josh - if we dispose of that idea, what do we have left? This new Green Day album is awesome! Wow, Britney's latest is a fine little record! That second Lindsay Lohan album was cut in a very short time, thus it's good! Come on, man. How can you seriously enjoy ANY of those Dylan songs all the way through? Every track is ONE generic part repeated over and over and over and over and over and over and over.

Ex Enn at 10:32pm May 10
That's how I felt about Modern Times, but after a few listens I could pick out a song or two.

John Pennoyer at 10:33pm May 10
At least it's not Slow Train Coming. You must admit that I have a valid point.

Brock Audibert at 10:38pm May 10
I think the album is solid. Not a masterpiece but a strong set of songs, 7/10 for me. Also, i love Slow Train Coming, 9/10 for me.

John Pennoyer at 10:41pm May 10
At least the christian thing was new, to return to mark's point. it just seems to me like naming animals is a rather trivial exercise. but he did surprise a lot of people with that album. he deserves some credit for that.

Drew Koehn at 10:53pm May 10
Bob is being contro through mediocrity; dashing all expectations yet again, in what's supposed to be his late renaissance. I'd say its composition amounts to him sitting comfortably on his back porch, diddling away on his guitar; not givin' a shit. But the Back Porch Diddlings of the Gods. 6/10 at best... see him through a mother's eyes, on this, of all days. Accordion, man! Horns!!!

Matthew Ward at 11:01pm May 10
"Lack of creative ideas," even if true, does not mean that it's equivalent of disposable pre-packed shite like Britney. I haven't heard the album enough yet to judge it, but I will say one thing: some of the lyrics are so funny that it made me laugh out loud. Also, I'm really not sure if I've personally heard quite that mix of blues and Tex-Mex before. So far, it sounds like it MAY be a good album to me.

Tom Andrukevich at 11:01pm May 10
The length of the recording process is not criteria used for review or to gauge the listening experience.

Josh Rouan at 11:08pm May 10
Tom - agreed. However, the story behind the record gives insight into its lack of pretension. While the length of time spent recording isn't really relevant, knowing how long it took is one way of getting at what the record is - as Drew above says, sitting on his back porch, not giving a shit.

Josh Rouan at 11:55pm May 10
Actually, let me go back on what I said. Perhaps it should be considered similar to The Dylan/Cash sessions (though I realize Mark did not really care for those, either).

John Mcferrin at 11:57pm May 10
"Josh - if we dispose of that idea, what do we have left? This new Green Day album is awesome! Wow, Britney's latest is a fine little record! That second Lindsay Lohan album was cut in a very short time, thus it's good"

I haven't heard the Dylan album yet, so I can't comment on that, but I do have to say that this argument doesn't work. Saying "An album doesn't need creative ideas to be good" is not logically equivalent to saying "These albums without creative ideas must be good." The equivalent statement to the former is "The quality of an album is dependent upon other factors in addition to the level of creative ideas," and this allows somebody to in turn say "This new Green Day album is a pile of shit for reasons aside from the level of creative ideas."

Philip Maddox at 12:07am May 11
I actually didn't like either Love And Theft or Modern Times very much... there just didn't seem to be anything very noteworthy about them, which is why I'm not too interested in getting the new one. I'm guessing it'd be just another album that would sit on my shelf that I would never actually play.

Emily Bartlett Hines at 12:11am May 11
I don't wanna doubt that this album is indeed crappy -- but is "creative ideas" or lack thereof really what distinguishes good records from bad? After all, crap like Britney Spears -- mainstream chart pop or whatever -- doesn't suffer from lack of "creative ideas," but has tons of 'em. Weird-ass song structures, instrumentation, vocal effects, anything novel-seeming that people can dream up. That genre of music is always eager to incorporate new technology, & as a result its sound changes much faster than that of the more "credible" rock music I like. (Granted, all the bands I listen to sound like the Flamin' Groovies.)

Of course one can argue that these innovations are stupid, & hence don't count as "creative ideas." But it seems like cheating to redefine "creative ideas" as just the stuff one likes. & a band can kick ass while sticking pretty closely to an established style, can't they?, in a Motorhead-y sort of way.

Mark Prindle at 12:24am May 11
Emily, I disagree. Motorhead distinguishes themselves from lesser bands by coming up with great new riffs every time out. They have the same sound, but really catchy new songs. That's why Motorhead's last album, to me, was a let-down. It DIDN'T. I've already given Bob Dylan the benefit of the doubt three times in a row (particularly "time out of mind" which is NOTHING but 12-bar blues), but this new one offers nothing at all but a guy playing an accordion. No other aspect of the music is worth listening to.

Mark Prindle at 12:25am May 11
Matthew - there are no funny lyrics on this record. Most of it is about how sad he is about his loved ones dying. What lyric did you find "funny enough to laugh about"?

Mark Prindle at 12:26am May 11
John - so what is your argument? What's the difference between a shitty Dylan album and a shitty Green Day album?

Michael McDonell at 12:42am May 11
Good call, Mark. Don't cave in to fans and their foolish adoration! Fans are by far the least sceptical about 'their artist''s music. And it's good to be sceptical!

Emily Bartlett Hines at 1:09am May 11
Oh I think you're right about that. I hope it shall never be said that we disagreed about the genius of Motorhead. But someone who wanted to complain could argue that they failed to have enough "new ideas" b/c they never changed their sound or general approach over the years. Conversely, someone who likes that Dylan album probably thinks they hear some unique details within the songs -- an interesting lyric, vocal phrasing, melody or whatever -- that makes them interesting within the context of a limited format.

Anyway my only real argument is that "creative ideas" can be crappy, and that works & genres that put a lot of emphasis on "new ideas" (mainstream chart pop/r&b/whatever) can be much WORSE than ones with a very limited range of ideas.

William Cleveland at 1:15am May 11
stop yelling at your readers! (sob)

Josh Rouan at 7:49am May 11
It is indeed good to be skeptical, and I don't think those of us who care for the new record are simply adoring Dylan. There are Dylan albums I really dislike (sometimes entire decades of Dylan albums), and the last couple of times I've seen him live the shows were sub-par. With that said, the reason I like the new record could be that it's the first since "Time Out Of Mind" that I've given a lot of time. I listen to tracks 2-4 on "Love and Theft" quite a bit, and "Modern Times" did nothing for me - I've maybe listened to it once all the way through. I bought this record it expecting it to be fairly blah. Instead I found it to be enjoyable, if rather un-inventive. To each his own, I guess. OK I'll bow out of this one now.

John Mcferrin at 9:05am May 11
"John - so what is your argument? What's the difference between a shitty Dylan album and a shitty Green Day album?"

Well, I think you misread me. I actually do think that creative ideas are at least pretty important in determining the quality of an album, and it's possible that I'll be disappointed in this Dylan album once I hear it. I'm only commenting on the logical form of the argument you made. You argued in essence that "An album doesn't need creative ideas to be good" is somehow equal to "Albums without creative ideas must be good." In formal logic terms, if we say "A" represents "album is creative," and we say "B" represents "album is good," then "An album without creative ideas can be good" is represented by "~A->B," and "An album without creative ideas must be good" is represented by "B->~A"; these two statements are not logically the same thing.

In other words, there's an argument to be made in favor of what you're saying; it's just that this isn't it.

Mark Prindle at 2:20pm May 11
Sorry if I seemed belligerent. I was pretty drunk last night. Not sure why the quality of the new Dylan CD seemed so important at the time!

Josh Rouan at 3:20pm May 11
your belligerence is one of the reasons we all like your site so much though!

Will York at 5:06pm May 11
I think the real groundbreaking idea in this comment is the suggestion to "imagine the album as a Jim Belushi album." It is kind of a mind-blowing idea and one that can be widely applied. Imagine 'Tarkus' as a Jim Belushi album, or 'Bitches Brew,' or 'Reign in Blood.'

Mark Prindle at 5:09pm May 11
Will - "Reign in Blood" would be the best Jim Belushi album EVER!

Will York at 5:35pm May 11
It would also make a good Bruce Willis album (better than 'Return of Bruno' at any rate).

So as you can see, my opinion of Together Through Life is not held by everyone and all. But I'm telling you, his last three albums had hooks galore. I get Time Out Of Mind's "Love Sick" (and its eerie bass line) stuck in my head probably more than any other Bob Dylan song. Love And Theft was a fun jaunty old-timey album of the sort he'd never done, with adorable old-timey hooks. Modern Times wasn't quite as melodically strong, but it had some great energy and at least a few catchy tunes. This new one, on the fourth hand, features - at its best - a basic guitar lick or accordion phrase repeated 500 times in a row.

As Matthew Ward stated in the Facebook discussion above, the record has the feel of a "mix of blues and Tex-Mex" -- or, as I wrote in my notes, it "feels like a street cafe with cobble stones and a gypsy." The songs are primarily shambling 12-bar blues, boogie and ballads - but with the addition of Los Lobos' accordion player. (Tom Petty's Mike Campbell plays guest guitar as well, but I never would've guessed had I not read it somewhere). And please understand -- none of the songs are embarrassing or misguided like so much of his '80s work; they're just predictable, cliche'd and unfathomably repetitive. Seriously, every song has one part that they play over and over and over and over (or, alternately, "ad infinitum") until there is absolutely NO WAY to enjoy it anymore!

Take "If You Ever Go To Houston," for example. It has a lovely, Springsteen-reminiscent ballad-pop accordion melody that cockles the heart and heartens the cock with its friendly phrasing. But the song consists of that accordion line being played NINETEEN TIMES IN A ROW without a single change!!! For nearly SIX MINUTES, it's just ONE FUCKING PART over and over again! How do his musicians even have the patience to play one simple part that many times in a row? And every song follows this pattern! I suppose this has been a problem with Dylan's work for some time, but I'd swear that Love And Theft and Time Out Of Mind at least threw in a chorus or bridge every once in a while. No such wild experimentation this time.

And listen, I'm not just some yahoo; I own every Bob Dylan album since his debut, 1985's Empire Burlesque. So I've seen his ups, downs, lefts and rights throughout the years. And I'm not saying that Together Through Life will ever be considered a gastrointestinal mishap like Self-Portrait or Down In The Groove or something, nor does it deserve to. However, I also don't think that anybody who purchases it will find themselves listening to it at all even six months from now. There are just too few noteworthy ideas on it. Even the lyrics (co-written with baseball great Robert "Catfish" Hunter) are just a bunch of Rhymin' Simon la-de-da's about the importance of love, with the striking exception of "Forgetful Heart," which if I interpret the words correctly, is about losing a loved one to Alzheimer's.

But you know who's going to suffer most from this record? Not me. After all, when I complete this review, I never have to listen to it again. No, the real victims here are the Bob Dylan tribute bands. What are Ypsilanti, MI's Hard Rain Revue going to do with material like this? Do you honestly think that Ray de Salchicha is itching to lend his keyboard magic to an instant throwaway like "Jolene"!? Hell no! He'd sooner cut off his own hands! And what about bassist Studwell Donne? You think when he's up there onstage shoutin' out the classic lyrics of "Outlaw Blues" and "Positively 4th Street," he's thinking to himself, "Man! I cannot wait to wrap my voicebox around the one vocal note of 'It's All Good.'"? Because he's not. I assure you he's not. But enough about Ypsilanti, MI's Hard Rain Revue.

In conclusion, do you honestly think that when they were recording their CD Ypsilanti Skyline at St. Luke's Episcopal Church on Sunday, March 29, 2009, Hard Rain Revue rhythm guitarist M. Hizzy was thinking to himself, "I am so angry at this band for being too lazy to learn 'Beyond Here Lies Nothin' because I've been all around the world and there has never been a song like that one."? NO! Of course he wasn't! Get real! Get with the program!

P.S. Or what about lead guitarist D-Money? When you look into your Crystal Ball to tell his future, do you seriously see him saying, "Let's see, guys - let's start with 'Tangled Up In Blue,' then move on to 'Most Likely You Go Your Way (And I'll Go Mine),' then maybe 'All Along The Watchtower' and 'It's All Over Now, Baby Blue' -- oh no wait! I screwed up! The immortal Bob Dylan classic 'Shake Shake Mama' has to go in here somewhere or there will simply be an audience riot!" Come on, get the dumbness out of your ears! That'll never happen!

NOTE TO MARK FROM PUBLISHER - ERASE BEFORE POSTING: Mark, Hard Rain Revue drummer Papa Sah-less called requesting drum charts for Together Through Life in its entirety. The band has decided to replace their entire set due to Together Through Life holding the number one spot on the Billboard 200 for a record 55 weeks on the strength of its hit singles "Life Is Hard," "My Wife's Home Town," "This Dream Of You," "I Feel A Change Comin' On," "Beyond Here Lies Nothin," "If You Ever Go To Houston," "Jolene," "Forgetful Heart," "It's All Good" and "Shake Shake Mama".

Also, I fucked your wife.

Reader Comments

champagneorslimfast@yahoo.com
Anyone with Dylan's reputation doesn't need to prove anything. As such, it's increasingly popular to pretend Together Through Life is somebody else's work to see if it holds up - rather than Jim Belushi, I prefer to think of it as an anonymous alt-country roots-rock bar-band on the Bloodshot label. (To be fair, neither Belushi or this imaginary Bloodshot group would have much of a chance at #1.) By this standard, one tends to be more forgiving. The album certainly sounds good while its playing, although I can't remember how any of the songs go...apart from the already-stolen ones. How canny of Dylan not to give Peter Green or Leadbelly songwriting credit on the ones that rip off "Black Magic Woman" and "Midnight Special," but to give Willie Dixon credit on the one that rips off "I Just Want To Make Love To You." (Looks like somebody took note of that Zeppelin lawsuit.)

princess_vachtangov@yahoo.com
"But the song consists of that accordion line being played NINETEEN TIMES IN A ROW without a single change!!! For nearly SIX MINUTES, it's just ONE FUCKING PART over and over again! How do his musicians even have the patience to play one simple part that many times in a row?"

You just criticized a guy for doing something that you gave another band a 10 for. Here is a list of ridiculously self-contradicting things...

icecreamforquo@yahoo.com
Agree, mark, re: lack of imagination in the song arrangements. In fact, you stated much the same in your Modern Times review ("I realize this is pretty much a given with Bob Dylan, but I'll reiterate it here anyway - the songs are too fucking long and they never, ever, ever change."), so it's nothing new.

I'm really, really disappointed with Together Through Lice, Bob's least interesting album since Under The Bed: Sky. It sounds thrown together, possibly because it was thrown together. I'm pleased he doesn't feel he has to make a huge "artistic statement" every time he makes an album (and no one can say he hasn't earned the right to take it easy in his old age). But apart from a couple of songs on Modern Times ("Nettie Moore" and "Workingman's Blues #2"), he's gone nowhere new or interesting since Love & Theft. The old-timey thing is starting to grate a little, too. After years of moving forwards, it's odd how he seems to have chosen a previous musical era that he likes and decided to stay there.

Here are some options for next time around. Please read these carefully and specify which you would like Bob to pursue. In about a year's time, I will contact his record company and inform them how this survey panned out. They can then notify Bob as to what 'the public' really wants:

1. Bob could get into the Human League, Kraftwerk and OMD and make a synthpop masterpiece with New Romantic leanings

2. Bob could engross himself in US punk and make a Ramones-type LP with no song longer than 2 minutes 30 seconds (the tapes could be sent to P.Spector so that he could produce the album from his prison cell)

3. Bob could go down the Neil Young "fork" in the "road" and ask heavenly choirs to back him on made-up-on-the-spot songs with primarily eco concerns

4. Bob could make a Tapestry-type solo-at-the-piano singer-songwriter album - produced by Eno

5. Bob could make an art-noise improv colloboration with Thurston Moore, consisting of one track of ear-splitting feedback (and accordion) spread over a punishing 68 minutes

6. Bob could make a minimalist concept statement composed of 45 minutes of complete silence, called The Unplayed Harmonica

7. Bob could embrace jazz fusion, take up the sax and record a honking, stonking skronk-out with a bunch of session noodle pals

8. Bob could record a spoken-word album in which he tells jokes, reads out recipes, recites bits of the Bible and recalls amusing incidents from his childhood

9. Bob could carefully craft 10 pleasing songs whose lyrics, music and arrangements reflect his growing years and wisdom and how he feels about the state of the world at this moment in time

10. Bob could release yet another old-timey collection of thrown together, over-long songs based on simple blues structures

Which would you prefer? Please participate! Place your response in this space below:

callanoj@gmail.com (Jon)
I was disappointed when it was released. I tried to like it! I really did! But it just felt so forced. So, I put it down for a while and started listening to all my Nick Cave albums again (not a bad one in the bunch). But Dylan has been my favorite musician since i can remember. So, I knew I'd eventually go back and try Together Through Life again. For the last month, nine months after its release, I can't stop listening to it! It's not a top tiered Dylan album like HW61 or Time Out of Mind. But it's damn catchy and light hearted. Sometimes that's better than top tiered or Nick Cave.

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Christmas In The Heart - Columbia 2009
Rating = 6


It's every mother's picture postcard Norman Rockwell Christmas. Little Jimmy is opening his new BB gun bicycle with spikes of glee, Littler Mary is giggling with delight at her Baby Piss-Her-Diaper Doll, and Big Dad is cooking a delicious turkey in the toaster. Mistletoe and stockings are hung over the fireplace, the tree is covered in candy canes and Raggedy Anne & Andy ornaments, and a heaping bag of Egg Nog is being passed around the fire. What could possibly make this day more Yuletidastic? Some Xmas Christmas, of course! So Mom runs into the other room and pulls out her favorite Christmas Album, The Christmas Album For The Whole Family Christmas Album. She sticks it in the 8-track player, cranks up the volume and breaks into a smile of delight as those fine young lads and lassies begin singing her favorite carols of yesterday. Sleigh bells ring, pianos ding and guitars string when suddenly -- Wait! What's that noise? Coming down the chimney!? Why, it's.... it's.... SAN

FRANCISO'S FAVORITE FOLK SINGER, BOB DYLAN! Unfortunately, when he fell down the chimney, he swallowed ten pounds of ash and landed on his throat. But don't think THAT'LL stop him! This is a man who loves his Christmas carols alright, and the whole family will be listening to his godawful pained scratchy hoarse raspy death rattle Louis Armstrong iron lung voice singing along with The Christmas Album For The Whole Family Christmas Album for the next 15 songs and 42 minutes!

But the good thing is -- the unbelievable dichotomy between Bob's shit voice and the squeaky clean backup vocals and musical accompaniment is so Ho-Ho-Horrible that it's Ho-Ho-Holarious! Granted, you have to like Christmas music in the first place (as I do) or it's going to be a painful and miserable experience for you. But if you get a seasonal kick out of Holiday classics like "Here Comes Santa Claus," "Winter Wonderland," "Hark The Herald Angels Sing" and "O Come All Ye Faithful," Christmas In The Heart is bound to strike your funny bone in a way that Dylan surely couldn't have intended. But with song after song of Bob trying DESPERATELY and PASSIONATELY to get his charred, raw voicebox to sing all the correct notes (to a degree never even attempted on an original Dylan LP), they might as well have named it A Golden Throats Christmas!

Which brings up a queer query: why does Bob try so hard to sing these songs as well as he can? He's certainly never given a wingding about his vocals before, but here -- particularly in range-scaling songs like "Do You Hear What I Hear?," "Hark The Herald Angels Sing" and "The First Noel" -- he sounds like he'd be willing to rip his throat out and hold it up in the air in order to reach the high notes. Odd? Hells yes, it's odd! His voicebox clearly has no idea how to deal with such high notes, and bellows out a strange "Tom Waits gasping for breath" noise unheard of on a Dylan record to this juncture. So what is going on? Is he really such a huge fan of Christmas carols that he absolutely refuses to half-ass them? For that matter, is he even still a Christian anymore!?

Regardless, it's this unique mixture of good old-fashioned clean-as-a-whistle Christmas music and Bob's big-hearted but halfway-to-vomiting vocals that make the record such a bizarre 'outsider' novelty treat. Had he simply rasped along to a strummy acoustic and harmonica, it might sound more 'normal,' but it'd also probably be boring. Christmas In The Heart may be horrifying and ungodly, but it's certainly not boring!

Three additional highlights include:
- Dylan singing the first verse of "O Come All Ye Faithful" in LATIN! REAL LIVE LATIN!
- A wonderfully speedy punk polka barrelhouse accordion version of Mitch Miller's "Must Be Santa"
- An adorable pedal steel-enhanced loop-de-doo called "Christmas Island" (originally by the Andrews Sisters, I'm led to believe)

I'll warn you: some of these cheery chestnuts are absolutely destroyed by Bob's sickening throat cancer retching (If you can make it through "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas," "Silver Bells" and "The Christmas Song" without grabbing a Sucret, congratulations on the broken ears). But I'll not allow anyone to say that he isn't giving 100% of himself to these songs. This is honestly as good as he can sing. He wasn't exactly Bob Fancyvoice in his 20's -- and now he's 68!

In summation, I should point out that Bob is donating all his royalties from this CD to homeless/hungry charities. And if nothing else, he's at least got his songs back down to a reasonable length; only 3 of these 15 songs exceed 3:00! Hopefully he'll remember this lesson the next time he records a 'real' album.

Well, that and "make sure your song has a melody before you press 'record'."

Reader Comments

gamefan9@sbcglobal.net
wow

13 years and you are still able to pen a new review every bit as hilarious as your old ones. At first I didn't even know Bob Dylan had a Christmas album coming out, but after having fits of ho-ho-hos reading your review, it's now downloading to my hard drive as I type. And I never ever listen to Christmas music, unless it's by like The Residents or something. I hope it's as hilarious as you made it sound!

Mark, you are a funny man.

stephendfall@yahoo.co.uk
I love this album. No, it's not a "masterpiece" of More Important Work, but Bob seems 100% into it and somehow it really works. It's far more interesting than Together Through Life, which had (at most) three good tracks. Plus, it's for an excellent cause. You'd have to be very, very cynical not to think this album was a good thing. As Lord Prindle says, Bob really does try to hit the notes. That may be why this works so well: on his own songs now he tends to write around the limitations of his voice. Here, he tries to render the tunes as they are. This means he stops taking the easy route and just... goes for it. And well done to Bob for surprising us all again. In my rant above (beneath the Together Through Life review) I despaired that Bob was getting predictable. This album is NOT predictable in any way. Happy Xmas, Bob. Whatever next?

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