George Starostin's Reviews 



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jamman <> (15.11.99)

One of the most significant artists ever.

Baltimore show, 11/08/99 really rocked, better than 7/16/99 w/simon.

MarkGMoe <> (15.11.99)

Wow...what can I say? You are so far off on your reviews that it seems ludicrous that you even have a web page dedicated to the work of Bob Dylan. You belittle some of his greatest songs and miss the point so many times that it's ridiculous. And how in the world can you call yourself a fan and ridicule his voice. I once attended a Dylan concert in 1996 and read a review later of the same show. An 18 year old girl said everything better in just once sentence than you did in all of your reviews. I thought what she said was truly inspirational. She wrote, "I guess we all stop empathizing with those people who say they can't understand a thing he says about the same time that we realize that his voice can't be anything but beautiful."

[Special author note: apparently, Bob Dylan is none other than Jesus Christ in person, and Mark is his Saint Peter. And The Eighteen Year Old Girl Who Puts So Many Periods In Her Sentences She Ends Up Sounding Cabbalistic? The Virgin Mary, no doubt... Ladies and gentlemen, please don't treat Bob as a religious object. That's exactly what he's been trying to get away from all his life. Unfortunately, some people weren't intelligent enough to take a hint. Not to mention that I never called myself a fan and I never ridiculed Bob's voice, but that goes without saying.]

<> (29.11.99)

hi im a 15 year old who loves bob dylan , i have 22 of his albums and he is a shelter to those who are sick of pop hysteria, I like him because he proved that humbelness is cool, in the 60's he proved that rock songs can be intelectual ( something the 90's havent figured out) . in the 70's he showed that everybody can change and boy did he! in the 80's he followed his own convictions, by becoming a christian, now im a christian and his christian albums were the best that i have ever seen , i think saved is underated, but yes i think his secular stuff is better,

Brian Blacklow <> (05.12.99)

I don't think anyone could express my thought of Bob Dylan better than you did... wow... You were wrong about one thing though... you can make non-Dylan fans into Dylan fans.... it just takes some work... first, find out what kind of music they like.... whether it be Ministry, Rod Stewart, GNR, etc.... there's a Dylan connection there... amaze them by pointing out that the song they like by Ministry, etc. is originally a Bob song... play them the original Bob song... continue doing this until they ask to borrow an album... give them BOTT if they have recently had a breakup, otherwise, give them Greatest Hits volume 1.... they'll become Bob fans sooner or later.... this technique has worked on two of my friends and I plan to test it on a third...

Dave <> (20.01.2000)

Although I'm only 30, I've managed to see him at least 20 times and have been a big fan since college. Admittedly, I've lost interest in him a bit over the past 3 years. I've always been more of a fan of his earlier stuff (when you could understand what he's singing). What I've never liked about him is his attitude with interviewers. Even in the 60's, he would put people down without the saving grace of the beatles' wit. The 70's was a lot of psudo-intellectual garbage. I'm not sure what he's like today. Maybe he's matured a bit with a likeable sense of humor...or maybe not. Who knows? What I do know is his earlier efforts are classic and always a joy for me to hear.

Rose Mary <> (12.02.2000)

English is not my first language...but I can say that Dylan is the greatest artist in rock history or probably in the music field in general. If you do not feel moved by his lyrics, his voice and his harmonica, must probably you are dead or you suffer from heart numbness....

John McFerrin <> (02.03.2000)

Over the past couple of months, I've been searching out as many Dylan albums as I can (except for Planet Waves, I have studio stuff through Desire) and in the course of listening I've come to a general conclusion about him and his music.

Any album by Dylan, from the debut onward, CANNOT be truly appreciated the first run through. The reason for this is fairly obvious, of course; the first things one notices when going through an album are simply the notes, both vocally and not. But as you've basically asserted, Dylan is NOT about 'conventional' music-listening. There is an old adage that states that, "the most important part of music is what isn't the notes," and this is true with Dylan more than any other artist. The first time I ran through Highway 61, I sorta liked, but I was more amused by it than anything, what with the bizarre lyrics and all. And first time through Blonde on Blonde, I must say I was bored. Same with JWH. BUT, subsequent listens pulled out the Dylan magic, and I was hooked. I cannot explain what exactly it is he does, not for the life of me, but he does it WELL. Even on Time out of Mind (and I must also say that 'Highlands' _definitely_ has this magic, I honestly did not notice that it was 16 minutes long) and, let's face it, Self-Portrait. In any case, I agree with giving Blonde the best grade of all, as 'Sad-eyed Lady' is just gorgeous beyond words.

Per Anderö <> (14.05.2000)

I didn´t like Nashville skylines! What happened to his wonderful voice? And Selfportrait was a disaster! And still is! The only song that´s worth listening to is the one he doesn´t sing: "All the tired horses"!

But I can forgive Bob! He has made such wonderful albums after that, like Blood on the tracks and Oh mercy! On May 15:th, he´s going to receive the Polar Price, the musical Nobel Price, here in Sweden! He´s deserved it!

Richard James <> (07.08.2000)

Your favourite song selections are pretty sound ('Tom Thumb's Blues' is, after many years of thought, my personal Dylan favourite), but 'Chimes of Freedom' and 'Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands' ?? Both are musically dull ('Gates of Eden' is slightly better than 'Chimes') and lyrically overcooked. So, best song on Another Side? I'd have to go for 'To Ramona' or possibly 'I Don't Believe You'. 'Lowlands' sounds to me Bob's drunken way of saying 'Sara Lowndes,' just as 'Johanna' is a stoned 'Joan' [Baez]: 'Visions of Johanna', though, is a good song (despite the bit towards the end which spends too much time with the owed/loads/explodes etc. section of the rhyming dictionary), whilst 'Sad-Eyed' is an embarrasment.

Billy Rabara <> (10.08.2000)

I am a true admirer of much of Bob Dylan's work. There are Dylan songs that I have kept my interest through hundreds of listenings. But there are no true masterpieces. Every Dylan song, to a lesser or greater extent, is flawed. I applaud his passionate three note harmonica and guitar solos. I applaud his passionate croaks that us Dylan fans graciously term 'singing'. After every listening of every Dylan song, I think, "Damn good try, Bob. Damn good try." But Dylan has repeatedly displayed a lack of effort. It's a shame that Dylan hasn't cared enough about his music to get vocal lessons. The inability to 'hit notes' perfectly is not disastrous but coupled with the inability to control voice is ... well ... disastrous. I have heard the argument: "Dylan isn't TRYING to hit notes". Give me a break. This IS music we're talking about, isn't it? Mary had a little lamb IS E D C D EEE DDD EGG, isn't it? Dylan certainly knew at a young age that he didn't possess much natural singing ability. He just doesn't care. It's too late, now. His vocal cords are most likely damaged beyond repair.

Dylan is obviously a great song writer. But even his songwriting is, at many times, flawed. Writing is not supposed to be riddling people. What's the point of writing lyrics that nobody understands? It's as if Dylan gets a good idea in his head -- a clear picture of what a song will be about -- then he obscures that image and writes it. And sometimes a particular image, albeit obscured, is indeed interesting. However, more times than not, the entirety of a song is not and can never be fully understood.

Edmilson Paes <> (13.08.2000)

Estou escrevendo em Português para dizer que mesmo no Brasil Bob Dylan é considerado um poeta maravilhoso e influêncioou grandes nomes do Brasil como Caetano Veloso, Raul Seixas. Belchior, Zé ramalho e etc.

[Special author note: for those who accidentally happen not to have brushed off their Portuguese in the past few years, this means something like 'I'm writing in Portuguese to say that even in Brazil Dylan is considered a marvelous poet and has influenced such Brazilian greats as...' sorry, my knowledge of Brazilian culture really sucks.]

<> (31.08.2000)

He is one of two artists who leave me in jaw dropped awe (The other one is novelist Ernest Hemingway). Like Hemingway, Dylan is a true American original, a pioneer, a visionary. He single handedly reconfigured the way the record buying public listens to music. Many musicologists attribute the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's album as being the first record to insist the listener must actually sit down and consume the entirety of the album from start to finish (like a book)...I beg to differ. That distinction belongs to Dylan's Blond on Blond. A masterpiece of popular music. A singular achievement of the highest order.

Bob Dylan will endure because he challenged and triumphed over convention. Plain and simple. Like Hemingway, Dylan fused tradition with innovation and created something that was newer than new.

Sean Hutchinson <> (03.10.2000)

First, thanks for devoting so much time to reviews of Dylan's work, and for encouraging intelligent discourse on a subject close to my heart, and obviously many others'. Second, you are right to suggest that you can't truly appreciate the brilliance of so much of his work without acknowledging his flaws, his poorer material, the second-rate product that has been released, particularly in the 80's. Third, I think it's clear that there is never going to be consensus about Dylan's best album, although most people would surely list the Top 3 as Highway 61, Blonde, and Blood, and then argue about the gold medal position. I would further like to confuse the issue by stating that my 'favourite' Dylan album, of the 35 I possess, is Blonde On Blonde, but, the 'best' album Dylan has ever made is Blood On The Tracks, because it is more consistently good than Blonde - it has no weak moments, but Blonde has, love it as I do, love it as I have done for 27 years!! Finally, having just discovered your Dylan back pages, although we've exchanged comments on Mark Prindle's Dylan page, I'm looking forward to contributing to the debate. Cheers, George!

Ola Hansson <> (17.10.2000)

Well, Bob Dylan's lyrics are a popular hobby among intellectuals, I think

Thomas McKeown <> (15.12.2000)

Ooh, Bob Dylan. To my mind, if all Dylan had left us was a box of his lyrics, he would justify his place in history; of course, we'd be missing out on a lot of great music, but to me, sitting down with some Bob Dylan lyrics and reading them is just as much fun (if not more so) than listening to the music. The fact he left us lots of catchy melodies is almost incidental. Of course, cultural phenoma such as Dylan always inspire both lots of fanatism and lots of crappy wannabe imitators, but Dylan's legacy has been thankfully relatively unharmed by critical back-lashes inspired by waves of copy-cats, which is what has happened, to a certain extent, to the Beatles (Oasis?). I can't say that untill you pointed it out in your introduction that I even thought of Bobby's voice as being weird, perhaps because it's the voice that people such as myself, who can't properly sing, adopt when they have to. His finest moment? To my mind, either the great roll call of bitersweet introspective masterpieces on Blonde on Blonde that begins with 'Visions of Johanna' and ends with 'Stuck Inside of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again', or 'All I Really Want To Do', which never fails to get me to "share all the fun", particually where he starts howling (don't pretend you've never done it when you thought no-one was listening!).

Raghu Mani <> (27.12.2000)

One comment on your introductory paragraph. I agree that Dylan does not have a particularly great voice. However what you do not emphasize is how effective that voice can be. There is something in his style of delivery that gets you to the heart of the song in a way that few people with better voices cannot. I have heard a ton of Dylan covers but very, very few can match the original. It might be a cliché but it is true, IMHO, that nobody does Dylan like Dylan.

Morten Felgenhauer <> (27.12.2000)

Just a small comment on the instrumentation of Bob's first four albums (and half of his fifth). It is usually said that these consists of his voice, guitar and harmonica. However, if you listen more closely, you'll notice that it is often two guitars. The rhythm guitar (usually Bob?) strums the chords while the "lead" guitar adds little fills, bass lines or just doubles the chords in some way. Maybe Bob plays both of these instruments himself, but I think I read the name of the other guitarist somewhere. Does anybody know his name? A sample of Bob playing alone can be found on Live 1966.

Palash Ghosh <> (25.02.2001)

Bob Dylan's career is so long, varied and encyclopedic that it virtually defies any simple all-encompassing praise or dismissal. I've heard most of his records and my feelings towards his music spans the entire spectrum from enthusiastic admiration to vitriolic hatred.

But to put it in a nutshell, I like everything he did from 1961 through 1968, and disliked most everything afterwards (with some very important exceptions).

Remember that Robert Zimmerman was initially a 1950's-based rocker; Elvis was his idol (Woody Guthrie and the black blues guys came a bit later). But, alas, poor Bobby found he had neither the looks nor the voice to be a conventional rock-pop star, and so he did the only thing he could do -- acoustic folk and blues with a social conscience.

Some people believe that Dylan is more important to rock music than anyone else –- Elvis, Beatles, Stones, Hendrix, etc. I wouldn't go quite that far, but I will say that he gave pop/rock a 'poetic foundation' and virtually every subsequent songwriter worth his salt from John Lennon to Pete Townshend to Elvis Costello all the way to Kurt Cobain was profoundly inspired by Bob. No doubt about that.

The one thing I most admire about Dylan is that (except for his brief experimentation with British-style electric pop rock in 1965-66), he remained virtually immune to the 'marketplace.' In fact, he seemed to sometimes intentionally go against the grain of any prevailing trends in music.

I read somewhere that when Pete Townshend first met Dylan, his hero, he came away disappointed that he seemed so 'out of it' and so 'unaware' of things. This is crucial to fully understanding Dylan.

Kevin Baker <> (12.03.2001)

Some days I love him, some days I don't. Why? Because Dylan's music speaks to me, and some days I just don't care to listen. I know the woman in 'Like A Rolling Stone' and 'Positively 4th Street' and 'Just Like A Woman'; she's broken my heart so many times. I know the woman from 'Sad Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands'. Sometimes the two ladies overlap, and sometimes they're different. Make any sense? It's all in perception; you don't listen to Dylan, you FEEL Dylan and experience Dylan. OK, the guy's voice is hard to get past...for a little while. But then you realize that you feel so much like Dylan some times. That is the magic of Dylan; his songs are to music what Shakespeare's plays are to literature---the very essence of human nature, the good and the bad.

Eric Rogozin <> (18.04.2001)

Bob Dylan is a GENIUS!!!! He's one of the most significant musicians in our century, yeah, he's GREAT. You were right, when you said "If you don't like Dylan, there must be something wrong with your genes"! Absolutely agree! His greatness, magnificence and a big talent are obvious. During his creative work he released a lot of masterpieces with wonderful lyrics and music and he still rules now! What else to say? I like Dylan's works and admire him. Thanks for giving him a 5! Keep on good work, you have a best review page!

Glenn Wiener <> (17.06.2001)

I guess Bob Dylan’s music is an acquired taste. Personally my taste buds are just not suited for his whining vocals and somewhat long-winded songs. I do admit he is basically good songwriter most especially from a lyrical point of view. However combine his weak technical vocals with his over developed song structure and nothing special instrumentation support and boredom does set in. 'Forever Young' is truthfully a very touching song as is 'Blowin’ In The Wind'. But truthfully I would rather hear other singers/bands perform his music as The Pretenders and Stevie Wonder’s interpretations of the above mentioned songs are improvements over the originals. None the less in spite of his vocal limitations, Bob Dylan’s influence on music can not be denied. And I did have a pretty good memory of his Nashville Skyline recording when I was a junior in College. However, if there was an album of his that I would purchase it would undoubtedly be the CLASSIC SAVED ALBUM where Christian Music just soothes the soul of this nice Jewish boy from New York. Naah just checking that you are paying attention, George. Any comments from you my friend?? A compilation would most likely be the route for me if anything but I would consider borrowing a recording of his where the Band has supplied a rock n roll backing.

Cory Cosens <> (02.07.2001)

I think you're crazy for calling the Beatles a better band than Bob Dylan. The Beatles were a great band, but besides peace and love, what did they really have to say? There were people like Bob Dylan doing more inovative things before and after the Beatles.

They're regarded as the greatest band of all time, simply because they happened to be the most popular. That could've been anyone. Hell, it could've been the Dave Clark 5 instead. Take an album like Blonde on Blonde or Desire and compare it to anything the Beatles ever did, and I think you'll see my point.

Like I said earlier, the Beatles never strayed peace and love in their song writing. They were a great band, but were never as talented or creative as Dylan was and still is.

David Moloney <> (30.08.2001)

It's always great when you stumble across an artist that you can identify with... even more so when the artist has already recorded a massive career catalouge. I'm sure you all remember the first time you've heard some of Bobs songs... and that you wish you could forget all his stuff, so as to relive the magic of once again discovering his brilliant music. Thankfully I'm in that position now... there are just so many songs that I'm hearing for the first time... they're all great for inspiration.

I must thank the Beastie Boys for putting me on to Bob. With funny lines such as "I'm just Chillin' / like Bob Dylan" and the use of the Bobs "Moving back to New York City, I do believe I've had enought" ('Just like Tom Thumbs Blues') in their song 'Finger Lickin' Good'. I must admit, it took a while to finally bite the bullett and buy one of his albums, but I found the Best of Bob Dylan 1& 2 to be brilliant.

Now.... back to my moments of musical discovery.

<> (15.09.2001)

Without Bob Dylan music to me would be just background noise. I own all of his cds. So many of his songs bring me to tears, In my opinion he will always be the man. Singers and songwriters come and go Mr Dylan and his music may you stay forever young

Srivatsan Laxman <> (02.10.2001)

let me put the "good" things first ... overall a great job! the sheer exhaustiveness of your reviews amazes me. you are really one hell of a music freak.

i appreciate the "5 stars" status you have given dylan. of course, he ought to be there with the best (there is no doubt about that, is there?). and then, thanx for making that "dont make him a God"-kind of request. indeed, neither is he one, nor does he want to be known as one (i think).

but there ends my appreciation. i am a very big fan of the beatles too and sure, they deserve a 5 too. but you cant give dylan a 4.5+ overall, when the beatles are a 5+ ... no way. thats ridiculous.

4/5 for listenability is harsh. you could take out a 0.5 for his voice, that too only if you are really stuck-up. but dylan's melodies deserve a 5/5 in general .. consider "lay down your weary tune" or "you're a big girl now" or even for that matter the more recent "things have changed".

if 4/5 for listenability was harsh, giving dylan a 4/5 for originality is a definite insult to his creativity. common, was there anybody that ever dished out such innovative stuff as dylan has, that too in such a wide range and variety of styles? will there ever be? his influence on the world of music (& even on his own contemporaries) has been unprecedented. and add to that, his unparalleled lyrical abilities. hey .. dont overdo the "god" thing. give it to him. he is a genius and by far the biggest of them at that.

and dont forget ... dylan is still not over with. he continues to create, innovate and surprise. he has been around for nearly half a century now and yet love & theft is just about as fresh and listenable as the freewheelin.

lastly, why is biograph not listened? its got some true classics that cant be overlooked in any dylan review. please add it asap.

thanx for reading.

Ryan Maffei <> (27.02.2002)

Once again, I am bereft of words when commenting upon rock's foster father. What to say here about the man who brought folk, rock, and country together, revolutionized each, brought intelligence into music, did so much for music as we know it today...well, for one thing, I think his folk period is a little overrated (although it had grown more original by Subterranean Homesick Blues/Bringing it All Back Home)--with his rock stuff, he was really laying the groundwork for what future artists patterned themselves by, particularly on Highway 61 Revisited. And then, he did descend into musical hell somewhere after John Wesley Harding. I usually focus on the first seven albums when "getting into" Dylan--starting off with some fluid, moving folk, and moving on into the dynamic stuff. In the end, the three seminal albums are Bringing, Highway, and Blonde on Blonde, but different Dylan appeals to different people--look at George's unexpected acceptance of Self Portrait--so he's worth exploring fully, overall.

Michael Danehy <> (06.04.2003)

Bob Dylan is the most important musical figure of the '60s, period. More important than the Rolling Stones. More important than the Beatles. Just to think, not long before the release of albums such as Highway 61 Revisited, music still revolved around two minute love songs performed by pretty boys. Dylan changed all that. It's a miracle that he broke into mainstream music at all. He is a skinny, rat-faced little man with an untraditional singing voice who re-worked traditional folk, blues, etc. into some of the most challenging and rewarding rock music of the era. And his challenging music pushed bands like the Beatles and Stones to be more progressive. To make a long comment short, I will state a fact: Dylan kicks ass. I feel sorry for anyone who hasn't listened to Blonde on Blonde at least a dozen times (even if you don't like it, you can learn to like it.) :-)

Alexandr Zaitsev <> (19.05.2003)

Bob's surely a genius and the greatest poet of rock. Or perhaps the only poet of rock. I can't think of another musician whose songs can be studied as literary works of art. Bob's songs can and should be treated as art. Cohen's writing is great, Waters' writing is great,but Dylan's is greater.

Regan Tyndall <> (15.05.2004)

Bob Dylan is simply the single most important, significant, and relevant figure in the history of the (English-language) recorded popular song. I could stop there, but I'll go on.

I congratulate George on pointing out the fact that Dylan is a simple and humble guy. He did have a strange reaction to his God-like celebrity in the mid-60s, and he certainly took some questionable career paths, perhaps as a result. The fact that he's still going as strong as ever - with his sanity apparently intact - after 42 years as a recording artist is amazing in itself. Everyone knows his musical innovations which I don't need to list, but I think that Dylan doesn't get enough credit for the following:

a) his trailblazing bravery - he did so many things so far in advance of others, it boggles the mind how he could have had the audacity to pull it off. Bear in mind that while Dylan was writing 'Tambourine Man' the Beatles, for example, were still singing 'She's in love with me and I feel fine,' while folkies were sticking to the proven popularity of traditional folk songs. Dylan took huge risks and went out on so many limbs it's a wonder his career prospered.

b) melodies - there are those who try to knock Dylan by saying that he's not skilled at writing melodies. This is wrong. I would argue that Dylan is (was?) a better melody writer than all his peers but perhaps Lennon/McCartney and later a few others like Stevie Wonder, etc. But NONE of them has written as many strong melodies as Dylan in total. Even if you take away the songs that appropriated folk tunes or where he borrowed arrangements, he still wrote about 10 times more great melodies than anyone else. Fact.

c) his diversity - some will say: it all sounds the same! No, it doesn't. You need to hear any two albums to understand. His sound underwent radical changes in 1964-5, 1967, 1974, 1976, 1978, 1985. Also his voice has changed many times. His singing is actually virtuostic in that he gets far more from what he has in the vocal department than almost all others. His first and second albums are proof that he could have sung in a more-or-less conventional way if he had wanted to repeat himself and count his short-term money. He didn't.

d) the fact that he's a human being - It's time for some fans and biographers to actually show some simple human respect for the guy. He's flesh and blood.

I more-or-less agree with George's ratings of the albums (I like Blood on the Tracks and Desire more than George, and I think Highway 61 is slightly overrated). Dylan is the one and only artist in the rock canon whose work I feel philosophically hesitant to 'rate' and objectify. It seems unnecessary, because whatever he puts out is simply his honest expression of himself. If only everyone had taken this as their starting point, rather than co-opting his attitude and his clothes (by the way, he's also the first punk artist!).

Tim B. <> (10.01.2006)

I would love Bob Dylan, I don't see why I wouldn't otherwise, but there's only one problem. I simply can't stand the guys voice. Seriously I've heard all his most well known songs, numerous times, I've listened to The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan over and over again trying to make myself like it. I can't STAND his voice. It is torture to my ears. His diction is just terrible. His music seems ok, but very uninteresting. The praise heaped on this man...I can't understand it in any way whatsoever. He was and remains simply a good folkie...he wasn't groundbreaking or innovative, wasn't interesting. He was just good at what he did, probably an honest lyricist. For the life of me I can't see much else in his work to at all warrant an A rating. If music were nothing but floating quotients of historical importance he'd certainly win, but I don't give a SHITE about historical significance. I'm a music fan, bar none, and I don't like Bob Dylan's music...plain and simple. Though I'm sure the people that praise Dylan as 'the most important figure in rock music' are different from me in that they can bear hearing his vocals. I can't. 'nuff said. When I hear a Dylan song I always know it is his because I recognize that lazy, zoned-out nonsense drawl and cringe.

Call me a short-sight phillistine. This man may have created oceans, given birth to the sun, built the great pyramids. But his music sounds bad.


Barry <> (11.10.99)

I'm afraid I have to disagree with your assessment of Led Zeppelin's "In My Time of Dying". Dylan treats the song well, and I would definitely listen to Dylan before Led Zeppelin any day; as far as straight-up rock songs go, though, this song is nearly perfect.

Sean Hutchinson <> (04.10.2000)

6.5 - I think this is a better album than you give it credit for, George! The songs may not be Dylan’s but it’s an impressive debut nevertheless. Best songs: “Baby, Let Me Follow You Down” and “Fixin’ To Die”.

Raghu Mani <> (27.12.2000)

I think you are being a little cruel here. It deserves more than a 5. I agree that there is no typical Bob Dylan songs here but it is an excellent album of folk/blues covers. One thing people do not give Dylan enough credit for is his ability to cover other people's songs. There is a limited range of material that he can cover effectively but so long he stays within that range the results are stunning. I'd give this one a 7 myself.

Palash Ghosh <> (26.02.2001)

The Bob Dylan LP is a charming and eccentric debut record, I've always been fond of it. I could never reconcile that youthful, innocent face on the cover with the gravely-voiced fellow singing these depressing, world-weary songs on the vinyl. I don't know what kind of reaction this record got when first issued, but it definitely planted the seeds for the musical explosion of the 1960's.

My favorite tunes here are 'House Of The Rising Sun', 'Baby Let Me Follow You Down' and the hilarious 'Freight Train Blues.'

Ryan Maffei <> (22.02.2002)

A nice little curio from Columbia's earlier years: Dylan just out of adolescence. While the fresh new face that adorns the record doesn't earn the man the credibility his well-worn mug would garner him in later years, I find that the material in here, in all of its unoriginality, shows Dylan to be quite an accomplished performer (stressing the word "performer"; I certainly wouldn't say "songwriter" now, would I, although I like the guy's two originals).

Of course, the problem with the record's generally not much. I like how the production allows Dylan and his guitar to be just Dylan and his guitar, giving this material a sort of stark, organic feel that can really be quite effective in spots. And if he's not dark the whole time (although he's nothing less on "House of the Rising Sun" and "See That My Grave is Kept Clean"), Dylan can definitely carry an atmosphere at this point, whether it's homely or light or compelling, etc. But it's all light, redundant folk, only really great when it deviates from the format a bit. The "Rising Sun" cover does this admirably, offering an enthralling narrative that's as gripping as it is frightening. The other flaw of the album, unfortunately, lies in how relentlessly un-innovative this is in comparison to Dylan's later stuff, when he actually, like, became the foster father of rock...from a critical standpoint, this earns a 6 from moi (though that doesn't matter much, now, does it?), an above-average grade (slightly) that does equal justice and...the opposite (ahem). But if you don't have it, check it out. A little box from a time when music was still earthy and fresh.


Mike Zupan <> (09.11.99)

In my opinion, best song ever ('Dont Think Twice' - G. S.).

I can never get bored with it! "I once loved a girl, a child I am told, gave her my heart, but she wanted my soul, but don't think twice it's all right..."

Orgazmic lines.

Brian Blacklow <> (05.12.99)

<<Nevertheless, a couple of the tunes like 'Bob Dylan's Dream' still do nothing for me>>

Listen to this song the day after a childhood friend dies...

Jeff Blehar <> (27.02.2000)

Of his early folk/protest albums, Freewheelin' is the best of them by a very wide margin. It lies at the perfect median of Dylan's early growth: neither as inexperienced and ear-shattering vocally as his debut nor as unhappy, humourless, and jaded as The Times They Are A-Changin'. Just about the only song I really don't care for is "Masters Of War," because he goes TOO far. Dylan is great when he's insulting someone, but when he's wishing for someone's death it's just a trifle too nasty for comfort. That being said, the song redeems itself with its incisiveness and clarity. And the rest of the album is just top-flight material, pretty much as good as a guy with his guitar and a harmonica will ever be able to get. "Down The Highway" is average, I suppose, but I frankly enjoy its mood. "Blowin' In The Wind" is the only other one which I dislike (trite! dated!), but I can't really tally that one up as a strike against the album since it's generally so well-loved. Everything else, from the devastating "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" (the absolute peak of his protest - surreal, disturbing, moving, unforgettably beautiful) to the hilarious "I Shall Be Free" (my favorite line? "Make love to Elizabeth Taylor/Catch hell from Richard Burton") is just amazing. The love songs are alternately suffused with yearning ("Girl From The North Country") or cynical and jaded world-weariness ("Don't Think Twice"), and the comedy numbers are (surprising, this) genuinely funny. Not only that, but comedy/protest numbers like "Talking World War III Blues" have a strange poignancy to them: "I'll let you be in my dream if you let me be in yours." I really don't think this album drags at all - it's a mesmerizing mood piece, and Dylan performs the impressive feat of getting me really excited about an hour of "wooden" music. Three cheers and a 9/10.

Sean Hutchinson <> (04.10.2000)

7 - It’s a pity that songs like “Down The Highway” were left on this record, when so many better tracks were excluded by the record company. Nevertheless, it’s a very good album. However, I think the ‘protest ’ songs get a little too much attention. “Blowin’ In the Wind” is charming, but it’s also rather trite. “Masters Of War” is too extreme, too preachy - I got slammed on Mark Prindle’s page for commenting that it was overblown - I still think it’s a good song and a great performance but I think some of you give Dylan too much credit for his social comment. Dylan has admitted many times that he didn’t really care about these issues that much - he used them to become better known and get the artistic freedom to make the records he really wanted to make - in a 1965 interview, for example, he said “I didn’t want to write topical songs”. (I’ll provide the source of this quote if anybody’s interested.) The point is that the songs have to be judged on their merits, not for the ‘sincerity’ that some people imagine that Dylan sang them with. Anyway, I think the best songs are “Don’t Think Twice”, despite it being a little harsh on the girl, and the lovely “Dream”.

Michael Battaglia <> (07.12.2000)

I don't listen to the "folky" ones as much as I should, which is weird since being mostly a guy interested in the lyrics of songs, this album is basically all about the lyrics, as entertaining as Bob can be on guitar, I doubt anyone will be listening to the "karoke" mix of this anytime soon.  Still, it's stuffed to the gills with classics, "Blowing in the Wind" "Masters of War" "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" (my personal favorite), "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" among others.  Tied for personal favorite is the absolutely hilarious "I Shall Be Free", which with a different backing probably would have fit in well on one of the later albums.

Not really the first album you want to play for people if you want to introduce them to how great Bob Dylan is, his voice is about as annoying as it gets on some songs and I'm pretty patient when it comes to stuff like that.  Y'know, someone once commented to me that it's easy to cover a Bob Dylan song because all you have to do is get someone who can sing and I almost wanted to smack them.  Not the point!  It's about HOW he sings it, the phrasing and all that crud . . . I don't know anything about music and I can tell that.  Sigh.

Pant pant pant.  Off the ol' soapbox now.  But still, his lyrics here do it for me anytime, when every other "protest" sixties album has turned to dust in the record sleeve, Bob touched subjects that won't go away and did it in a way that you don't feel like someone is sitting next to you reading the Times when the album is on.

Raghu Mani <> (27.12.2000)

Pretty much agree with most of what you said here (with the exception of your comments about 'Bob Dylan's dream' which I think is a great song) and I'd rate it as a 9 too.

Palash Ghosh <> (26.02.2001)

Freewheelin' is my very favorite Bob Dylan album, I don't think it drags at all. Every song is good or great, with my personal favorites being 'Don't Think Twice It's Alright' and'Girl From The North Country' (both wonderfully touching, sad love songs).

I think Bob's love songs (or anti-love songs, as the case may be) will last much longer in peoples' minds than his shrill protest songs, the one exception being 'Blowin' in the wind' of course.

This record has a good balance between dark themes and whimsy, and Bob's harmonica playing keeps the whole thing moving along nicely.

Kevin Baker <> (12.03.2001)

Folk music at it's finest. 'A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall' is my favorite pure folk song. A masterpiece. The perfect "balance of terror" song. 'Girl From The North Country' is my next favorite. Beauty. Pure beauty. I have never cared for 'Blowin' In The Wind' as much as Dylan's other stuff, ut I do like the song. 'Masters Of War' is almost punkish in its anger level. I don't like 'I Shall Be Free' as much as its counterpart on Another Side. Everything else is, well standard Dylan folk. Good, but I can only take a few doses of it at a time.

Kerist Wood <> (04.07.2001)

Freewheelin' is one of THE best albums Bob ever did. It is the hallmark of his 'folk' period and does it perfectly. Unfortunately yes George, 'Dont Think Twice' is a rip off of a traditional song, (refer to the Peter Paul and Mary songbook). As much as 'Blowin' is done to death- it still is amazing. I am young. I think it is very poignant to someone of the tender age of 17. Therefore I DO NOT want to hear people (Jeff Blehar) saying that it is (I shudder to say) dated. I don't think that the song has dated- I think you have. 'Down the Highway' could be better if it was shorter. Also, the out of tune guitar on that number is a bit to hard to listen to (unlike the out of tune guitar on 'Queen Jane Approx.'). 'Bob Dylan's Blues' in my opinion is funnier than 'I shall be Free'. He makes fun of himself and his position in the world, "somebody must have told him that I was doin' fine", "watchout you don't step on me", and he comments on his happy lovelife, "Ive got a real girl Im in Love with and I'll love till I'm dead". Perfect humour. 'Hard Rain' is great. I especially love the part where he says the wrong word "oh what did you meet" and then laughs in "oh Who d-did y-o-u me-et" then plays the same G chord about five times- you can just imagine a jovial, youthful Dylan chuckling to himself in the recording studio ('115th dream'?). I think this is testament to the fact that Dylan was just using protest as a tool for fame. I think anyone that was truly an 'angry folky' would have put a version of 'Hard Rain' where he LAUGHED on the track. 'Honey Just Allow Me' is hilarious because of his pronunciation of Aeroplane (AEH!PLAAYNE). I would give it 10, ignoring the dischordance of 'Down the Highway'. The rest don't even need to be mentioned, they are too good to address individually.

Stefan Puiu <> (17.11.2001)

I love the two early albums, both of them! I like The Times They Are A'Changin', even if some of the melodies may be recycled (but it isn't that obvious as you make it sound). They are some of his best, judging from the point of view of someone who has Dylan's most important albums in mp3 on one CD (except Another Side, which I have on cassette, together with the aforementioned, the next two electric albums and Infidels and World Gine Wrong). I really hate both Subterranean Homesick Blues and Highway 61 Revisited.

The first is only half good (only the second side, plus 'Love Minus Zero/No limit' and maybe the title track); I'd give it a five, maybe (10 divided by two)? C'mon, all the songs on side A sound EXACTLY the same, except 'Love Minus Zero'. 8 is too much.

Also, Highway 61 is one of the few albums I've heard that I know to be reviewed by people as a masterpieceand that I really dislike. Almost all of it. It stinks so baaaaaaaaaaad.... Almost all the songs are bore-fests (I only like'Tomstone Blues'; yes, I definitely hate 'Like A Rolling Stone' -Dylan goes very often overboard with the number of verses, he deserves to be deprived of one point of the overall rating for this (in my own personal opinion)). Man, I know Dylan is not very easy to get into. I got into The Freewheelin' and The TImes very easily, but I enjoyed John Wesley Harding and Blood On The Tracks only after around 5 listens. Well, I also gave Highway 61 five listens (on cassette, not mp3), but... No use. It stinks very bad. I really don't see where the fuck are all those great songs - maybe we're listening to different albums? 'Just Like a Tom Thumb's Blues'? I don't even remember the tune of that! 'Desolation Row'? That bore-fest? Much too melodiless for me, pal. Sorry.

I think Dylan's best effort is probably John Wesley Harding, although I'd give the two aforementioned acoustic albums a ten as well (though each one has exactly one major stinker - the last song on the album). Even if most of the songs here are ripped off of traditional melodies - I've heard his first album and I don't really think so - not to a greater extent than all other folk melodies by rock artists. Also, I don't think Dylan is such a complex personality - I think he has NO personality; if you've seen some of his interviews on TV, you'll probably be surprised to see that the guy is a hystrionic character, rather pretending to be complex than actually being complex. Playing some kind of part (and don't give me that 'All the world's a stage' crap). Much too versatile to have his own powerful personality, just like the Beatles. He often refused to comment on his lyrics, which suggests that some of the lyrics are actually pretending to be extremely profound/fascinating, while actually being very tongue-in-cheek (he gained lots of snubbish fans with this).

Ryan Maffei <> (24.02.2002)

A big improvement over Bob Dylan, although that's universally agreed upon. While he's still waking Guthrie, Rob Zimmerman is coming to terms with his own unique style on this great folk record. While it may start out a bit weaker than most of the debut-- 'Blowin' in the Wind', 'Girl from the North Country', 'Down the Highway', and 'Bob Dylan's Blues' don't do nearly as much for me as they do for other people--the music that follows this little dull spot is far, far stronger than the folksy, borrowed material of the first record, and difficult to top as an addition to the Dylan Canon. "Masters of War" is thrillingly spooky, and the artist's most emotional recording to date, "A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall" contains an untoppable set of apocalyptic verses, as do "Bob Dylan's Dream" and "Oxford Town" (to a lesser extent, although they're just as good), "Corrina, Corrina" is great and thoroughly engaging--the full band arrangement really doesn't put me off--and the last two tracks are...well, by Dylan's standards...hilarious. Or, speaking more intelligently, "utterly enjoyable". My favorite, however, is the uplifting "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right"--it's surprising how Dylan could craft such a poignant, moving love song in between his political, traditional folk ramblings, innit? An 8, or a B+.

Srivatsan Laxman <> (16.08.2002)

The Freewheelin' is an all-time classic. The lyrical strength in here is simply enormous. Further, I simply adore Bob's frequent harmonica interludes that punctuate all the songs in this album. What strikes me most about this album is the simplicity in all its melodies - yet you never ever get tired of listening to them. This was my first Dylan album and I just have to disagree with your view that it takes a lot of `getting used to' .. in fact, The Freewheelin' hit me like a thunderbolt the very first time I heard it! I remember being stunned to the bone by 'A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall'. I wonder if the irony in lines like these can/have ever be bettered: "Heard the song of a poet who died in the gutter, Heard the sound of a clown who cried in the alley", or "I met one man who was wounded in love, I met another man who was wounded with hatred".

This album can never be topped, simply because it is the best in its genre and (like you yourself said) it was an inspiration for many an artist of that time. Let us be fair and not try to compare it with BOB or HW61R or Desire or BOTT or ... that would be an apples v/s oranges game. I will give it a clear 10/10.

Bob Josef <> (20.01.2003)

When I played this for an old roommate of mine, he asked me if it was a greatest hits album! Not quite -- with the exception of "Don't Think Twice", the second side doesn't quite measure up to the first. Still, a wonderful, brilliant album indeed. He runs the gamut of emotions - sadness, bitterness, anger, humor, love songs - in a fifty minute span. It is a bit unsettling to think that Bob sounds so world weary at 21 or 22 years old. I also go with "Hard Rain" as the best song. This one established Dylan as true lyrical contender and just blew away his folky conteporaries. And this was just the beginning!

Alexis Von Sydow <> (18.04.2003)

I mostly agree with you, only I don't understand how it is listener-unfriendly. I guess it might have to do with where you set your expectations, but I found it very easy to get into. Also, I must say this is one exceedingly mature 21-year old we hear on this record.

Glenn Wiener <> (03.05.2003)

The all acoustic format is OK in small doses. But at 50 plus minutes this recording is a bit hit and miss. Like 'Blowin In The Wind', 'Honey Just Allow Me One More Chance', and simply adore 'Don't Think Twice, It's All Right'. What touching lyrics on that one. Very personal indeed.

Others like 'Bob Dylan's Dream', 'Bob Dylan's Blues', and 'Talking World War III Blues' just don't have the most memorable melodies. 'A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall' has a decent melody and some touching words but goes on way too long.

Definitely an intiamte experience if you can get over Dylan whining off key every now and then.


Mike Zupan <> (09.11.99)

are you an idiot?

the times they are a changin' is a classic bob dylan album.

[Special author note: okay it is a classic bob dylan album and i am an idiot does that make you happy]

'Boots of shanish leather' is a magnificent work, far superior to 'girl of the North c'. The final verse is just simply brilliant. you are not a true bob dylan fan!!!!

[Special author note: is there any kind of test to determine whether one is a Dylan fan or not?]

<> (11.01.2000)

Aren't we being just a little harsh on ol' Bobby here? Well, maybe not. As you adroitly pointed out, each song here (with the exception of 'Spanish Boots', a true horror) could stand well on its own, but together they combine to form a dreary listen of de Millean proportions. Apparently, Bobby in his guise of 'Serious Young Folk Artist' jut didn't feel the need to provide any variety in terms of melody, speed or even vocal inflexion. A shame really, because some of these ditties coulda been douzies... I've posted sort of a similar comment on the Prindle site, but hey, I can't trust everyone to check that place out, can I?

The Kelly's <> (30.01.2000)

You have to give credit to 'BALLAD OF HOLLIS BROWN'. The song is excellent. 'NORTH COUNTRY BLUES' is an all time great too. This album is worth much more than you give it credit for.

Jeff Blehar <> (24.02.2000)

Shockingly weak; the only reason this is considered a "classic Dylan album" is because it a) fit in with the tenor of times so well, and b) came in the midst of a period where he was more or less untouchable. But other than two or three songs, possibly four, this is a real groaner of an album to sit through. I for one never liked "The Times They Are A-Changin'" a whit (even if I can recognize its objective quality), since I get really turned off by Dylan's early finger-pointing "exclusionary" protest songs. I much prefer the fresher "When The Ship Comes In," which to tell the truth is every bit if not more "us vs. them" in tenor ("We'll SHOUT from the bow 'your days are numbered!'), but it's just much less exposed and it has such verve and vigor to it. "The Times They Are A-Changin'," for all its heralding of massive change, is slow and draggy, quite unlike what you'd expect from lyrics like these, but "When The Ship Comes In" has an anthemic speed and self-assurance that REALLY sounds like it could push a revolution along. The former is a warning, the latter a battle-cry. Other than those two, I quite like "Boots Of Spanish Leather;" more than just a rewrite of "Girl From The North Country," it has a very powerful erotic yearning all its own, and I think it's actually the best piece on the album. "Hattie Carroll" is about as good as his straight topical songs would get - even though it's outdated and hopelessly preachy, it does have SUCH a power to it: "NOW is the time for your tears." But whew! Everything else is as grey and unpalatable as the picture of Bob on the cover where he looks like he's 67 years old. "With God On Our Side" might've been some sort of classic protest song, but all I hear are some the most embarrassing SENTIMENTS, to say nothing of lyrics, of Dylan's early career. When it got to the "the Germans now too have God on their side" bit my friend John actually yelled out, "Oh please, get off your high horse, Bob Dylan!" Hear, hear. I'll give this a 3/10 - I tolerate it only 'cause it's Dylan. If it were Phil Ochs I'd laugh snottily and put on some Clash.

Kelly Laabs <> (22.04.2000)

You're really trying score points with the Dylan Fans aren't you. Forced out? That's a joke. This is an artist who has made his career out of being sincere lyrically, spiritually, or musically. You're trying too hard to be right, and you forcing out opions that just happen to be pretty ignorant. Listen to this album, and try to relate to it. that what it's about, not about forcing your opinions on his critical views on society, you're a critic to.

sidney keith <> (12.05.2000)

do you know what music is. that album is a classic. i've been listening to it before the reviews were out. did you even read the album and are definately ignorant of dylans symbolism. "Avoid this album if you're not a completist?" fuck that. i'm not a completist and its the best album out there

get a life dude

<> (08.07.2000)

This is in response to your review of the album The Times, they are a changin You seem to be looking at this album with a purely 1990s perspective. Now free speech in music is taken for granted, with bands freely spewing obscenity-laden slurs at the government and the judicial system. If you think back to 1964, when the album was released, you'll realise what Bob was thinking when he recorded it. Before this time period, music was mostly meaningless bubblegum-pop that had no real meaning. With Bob's The Times, they are a changing album, he used his masterful songwriting ability to aid in the protest against conformity, the vietnam war, and the oppression of the poor. This album could be considered one of his finest piece of work. The only reason the songs seem out of place is because the situation in the United States today is so much different from the situation in 1964. The title track in the album sets the stage for the movement at the time, that the old way of thinking wasn't working, and that the times were changing. 'The Lonesome Death of Hattie Caroll' is a beautiful, haunting, gut-wrenching tale of Legal corruption that is still relavant today, just watch Dateline or 20/20 and you'll see the relevance of that song. 'The Ballad Of Hollis Brown' is another haunting tale of the hardship of a poor man desperate for work faces. These songs were espescially amazing coming right after an era (the 1950s) where a depressing song with meaning would be unheard of. 'The Ballad Of Hollis Brown' is also relevant today, the quality of life for the poor of this country hasnt improved much in 36 years. True, today any half-wit singer can write a song declaring that the rich are getting richer while the poor were getting poorer to make people feel

John Caulfield <> (11.09.2000)

First of all I'd like to thank you for an inspirational site and, particularly for inspiring me to go out and buy a load of Dylan albums. Prior to reading your site I had only the first greatest hits album, Blonde and Highway.

However, I must disagree with your low ratings for his first album as well as Times. To me they are both classics with an immediacy and directness that was never recaptured after he went electric. (And I am not a diehard "folkie" I am a fan of Floyd as well as modern noisy stuff like Nick Cave and the bad seeds.) I do love Blond and Highway, but I don't believe they are better, rather just "different". What Dylan gains with the addition of electricity and a band, he loses in simplicity and directness.

But, of course, this is always going to be a matter of taste and personal preferance.

As an aside, you are right about the derivatineness of some of the melodies on Times. The title track's melody is reprised a number of times on the album, for example. But, more importantly, the melody for 'God on our side' is virtually a straight crib of the melody of 'Patriot Games', a traditional Irish IRA "folk"song. Furthermore, the last farewell song on the album is a straight lift of another traditional Irish folk song called "The Parting Glass". And believe me, this is no accidental crib. It was deliberate. Being a songwriter myself I know only too well that one can easily unconsciously steal parts of a melody from less well known songs one may have only hearad once or twice many years before. However, one cannot unconsciusly lift a melody and a lyrical idea simultaneously. In two of the songs on Times even the lyrical content of parts of the songs are similar, in fact almost identical, to the other original songs. The Parting Glass, for example starts : "For all the money that e're I spent, I spent it in good company..." with precisely the same melody. And the second verse begins "All the sweethearts that e're I had, are sorry for my going away..."

I would be interested to know from anyone who had the original vinyl packaging whether Dylan acknowledged the origins of these songs, because I can't find any on the cd packaging that I have. Possibly at the time of release, when he was playing on the folk circuits, the audience would have known these folk songs and the need for formal acknowledgement would not have been necessary.

Sean Hutchinson <> (04.10.2000)

6.5 - At the risk of being ‘flamed’, I would say this is a good collection of songs but the mood is rather ‘bleak’, or ‘down’, and the album could do with a humorous song or a happier love song to lift the mood. I’m sure that Columbia Records made the selections and chose to put out that dark black and white cover, and Dylan was forced to go along with it. “Hattie Carroll” and “Mornings” are probably the strongest songs here.

Brian Adkins <> (10.11.2000)

I think Bob was talking about Hitler killing all Jews in the Holocost about the line with the Germans murdering six million. If I'm not mistaken isnt Bob Jewish so when he refers to we he probably means his people.

Michael Battaglia <> (07.12.2000)

Well while I can't think of anything remotely witty to say about this album to compare with the bloke that told you to get a life, I mostly got this because the completist part of me was like "Get it get it!" and because it was cheap and I felt like giving it a shot. Oh well. Generally hunches like that normally play out but not here, for the most part all the humor and vitality that made the last album so great is just sucked out. Other than the title song, which unfortunately most of the other songs resemble in one way or another, there aren't many "classics" here. There's a lyrical bright spot here and there (and there and here) but it's just so monotonous after a while that they either blend together or you fall asleep.

I'd rate it a bit higher than you on my scale mostly because the dirge like stuff doesn't bother me a whole lot (probably might make a six), but of all my Bob Dylan albums this probably goes on the least and if someone came to my house and stole just that album, I doubt I'd miss it. Still it is good for completists and well... folky people I guess. More of a Fairport Convention guy myself, but hey, it takes all kinds.

Raghu Mani <> (27.12.2000)

First review I completely disagree with. This album is not quite as good at its predecessor but it is nowhere as bad as you say it is. 'Hattie Carroll' is, IMHO, as good as topical songwriting ever got. The problem with this album is not, IMO, the quality of the songs - it is the uniformly somber mood of the album. It lacks the sheer variety and humor of freewheelin' - for that reason I'd take a couple of points off and give it an 8.

Didier Dumonteil <> (20.02.2001)

I don't agree at all with most of the opinions.For me it's the best first-era dylan albums.THe songs have got an universal appeal.Who could stay unmoved to Hattie Carroll's terrible fate?Nowhere in the song dylan says she's black and we feel it however.The construction of the song is brilliant:one critic speaks of a François Villon influence (French poet of the 15 th century for those who care)but it makes me think of the first lines of McCullers's "reflections in a golden eyes" in which we learn the whole tragedy before the author explains the CIRCUMSTANCES.And the way dylan insists on this unfair deal,eternal and doomed fight against wealth and poverty.Note his ironic hesitation before saying "with a six months sentence".North country blues is influenced by Guthrie who also wrote about the minors' you remember the terrifying 1913 massacre.In Dylan's song it's a woman who speaks.This topic wasn't new.Our great writer Emile Zola showed the mines' drama in his masterpiece "Germinal" (1885).But Dylan ,like Zola who acted like a journalist before writinghis books,knew what he was talking about because he came from a place where he sure met women like his unfortunate heroine.Hollis Brown is probably too hard to swallow.It ain't for sure as funny as all i really wanna do,but so was not dylan's purpose:austere,bleak,desesperate as hell,with no way out,no happy end,nothing,a movie equivalent would be Bunuel's los olvidados.

With god on our side,in spite of a melody borrowed to Dominic Behan's the patriot game is an universal anthem.Dylan recalls the different wars a naive humanity has been through.Who's the evil one?Who's good?

Who cares as long as God is on our side?The verse about Judas is terrible!THe song's relevancy was proved by recent "holy" wars.Dylan revisits history from a to z.In his wake,Buffy Sainte-Marie- a great great artist- would write her "my country tis of thy people you're dying".

'When the ship comes in' is the first step into biblical imagery ,and the God of the song isn't the merciful Jesus but a Yahve full of wrath,the one we'll meet again in the late seventies.The title track seems dated today but how anthemic it was! 'Restless farewell' might be a love song but it might be a farewell to the committed songs as well.He seems to apologize for having made mistakes in the past,but put the blame on my ignorance .The logical follow-up will be 'my back pages".Definitely,this album deserves a reassessment.

'Hattie Carroll' alone means more for me than new morning and self portrait put together.

Palash Ghosh <> (26.02.2001)

The Times They Are A-Changin' has some songs with powerful and moving lyrics (Bob's strong suit), but they have little or no entertainment value. One tuneless dirge seems to blend into the next one and by the end of the album (if you make it that far) you're either asleep or unconscious. It could've used a few more love songs, or something silly and whimsical something, ANYTHING to stave off the incredible plodding gloom and darkness. Interesting to me is that The Beatles were rocking the world at this time and Hard Days Night was reigning supreme -– the polar opposite of everything Dylan stood for. But I bet this is the album that made John Lennon stand up and notice how to write more meaningful, heavier lyrics.

Joshua Galun <> (03.03.2001)

First of all, let me say that I love your music reviews and agree with a good many of them. I think that you and I share a similar attitude towards music.

However, I must disagree with you about 'Boots of Spanish Leather' being nothing but 'Girl of the North Country' with worse lyrics. When I first heard 'Boots', I too thought that. But after listening to it more, I now think that the reverse is true. 'Girl of the North Country' is just a song about missing a girl and wondering if she's changed, and 'Boots of Spanish Leather' is just about a girl going away. Neither theme by itself is particularly original, so it's the way he interprets them that must provide the originality.

And really, Dylan's words in 'Girl of the North Country' are beautiful, but not terribly original. He merely laments for a lost love. 'Boots of Spanish Leather', on the other hand, is a lament for a lost girl wrapped up in a dialogue with her as she's leaving. And the ending does not merely cry for her, but instead is demanding - "no love? Fine, then get me something material to replace you." It's got bitterness and sadness - typical Dylan.

I hope that made sense...I'm new to this music reviewing stuff. :) Once again, great site, keep up the good work!

Kevin Baker <> (12.03.2001)

Not as bad as you make it out to be, but Highway 61 Revisited it ain't. The title track is far and away the best. I do like 'Hollis Brown'. Steinbeck in song is how I view it. Hate 'With God On Our Side'. Like the tile, but ths song stikns to high heaven (no pun intended). The basic problem is that everything is so samey sounding. We've heard it all before, and we've heard it better. I take back my opening, it is as bad you say.

Kerist Wood <> (04.07.2001)

This Album deserves more. Because the good works in turn with the bad. 'Times', 'Hollis', 'When the Ship', 'North', 'One', 'Boots' and 'Restless' outweighs the poorness of the others. And, doesn't the last verse of 'Restless' seem very poignant to Dylan's switch to Electric music, or from the switch from protest to more personal music (Another Side)? 'I say farewell and NOT GIVE A DAMN!' .....powerful.

Christophe Veyrat <> (18.08.2001)

first one has to accept the fact dylan once was a protest singer, i would even say he has always been one. what is interesting is how he expressed his protests. this album is at times preachy i agree, some songs boring to ('north country blues') but most of the others are quite good. 'hollis brown' is one of his best songs to me, the music, basically limited to a few repetitive notes, with almost no melody, is haunting. the lyrics are as bare and desolate as the music, like hollis's life. each word is essential, just a slow descent into hell, described in a few lines, until the inevitable end. it is about poverty but it does not try to make a point. it's just a description, and unlike too many protest songs, no solution, no hope is offered here. instead it's the presentation of something that has always been and will always be. similarly, only a pawn is interesting. what other singer, singing about civil rights, would have made a song to defend the poor whites? he does not say that segregation or racism are bad, he shows how it works. it is not really a protest song actually it is more like a short essay on the causes, not the consequences. dylan showed his intelligence on this album. political or social problems only interest him because they concern individuals. he didin't make songs about issues but about individuals. the issues themselves don't really interest him, it is not his problem. he does not say this is good or bad, he just writes about things that moved him, there is no judgement in those songs (except in hattie caroll i agree, but the choruses are so grand i forgive him). dylan is a popular singer, a man of his time. the early 60's were times of changes and revolt. it is natural he should sing about that. but being dylan he sang about it intelligently, which is what this album shows. for these reasons it is my favorite of the first four albums (although another side is pretty good too).

Niklas Strömberg <> (03.12.2001)

I agree that it is too much of protest on this album, but. The protest song found on this album is the best ever written by anyone. Also, the non protest is really good, especially "Boots of Spanish Leather" witch I rank among the most beautiful songs ever written by Dylan. If you are a fan of protest songs this album is a solid 10, if you not, I'll give it a 7.

Ryan Maffei <> (25.02.2002)

Admittedly, this is more lethargic, depressing, underdeveloped, and murky than the enlightening predecessor, although I like some of the tunes for what they are as pieces of songwriting ("The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll", "When the Ship Comes In", "Spanish Boots", and the justifiably immortal title track, which beats "Blowin' in the Wind" all to hell). The main thing to consider about this record (in the face of the passing grades it occasionally gets from critics) is its historical importance: when Dylan was still the mouthpiece of the modern folk movement (and not rock's foster father), protest songs were all he was really about. Think of his heavy Guthrie influence, and consider whether maybe, just maybe, this is a tribute to said folkie. So there. Thematically, this album is okay by me. Otherwise, I'd give it a 6. Hm.

Srivatsan Laxman <> (10.09.2002)

I think you have been way too harsh over here - 4/10?! Oh common - The Times.. is still quite a good album, despite the gloom that persists right through it and despite the odd dumb lyrics that further weaken some of the recycled melodies in it. It deserves a 7/10 or may be even a weak (but really weak) 8.

The title song is an acknowledged classic. Its amongst the songs that actually got me started on Dylan. The guitaring in ..Hollis Brown has a certain haunt to it, and in my opinion, the little story telling in it is also quite brilliant.

..God On Our Side is really the weakest song in the album. I agree with you to the tee on the dumbness of its lyrics. While Bob could have done better with more subtle lines to say whatever he wanted to - I think the last verse pretty much sums up his overall idea quite well - we must be careful not to dump this entire album just on the weakness of this one (possible) stinker.

North Country.. is the only song that I can think of (correct me if I am wrong) in which Dylan writes from the shoes of a woman, and I think it is penned with great honesty. Its hard to tell grim stories much better than this: "Where the sad, silent song\\ Made the hour twice as long\\ As I waited for the sun to go sinking."

..Pawn.. has a brilliant rhyme in its verse and I love the curious alternatingly brisk and lazy guitar strums that almost sound like they are in conversation with Bob.

Boots.., although derivative of 'Girl From the North Country', appears to me as (more of) a poignant pleading conversation with a lost girl and it certainly deserves inclusion in the album.

..Ship Comes In wonderfully conjures up a sense of amazing collective spirit, quite unlike the rest of the album. It would have certainly been a better album closer than 'Restless Farewell'.

All in all, this is certainly not a "buy it only if you are a completest" album - it occupies its own deserved place in Bob's numerous creative journeys and to an open-minded listener, there is more than enough to enjoy in this bunch of "protest" songs.

Jonathan Kade <> (10.03.2004)

Thanks very much for your review of Times.... Even in my strongest Dylan-fan period, most of these songs sounded... weak at best. "One too many mornings" and the title track will always be favorites of mine. 'OTMM' is an astonishingly delicate song emotionally, given the bull-in-a-china-shop approach most of the rest takes; the title track (and to a lesser extent "When the Ship Comes In") manage to be uplifting and yet threatening in a great way. I think you're a mite too tough on the 'Ballad of Hollis Brown', myself -- it's compositionally skillful, and the ending is ace.

The real protest songs hurt, though. "With God On Our Side", "Only a Pawn in Their Game", and god oh god "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll" are almost unbelievably amateurish and clumsy. The first manages to screw up American history something fierce ("the Spanish-American war had its day / and the Civil War too was soon laid away" ?!), while relentlessly rolling out cliches. The second is morally bizarre and comes very close to smugness. And that last damned track is one of the most obscenely overrated toss-offs around -- as pointlessly exploitative as Dancer in the Dark, but with no Bjork in sight and with a big smudge on the lens throughout (ok, the metaphor is tough). All these three are poorly written, too -- the lyrics have no real insight or style, but are as earnest and careless as anybody's. Given that it's Dylan, this is mindboggling.

Funny that your review should be accused of appeasing the Dylan fanatics. I am not one of them and know nothing about their views, but if your review appeased them, they must have good taste.

Dave Dickson <> (27.09.2005)

Say. I just checked out the lyrics to the Minutemen's Double Nickels on the Dime for some reason even I don't remember, but there's a song on there called "West Germany" that not only says the EXACT same thing Bob lays out on "With God on Our Side," but throws it into sharp relief. I don't think he's exactly advocating Hiroshima, there, more suggesting something along the lines of "We co-opted the murderers (West Germany) so we can nuke Russia more easily. Go figure. How are we any different than they were?" The Minutemen are a little more explicit: "New kind of fascism/In West Germany". It's not so much bashing Germany as bashing the so-called "war- mongering" mentality prevalent amongst the powers-that-be circa 1964 (or 1984). 'Twas a favorite axe to grind for some intelligentsia back in the day, imagining that West Germany was just a puppet state of us fat cats, Nazis in disguise, etc., etc. But Bob nails the irony of our actions on that song, I think. Kaiser Wilhelm's Germany wasn't forgiven for its crimes for years and years; Hitler's Germany, on the other hand, which murdered 25 million civilians, was rebuilt and turned into a weapon against the other half of Europe (by both sides) within half a decade. Interesting point, there, but more an indictment of us than them.

PS. Goddangit all, I didn't read the "And I know I'm exaggerating here" bit. That's what happens when you're typing a paper on ANOVA tables!! One gets sloppy.

Raghu Mani <> (28.07.2006)

You describe 'Restless Farewell' from The Times They Are A-Changing as having a "non-existant melody" - and I agree that the version there leaves something to be desired.

However I recently ran into Dylan's performance of the same song on Frank Sinatra's 80th birthday tribute. Check out the following link - it sounds amazing.


Jeff Blehar <> (24.02.2000)

Not much for me to add here, except that I always considered this a lost Dylan classic and that every song on here is great except for the embarrassingly bad karma of "Ballad In Plain D." I always contend that, despite his knack for inspired put-downs and sarcasm, Dylan is at his weakest when you KNOW exactly who his target is (in this case it's Suze Rotolo's sister), because all you do is feel sorry for the other person. This song is him at frankly his nastiest ever; even he openly says he regrets it. There's a fine line between this and attacks like "Rolling Stone" or "Positively 4th Street" (to say nothing of the awesome "Idiot Wind") but a line indeed.

Everything else is tippy top, even if for some reason I can't help feeling that "Motorpsycho Nitemare" is derivative of "Bob Dylan's 115th Dream" despite the fact that that's impossible. Highlights are everywhere: the snappy "I Don't Believe You," the playful "All I Really Want To Do" (I LOVE those rhymes! He's intentionally mocking his own verbal finesse! Great!), the visionary "Chimes Of Freedom" and the deeply personal "My Back Pages" and "It Ain't Me Babe." I for one can never tire of the latter, although I really think The Byrds' cover of the former was a masterstroke and managed to top the Jester himself for once. A 9/10: no album this entertaining and substantial deserves less.

Fredrik Tydal <> (17.03.2000)

This album is actually quite similar to Beatles For Sale in a way. Both albums were released between well-publicized efforts (The Times They Are A-Changing/Bringing It All Back Home and A Hard Day's Night/Help) and tend to get kind of overlooked. This is probably Dylan's second best of his early acoustic albums and it sure beats The Times... A high percentage of the material on this album has been covered by acts such as The Byrds, The Turtles and Sonny And Cher. I really can't compare the Byrds covers with the originals, but I have to say that McGuinn would have to be a genius to pull out the pure beauty in a song like "Chimes Of Freedom". My favourite song on the album is probably the epic "My Back Pages", which The Byrds later would turn into a completely different, though not necessarily better, song.

Kelly Laabs <> (22.04.2000)

This is my favorite Dylan 60's folk ablum. Why? because he is as negative. this is an album he proved he was a person. (and not just an online internet critic who thinks he knows everything about music.)

Sean Hutchinson <> (04.10.2000)

7 - A better album, more ‘artistic freedom’ - could have been called The Real Bob Dylan. Here you get social commentary, but also love/hate songs, and humor. Best song: “My Back Pages.” Dreary song: “Ballad In Plain D.”

Michael Battaglia <> (09.12.2000)

Definitely one of the more overlooked Dylan albums that I have, the early acoustic stuff I'm not a huge fan of, but this album has the lyrics that I've come to know and love from Mr Zimmerman. I can't believe how good they are here, even songs that should be fairly simple, like "All I Wanna Do" turn into something else after a minute or so. And he definitely sounds like he's having fun here. Some of the stuff is a little too much on the weird side, I liked the original "I Shall Be Free" and for the most part I like the tenth (?) sequel to it, the appropriately titled "I Shall Be Free #10" but some of it just sounds forced. If you ask me I think he drives the counting and Cassius Clay thing a bit too far into the ground but the rest of it is just about perfect.  And other than "Motorpsycho Nitemare" for some reason re! minding me of "Bob Dylan's 115th Dream", everything's just dandy. I don't even need to go into the other classics that lots of folks have mined for cover material ("My Back Pages" "It Ain't Me Babe" "Ballad in Plain D" among others), since you already did a fine job with that.

Was actually playing this today, my brother once again pointed out that Bob Dylan can't sing. I disagreed but what does he know? His voice still does bother me in spots here, but it's not like he's delibrately singing off key or anything. It gives me hope that one day folks like me who can't carry a tune might become big superstars. All I need to learn is what a chord is.

Can't be that hard.  Great album . . . probably a high eight from me as well.

Raghu Mani <> (27.12.2000)

I actually prefer this to Freewheelin'. There are no topical songs but that doesn't lessen the album in any way. In fact, the reverse might be true. Freed from such constraints Dylan's songwriting ability reaches new heights and the funny songs are even funnier than the ones on Freewheelin'. I'd give this one a 9 too.

Palash Ghosh <> (26.02.2001)

Legend has it that Another Side of Bob Dylan was recorded in a single day under the influence of strong red wine. In any case, this record is a mixed bag and it represents the transition from pure acoustic folk rock to the more electric, pseudo-pop-psychedelia of Bringing it all back home and Highway 61 revisited.

Favorite tracks on this one are 'My back pages' (which sounds like an old man recalling his long-ago youth), 'It ain't me babe' and 'All I really want to do' (another typically eccentric love song from Dylan).

I'm not sure why, but I always prefer Dylan's versions of his songs to the covers -- his compositions are so peculiarly personal that it seemed like a 'violation' for other people to do his songs. The one exception is Jimi Hendrix's awesome version of 'All along the watchtower.'

Kevin Baker <> (12.03.2001)

More Dylan folk stuff, but it goes beyond that. I'll do this one song by song.

All I Really Want To Do---Forgive me, but I like the Byrds cover better. Bob's voice on this one just doesn't do it for me. I do like the song, though. I can also relate to the words; I've actually used the title phrase...

Black Crow Blues---This one's okay, but not my favorite Dylan song. I just don't feel it like so many others.

Spanish Harlem Incident---I love this song. Describes someone I know. Plus I can kinda play it on my guitar. Actually, most Dylan is not too complicated.

Chimes Of Freedom---Gimme the Byrds version any day, but I still love this song. Beautiful word pictures.

I Shall Be Free no.10---This song cracks me up!

To Ramona---Another personal favorite of mine. Very gentle and touching.

Motorpsycho Nitemare---My favorite on here. Juts plain ole fun. Plus, I can play it. Love the part about Castro's beard.

My Back Pages---One of Dylan's best protest-ish song. One of the few Dylan songs the Byrds didn't improve upon. I'm sorry, but I love the Byrds. Nothing against Dylan.

I don't care for the next two at all, so I won't even mention them.

It Ain't Me Babe---Closing on a high note. I like the Turtles version on an equal level.

<> (18.08.2001)

I consider this Dylan's most authentic album. He is not posing as Woody Guthrie protest singer, mid-1960s too cool iconoclast, or any of the myriad poses headopted from 1969 onward. Along with Blood on the Tracks, this is probably my favorite Dylan record. A sense of humor pervades the album and, unlike his next three classic records, you never get the impression that he takes himself too seriously. OK, 'Ballad in Plain D' is an unmitigated disaster, but everyone makes mistakes, and Dylan himself disowned that song later. 'I Don't Believe,' 'To Ramona,' 'Black Crow Blues,' and 'Spanish Harlem Incident' are all simple (for Dylan) songs, but evocative and timeless.

Joe H <> (07.12.2001)

My start with Dylan. I probably should of started with Bringing It All Back Home first, but i love this just as much, if not more, than that album! And this is pure acoustic, voice and harmonica, and i really have a love for pure acoustic stuff like this. Stuff like "Spanish Harlem Incident", "To Ramona", "My Back Pages", "It Aint Me Babe", "Ballad In Plain D", and "Chimes Of Freedom" are incredibly genuine laments of love, or extrospection, and once again, ill absolutely take these originals over the Byrds covers anyday! But thats just me. Ohh, and "All I Really Wanna Do", "Motorpsycho Nitemare", and "I Shall Be Free No. 10" are hilariously silly songs! That Bob has some sence of humor alright. 9/10.

Ryan Maffei <> (27.02.2002)

Even more enjoyable. The "other side" being the more humorous, lighthearted side of Dylan, naturally, after the downer that was The Times They Are A-Changin'. Although sometimes the humor gets a bit out of hand, as with the rehash of "I Shall Be Free", and the merely silly "Motorpsycho Nitemare" (that's a great title, though.) But with stuff like "Oh Ramona", "All I Really Want to Do", and "Chimes of Freedom", this is probably Dylan's best early-period, fully-acoustic album overall. I certainly don't like the redundant, recycled, overlong "Ballad in Plain D", though, which really detracts from the enlightening atmosphere. A high 8.

Bob Josef <> (01.05.2002)

Like I lot of people, I was drawn to this album by the cover versions (and I like the Turtles' "It Ain't Me, Babe" -- I don't know why you don't). The problem with the covers is that you don't get all the verses. Even if you don't like the man's voice, you have to hear all the magnificent words to "My Back Pages" and "Chimes of Freedom," my two favorites. "Black Crow Blues" is the one that sort of passes me by, but the rest is great stuff. My only (small) complaint is, of course, the lack of variety in the arrangements. Because of that, the only way to listen to this is with an incredible amount of concentration, because the lyrics are what carry the songs, more than the melodies. You really can't sing along with this stuff. But it wouldn't take Bob too long to take care of that.

Ben Kramer <> (29.10.2002)

Love it! It is kind of a mixture of Times and The Freewheelin', yet fortunately, he decides to take the Freewheelin' route and save us all a lot of agony. These songs are somewhat long, like those on Times, but they are interesting, and they don't have the repetitive sound that 50 minutes of protesting will give you. Each of these songs is an absolute gem, except 'Ballad In Plain D'. I like it at first, but it just grows dull. 'All I Really Want To Do' is one of the funniest Dylan songs. Lyrically, the honor for the funniest goes to 'I Shall Be Free', but the vocals on this always bring a smile to my face. Dylan's falsetto is so bad, that I can't help but laugh at it. Anyhoo, 'My Back Pages' is my favorite early Dylan song, up to 'Desolation Row' from Highway 61. 'Chimes' is really good too, but I don't think it matches up to 'Hard Rain'. It still rules though. 'It Ain't Me Babe' is one of the more memorable songs on here, something that is somewhat of a problem on here, the only problem really. Well, I know all of the songs now, but this took a while to get into, unlike The Freewheelin'. But now I could probably safely call this album equal to The Freewheelin' if 'Ballad In Plain D' were cut, and I don't really hate that song like I said above. 'Motorpsycho Nitemare' is interesting, but I feel too much anticipation for 'My Back Pages' to enjoy it to the extent it deserves. A great album, and very underrated. I agree with the 13, though he would have many more gems. This is just a warm-up album.

Srivatsan Laxman <> (29.01.2003)

With this album, Bob firmly establishes himself as a genuine force in contemporary poetry. I cannot resist quoting a few lines here: "Through the mad mystic hammering of the wild ripping hail, The sky cracked its poems in naked wonder" ('Chimes'), "The flowers of the city, Though breathlike, get deathlike at times" ('Ramona'), "Good and bad, I define these terms, Quite clear, no doubt, somehow" ('Back Pages').

'Chimes' and 'My Back Pages' reach epic heights which only 'It's A Hard Rain' achieved in The Freewheelin'. 'Ramona', 'I Dont Believe You' and 'It Aint Me Babe' (in contrast) are very down to earth, delicate songs that come straight from out of the heart. There are some wonderful harmonica trips (in 'Black Crow', for eg), a taste of the electric piano and some very intimate vocals (in 'All I Really', for eg) to back some brilliantly introspective song writing (like in 'My Back Pages') that together make this just as rich and appealing an album as The Freewheelin'. It is a definite 9 in my book. I dont want to give it the full 10 only because (i) conceptually there is nothing new here that there wasnt already in The Freewheelin', and (ii) Bob does still so much better with so many more different styles from this point on (in his career) that we better reserve some full 10's for the albums to come.

David Dickson <> (09.02.2003)

Yikes. This is the first literal solo album I've ever heard. The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan does not count--it has session musicians on "Corrina, Corrina". Bob literally plays every instrument, sings, writes, and probably produces everything. Hell, a man could make something like this in his closet, given the proper equipment and genius.

And yes, this album is genius. It is by far the best of Dylan's acoustic folkie period and a landmark pop album of the early '60's. Fewer of the songs are as famous as the ones on Freewheelin's, but they are more consistent on average. "All I Really Wanna Do", "To Ramona", "Motorpsycho Nitemare", "My Back Pages", "I Don't Believe You", and "It Ain't Me Babe" could have been big hits were they not so stripped-down. "Black Crow Blues" is an interesting take on the traditional 12-bar blues, which Bob stretches into 15-or 17-bar or something with a neat melodic trick. He can't play piano very well, though. Oh well. "I Shall Be Free No. 10" is absolutely hilarious. "He's a weird monkey./Very funky." Garsh, that cracks me up every time. "Chimes of Freedom"--a little boring at first, but by the time he repeats the melody and strumming for the ten millionth verse, it's stuck in your head and you can't get it out. Nice epic. "A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall" is a little better, though. "Spanish Harlem Incident" is the only song on the album I don't much care for.

But--grab something big, cause I'm about to shock you all--I absolutely love "Ballad in Plain D". The lyrics are a bit frank, and the song is eight minutes long, but that reinforces the melancholy. And it shows that Bob may be an imperfect guy with some potential for jerkdom--but he wishes her the best anyway. Not to mention the fact that the melody is (rather untypical of Bob) actually well-constructed, and it's a beautiful song overall. Even if most of us heartless pricks don't give a damn about his personal life. Best song on the album, in my humble opinion.

So in short, this is just about the fourth-best album Bob Dylan ever recorded. Highway 61 Revisited, Blonde on Blonde, and Blood on the Tracks are third, second, and first, respectively. Unless Love and Theft and The Basement Tapes are better than this one. Then that just throws the whole order out of whack.

Jacob Gonzales <> (02.04.2003)

On this that has not been pointed out is that this album was recorded in one night, with the influence of alcohol. It really adds to the genius of it all. If you listen to the tracks as they were recorded you can see how they get less and less serious and more and more funny. Its a pretty great album considering it was slapped together at the last moment. This album, like many dylan albums is pure genius...

LIVE 1964

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Fredrik Tydal <> (16.01.2000)

This is a great album. I have always thought that this was *almost* a full-pointer, but then I said to myself; "what's stopping this album to get the highest grade?" Nothing, actually. There is not a single weak spot on this album. I can't mention all songs, of course; but I'd like to point out a few favourites. The opening track, "Subterranean Homesick Blues" is of course a classic and is given a kind of a 'rap' treatment by Bob. "Love Minus Zero/No Limit" is fascinating, with great witty lyrics like "...she knows there's no success like failure, and that failure is no success at all". "Bob Dylan's 115th Dream" is hilarious and I just love the false start. I agree with George that "Mr. Tambourine Man", by no means can be compared to The Byrds' version; since it's almost two complete different songs. I also have a soft spot for "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue", though I really don't know why... It's something about it; maybe because it's the closing track. This is an essential Dylan album, along with Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde On Blonde which means; if you don't have it, get it before it's too late.

The Kelly's <> (30.01.2000)

'IT'S ALLRIGHT MA (I'M ONLY BLEEDING)' has to be considered one of the best songs of the album. This is the best album of all time.

Jeff Blehar <> (24.02.2000)

Possibly the greatest album title in all of rock history: Bringing It All Back Home. It's gotta be close, at least - think about all the wonderful connotations it carries along with it, the sense of return, recapturing of roots, integration of musical forms, etc. And the album deserves a title that grandiose, even if there are at least three songs on here that ain't that great (the nondescript rockers "Outlaw Blues" and "On The Road Again" and the groaner "Gates Of Eden"). Christ, though, other than those? EVERYTHING IS MARVELOUS. I fully mean it when I say that you could (and should) make a greatest hits collection out of this album alone. "Subterranean Homesick Blues" is THE original white rock/rap fusion, and it was as revolutionary as any song could be: free association in lyrics was completely alien to rock until the first few seconds of "Johnny's in the basement mixing up the medicine." And while the "electricity" is subdued in the sense that there aren't that many rave-ups (but I sure count the protest broadside of "Maggie's Farm" and the gut-busting "Bob Dylan's 115th Dream," which is literally the funniest he EVER got on record), it's alive in the sense that the other songs are *vibrant.* "She Belongs To Me" features one of the few memorable MELODIES Dylan wrote coupled with really sublime lyrics, and "Love Minus Zero/No Limit" is almost as good.

You're right about the acoustic songs being timeless - all except for "Gates Of Eden." I'm going to stand on this one: that song is a lyrical embarrassment. Now I'll allow quite a lot of lyrical idiosyncrasy from Mr. Zimmerman, as I feel he's earned the latitude, (Did I hear a "cowboy mouth" in "Sad Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands?") but the verses of this one are really ugly: "Motorcycle black madonna two-wheeled gypsy rides?" Come on, if Jon Anderson threw that one out at us on The Yes Album we'd crucify him for it (heck, I'll crucify the malignant dwarf anyway). It's like he picked up a bunch of random images at a poetic yard sale and threw 'em together, hoping the "Gates Of Eden" motif would mask the fact that they didn't have any coherence. The tune is certainly pleasant, but the lyrics are a no-go, especially when they're surrounded with alternately either some of the most incisive or most poetic lyrics Dylan ever wrote. Going for the incisive is the utterly flooring "It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)." Words cannot describe this track's quietly throbbing motive force, chiefly because to do so would require me to quote all the words. Suffice to say it's a fount of brilliant catch-phrases and criticisms of American culture ("He not busy being born is busy dying," "Money doesn't talk it swears," both of which have made it into the popular lexicon) lashed onto one of the most driving acoustic guitar riffs I've heard. And for the poetic side, there's "Mr. Tambourine Man," of course, and my personal favorite (one of my all-time Dylan favs), "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue." Wow. I've seen people describe this as a nasty kissoff to his critics but I don't get that at all. Instead, what I hear is an amazing stately dignity, from the first taut strum of his guitar to the lyrical harmonica solo, and those unforgettable lyrics...there's such a sad azure tone to the whole song, a certain majesty I suppose. The perfect ending to an album of revolutions. I can't give this any less than a 10/10.

Kelly Laabs <> (22.04.2000)

Well 'Homesick Blues' is almost the exact same (or at least the intro is) as 'Maggie's Farm.' But jeez this album blew me out of my mind. As I started off with the blues the electric half is all inspiring. It makes me want to grab my electric and play along.

The accoustic half, is his best effert so far in his career.

Evan P Streb <> (16.07.2000)

The only good thing Bob Dylan ever did to the world was he invented rap music with "Subterranean Homesick Blues". I'm probably the only person in the world that thinks that that is the prototype of a rap song, but listen and you will see that. Replace the drums with a drum machine and put in some synthesizers there and it's damn near "Rapper's Delight". Other than that one song the Bob Dylan ouevore [sic??] is pretty eehhhh. I personally feel that his lyrics didn't mean ANYTHING and he could have just flipped through the dictionary and found lines that fit and it's like BOOM! he's the speaker of the sixties generation! And there really isn't anything "psychedelic" about any of it is there?

Neema Parvini <> (30.09.2000)

"Gates of Eden" is a severely underrated work of unbridled poetic genius. Believe it or not i recently recorded my own album (and not being a singer I generally speak or rap my lyrics) and covered "Subterranean Homesick Blues" as a rap. It works remarkably well though it sounds absolutely nothing like the original.

By the way am I one of the few people who prefer this album to both its successors. If you could swap "Outlaw Blues" for "Tombstone Blues" it would be nigh on perfect. Highway 61 is also an incredible album but I find myself reaching for the skip button more than once... generally... maybe its just because "Ballad of a Thin man" is so good. Blonde on Blonde is my least favourite of this trilogy, I've yet to listen to it all in one sitting not that you could really criticise it in any way (this is 60's Dylan we're talking about). The perfect album would be a combination of all three (omitting 'filler' tracks adn those that would not be so great if listened to out of context - eg. "on the road again")

Sean Hutchinson <> (04.10.2000)

7.5 - A very strong collection of songs. By the way, “Subterranean Homesick Blues” takes its ‘rap’ idea, as some people have referred to it, from Chuck Berry’s “Too Much Monkey Business”, which was recorded about 10 years earlier. Dylan was a big Chuck Berry fan, and it was Berry’s clever use of language that appealed to Dylan. Anyway, Berry does a very similar thing with the delivery of the lyrics on “Monkey Business.” True, there are some throwaway songs on the ‘electric side’, but Dylan’s having so much fun with them that you can’t help getting carried along by his enthusiasm. Best song: “Love Minus Zero/No Limit.”

Michael Battaglia <> (09.12.2000)

I'm split between the electric and folk side, I'm not sure which one I prefer. On the one hand you have the awesome "Subterranean Homesick Blues" and probably was like a large bucket of cold water in the face to just about everyone in the sixties. You've also got "Love Minus Zero/No Limit" (tied for my favorite song on the first side, who says love songs have to use the same eight words). I like "Maggie's Farm" and "She Belongs to Me" but I can't say I'd put the album on just to hear them.  And while I can't say that "Outlaw Blues" and "On the Road Again" are bad (I think they're actually quite good), they don't exactly reach out and grab me by the throat and shake me to get my attention. My loss I guess.

But "Bob Dylan's 115th Dreams" has to rank among one of the funniest songs I've ever heard and the six minutes fly by like no time at all. My Mom alas like the Byrds version of "Mr Tambourine Man" better, as does most of my family but . . . but they just don't understand! Sigh. Each his own I suppose, there's a sparse mystical quality to Bob's version that the Byrds, as talented as they were couldn't bring in the transition from "Bob Dylan song" to "trippy pop song". The other acoustic songs are just as fun, though "Gates of Eden" never did all that much for me. However, "It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)" is an absolute marvel with wordplay and "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue" is about one of the most touching songs I've ever heard.  Perfect way to end the album. So not a bad cut on here, just classics sitting next to really good songs that seem okay here but most other artists would ! probably kill for. I'll give a nine and call it even.

Raghu Mani <> (27.12.2000)

This one's a 10. To give it an 8 is an insult ;-)! For a while this was my favorite Dylan album. There's hardly a track that I do not find essential except for perhaps, 'Outlaw Blues' (which isn't bad but not too exciting either musically or lyrically).

<> (27.01.2001)

Someone should tell this guy the album is called Bringing It All Back Home. (Why is it that so many people send in their comments without actually reading the full text of the review? Ah well, rhetoric question, I guess - G.S.) It has no title track. But whatever it's called, it's one of my favorites. He doesn't lose his sense of humor or the puns and wordplay that abound in "Subterranean Homesick Blues", but the best songs are startling in how touching and universal they are like "It's All Over Now Baby Blue". A cathartic experience.

Palash Ghosh <> (26.02.2001)

Although Freewheelin' is my favorite Bob Dylan album, I objectively regard Bringing It All Back Home and Highway 61 Revisited as the peak of his creative career.

'Subterranean Homesick Blues' is a delightfully clever song –- there's nothing else like it in rock history. In fact, this record is chock full of highly original and memorable tunes, specifically 'Maggie's Farm', 'She Belongs To Me,' 'Gates Of Eden' and 'Mr Tambourine Man.' Dylan should've gone electric at least two albums ago!

1965 was truly an exciting watershed year for pop music: Dylan went electric, The Beatles got serious, The Who entered the studios, and The Stones started getting good.

Sergey Zhilkin <> (21.04.2001)

You know, when Dylan sang 'Homesick blues' for the first time on stage, he was booed off. Certainly, the audience was expecting something like 'The times they are a-changing' for the fifth time in a row and electric guitar was a hit below the belt. But as for me, real Dylan starts here. Just listen to his voice - it's something different from what you've heard on previous records. And the lyrics are better, too. In fact, the lyrics of 'Homesick blues' are the best I've ever heard: 'Ah get born, keep warm Short pants, romance, learn to dance Get dressed, get blessed Try to be a success Please her, please him, buy gifts Don't steal, don't lift Twenty years of schoolin' And they put you on the day shift Look out kid They keep it all hid Better jump down a manhole Light yourself a candle Don't wear sandals Try to avoid the scandals Don't wanna be a bum You better chew gum The pump don't work 'Cause the vandals took the handles'

What is it? A structure of society? Or just flow of conscience? 'Maggie's farm' has nice melody with hooks which is really strange for mr. Zimmerman. 'Bob Dylan's 115th dream' is a little bit long but as a reward you get hilarious lyrics. Acoustic set is the most terryfing part of record. Just listen to these dangerous chords on 'It's alright, ma' or 'Gates of Eden'. However, 'mr. Tambourine' is a nice gentle tune and has nothing frightening at all.

The only thing we don't agree about this album is that you think it's revolutionary. Yes, it was a kind of revolution for Dylan himself but not for a rock music in general. Blonde on blonde was preceding its time, though.

Dmitry Berenson <> (10.05.2001)

This was the first Dylan album i ever bought and i'm pretty happy with it. Overall it is a quality album featuring many great songs like 'Mr. Tambourine Man', 'It's alright ma', and 'Homesick blues'. But i think one of the most overlooked songs on this album is 'Bob Dylan's 115th Dream'. I simply can't enough of this song, it's hilarious and entertaining, a sharp digression from his previous protest material(which i think is superb as well), the song is just so fun to listen to. I think that's what Dylan was trying to do with some songs on this album, to make people relax a little and look at life through a not-so-harsh filter. This attitude certainly tempers the tone of 'Gates of Eden' and 'It's Alright Ma', showing that Dylan is not just a monotonic social critic, but has a human, lighter side as well.

Niklas Strömberg <> (03.12.2001)

Not so important, but I would rise it to a 9. The only thing that makes this album less good then H61R and BOB is its less polish sound.

Joe H <> (07.12.2001)

Classic material right here. I love that contrast between electric and acoustic on here, making classics in both, with songs like "It's Alright Ma", "Subterranean Homesick Blues", "Mr Tambourine Man" (call me crazy, but i definatly think Dylans version is better then the Byrds version. Maybe its just cuz i love that shimmering acoustic guitar and Bob's gruff voice and harmonica instead of shimmering electric guitars and harmonys!), just a wonderful album. "Its All Over Now Baby Blue" is my favorite song on here, and what do ya know its acoustic! A 9.

Ryan Maffei <> (28.02.2002)

Dylan's first classic, no doubt. I think perhaps your grade of an 8 is a little low; while there is some weak stuff on the 'electric' side (and the backing band is terribly mixed by today's standards), the whole arrangement thing Dylan was doing was revolutionary as far as how he was working with it goes, if only for him as an artist at least, and some of them are quite creative (see "On the Road Again", with the bassline thing that doubles and...well, you know). Plus, the traditional blues thing only really detracts from the material around "Outlaw Blues", and the rest of the stuff is astonishingly well-written. That's right: the main draw of this album is how astonishingly well-written it is, particularly from a lyrics standpoint. "Maggie's Farm", "Bob Dylan's 115th Dream", the achingly wistful "Mr. Tambourine Man", "It's All Right Ma", "Subterranean Homesick Blues", and "Gates of Eden" all help to prove that Dylan had finally made it as a fully adept, accomplished and influential songwriter. A solid 9 for this one.

Mathew J Muszynski <> (24.02.2003)

'Bob Dylan's 115th Dream' blows my mind. Whilst it is obviously very funny, there's so much in there to pay attention too. The idea that he spent a considerably hectic time in America before Columbus had even arrived there epitomises the whole Bob Dylan persona. He's so sharp, he observes the way America works from a superior level because he's been there before. America is predictable and hypocritical, over- obsessed with money (did anyone see the TV show Six Feet Under? A character or two borrowed from this song, I think) and preoccupied with a religion they don't even comprehend. And then the whole thing is presented in a swirl of uncertainty as a dream, with bowling balls and feet coming through telephone lines. My friends and I love this song. You have all this information, startlingly clever, gut- wrenchingly funny- and it's all contained in a mega fuck off rock 'n' roll song. What more do you want?

Lawrence Hutchinson <> (18.03.2003)

Some people have referred to this album as Subterranean Homesick Blues. I have 2 copies of the album, and one of them is entitled Subterranean Homesick Blues.

Srivatsan Laxman <> (12.04.2003)

BIABH is a solid 10 on 10!! I agree BOB is exceptional - but that cannot render this album less than perfect?! There is something wrong with your rating system here - are you telling me there are 107 albums that are quite as good as (and 47 others that are even better than) BIABH? You really must be kidding!?

'Subterranean' is a cracker of an opener - probably one of Dylan's best album openers (I know there is also 'Like A Rolling Stone'). 'She Belongs' and 'Love Minus' are both lovely melodies, featuring wonderfully resonant vocals and delightful (somewhat minimalistic) electric licks. 'Outlaw', 'Maggie's' and 'On The Road' are energy filled thoroughly entertaining blues-rock numbers that I never get tired of listening to - how I love the the harmonica screams in 'On The Road'.

'Tambourine Man' is unquestionably vintage Dylan - brilliant, sublime imagery and an uncomplicated, beautiful melody. It brings to my mind images of a ragged poor street singer walking through rows of houses, entertaining little children with his songs and hoping (for his part) to earn at least a single satisfactory meal for the day.

And what a beautiful album closer is 'Its All Over Now Baby Blue' - listen to those delicate electric strums that lace the vocals and harmonica so intimately. I cant rate this album less than 10/10 .. no I cant!

Glenn Wiener <> (22.05.2003)

This one has some good energy. First half electric/second part acoustic but strong throughout. Even the longer songs ('Bob Dylan's 115th Dream', 'Its Allright Ma(I'm Only Bleeding)') have good melodies. 'Mr. Tambourine Man' is oh so touching and the title track is just trippy.

David Dickson <> (01.12.2005)

Kudos for tearing down the old superstition (no doubt voiced by millions of people above me, although I haven't checked the comments yet) that "Subterranean Homesick Blues" is a "rap song." Rap song. That one. Uh-huh. Right.

HE SINGS, PEOPLE! THERE IS NOT A MOMENT IN THE SONG WHEN HE'S NOT SINGING!! True, only two notes, but STILL SINGING!!! god sorry. Great rock song it may be, but rap song my bony foot. I have heard rap, and that is NOT IT. Still good though.

I would disagree on which side is better. The electric side--pretty much every track is well written, catchy, and melodic, in my opinion, ripped off from toothless old guys or no. Sole exception--"115th Dream", just "Motopsycho Nitemare" with different lyrics. Ripping off traditional melodies is one thing--ripping off yourself from a year prior is another. Now, the acoustic side--that's very much hit and miss. "Tambourine Man" and "It's Alright Ma I'm Only Bleeding" are gold, true (especially the latter--some of the best lyrics I've ever witnessed, and I normally don't care about lyrics), but "Gates of Eden" and "Baby Blue" have two of the uuuugliest melodies I've ever heard this guy sing--that is, on his good albums. And "Baby Blue" was a minor hit? What kind of world do we live in? A world where that lying sonufabitch Johnson sends poor kids off to war. And the system systems its system, that's what systems!! SYSTEM no!! ?

Ah. Good times. But I must disagree on the comparative versions of "Tambourine Man." Not so much that the Byrds version is better, but that they're aboot equal. On the one hand, the Byrds made a GOOD POP SONG out of it, and on the other, Dylan made a GOOD FOLK SONG out of it. Nothin' moore, nuthin' Lester. I have not learned to like Dylan's better or worse than the Byrds', yet this guy is my personal cup of tea. If the opposite is thy verdict, sir, then thou wouldst be the John De Lancie "Q" judge from Star Trek: The Next Generation's pilot episode.

What?? A little exaggeration never killed the cat!

Basic lesson from SHB: Break away from your core audience. They do NOT have your best interests at heart. Come to think of it, Metallica could (re) learn from that. So could Bush Jr., for that matter.

Rajesh Srinivasan <> (28.03.2006)

It's not that Another Side of Bob Dylan was an inadequate effort - it' quite an enjoyable record and has two of my favorite acoustic pieces, "All I Really Want to Do" and "Chimes of Freedom" - but Bringing it All Back Home completely blows it away. It's that beautiful combination of electricity and beautiful, philosophical poetry that makes it such a blowing work, even today. Dylan churns out some of his finest and sharpest lyrics in "Subterranean Homesick Blues" - it's furious beat along with the electric tinge heard buried in the back battles its way through your mind. Weird Al actually used the song's beat and format for his tribute to ol' Robert Zimmerman, "Bob". "She Belongs to Me" is beautifully versed as he produces romantic lines in a soft, but still rough voice, which is defined as he sings "She's got everything she needs/ She's an artist, she don't look back." "Maggie's Farm", "Outlaw Blues", and "Bob Dylan's 115th Dream" are furious, but passable. The real gem on side one is "Love Minus Zero/ No Limit"...the song speaks like no other in its descriptions. The song speaks of the prefect, mysterious, vivid woman that we are all searching for. And the lyrics! "She knows she doesn't have to be faithful, yet she's true like ice, like fire./ People carry roses/ Make promises by the hour/ My love she laughs like the flowers/ Valentines can't buy her". So moving and thought provoking. One of his most beautiful works. The second side is nearly flawless. "Mr. Tambourine Man" is a wonderful song, and the Byrd's version will never compete with it. "Gates of Eden" is also great, and I do not believe the lyrics are an embarrassment, as other reviewers stated. The final two songs on the album are the perfect ending to his album: "It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)" is his greatest song about life, just life in general. The tone is depressing, but when he lowers and says "It's Alright Ma...", everything is lifted. "It's life and life only". If that's not brilliant, I have no idea what is. "It's All Over Now Baby Blue" starts with Dylan mourning and wailing, and it is impossible not to be deeply touched if you have ever lost someone. All in all, I really have trouble describing this album without using "beautiful", "emotional", and "enigmatic". I previously stated that Blood on the Tracks was my second favorite, but that has to do with personal preference. This is a superior work (along with Blonde on Blonde), a weak 15, only because Highway 61 Revisited betters it.


Nick Karn <> (10.12.99)

I have to admit, I was in a kind of 'moderate' version of the second group of listeners you mention in your introductory paragraph, among those that didn't necessary think he was talentless, but that his style was too cold (particularly in the case of his vocals) and his songs sounded better done as covers by other bands - all covers of Dylan songs I've heard so far have indeed been very well done. Listening to Highway 61 Revisited, however, I now understand, after actually sitting through an entire Dylan record, your opinions on him. On every song here he just makes you FEEL who or what he's singing about, even if it appears to be meaningless. It really is the combination of brilliant lyrics, that voice of his which I can't even really explain the intrigue of, the whole vibe of the instrumentation, the simple melodies, it's just unreal. It's impossible, unless you're completely soulless, for this album not to leave some kind of thought-provoking impression on you, especially after hearing "Desolation Row", which is nothing more than a simple acoustic song brought to God-like '11 minute closing epic' status in the hands of Bob and his lyrics - the beautiful acoustic 'flourishes' between each line just push this song even further past mortality. "Ballad Of A Thin Man" also leaves a similar type of impression with those bombastic piano chords and biting lyrics, "Tombstone Blues" is a really fun, fast, but still thought-provoking, well instrumentated (if that's a word) song, "Like A Rolling Stone" is a classic 'nuff said, "From A Buick 6" has tight band playing that just rules, "Queen Jane Approximately" is utterly beautiful, and... crap, it's all great. This is a 10, I was an idiot... Dylan IS a genius.

John McFerrin <> (15.12.99)

I just finished ftping a few more albums, including this one, and I'm listening to it right now (for all intents and purposes, this is my first real exposure to Dylan). I'm on 'Tombstone Blues' right now, and ... amazing. I mean, 'Like a Rolling Stone' and this are _so_ whack, and it's all I can do to not fall over laughing as he's speaking (singing my ass) these AWESOME lyrics. This melody is so stupid that he'd HAVE to be a genius to come up with it

And now 'Tom Thumb Blues' is on! This is great!

Jeff Blehar <> (24.02.2000)

Before I say anything more I just want to point out that both this and Bringing It All Back Home were released in 1965. IN THE SAME YEAR, FOR CHRISSAKES! Never, NEVER again will anyone be able to duplicate that feat. The same year! Most bands will never make ONE album as good as these in 30 years! The same year! Anyway....

I'm afraid I like this album a lot less than I should. Which is not to say I don't love it, I do, but it's not perfect. First, I won't say a thing bad about "Like A Rolling Stone," and I'll ostracize anyone who does. But I just get nothing out of "It Takes A Lot To Laugh," for example. I mean, it's not bad by any stretch of the imagination, in fact it's quite good, but it just ain't GODLY, y'know? And this album gets a reputation for godliness. Similarly, two popular ones do little for me: "Ballad Of A Thin Man" always struck me as a bit mean-spirited; what did poor Mr. Jones ever do to anyone? I end up feeling sorry for his alienation. Of course, that's not what the song is about at all, did you know? It's actually about a member of "straight" society who accidentally walks into a homosexual club where oral sex is being openly practiced. Really. Now do all those lyrics like "the sword swallower walks up to you and then he kneels" and "one-eyed midgets" asking for "milk" or people saying "here's your throat back, thanks for the loan" make some more sense? Listen again with that in mind. It's practically undeniable! And even it that's NOT what it's about, you gotta admit the imagery is kinda uncanny...

"Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues" don't do a whole lot for me either; the live rearrangement on Live 1966 is a trillion times better musically (and that's what I'm griping about here - the lyrics are brilliant). There I get its appeal, here I don't. So there are my gripes. Fortunately everything else is just forkin' awesome. "Tombstone Blues" might be even more hilarious than "115th Dream" from Bringing It All Back Home, despite what I said earlier, and "Queen Jane Approximately" is one of those great lost classics. But let me stop to just fall in abject worship at the feet of the stunningly beautiful, incandescent, never-repetitive, it-shoulda-been-FORTY-minutes-long "Desolation Row." I prefer this one to "Sad-Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands" hands-down, though I'll grant that's just taste (my friends are also split half-and-half), but this song is positively BURNING with beauty, beauty so ethereal and transient that you want to hold onto it for fear it'll disappear if you don't preserve it. I heard it for the first time, glued to my seat, praying "I hope this is long, I hope this doesn't end," and thank God he decided to run it for 11 minutes. The aching lyricism of Mike Bloomfield's running guitar commentary perfectly complements the sad world-weariness of Dylan's spray-paint allegory for the spiritual end of the world. One of the few songs I will brook no criticism on. So fine, some tracks here aren't the best in my book, but this is still as 10 as any 10/10 album can get. The same year!....

Rose Mary <> (25.03.2000)

Ok, given all the many different opinions here I will decide the strict hierarchy of the songs, for the sake of good spirits!

#1 'Queen Jane'.... This is the best and no discussions please!

#2 'Just Like TT Blues'

#3 'Like a Rolling Stone' (Baby what a surprise, you expected it to be #1)

#4 'Desolation Row'

#5 'Ballad of a Thin Man'

#6 'Tombstone Blues'

#7 'It takes a lot to laugh'...

#8 'Highway 61 Revisited'

#9 'From a Buick 6'

And this album is not a 10 or even a 15, it is a 20!!!!!

Kelly Laabs <> (22.04.2000)

This is the third artist I ever really listened to. the first Samshing Pumpkins, second Blues Brothers, third the Beatles, and then I heard this. I've been hooked ever since. 'Ballad of a Thin', 'Desolation Row', 'Tombstone Blues', 'It takes a lot to laugh But it Takes A Train To Cry', are some of the best lyrics I've heard in my life.

My only criticism is the fact 'Like a Rolling Stone' is actually topped by track 2, 'Tombstone Blues', the fact each song continues this motion makes the album a blur by it's finish. And to the untrained ear, the album could be called aweful, oddly it's today's Youth that are too impatient to ear it, this is where it is really at.

Sean Hutchinson <> (04.10.2000)

8 - Starts with the most perfect song in the 46-year history of rock music, and ends with the great “Desolation Row.” “It Takes A Lot To Laugh” is a lovely song, very well sung - the original version (on The Bootleg Series vols. 1-3) is possibly better because it’s a faster tempo. Overrated songs, in my opinion, are “Thin Man” and “Queen Jane.” Yes, really. Whether “Thin Man” is an attack on corporate culture America, or a description of a gay club, I find the song a little dull. “Queen Jane” is pretty, musically, and I love Dylan’s voice on it, but, it’s a bit of a throwaway. That said, this was the first Dylan album I ever bought, 27 years ago, and I still remember the thrill I got from those first bars of “Like A Rolling Stone”.

Raghu Mani <> (27.12.2000)

Another 10 and my favorite Dylan album. I simply worship 'Desolation Row'. There isn't a lyric like it in rock music. For most other artists, 'Like a Rolling Stone' would be an all time peak. On this album it is probably just the 4th or 5th best song.

Joe Wieckowski <> (01.02.2001)

'Ballad of a thin man' is a hypnotic masterpiece, and Al Kooper (organ), should be praised for his playing on this track espcially.

Sergey Zhilkin <> (19.02.2001)

It's very hard to say something new about this album so I'll just write down my comments on some of the songs cause, you know, I don't want reiterate opinion of so many people.

My favourite cut here is 'Desolation row'. In fact, I've heard it many times before with only one difference - it had Russian lyrics. In the late 80-s there was popular rock singer Mike Naumenko whose best songs were the rip-offs of Dylan, Stones and The Beatles. And both 'Desolation row' and 'Queen Jane' were translated into Russian. The originals are better, though. 'Desolation row' always sounded to me as a story about bedlam. The next song in my chart is 'It takes a lot to laugh...'. It's a real hit bellow the belt. I mean that Dylan is touching your heart with such lines as 'Don't the moon look good, mama// Shining down the trees?//Don't the breakman look good, mama// Flagging down the double 'E'?//Don't the sun look good, going down over sea?//Don't my girl look fine coming after me'. In my opinion only Russians can understand the whole beautity of traveling by trains and that's why I like this song so much.

Eh, the others are terrific, too, especially hillarious 'Highway 61' and 'Like a rolling stone'. Very unusual album. Almost every song can be put on Dylan's compilation.

PS. Cut my rating of Planet waves from 9 to 6 cause it's really weak compared with Highway 61...

Didier Dumonteil <> (22.02.2001)

For me 2 tracks make it a winner:the first one and the last one.Some say "reach out i'll be there " is a black "rolling stone,but it's much too kind to deserve such a label!

'Desolation row' might well be a follow-up to protest-songs in another language.It's alive with a lotta characters ;Cinderella,Romeo,Hugo's Quasimodo,you name it.My favorite verse is the Titanic one!Who cares about mental wank when you're on a boat that's sinking?And this boat ain'tTitanic at's our world,our poor humanity,it echoes "the book of ECclesiaste" ah! vanité des vanités tout est vanité!

A shameless perfect record!

Palash Ghosh <> (26.02.2001)

Not quite as fun and bouncy as the previous album, Highway 61 Revisited is a pop-rock classic that I never get tired of hearing. Faves here include 'Like A Rolling Stone', 'Highway 61,' 'Ballad Of A Thin Man', and 'It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry'. Not a single song is filler, even the lengthy 'Desolation Row' is quietly gripping.

Kevin Baker <> (12.03.2001)

I'm still striving to get Blonde On Blonde, but until then, this one is my favorite Dylan album. Mercy, every song on here touches me down deep in those places you don't talk about at parties. Some are melancholy while others cause intense anger to come rising to the surface of my mind. Cathartic music. 'Like A Rolling Stone' is so real to me, because I know exactly the person that song's about. Maybe the person that Bob had in mind, but the exact same person nonetheless. It makes me want to cry out of sorrow and shout in anger simultaneously. 'Tombstone Blues' is my personal favorite on here. What a tremendously awesome song. The angry guitar, the venomous lyrics...the very sound of anger-filled scorn. I love the line "the sun's not yellow, it's chicken!" 'ITALTL, ITATTC' for some reason, depresses me. It just seems so silently desperate, and why I don't know. It just touches me that why. That is, as I have said, the magic of Dylan. 'Ballad Of A Thin Man' is a definite pity-arouser with me. You can take this song on two levels, and either way I feel sorry for poor Mr. Jones. Since I know a Queen Jane as well, I love the next song. A hopeful sounding tearjerker is my judgment. 'Desolation Row' is a very special song to me. I feel like a character in the song so often. Every day at school. I look around me, and I'm in 'Desolation Row'. It's beyond physical desolation; it's a spiritual desolation. A perfect 10.

<> (14.04.2001)

Possibly the greatest lyrical album of all time. It contains possibly his most famous number ever, 'Like a Rolling Stone', but every song here is a masterpiece. 'Desolation Row' is the only 11 plus minute song that leaves me wishing it was a bit longer. 'The Ballad Of A Thin Man' might be my favorite song here. The lyrics are just so cool and it's just so trippy. The title track is just funny as hell. This was my first Dylan album and remains my favorite to this day.

Chris Papadopoulos <> (18.04.2001)

Kicked off by arguably the greatest rock and roll song ever written, this seminal record allowed Dylan to blow away all rivals, at least momentarily.

The big tracks (title track, 'Thin Man', 'Desolation Row') are massive and even the slight ones like 'It Takes A Lot To Laugh ..' are hardly filler material.

Brilliant lyrics, a ragged but red hot band and Dylan's inimitable delivery - no one else could spit out 'Like A Rolling Stone' the way he does * ensured some very famous heads would turn.. With headphones on, you can just make out the sound of four young Englishmen shaking in their Cuban heels.

Surely the greatest rock LP to that time.

Kevin <> (25.04.2001)

I'm sure you don't want this to turn into a newsgroup, but I just need to respond to one thing you wrote:

'Queen Jane Approximately' is often viewed as more filler, but I disagree emphatically. Every time I hear it, it moves me to tears, and I'm serious. Are those lyrics really meaningless? Perhaps. But I think I sense an idea in the text

I have been listening to Dylan for over a decade now and consider myself an avid fan. Dylan undoubtably is my favorite and no other singer's voice and lyrics and music moves me in the way that his do. However, there are periods I simply tend to ignore and I still discover new things in Dylan's songs all the time. This attests to his genius. I ignore much of what he put out in the 80s and it all still works somehow. Don't get me wrong, I listen to some of the songs from the 80s, like most of Oh Mercy and other songs here and there, I just choose not to listen to a lot of what he put out during that decade.

Anyway, one thign I have discovered about Highway 61 is that it is very difficult to derive any literal sense out of the album. In fact, I don't know that there is any. This, in my opinion, is what Dylan's music grew into. When he began he was as literal as anybody. As time went on, bigger ideas replaced the literal stuff and took precedence.

In my opinion, I would drive myself crazy if I listened to Highway 61 and tried to dissect its literal meaning. A song like 'Queen Jane Approximately' may not have a literal meaning, but my understanding of the song definitely identifies a meaning.

'Queen Jane Approximately' is right in context with the other songs no Highway 61. I think each of the songs on the album reflect a general idea of meaninglessness. Not that Dylan was just writing meaningless jargon, on the contrary. I think the songs reflect Dylan's idea that life itself is meaningless, or was for him at the time anyway. Of course he kept and still keeps us from thinking life is meaningless just because we have his music.

Looking at the context of the album, something often overlooked, it is a little easier to understand. Dylan was hearing it from the folkies who felt betrayed, doing heavy amounts of speed and definitely other drugs like booze and some hallucinagenics, living on a steady diet of binge sleeping after being awake for three days and eating candy bars, and being mobbed wherever he goes. Some may say that doesn't sound too bad, but I say he was under a lot of strain.

I'm sure it was easy for Dylan to feel that all the hype and all the hysteria was just too much. After all, timne has proved Dylan to be a person who savors his privacy, and I doubt he had much at the time. The drugs can not be brushed aside either. Anyone who has ever done too many drugs for an extanded period of time can attest to the misery too many drugs can bring.

So anyway, I digress. All I really wanted to say was 'Queen Jane' has lyrics that are not really designed for literal meaning, in my opinion. But, listening to the fragmented verses can almost always lead to one's all a bunch of rot.

Some Dylan critics would say this is what is not appealing about Dylan, but one thign keeps the Dylan-music lovers going. Why else would Dylan be writing about the miserable meaninglessness of life if he didn't care? He is at least moved by the meaninglessness to write about it for 11 minutes in 'Desolation Row'. I think he ismerely painting pictures with the songs on Highway 61 and its only what he sees. We already know from earlier songs and albums that Dylan is lonesome lover, a defender of the little man, a kind-hearted freedom singer and a soul-filled rock 'n' roller, so what is any different? It's like Highway 61, and there are hints of it in Bringin' It All Back Home and Blonde On Blonde is even more intense, is Dylan losing some of his youth. It's like he has gained or is gaining some wisdom that is disproving prior beliefs. That would make the alienation a little more understandable.

Christophe Veyrat <> (18.08.2001)

my favorite dylan album. better than blonde on blonde even. i mean each song here is great. and great is not even the word. i have to strongly disagree with you on 'sad eyed lady' vs 'desolation row'. 'SEL' does not have the strength, the despair, the prophecy of 'desolation row'. i even find its melody much more boring. 'desolation row' is one of two songs that make me cry, not because it brings back memories, just the words and music (the other is jacques brel's Amsterdam). no, eleven minutes are much too short. 'desolation row' is the archetype of a dylan song. you either feel it or you don't. but if you do, it goes deep into your soul like no other song. i could listen to it a million times (and probably have) and have the same emotions as the fist time. i even manage to find a little something i hadn't seen or heard before. a masterpiece.

Ben Kramer <> (26.11.2001)

This is my favorite Dylan album, just beating out Blonde On Blonde. Why? Well, side 3 of Blond On Blonde drags on and the material isn't as strong as the rest while on Highway 61 Revisited, the songs are brilliant throughout. This is an album with some excellent melodies which is hard to find on a Dylan album. 'Ballad of a Thin Man' has an excellent piano part and is no slouch lyrically. Dylan's singing, while not great (not even good), has a ton of feeling. Listen to his vocals carefully on 'Like A Rolling Stone', he is pouring his heart out. 'Desolation row' is slightly weaker than 'Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands', but the lyrics seem to reach out and grab you. I also agree with you on 'Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues' as one of the best on the album. It is one of Dylan's best songs musically and lyrically. My favorite song on the album is a real original choice, 'Like A Rolling Stone'. Call me what ever you want, but the public did well in choosing this as Dylan's biggest hit. It isn't my favorite Dylan song, but somehow he gets to you in the way an early Dylan protest song does, but this is probably better. I cannot think of a Dylan song with a better melody and better music. Yet another favorite of mine (ok, so they all are favorites of mine) is 'It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry'. I'm not gonna go on any more. This is one of my top 10 or 20 albums of all time. It doesn't rank with The Beatles or Let It Bleed simply because the stuff isn't really radically different or better than the rest of his early catalog. Also, I can't have a Dylan album ranked that high because listening to him is a totally different experience than listening to The Fab Four or the Stones or The Who. He takes a lot of effort to appreciate, but when you do, it is definitely worth it. An overall 10(15) for Dylan's masterpiece. And it is deserving.

Ryan Maffei <> (01.03.2002)

What's there to say? It seems that it's universally agreed that this is Dylan's masterpiece--hell, even Dylan himself thinks so. Of course it deserves a perfect 10, and one of the higher 10s issued in music history. For one thing, it's as influential as hell, what with Dylan's newly fleshed-out arrangements (thank goodness--those thin backing tracks were what brought Bringing it All Back Home down) and twisted, memorably bizarre lyrics. It's also the man's most solid--while there's still some traditional blues going on here (and then, even better, some blues-rock that completely defies the usual pattern), Dylan makes it all his most literate blues yet, and places those tracks in between classic bonuses like "Queen Jane Approximately" and "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues". By the way, George, I completely agree with your overall response to each track--"From a Buick", "Tombstone", and "Highway 61" are the weakest things on here, although still worthwhile. And, naturally, the best tracks defy any criticisms whatsoever. "Like a Rolling Stone", "Ballad of a Thin Man", and "Desolation Row"...three seminal touchstones you shouldn't even get me started on. A 10. A 15. An A+. Cheers!

Bob Josef <> (24.02.2003)

Well, call me a bit shallow, but I would rate this as Dylan's best 60's album -- better than the next, yes. I just find that the backing band is tighter, it rocks more, and even his blues numbers here sound more original. The title track and "Tombstone Blues" are really a lot of fun. The ballads, even when taken at a funereal pace ("Thin Man"), don't seem tedious. And "Desolation Row" is monumental -- I love Mike Bloomfield's pretty acoustic lead fills. A truly stunning record.

I guess "Positvely 3rd Street" and "Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window?" were released later, but they fit the mood perfectly - -why not add them as bonus tracks to the CD?

Michael Danehy <> (08.04.2003)

Ah, what kind of game did the Cheshire Cat play,

Did he swallow your props and end the play,

And hand you his eyes then walk away,

Replying "How did you ever get so fey?"

Well I caught the juggling clown asleep by your farm,

He whispered "The smoke was a false alarm,"

His dreaming ways never did you no harm,

Until the fire from his cigarettes covered your arm.

You never believed Jonah could have swallowed no whale,

Until the King of Ninevah's magistrates told the tale,

About how Highway 61 Revisited is really swell,

15/15 on George Starostin's scale.

Glenn Wiener <> (09.04.2003)

You know in spite of the lengths of these songs(6 of 9 are over five minutes), I really like this CD. There's just something captivating about Dylan's performance. Love the big piano chords on 'Ballad Of A Thin Man' not too mention some ultra cool lyrics. The title track is another winner with some good sound effects. I even manage to find 'Desolation Row' to be very touching eleven minutes and all.

Crazy as it may seem, I am really beginning to like Dylan's style. This one may end up in my collection soon.

Richard Nightingale <> (01.05.2003)

This is not my favourite Dylan album I prefer Blonde On Blonde and John Wesley Harding. However this album would still easily make it into my Dylan top five.Let's face it George in 1965 no one could touch this guy he was streets ahead of anyone during this period.I think the best track on here is 'Like A Rolling Stone' but I think 'Desolation Row' has better lyrics (not that 'Like A Rolling Stone' has bad ones).There's no point in me listing the highlights, every track on this album is a winner.I'd give this album an overall rating of 15 and would like to nominate this album as the best from 1965.

Here is my top ten albums from 1965:











Srivatsan Laxman <> (09.06.2003)

HW61R is dylan at his very best. in my opinion, this album establishes bob as indeed the greatest rock artist/songwriter ever. more popular they may all have been (and probably will continue to be), but really, the beatles or the rolling stones or whoever else never ever reached such dizzy heights of creativity as dylan did with HW61R and BOB. musically vibrant and lyrically vivid - bob dylan took rock music to unseen levels with HW61R. every single song is laced with memorable piano, guitar and harmonica lines and bob's vocals are fervent right through the album.

whether its the sometimes bombastic, sometimes tinkling clear piano chords and the delicious lead guitar swirls of 'rolling stone..', or the soulful harmonica segments in 'it takes a lot..', dylan could do no wrong in HW61R. there are several brilliant lyrical moments too, like - "stop all this weeping, swallow your pride. you will not die - its not poison" in 'tombstone..', or "i need a dump truck mama to unload my head" in 'buick..' and not to forget, the title song with a bunch of ridiculously helarious verses about some wacky/wierd concept called highway 61!! as for '..thin man' - those famous majestic powerful piano chords, to me, are only part of the story. the relatively inconspicuous and repetitive bass lines in the background have such a telling/haunting effect. 'queen jane..' features soul-stirring vocals by bob and some very pretty piano segments too. and then there is 'desolation row'. what can be said of that one - a gorgeous, monumental ballad with striking lyrics like: "To her, death is quite romantic She wears an iron vest Her profession's her religion Her sin is her lifelessness". and with those very compelling guitar essays all along, 'desolation row' ensures that HW61R closes at the same staggering heights at which it opened with '..rolling stone'.

HW61R is a masterpiece and even to this day no one has ever done anything better than it - except dylan himself, when he cut BOB!! oh, man!! what a real biggy was that one?

<> (17.08.2004)

One point: Unless I'm very much mistaken, the prominent piano sound on HW61R is that of a tack piano, rather than an electric piano.

David Dickson <> (03.02.2006)

Jesus Christ damn hell. This just might be the most on-the-spot review of Highway 61 Revisited in the cosmos of our history.

And not because the reviewer LIKES it, but because of the REASONS he gives for liking it, emphasizing the musical moments in all their myriad subjective facets and staying completely away from "objective" cliches like "Rock and roll used to be about girls and teenage stuff and fum fum fum. Zimmerman changed everything ever with this album, therefore the rating. This is the end of the paragraph."

Bravo, G.S. And I normally don't suck up online like that. (Says who?) I have one more thing to say. Okay, maybe ten. "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues" never really flipped my noodle, as it were, maybe because the opening two-chord sequence seems too redundant of other stuff on the album. On its own it's a marvelous song, but in the context of the album it kinda gives a "dip" feeling a la "Let's Go Away For A While."

And "Desolation Row" is the best song Dylan ever did. Okay, the best song out of all the songs he did on Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, Another Side of Bob Dylan, Bringing it All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited, Blonde on Blonde, John Wesley Harding, The Basement Tapes, Blood on the Tracks, Desire, Time Out of Mind, Love and Theft, and Saved. Thirty dozen more albums to go. Sheesh, is accuracy REALLY that important? Does it REALLY matter that we invaded Iraq for bogus reasons? Pssht.

I, for one, was introduced to Bob Dylan with this album. First one I ever purchased, and that's saying a LOT. (?)

It was 2001, and I was feeling kinda down after the WTC got pancaked. Then I took ethnic music class at Truman State and found out Bob Dylan was considered an intellectual honcha-wazit by the faculty. Well, I went oot CD hunting one day, couldn't find a used version of Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, and suddenly saw a NEW version of this album on sale for $7.99, the price of your average watermelon in Yankville. Eh, I wanted to look all smart and pretentious now that I was in college, so I grabbed it. Having been warned in advance through class that it was sloppy and grungey and not too hooky, I was sure I'd be able to tolerate its more clumsy moments.

But then there was the voice. The voice, dammit. So dry and off-key and sandpapery. At least that's what I'd been told. Me being a classic rock fan, I wondered what I could do to overcome this.

Then I realized that my idol Mr. Springsteen, familiar since middle school from classic rock radio, was considered the "New Dylan" and I'd learned to overcome his voice 'cause I loved his hits so damned much.

It was this reasoning that allowed me to survive the eight or nine listens through Highway 61 Revisited before it finally hit me: These songs are all AMAZING. Nine songs. Nine classics. Nine reasons to celebrate one's life in full, regardless of world events and/or girl trouble that might blow itself your way. Hallelujah. God bless Mr. Springsteen. 10 out of 10.

<> (16.07.2006)

I am constantly torn on if either this or Blonde on Blonde is better than the other. One thing is for certain: Bob tends to have two good albums in a row (Blood on the Tracks to Desire, Time out of Mind to Love and Theft). Of course, you can say that Bringing It All Back Home and John Wesley Harding are really close to these two, but no two albums by pretty much any artist compliment each other quite as well as H61R and BoB (man I'm slow; I just noticed that it spelt out Bob....maybe a bit of irony?). Anyway, there is no doubt that, at least, this is the more intense album. Everytime I hear "Like a Rolling Stone", I feel like I want to become the greatest musician ever. This is, indeed, the greatest song ever written. It proves that a potent message can be contained in an intertaining. The live versions I hear are always some of the most intense things anywhere, but I still love the original album version the best. This is another way this album has a bit of an advantage to BoB; it has a truely definable song, while BoB is only enjoyable if the whole album is undertaken. And your right: "Like a Rolling Stone", while being this incredable song, does in no way make the rest of the album seem unworthy. I can put any song on and not wish to put a different one on at that moment, if you know what I mean. Listening straight through is so easy, and even the longativity of the songs never make the task a difficult one.


Simon Hearn <> (07.09.99)

Yes. A great album - a double at that - but what about blood on the tracks. Dylan is more mature and his emotions pour forth on blood..... That is why this album will always be over shadowed Blood on the Tracks, blonde will date, but as blood is so emotional and emotions are timeless and we all feel them it will endure for ever.

Mike Zupan <> (11.11.99)

I never could understand the title of this LP, but it's the best fucking LP ever, that's for sure! Ain't nothing better in music! No beatles, no Stones, no Mozart, nothing is better than blonde on blonde!!!

Ryan Mulligan <> (05.12.99)

Although I totally despise the fact that you gave zeppelin a 3(a 3?!?!?), i must agree that Blonde On Blonde is the single greatest album of all time. There's something about 'Sad Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands' that can't be described. It doesn't have the emotion of Blood On The Tracks, but I've never found this album to be boring at all, and i've listened to it maybe 20 times completely. I'd call this Dylan's best work, then Highway 61 Revisited, then Blood On The Tracks. Oh yeah, i love 'Temporary Like Achilles' too, and i can't even consider it a filler. How cool are the first 10 seconds of 'SIOMWTMBA'?

Robert James <> (16.12.99)

Blonde on Blonde is the conclusion of a long musical-emotional journey that began with Bringing it all back Home. While Home and Hwy 61 are bright, exhuberant daytime albums, most of Blonde seems to take place at night. It's a darker, more mysterious album, Bob's guitar often lost deep in the aura of electric piano and organ, leaving his voice to float like a ghost above the densely layered music. I think this is the reason why so many fans have trouble "getting" this album, why so many of them prefer the simplistic Blood on the Tracks--Blonde's overall sound is murky and at times impenetrable. You can hear it evolve on an outtake from the period "I'll keep it with Mine" (later covered by the Velvet Underground), a song that begins like a typical Hwy 61 song...until the organ breaks in on its own channel and completely changes the ambience of the song. Dylan the folkie, Dylan the rocker becomes Dylan the mystic and not all of his fans (then or now) were capable of following him.

This album and the two before it defined "Dylan" for the ages. Had he died in the motorcycle accident without recording another note, he would still be as famous as he is today. All of his subsequent output put together wouldn't equal even the first 30mins of Blonde of Blonde.

[Special author note: I agree to a tee - especially the remark about the day/night opposition. Just compare 'Queen Jane' and 'Visions Of Johanna', you'll see what Robert is talking about. I'm not too sure about that last sentence, but otherwise, I couldn't have put it better myself.]

Michel Franzen <> (12.01.2000)

Things I would change about Blonde on Blonde: get ride of 'Temporary Like Achilles' and 'Absolutely Sweet Marie', trading them in for two other original songs. I would add two more songs to fill out the album as well.

Rose Mary <> (12.02.2000)

Absolutely THIS IS IT!!! Blonde is the only album whick keeps me with chicken skin all the way to the end. Nuff said!

Eugene Kuzmenko <> (12.03.2000)

Excellent.Grandiozo! Although many pepople tend to be taken aback with this "thin mercury sound" ,as Dylan himself described it,it is this very sound that makes this album a uniqie piece of art.In fact Dylan confessed that never again succeeded he in achieving the same sound.I myself cannot describe this sound other than "winter mystic breathe" ,although goddamn me if I know what I`m talking about:)

The songs are excellent--my favs are "Memphis Blues Again","Absolutely Sweet Marie","One of Us Must Know" and " Just Like A Woman".What a brilliant play of words he displays there!

"Mona tried to tell me

To stay away from the train line

She said all those railroad men

They drink up your blood like wine

And I said:"Oh,I didn`t know that

But then again--there`s only one I`ve met

And he just smoked my eyelids

And punched my sigarette..."

A funniest horror story I ever heard of!

A spectre of moods on this record is the richest in the history of rock-n-roll--plain groove in "Rainy Women...",irony in "Visions of Johanna",sadness and thoughtfulness in "Just Like a Woman",bitter anger in "Absolutely Sweet Marie",mocking humour in "Leopard Pill Box Hat",tenderness in "Sweet Lady of the Lowlands"...

10! Not less!:)

Evan P Streb <> (16.07.2000)

The title comes from the fact that if you take the first letter of each word of the album title, you get his first name. By the way, BOB wasn't the forst double album ever. I think Freak Out! came a couple months earlier [that's one of the more popular myths in existence - G. S.].

Sean Hutchinson <> (04.10.2000)

7.5 - I’ve always loved this album, but it is flawed! The first 2 tracks are not great Dylan, and “Leopard-Skin” is an amusing little blues, but still a bit of a throwaway. “Achilles” is aptly named, the Achilles Heel of the whole show, and “5 Believers” is fun, but a filler too. Then, the great debate - “Johanna”, and “Sad-Eyed Lady”. I think they both go on a verse or two too long, but they’re both great songs anyway. “Absolutely Sweet Marie” should definitely not be removed from the album - I think it’s the 3rd best song here. The best songs: “I Want You” and “One Of Us Must Know.”

Raghu Mani <> (27.12.2000)

I'd give it a 10 too but just barely. I am one of the few who thinks that this is not as good as its two predecessors. Not that there are any weak songs here (in fact a couple of outtakes from these sessions could have been added to the album without sacrificing overall quality) - it's just that I prefer the best stuff from those two albums to the best stuff on this one.

Brigitte DUMONTEIL <> (26.02.2001)

A monument.The last track alone would justify the presence of the album in any comprehensive collection.This ballad is akin to the style of old English ballads;except for the surrealist lyrics,the musical form is not unlike  those very long songs like "matty groves" (try to hear the Fairport Convention version with a terrific Sandy Denny vocal).That said: sad-eyed lady is a wonder;it could last 20 or 30 minutes nobody would notice.Dylan's voice has never been so strong in his weakness (he sounds as is he had smoked 100 cigarettes a day)Other strong tracks include the raving I want you,which shows an obsession with the cards (tarots?)that was to emerge again in the seventies(lily,rosemary....,Desire's sleeve,the end of the first track of street-legal),just like a woman,one of us must know(Phil Ochs wasn't correct when he told Dylan it was not a good song),4th time around,Absolutely sweet Marie,Visions of Johanna (some say it's for Baez,some say for Nico:I would rather say the latter:"she belongs to me ",on the other hand is probably about Baez)The low points for me are:pledging my time and leopard-skin pill-box hat,but it's a question of taste!

Palash Ghosh <> (26.02.2001)

I thoroughly disagree with your review of Blonde on Blonde. His prior two albums showed Dylan was on a roll, but with this bloated album, he took a severe misstep and overestimated his talent. There just isn't enough diverse material here to justify a double album, I'm sorry to say.

Still, I count four great songs in this messy package: 'Rainy Day Women # 12 & 35', 'Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again' 'Just Like A Woman' and 'Sad-Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands' (which is way too long, however).

The others songs mostly have exotic titels, verbose lyrics, but little else that appeal to me.

While I applaud Dylan for boldly making a two-record set, he should've written higher-quality songs to justify it.

<> (07.04.2001)

I agree it deserves a long review.  It's such a great piece of music. How can anybody disagree? Song after song, gotta love it. Who are the beatles anyway?  just kidding

<> (17.04.2001)

I'd like to comment on Blonde on Blonde. As an artist (according to your rating system) I'd just give him a four but this album, more than any you''ve reviewed or will ever review deserves an 11. It is an unparalleled accomplishment in modern music. This album alone boasts five of Dylan's top ten songs in "Sooner or Later," "Stuck inside of Memphis," "Just Like a Woman." "Sad-eyed Lady" easily usurps "Desolation Row." Not to mention my vote for Bob's best musical entry ever: "4th Time Around." The song is so simple (only two guitar chords played back and forth with the beautiful sounding madolin) yet so complete. I'm not sure I understand the words completely but it seems an unspeakably menacing, ingenious idea. No other artist then or now could pull of such a marriage of heavenly sounds and brilliant imagery. Come on. With lines like "I gallantly handed her my very last stick of gum." The song immaculately depicts an unusual situation in a way that somehow appeals to my deepest sentiments. Absolutely brilliant. Oh yeah, what about "Temporary Like Achilles?" Filler? No way. On any other album this song would be monumental. But then again, this whole album easily exceeds any of his other material. In reference to the claim that Blood On The Tracks is more emotional than Blonde, I simply don't agree. More personal perhaps but the emotion on Blonde flows forth with such beauty and energy that it absolutely envelops its listener. Can you imagine if "Positively 4th Street" was released on this album rather than as a single? Too much to handle. I gotta go.

Sergey Zhilkin <> (16.05.2001)

That's the kind of album which is a 'must-have record'. And there're not many words to describe Blonde on blonde cause all you get from it are feelings.

Now, really, can you tell me at least two more songs that lift up your mood just as 'Rainy day women # 12 & 35' does? And Dylan is enjoying his song, too - just listen - he laughs when sings. And these a little bit disordered trumpets (which you usually can hear in the circus) make the atmosphere so funny and free... Next, do you really think that 'Pledging my time' is a generic blues? George, it's unique! Ok, maybe the melody isn't unique itself but the way Dylan sings (with these small pauses between lines!) is unique!

And I don't even want to discuss 'Visions of Johanna' cause all we know that it is one of the best Bob's lyrical moments and one of the best blues moments. And it's really great, great as some albums, such as <insert your 50 favourite albums> and I really can listen to it hundred times in a row...(hoo-hoo, what a great example of how you should make fat in your comments - just insert as many useless cliches as you know and your comments will weight 3K at least!).

'One of us must know', 'Memphis blues again', 'Leopard skin pill-box hat' together with 'Just like a woman' are really main places to visit if you know how a singer should write lyrics just to make you listen attentivly to every word there. And 'I want you' is really tough. I mean it's very hard for me to listen it because I want to share all Dylan's problems and remember min, too. No kidding.

The next side is little letdown mainly because that the melodies are really generic. Okay, only two of them - 'Obviously 5 Believers' and 'Temporary like Achilles'. But the lyrics are even better ('Sad-eyed lady of the Lowlands'!!!). My favourite tracks on here are 'Sad-eyed lady', 'Sweet Marie' (check out George Harrison's performance on 30-th anniversary concert - it's really fantastic) and 'Most likely you go your way'.

Is it the best album ever produced on this planet? Maybe yes, maybe no but every person that thinks he knows something about 60's should grab it.

Glenn Wiener <> (04.11.2001)

George, I bet you thought you'd never see the day when you saw a comment from me on this release. Gradually, I am getting used to the style of Mr. Zimmerman. Whereas, I do not adore this record the way you do, I will admit that there is something on here for everyone. For me its many of the blues tracks('Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat', 'Pledging My Time'). However my fave is 'One Of Us Must Know'. Even though I am not a fan of Dylan's voice, on this track his emotion really does shine and the piano chords just further amplify the feelings. 'Absolutely Sweet Marie' is another gem as I like the driving drum beat. In spite of its eleven minute length, 'Sad Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands' is pretty pleasant when one is in an introspective state of mind. Again, I am not a fan of Dylan's voice over an extended period of time. And harmonicas can definitely grate on my nerves especially when it is featured on every single track. None the less, I recognize the many many different textures on Blonde On Blonde and can certainly look past my own tastes and recommend it as a place to start with Mr. Dylan.

Ben Kramer <> (13.11.2001)

I pretty much agree with you on your view of this album(except that I don't agree with 'Sad Eyed Lady' being the best song on the album(Alhough I do love it)). However, I prefer Highway 61 to Blonde on Blonde, probably because of side 3 of Blonde on Blonde. Sides 1 and 2 alone would be his best record and side 4 is 'Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands' which I have already said that I love. Side 3, however, doesn't appeal to me the way the rest of the album does and a lot of his other stuff for that matter. I never liked 'Most Likely You'll Go Your Way and I'll Go Mine' or 'Temporarily Like Achilles'. 'Absolutely Sweet Marie' and 'Obviously Five Believers' are better, but when I'm listening to the album towards the end, I just get in the mood to hear 'Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands'. I don't know why this happens(maybe its caused by hearing 'Just Like A Woman'). Side one is brilliant with one of Dylans best ever, 'Visions of Johanna' and side two is probably my favorite side because it contains my favorite song on the album, 'Stuck Inside of Moble With the Memphis Blues Again'. I'm not gonna ramble on about this album because your review pretty much sums up my feelings about this album.

<> (14.01.2002)

I love this album. Absolutely beautiful, and purely cathartic. Has emotion written all over it. "Just Like A Woman" (despite the mysogynistic lyrics, but who cares?), "4th Time Around", "Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands", "I Want You" (among more) are just absolutely heartwrenchingly beautiful songs, and its really ironic and hilarious to hear those on the same record as "Rainy Day Woman #12 & #35", which definatly sounds frivelious musically, but really, it has a nice message (stoned equals judgement! Dont take it as a pro-drug anthem). Also, "Most Likely You Go Your Way And I'll Go Mine" (really underrated. Great catchy rocker. i love the brass/harmonica interplay), "Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat" (great blues track), "Obviously Five Believers" etc. This is definatly the classic right here! Some people may prefer Blood On The Tracks, but truthfully, i never saw the big thing about that album. Absolutely not as timeless as this one. Definatly 10/10! Ohh, and i think the best way to enjoy this album is to get into Bob Dylan's previous work first. Get those early acoustic albums, get used to the high pitched harmonica and scratchy, gruff voice and youll love just about anything he does (exceptions of course, like Saved). I got this album from the library once to try out Dylan and i was not too impressed, but after i got into the wonderful Freewheelin', Another Side Of.., and Bringing It All Back Home and subsequently coming back to this, i realize how absolutely timeless this album is compared to those (they are still classics, of course). I think its best not to strictly pay attention to melody in Bob's voice on this one either (although he IS singing melody! I didnt realize at first). Pay attention to the backing instruments! Its that that mainly pulls you in and doesn't let go for life.

Ryan Maffei <> (03.03.2002)

Faltering at spots in his ambition, Blonde on Blonde, for me, signals the start of a dwindling period for Dylan as an artist. Excising his creativity to its full extent, however, also results in a handful of classic tunes. I wouldn't call Blonde the best Dylan (that award has, does, and always shall go to Highway 61 Revisited), but I would call it an inventive, polished, rewarding album that deserves as much praise as, say, Bringing it All Back Home, or maybe a bit more.

It's obvious that this is a far warmer release than past Dylan works, and thus it's more welcoming, more humanized, more relatable. This is the prime reason, I think, that this album has held up so exceptionally over the years--although another reason could lie in the fact that it contains such great, classic tunes as "Rainy Day Women #12 & 35" (Dylan at his most delightfully inventive), "Pledging My Time", "One of Us Must Know" (My pick for highlight of the album), "Stuck Inside a Mobile", "Just Like a Woman", and "Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands". In the end, Dylan's weakest spots here come when he's being too conventional (the disappointing trad-blues "Leopard Skin Pill Box Hat"), overly derivative (the "Norwegian Wood" ripoff--yes, ripoff--"4th Time Around"), or fluffy ("I Want You"). But then again, even these tunes tend to grow on me with each listen, a fact I cannot deny. So kudos to Blonde on Blonde, Dylan's second soulful masterpiece. May he never make another like it. A solid, strong A

Alexis VONSYDOW <> (25.08.2002)

I'm glad that Dylan released something I could appreciate. I mean, it seems kinda intellectual to like Dylan, so I listened to all Dylan albums at home (Subterranean Homesick Blues, John Wesley Harding, Nashville Skyline, Street Legal, Slow Train Coming, Saved, Shot Of Love, Infidels, Empire Burlesque, Knocked Out Loaded, Oh Mercy, Good As I Been To You, Time Out Of Mind, and this one) about three times each, and the only one I liked was this. So I guess Blonde must be very fabulous for somebody who likes Dylan in the first place.

Bob Josef <> (24.02.2003)

I certainly understand your worship of the album (especially the lyrics), it seems to me to have a little bit too much filler and retreads to qualify as an improvement over the last. Blues numbers with thorougly ordinary melodies and arrangements, for example. A few of the songs had analogs on the last album, but are undermined by the arrangements -- the cacaphonous horns of "Rainy Day Women"; the jittery, anxious, unsettling piano of "I Want You"; the tedious country guitar of "Just Like a Woman". Odd that the singles are among my least favorites, now that I think about it.

But I admit that there is tons to like about most of the album. I actually heard the acoustic Biograph version of "Visions of Johanna" first, and I think it works better that way. But turning the arrangement into a sort of rework of "She Belongs to Me" is by no means bad. An awesome song. "Most Likely.." is another jaunty kiss-off song to an old girlfriend; Bruce Springsteen based half his catalog on the wonderful "..Memphis Blues.."; "Absolutely Sweet Marie" sounds almost Tex-Mex to me and is really fun. The only thing I hear similar to "Norweigan Wood" in "4th Time Around" is the chord sequence -- I don't think Dylan would do that deliberatley. Unfairly overlooked. And as for "Sad Eyed Lady..' it just isn't as good as the more evocative narrative and tastier guitar of "Desolation Row". Close, though, but no cigar for me.

It's a tough call, but I think if this had paired down to the same length, it could be surpass the last one. As it is, I'd use to CD program button to get that effect.

Michael Danehy <> (07.04.2003)

OK, Robert Zimmerman fans tend to split on which is his peak moment, BoB (Hey, that's his name. Wadda ya know?) or Highway 61. I cast my vote for BoB. While I prefer some songs on Highway to most anything on here ("Ballad of a Thin Man", "Desolation Row", and "Highway 61"), this is just a more diverse and interesting record. "One of Us Most Know" actually has something resembling a complex melody! "I Want You" is as catchy as a Beatles song! "Stuck Inside of Mobile" is a furious rocker! And then you have the wonderful ballads "Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands" and "Just Like a Woman." I can never understand people complaining about the length of "Sad Eyed Lady." I'm usually disappointed when it ends because I could listen to those haunting choruses forever. I also never get why "Obviously Five Believers" or even "Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat" are written off as generic blues. They're hilarious, brilliantly lyrically constructed, and catchy. They're no more generic than your average Beatles or Stones track. If anything, this masterpiece is underrated. Mark Prindle only gives it an 8. Same guy who gives Aerosmith Toys in the Attic a 10. Whatever. 15/15+

Fidel Saúl Juárez Guzmán <> (24.04.2003)

I'm not ashamed to admit that I first became aware of Dylan's genius through his series of Greatest Hits compilations. (Actually, I listened the guy for the very first time on the Nick Nolte's painting sequence from New York Stories -Before The Flood's "Like A Rolling Stone".) Listening "hit" after "hit" on the first vinyl from BOB -"Rainy Day Women"... "I Want You"... "Stuck Inside..." etc., and getting used to the "filler" can be a little weary for the unexperienced. That can be the first impression.  

Things began to click a few years ago with George Harrison's cover of  "Absolutely Sweet Marie" for the star attended "30th celebration concert" (or something). Then, it was Before The Flood ("Most Likely You Go Your Way And I'll Go Mine".) You get the feeling that the compositions may on their own have some merit after all. Yeah... right... That's your second though.

People can be foolish sometimes, even if they're willing to give a try to any worthy album. "Worthy", I said? This is (a cliché, I know) a true desert island record if there's one. Phew. And what about them lyrics in "4th Time Around":

Her Jamaican rum/And when she did come,/I asked her for some./She said, "No, dear."/I said, "Your words aren't clear,/You'd better spit out your gum."/She screamed till her face got so red/Then she fell on the floor

This is some serious funny shit. And the album contains all sort of comedy bits like that one inserted everywhere (even on "Visions of Johanna"). Happier indeed, and definitely wiser than anything made in pop before with the proper subtlety unlike some of Zappa's stuff. 15+. No doubt about it. (And the effect is more convincing if one actually skips "Achilles".)

If you know somebody who's sad for any stupid reason and doesn't know how to deal with it, don't corner him/her; don't tell him/her the obvious ("everything's gonna be alright, blah blah"); don't for the love of God inscribe the person in some daffy twelve step program. Buy Blonde On Blonde and give it to him/her as a present. If they're not smitten with a junk diet of MTV softcore, or think that they're gothic and deep or anything disgusting, they'll thank you someday.

(Blood On The Tracks, still, deserves maybe a 14 to me -a plain 10 on my rating book. "Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts" is indeed overlong, not all that convincingly arranged, but never in my life stupid. It gives you the chance to take a little breath from all the sorrow with the innocent country groove, the careful selection of words, and Dylan's vocals -he sounds happy --proud?-- to me. IMHO, of course.)

David Dickson <> (06.04.2004)

It occurs to me that I might have been misunderstood in my previous comments about this album elsewhere on the site. Let me clarify.

Make no mistake about it, this is an awesome, superb, tremendous double album of the first order. It is easily better than the White Album, and in my opinion, it easily trumps the entire Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin catalogues (though not the Who-- Quadrophenia is at least as good as this). It even tramples the vast majority of the Beatles' output. (Notice, of course--I did NOT say "all." See Abbey Road for assistance.) It is also a messy, sprawling, and even a little SLOPPY affair. You have to take it in as a whole, rather than track-by-track. Basically, what impresses me most about Blonde on Blonde is Bob's ability to write so many insanely CATCHY (and long) songs, and put them all on the same album--and even have some regard for proper track order, a concept that seems to be virtually nonexistent throughout most of the 1960's, especially amongst American artists. I mean, let's be honest, would the album have anywhere CLOSE to the same impact if he chose to put "Pill-Box Hat", or "Most Likely You Go Your Way and I'll Go Mine", or "Pledging My Time" as the closing track, as most artists of the time would surely have done? No, no, and no.

Yes, it DOES have some filler, though. It is not by any means a perfect album. I think I teed George off a little when I implied that he liked Blonde on Blonde for its revolutionariness alone. George, the reason I prefer Blood on the Tracks to this is absolutely identical to your reason for thinking the opposite. Musical quality-wise, and NOT lyric wise (since when do I pay much attention to the lyrics anyway?) I think Blood on the Tracks is the superior listen, because I think it shows a higher degree of musical craft. Smoothness. Perfection. Attention to detail. You know, all the things that the '70's brought into popular music that "killed off" rock and roll (not that I'm implying that you buy into that nonsense, of course.) But yeah, you see my point. Still, this album DOES come very close to Blood on the Tracks. It manages to live up to its legendary status, and fully deserves a ten rating.

Despite that lengthy bore at the end, that is. (Heh-heh. That oughta get him going.) :)

Srivatsan Laxman <> (07.06.2004)

BOB is easily one of the best rock records of all time. Its probably not quite as easy to get as, say, Abbey Road or Let It Bleed, or even for that matter as Dylan's own HW61 or BOTT. But the musical and lyrical wizardry in BOB eclipses everything, past and present, that popular (English) music has known.

It is almost impossible to capture BOB in words and in view of this, your elaborate review of BOB on this site is genuinely praiseworthy. It is hard to add anything to it. However, one point that probably eludes your essay is that the enigma of BOB lies in its subtle but unmistakable dualism - it is at once personal and universal, comic and tragic, intimate yet detached, playful yet earnest, assured yet unrestrained. These myriad colors endear BOB to an astoundingly diverse audience - each song meaning something totally different to different listeners (and often even to the very same listener) in different moods.

A few years later, Dylan would sing "Some day everything is gonna be different, When I paint my masterpiece" - I wonder if he knew by then that he had done so already! Indeed everything has been different since that May of 1966!!

Matt Byrd <> (28.06.2004)

What the hell is this leopard-skin-pillbox hat?  What is this seemingly annoying and stupid 'everybody must get stoned' nonsense?  What the fuck is this boucny ditty 'I Want You'?  What in the bloody hell does the name of the album mean?  What in the hell all this nonsense?  Well, this 'nonsense' is the sound of a genius at play in one of the grandest records of rock 'n' roll.

Matt(the great)Byrd <> (13.07.2005)

Hey, hey, you can always count on old king George to defend the crap out of something that many other reviewers bash (the Who?). This time, though, he's right. Blonde On Blonde IS the absolute pinnacle of Bob's career, it's like levels above Highway 61 Revisisted. BUT I, unlike king George, would NOT advise someone to go out and get it. I don't even think I know anyone who would take the time that it takes to appreciate this one, it kinda takes the right kinda mood to start liking it. No, for your first Dylan album (you know, so you won't end up HATING him) you should go straight to Highway 61 Revisited, Desire, or Bringin' It All Back Home. What about the people who put Blood On The Tracks over this one? Their full of balogna. What'd I say? I said Bob would never make a better and his previous works sort of can't be compared........ even though Blonde On Blonde doesn't have 'Love Minus Zero/No Limit' (sorry, I had to compliment that great song). In it's era no album, I think, can really be put above it, no Beatles at least, Pet Sounds is pretty glorious. I would, however (get ready for some blaspheming), put Born To Run up their with it. Isn't that weird? From the albums I've listened to I think Pet Sounds, Blonde On Blonde, and Born To Run are the best. Teir's something subjective about each one of 'em that you just kinda have to 'get'. It's possible to like some of the songs on them for a while but you really have to 'get' it to like the whole thing. Obviously, I think, that's much easier to do with Born To Run and Pet Sounds. Bob Dylan though........ Bob Dylan. No matter what praise can be heaped on poor, old Bob....... he IS a human, a human who is just really just completely overrated! Oh my gosh! There would be no need to say this but I think I'm trying to justify liking the Brucester! Anyways, ok, Bob pioneered a new type of songwriting... it was pretty gosh-darned influential. That was great. He did all kinds of other great things too........ but he is NOT rock's premier genius. Leave that to the even more flawed Frank Zappa. Bob's songwriting is overrated. There are other songwriters who wrote more affecting (I mean resonating, in this department, Bob is overrated beyond anything is in rock music) lyrics, who were more complex (I think I take this one back), who were more original (ok, I take that one back BIG time), and who were more diverse. Still, though Bob is a great, great songwriter. I just seriously think that other songwriters can be put in his sphere and still others, in some ways, can be put above him. Whatever though, Bob's place in rock cannot be denied. I think I will always think that his so-called 'deep' ballads on this album are...... you know, just kinda pseudo-deep. I could never take them too seriously........... but then what's great about this album? I don't know, I don't think I could ever put my finger on it, you just kind of have to 'realize' it. You can't just lower the status of this album with practical means, I mean, you can put down 'Pleding My Time' but if you do.... you probably still don't entirely 'get' this album. I can't really explain it better. It is a rock album, though, and it does it boring if you listen to it in the wrong mood. That said, The Son of Mr. Greene Genes rules!!

<> (16.07.2006)

As I said on my H61R comment, no song on hear can really stand above the rest. But that is where this album is so intising. I almost don't like this album because I can't really just put one song on for a good show....and yet, thats why I keep coming back for more. The search through the album is something I have never really experience before. And I have to say that you giving this a ten was the main reason I bought it as my first true Dylan album (I also bought "Infidels" at the same time, because that one just interests me). Its really just a 73 minute song, whith so many twists and turns that even the low times are interesting because there is enough high times to make it worth it. And I thought "Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands" was the best song even before I realized you did as well. The only thing that makes me mad is "Lepord-Skin Pill-Box Hat". Not because its a bad song, but because of the Version on "No Direction Home" soundtrack. The one on "BoB" is a speed through blues hit, but the outtake is so unbelieveably incredable that I can't help but almost cry when I hear it. Its slower, its harder, it has more lyrics, its just awsome. I guess they took it out because a song so hard would probably not fit on the album...but hey, I have it now, so its all good. And yes, the Lyric you mentioned is just plan genius. "You think he loves you for your money, but I know what he loves you for, your lepord skin pill box hat!"

LIVE 1966

Kelly Laabs <> (22.04.2000)

'Tell me Momma' is great, but 'She actsLike We Never Have Met' is great too, if you haven't heard THE BAND's The Last Waltz album, may be you woouldn't recognize that, but 'Baby let me follow you down' is the best from the electric half.

Nick Einhorn <> (04.06.2000)

WHAT? A SEVEN for this album? This is not only very interesting and very important, it's one of Dylan's best albums, and undoubtedly the best live album ever (by anyone). First of all, it's an incredible historical document. This shows Dylan completely offending, ignoring, and even chastising his audience. I mean, it's not that evident on disc 1, but disc 2 (with the band) is just mind-blowing. The audience shows their disregard by booing, slow-clapping, and just murmuring eerily in between songs. Dylan not only doesn't let this get to him, he uses it for its effect. For example, before one of his songs the audience starts slow-clapping disrespectfully. Dylan gets up on the mike and starts murmuring quietly as if he is telling a story. He keeps doing it and the audience eventually gets quiet enough to hear him. As they wind down, he says, "blah blah blah ble blah if you all wouldn't clap so hard...", stops, and then kicks in to the next song. Before "Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat", he starts to introduce the song, but then stops with a rustle in the audience. So then he says, slowly and deliberately, "This is called, 'Well I see you've got your brand new leopard skin pillbox hat'," and then breaks into the song.

The best part, however, is coming out of "Ballad of a Thin Man". The audience is stirring kind of uneasily, and then this one guy yells out, "Judas!", implying that he has betrayed folk music. Dylan waits a moment, and then starts strumming his guitar. "I don't believe you," he sneers. Robertson starts playing over him, and Dylan goes, "You're a liar!" He turns to the band and goes "play fucking loud" and they kick into "Like a Rolling Stone."

But the music is also awesome. The first side is just Bob on guitar and harmonica, which is nice - a lot of the Blonde on Blonde songs are spared of electric guitar ("Visions of Johanna", "Just Like A Woman"). "Tambourine Man" is filled out to almost seven minutes, and it sounds great. All the other songs are worth listening to, at least. Side 2 is even better. Apart from some bad takes, like "Thin Man", most of the songs are at least as good as their originals. "Rolling Stone," "Pillbox Hat," and "Maggie's Farm" all sound great. Plus, some formerly acoustic songs become electric. "I Don't Believe You" and "One Too Many Mornings" sound much better here than on the original recordings. All in all, this album is well worth getting, and I think deserves a 10.

[Special author note: 'Maggie's Farm'? Where the hell did he find 'Maggie's Farm' on here? I have an official non-pirated release, and it ain't present! Criminy on a shoestring! In any case, I reiterate that the sound often sucks and this is extremely valuable as a historic document, but one can hardly prefer any of these versions, especially on the acoustic half, to the originals.]

Simon <> (05.09.2000)

I was appalled by your review of Live 1966. There, I said it. I can't comprehend how you can be a Dylan fan (or perhaps fanatic!?) and dislike this album. No Dylan release previous to this translates anything close to the intensity of this performance. Dylan's vocals are at their most raw and powerful, sneering his way through both the acoustic and the electric sets. And the arrangements! Every song is an improvement on the original (taking listeners like you out of their stale, studio polished, musical comfort zone) with the exception of "she belongs to me" and "Baby Blue", which yearn for extra backing.

And as for this being a listenable record only because of its historical significance - well that's just WRONG. Although Dylan's plead, "if you only just wouldn't clap so hard" is humorous, and his order to the Hawks "play fucking loud!" highly appropriate, the goings on between the tracks are most definitely asides to the actual performance.

A final note - I know this is pedantic, but if you listen carefully, when Dylan says "I don't believe you - you're a liar" etc., he's not responding to the purist who shouts out "Judas!" but a different purist who yells out something in the order of "blah blah blah Dylan sold out"

[Special author note: Simon's preliminary notes are just the problem - over the years, I'm painfully becoming aware that there are way too many Dylan fanatics in this world, and the world sure don't need no Dylan fanatics just like it sure don't need no Lynyrd Skynyrd or AC/DC fanatics. Also, I never said the record is unlistenable: but, just like Altamont and Woodstock, this concert has become a symbol of its time, and like every symbol, its original meaning is shallower than whatever ensued. Even so, I gave it an overall rating of twelve, and I do not dislike any record with an overall rating of more than nine, so no slandering please. As for every song being an improvement on the original... well, even if you disregard the crappy sound quality, I simply can't see how 'Desolation Row' without its fascinatingly complex guitar lines can be an improvement. Not that I dislike live albums, mind you - I'm all for live quality and all for changes. Bah.]

Sean Hutchinson <> (04.10.2000)

7 - I tend to agree with you on this one. I bought a tape of the ‘electric’ half of the show in 1983, and having heard all the hype about it, I was disappointed. Only “Tell Me, Momma” made it really worth buying as a bootleg tape, although the electric version of “Follow You Down” is very good. As for the acoustic tracks, they’re good, and some are indeed as good as the studio recordings. However, I was amazed by the general critical consensus when this was finally officially released - all the critics seemed to treat it as a lost masterwork. However, as with The Basement Tapes, the hype wasn’t really justified, and, after all, why did it take the record company, and Dylan, to release them both - obviously because they didn’t believe they were anything special.

Raghu Mani <> (27.12.2000)

This deserves at least a 9, maybe even a 10. If a point has to be taken off it is because of the acoustic side has a couple of weak moments on it. I don't think, as you do, that the version of 'Desolation Row' is a bore but it is certainly not as effective as the one on Highway 61 Revisited and the version of 'Tambourine Man' is a little jarring. The electric side is however a triumph and nothing, not even the sometimes poor sound, can diminish it for me.

Didier Dumonteil <> (27.02.2001)

I agree with you M.Starostin:this album is  mainly of historical interest.The accoustic section wears out quickly;you are absolutely correct about "desolation row".The marvelous parts of guitar get completely lost live.Ah! had he made an electric version of this masterpiece....

THe electric side is much more interesting;tell me momma is catchy,one too many mornings very different from the studio version therefore absorbing.LIke a rolling stone with is rebel attitude is worthwhile,the best live version of the song.Gary Davis's baby let me follow you down is better on the last waltz,the Band's farewell concert.

All in all,it's certainly a good record but not as essential an item the critics usually say.

Christophe Veyrat <> (18.08.2001)

i love this album. the electric part is as raw and wild as it can be. as for the accoustic, i wonder how you can prefer the album version of 'it's all over now baby blue'. this version is a killer. the voice is from outer space and the way he sings it enhances the lyrics so much. the same applies to 'visions of johanna'.

Kerist Wood <> (16.10.2001)

Man, this is amazing. The acoustic side rocks. Am i the only one who feels totally and utterly engulfed by this set??? It sounds like bob is right next to you!!! Do you feel that sound??? Goosebumps!!! Ahhh.

Kerist Wood <> (24.10.2001)

Okay, I've got over the initial overwhelming sense of awe this album gives. I can now give a reasonably objective review. Mr. S, are you just insulting the first disc because you don't like folk music? Or Dylan's image as a solo troubadour? I'm not sure, I just get that feeling...But, who am I to say, I am a folkie (a folk - rocker) at heart, so, maybe my view of what he does on that first half is a little different. How he plays is little other than, AMAZING. I really find it hard to pass up any of these versions because of the ethereal energy that is placed in them. Dylan's voice, straining and feeling his way around the loaded lyrics is intriguing- let alone ENTERTAINING as HELL. This is why, I cant understand why you find the version of 'desolation row', 'a bore'. There is something kind yet sinister about the was he strums those slightly rearranged chords and utters those opening lines 'Theyre selling postcarrrdss of the hangiiinnng'. He does a marvellous rendition of 'just like a woman', with that great guitar intro. You don't seem to mind when Dylan rearranges certain songs into 'big band' guises later in his career, and say that, that is just how it is arranged. So, how can you mind Dylan working this classic at a time when he was peaking his acoustic/voice blend (as well as his rock blend)??? Not too mention the perfect harp work, as emotionally charged as it ever got. And isn't it the great emotion that we all love Dylan for? As for 'Visions...', this version easily gets an equal amount of turns in the cd player as the Blonde on Blonde version. Sorry if I've offended you but, this acoustic set...'rocks'...*irony anyone*?

However, as equal as the two cds are...I must admit I felt the tension in my stomach just waiting to get thru the first to chuck on the second, (it was the anticipation!!!). 'Baby Let Me Follow you down' and 'Tell Me Mama' are fantabulous! As is 'Leopard Skin Pill Box Hat' and 'Ballad of a Thin Man' - despite the hardly audible classic refrain 'Mister Jooones', but, again, apart from that- even moodier than the album cut! and just as well performed! Maybe I've come across to strongly in favour for Dylan here to be 'objective'. But then again, maybe it' just a great album...

Jacob Gonzales <> (06.06.2002)

I can't help but notice how off your review of Live 66 is.

It seems that many (commercial) reviews give it lower ratings than it deserves.

Dylan is a genius, as you say. Here is proof of his genius.

1) The acoustic set is amazing. I think I actually enjoy it more than the electric set. Here is why: First, his harmonica work is amazing, his control and what he expresses is incredible. I would say he was at his peak harmonically :) Every track has brilliant harp work, one of the reasons desolation row is not a "bore" is because of his amazing harp work on it. The two major harp solos on 'Mr. Tamborine Man' clearly are the highlight of the set, and IMO make this version **vastly** superior to the monotone album version. Second, Dylans vocals are also quite amazing. His pronunciation is flawless, his emphasis on parts of words it increadible, needless to say, very few people can ever sing like he does. I personally believe 'Just like a Woman' is better than the album version again, due to the harp solos and his singing. His singing in the first set is lifeless and very full of energy at the same time. I am still in awe of it. The version of "its all over now, Baby Blue" is also superior to the album version, since both version were basically solo acoustic, live 66 wins due to better vocals and harp work. I think those two reasons are what makes these versions, in general, better than the album version. As for "visions" and "fourth," I guess it really just depends on your preference.

2) As you mention, the electric set is great. I believe that Dylan really shows that he is one heck of a bad @ss. How he handles the crowd is great. All the songs are amazing, again, which dylan strong on the harp, though it is not a primary instrument, with a great back up band. 'Like a Rolling Stone' is the greatest version ever recorded. The intensity is unreal, he really was pissed off. "play fucking loud"

3) Dylans mind games are very interesting. He almost plays a reverse psycology on the audience. Officially, 6 of the 7 tracks on the first set were actually recorded with supporting members or a band, and 3, though less, of the second set were originally solo acoustic albums. This is very interesting because it actually shows that Dylans music really didn't change through the past 3 year; either format of song can easily be played electric or solo acoustic. But you already knew this.

So yes, historically, this is a great document, but musically, it is just as important, One of the 20th century's greatest artist at his peak. No artist at the time had to deal with confrontation like Dylan did, and no artist has created such amazing music in the face of it. It is *very* enjoyable.

Brian Blommer <> (31.01.2004)

I was playing this c.d. fuckin'loud when I first bought it, and when I got to the chatter before "Rolling Stone" I realized that perhaps every reviewer I'd ever read was wrong about the infamous order Dylan gave to his band to "play fuckin' loud." What he really said was "big fuckin' liar", reiterating what he had just said clearly into the microphone. Listen for yourself.

Certainly doesn't make for as interesting a tale, but it seems important enough to point out the truth when you stumble across it. I believe the reason so many people hear it wrong is that the band does indeed "play fuckin' loud" right after he says this in the background. I'm sure I'll hear a good share of responses insisting I'm wrong on this, but, again, listen for yourself.

Regan Tyndall <> (23.03.2006)

I would agree that this LP is slightly over-rated due to the preponderence of talk about its historical significance. But it is very entertaining and I'd give it an 8.

Essentially, this is the first "punk rock" tour, where an artist is taunting/challenging the audience to accept him or go home. That could be boring in itself but of course Dylan is the greatest songwriter ever, so he can get away with it.

I'm surprised though, George, to hear you say that you've never been batty about any bootleg. In the case of several artists (particularly after the 60s when the only live performances were on stage) bootleg/concert recordings often give the most representative picture. Doubly so in the case of Dylan, whose best work often falls to the studio floor. Paul Williams' "Performing Artist" books on Dylan make a persuasive case for this. [As a random example, take 'Caribbean Wind's' 1980 rehearsal, captured on bootleg -- one of the 10 or so greatest songs of Dylan's entire career -- compared to the 1981 version released on Biograph, a total piece of shit]. Anyway, I don't think the point of a live recording is to "beat" the studio versions; rather, it's an alternative. Dylan endlessly re-invents his own songs, so you can't really say you understand his performance of (insert given song) unless you've heard its progression over the years.

Anyway, what are those potshots you're taking at the acoustic songs? I hardly think 'Visions Of Johanna' is meaningless or whatever you called it. I'd agree that 'Desolation Row' didn't work as a solo-live performance, but not because it's worse than the Highway 61 version; you should just take it on its own terms. And unlike you, I find the harmonica flourishes here to be absolutely awe-inspiring, particularly on "Baby Blue" which completely outstrips the studio version in every way. The two harp-solos are heartbreaking.

But I wish Columbia would let someone more informed choose these archival releases. Live 1964 bites, in my opinion. Why they would release a drunken Dylan performance when he forgets half the words and plays some truly crap guitar is beyond me (you'll notice it if you can stay awake through the 37-minute songs). Especially when there were a doxen vastly superior shows available... if you don't believe me, ask the bootleggers!


Clark <> (13.01.99)

I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss the Basement Tapes. I do agree that the selection process for this set was seemingly haphazard. Let me quote from Clinton Heylin's excellent book Recording Sessions (1960-1994):

"Sadly, when this material was finally released in 1975, Robbie Robertson seemed determined to present a sleight of hand as the truth. Intermingling eight songs by the Band supposedly cut in the fall of 1967, Robertson sought to imply that the alliance between Dylan and the Band was far more equal than it was...In fact, the so-called Band basement tapes have nothing to do with the Dylan/Band sessions...two are actually 1975 recordings made at Shangri-La [studio]...[End quote]

Most, if not all, of the reviewers who rave about the basement tapes are lucky enough to have heard the several hours worth of tapes that circulate among collectors (5 CDs worth!). The rumor mill says that the next volume in Columbia's Bootleg Series will be a collection of songs from the basement tapes, presumably excluding the crappy Band cuts and with an eye toward quality unheard pieces -- Heylin and Greil Marcus both rave about "I'm Not There" and "Sign of the Cross," which would hopefully both be included. Columbia does have a Bootleg Series release in store for 2000, but we will have to wait and hope that we will finally have an accurate representation of those 1967 sessions.

Kelly Laabs <> (22.04.2000)

this wasn't released when it was recorded for a reason. It doesn't link Blonde with Harding at all. It links Live '66 with Skyline, I'm slightly disappointed with the lack of sincerity this album has. This album is funny, but call me lactosentolerant, cause I'm getting a lot of cheesy cheesy bottles of Bread.

Fredrik Tydal <> (16.07.2000)

I more or less agree with you. This should have been a single CD, if not even a single LP originally. I mean; what interest do I have in songs the Band recorded in 1975, with no connection to the 1967 basement sessions whatsoever? And, personally, I see the charm in "This Wheel's On Fire" and find it to be one of the clear high-lights of the album. I think it captures Bob is one of those rare moods, kind of like in "Idiot Wind". No bombast there at all.

<> (17.08.2000)

your wrong..'.tears of rage' is the most boring number on this LPall of dylans originals are brilliant and some of the overated bands are too

Sean Hutchinson <> (04.10.2000)

6 - I rate this a little more highly than you, because I think that overall most of the songs are good, but, there’s nothing great here.

Caligula King <> (06.12.2000)

A few words about Dylan's The Basement Tapes. I suppose I went through the classic Dylan "trajectory of taste": enjoyed the well-known hits - "Tambourine Man", "Like a Rolling Stone", etc. Then moved onto the early folk-oriented albums, the so-called protest albums. Then matured and learned to appreciate Dylan's high-water mark - Blonde on Blonde, Blood on the Tracks, etc. And cruised along for many years, ignorant of the deeper pleasures to be found in such masterpieces as John Wesley Harding. And that strange album badly-recorded in a basement with The Band. But I arrived at the Basement Tapes via an alternate route; from Music From Big Pink and The Band to The Basement Tapes. And in many ways I find it the most moving, revelatory album of Dylan's career. For all sorts of reasons. The first thing that struck me on listening to this album the first couple of times was the sheer sense of enjoyment conveyed by all the musicians considered. A sheer sense of fun. The loose drumming, casual horn blowing, a pinched guitar tone that sounds like Robbie Robertson is almost struggling to come up with guitar lines on the spot. And Dylan's singing is playful, mocking, blurred and slurred. Check out "Million Dollar Bash". And this sense of playfulness seemed at odds with the darker songs, in particular "Tears of Rage" and "This Wheel's on Fire". Repeated listenings have altered this view, modified and reconciled this apparent contradiction. And what finally sold me on this album is the atmosphere created by the ludicrous nature of the lyrics. Which is not to say that this is an overly poetic album in the traditional Romantic sense. It is poetic in the sense of classic nonsense verse; nursery rhymes and children's games, songs half-remembered by each generation. The lyrics seem to reflect the instrumentation - off centre, strange, almost as if the artists are reaching into an ancient reservoir of myth and story and tall tales. Greil Marcus' liner notes say it best: " knowing as the old man of the mountains." (Both my vinyl and cd copies print Marcus' excellent notes in full. The cd is one of those double-thickness boxes with space in the middle for the comprehensive notes in the form of a booklet. There is also a one-cd- thickness box minus the notes. Try and buy the liner notes, if possible). And I also believe that "Bessie Smith" and "Ain't No More Cane" are some of the best things The Band have ever committed to tape. Basement Tapes is an incredible document. Patchy, yes. But a patchwork of many subtle hues and shades and colours. It sounds corny, but Dylan and The Band sing with a passion and an honesty rarely found on record.

Raghu Mani <> (27.12.2000)

A little inconsistent but not as much as you seem to believe. I'd give it an 8. Dylan isn't trying to be poetic or profound here - he's just having fun. I see a lot of similarities between this and Nashville Skyline. They aren't all that similar musically but the simplicity of the material along with Dylan's sheer exuberance seems to unite them in some way.

Didier Dumonteil <> (27.02.2001)

It took a lot of nerve to write these lines about the basement tapes,an icon for which five stars are de rigueur in every rock guide of the planet.And I congratulate you!It had to be done!

odds and sods would have been an appropriate title for this spotty -to put it mildly-collection.OK for the best track "tears of rage" the only one in which we feel some emotion."million dollar bash" "apple sucking tree "or "going to Acapulco "are gentle ditties ,by no means vintage Dylan (or Band).Ain't no more cane is better on the woodstock live version (see the Band BOx set :across the great divide)

Much ado about-almost-nothing,as Willy would say.

Chris Papadopoulos <> (07.03.2001)

Just a small point ... 'Tears of Rage' was co-written by Richard Manuel of the Band. I know you won't believe me, but their take on it on Music From Big Pink , slower and laced with mournful horns, is even better than this. Truly. Dylan sings this well, but Manuel makes me cry. Nearly.

<> (08.03.2001)

I can remember being in college in upstate New York in 1970. I was visiting a friend when he put on a scratchy thick vinyl album that he pulled from a plain white sleeve.

It was the basement tapes. Since that day those songs have had a special place in my heart. Living only 30 miles from Woodstock , it seemed like a world away in place and time. I can't count all the snowy winter evenings I spent listening to it. All the mystery and magic of Dylan and the Band are contained on those profound, funny and just plain strange songs. When the official release appeared the only disappointment was that it didn't contain all the songs. The Band songs are a bonus even if they are not technically basement songs. Give it it's do, There has never been anything like it.

Glenn Wiener <> (08.10.2001)

Cute in an oddball way. Certainly lacking some oomph as tracks like 'Don't Ya Tell Henry' and 'Long Distance Operator' were few and far between. Probably because Levon Helm was absent from the Band during the recordings of these tracks. Levon certainly was a talented drummer and vocalist in his day.

The thing you can not deny is that Dylan recorded quite af ew ear catching tunes on this batch. 'Tears Of Rage' and 'This Wheel's On Fire' are the cream of the crop for Mr. Dylan and even his vocals sound pretty good to my ears. 'Apple Suckling Tree', 'Clothes Line Saga', 'Open The Door Homer', and 'Yea Heavy And A Bottle of Bread' are pretty noteworthy. Gosh those titles are so out of the ordinary. Anyway, a good if not spectacular release. Nice comment on the length issue being put out to two CD's.

Niklas Strömberg <> (03.12.2001)

Maybe a 6, but if you really want to see the brilliance of the music recorded in Big Pink, you should check out the Bootlegs The Genuine Basement Tapes and A tree with Roots.

Addam Medina <> (09.09.2002)

I agree with you that the record is pretty spotty, lots of throwaways like "Tiny Montgomery" and such keep it from being a classic album, I have read all kinds of reviews, studies, and things about these sessions comparing the songs with alot of the truly oddball americana numbers on The American Folk Anthology and getting all literate and trying to de-code these relatively simple numbers... I think such actions are ridicuous, It is well documented that most of the time Bob and The Band drank a little beer and smoked a little weed than went down into the basement to have fun....This album does show bright spots of absolute brilliance, however it should be taken for what it is: Some guys getting together to jam, and recording for themselves, never meaning for it to be released.....( I must disagree and say the "Going To Alcupulco" is a gorgeous song, easily as good as "Tears of Rage")

David Dickson <> (21.02.2004)

Wow, George must have a headache today. Me being a fanatical fan of this album, that's the only reason I can presently think of for him giving the Basement Tapes anything less than a 9. When I first listened to this, I vowed beforehand to conveniently ignore the fact that this was a Bob Dylan work, and hence forgive any banality in the lyrics. Call me crazy, but I think the Band really inject some inspiration into these sessions. These songs, no matter how off-the-cuff they get, stand head and shoulders above the spared-down tunes on John Wesley Harding, recorded the same year as this. The organs, horns, and accordions really add some spice to the arrangements that was sorely missing from the acoustic-guitar-and-rhythm-section minimalness of JWH. Meanwhile, the melodic skills of the Band's songwriters and instrumentalists help all these songs go down easy, like a spoonful of sugar. I would compare this album favorably to Exile on Main Street, the other widely acclaimed double-LP reservoir of Americana from the era. Except whereas that album was mean and decadent, this one is calm and reflective. They're both grungy and off-the-cuff, but that's partially the point. That makes the rare moments of balladic grandeur, such as "Tears of Rage", "Nothing Was Delivered", and "This Wheel's on Fire", all the more poignant. The song selection and song order are just fine, even if they do overrepresent the Band's true contributions in the sessions and leave out a few of Dylan's gems (this is all according to my friend who actually listened to the 5-CD bootleg. I'm just taking his word for it). Far be it for me to believe the All Music Guide, but I'm afraid I have no choice but to take their side and proudly call the Basement Tapes one of the greatest double-albums of the 1970's. Or 1960's, whichever you prefer. It's not as good as Blonde on Blonde or Blood on the Tracks, but considering the man we're talking about here, that's hardly the point.

Sven Olsen <> (04.05.2004)

It's strange but I completely agree with everything you've said about John Wesley Harding, Nashville Skyline & Self Portrait but I completely disagree with your take on The Basement Tapes. "Goin' To Acapulco" is an absolutely brilliant follow up to the great "Tom Thumb's Blues" but much more moving and beautfully sung; to label "Katie's Been Gone" is silly does Richard Manuel a great disservice as it is one of his most thoughtfully crafted, achingly sung gems. Same goes for "Orange Juice Blues," which contains the most original "blues" progression ever (give it a listen, it's very clever). And "Too Much Of Nothing," "Nothing Was Delivered," "Ruben Remus" and "THis Wheel" are better than anything on "Blonde On Blonde," (except maybe "Sooner of Later" and "I Want You).

Rolando Aponte <> (16.07.2004)

George - I'ts amazing how do I agree with all of your Bob's album ratings but perceive that in this one you're completely off the mark. Yes, no song remains in your conscience as outstanding, but these are very decent songs. The whole product is well above average - just notice how everybody's picking different songs here. At the end, there's something for everybody ....and yes, 'Tiny Montgomery' is a filler - but the only one here.


Brian Blacklow <> (05.12.99)

I'm not eaxctly sure what you mean when refer to the Band's banal country style when review JWH... the band pretty much invented that sound your describing one year later with Music from big Pink....

[Special author note: yeah, a little chronological inaccuracy on here. I apologize. What I really meant to say was that Dylan's 'country approach' on here has a weird, mystical flavour, which the Band never managed, or wanted to, have.]

Fredrik Tydal <> (13.03.99)

I agree completely with you on this one, George. But it sure took a while to get into this album; unlike Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde On Blonde which I both liked immediately. It's kind of Neil Young's After The Goldrush - which also leaves one unimpressed after the first listen. But it grows on you. I agree with you on most of the songs except "The Ballad Of Frankie Lee And Judas Priest". I don't know what to say, I love that one. The guitar playing is great - that lead-in sets the mood for the song. It tells an intriguing story (which I still don't fully understand) and Bob narrates it good; his voice is in such good shape on this album. I tell you; lie down comfortably, put on your headphones, close your eyes and listen to the five and a half minutes that is "The Ballad Of Frankie Lee And Judas Priest" and you will get into the mood to even appreciate the harmonica part at the end. And "All Along The Watchtower" is of course superior to the Hendrix cover - that goes without saying. A solid nine out of ten.

Kelly Laabs <> (22.04.2000)

From the first time I heard this album, the first Dylan Album I bought without knowing what I was getting myself into, I thought this is Bob Dylan. This is a Genius. When I play guitar for people I always plays one if not two song from this album. This album really recaptured me after hearing the basement tapes.

Sean Hutchinson <> (04.10.2000)

7 - A very good, rather than a great, Dylan album. As you say, it’s a little on the short side, and even the best track, “All Along The Watchtower”, is over in a flash. However, I do love “Frankie Lee”.

Raghu Mani <> (27.12.2000)

Pretty much agree with you here. The only thing I'd disagree with is your comment about 'Frankie Lee and Judas Priest' which I think is an absolutely fascinating song. I still don't know what it's all supposed to mean but it has this dark atmosphere that simply grabs me and doesn't let go till the end. I play this track more often than any other on this album.

Zach Smith <> (01.12.2002)

I think that 'Old Brown Shoe' is a ripoff of 'Drifter's Escape'. Wouldn't you agree? [I wouldn't - G.S.].

Michael Danehy <> (07.04.2003)

Really atmospheric, this one. Unlike bloated prog-rock outfits such as Genesis and Jethro Tull, Dylan only needs an accoustic guitar, bass, drums, and his vocal cords to transport the listener to another place. My favorite songs are the title track and "All Along the Watchtower" but they are all great in their own way.

"Watchtower" has to be heard in its original version, period. Its spooky, gothic country vibe gives me chills. Jimi Hendrix's version is good for hard rock psychedelia but nowhere near as transcendent. OTOH, Hendrix did the music world a favor by making the song into a hit, otherwise it may have been unjustly forgotten.

My only complaint is that the out of tune, simplistic guitar strumming makes the album hard to take. Sure it is supposed to be "stripped down" and all that, yet imagine how much _better_ these numbers could have been with more professional playing. Like that "St Augustine" track would have sounded infinitely better. Almost perfect anyhow. 14/15.

<> (09.04.2004)

My favourite Dylan's album. Very Christian. Belongs to my small 'Christianity for Dummies' collection together with Cohen's Various Positions and some Lewis books.

A very nice album. And the last true Dylan album.

Dave Dickson <> (27.09.2005)

Nobled Lon Denob.

Oooooooh. . . this is an over-minimal monotonous bore, but I'll give it an 8. It still has some of that intangible Dylan magic that makes you love the guy when you really want to hate 'im instead. I'd say that the title track is a classic, "I Pity the Foo! Immigrant" AHAHA AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHHHahuhhm that didn't work shoulda been a hit, and it's my favorite song on the album. Other highlights include "Dear Landlord" and "Frankie Lee"--there's just something about that damned endlessly repetitive three-chord riff that gets under your skin--hell, maybe he was trying to invent punk?--and, of course, "Drifter's Escape." A goddamn DANCEABLE song from the Dylan, and I kid you not.

However, in my humble assessment, the tippity boringly monotonously too-fast tempo of the rhythm section just ruins the emotion of too many of these songs. And "As I Went Out One Morning," "The Wicked Messenger," and "I'll Be Your Baby" are, in the words of Mark Prindle, balls. That's my opinion, and I'm sticking to you.

No, seriously, that's my best guess. I've run that anagram over in my head for OVER A YEAR now and I just can't decipher it. Help me out, Mensa members.


Kelly Laabs <> (22.04.2000)

This too is an Album I can't help but cover all the time. mostly because these tunes are so simple, I can do anything with them. 'I threw it all away', 'Staying Here With YOu', 'To be Alone With YOu', and on and on all good.

Sean Hutchinson <> (04.10.2000)

6.5 - The history of this is well known, I guess. “Lay Lady Lay” was written for the film “Midnight Cowboy”, but wasn’t finished in time. Then, Dylan wanted to record a duet with Johnny Cash (heaven knows why?!), and that was one more song. And, suddenly, Dylan found he had just enough material to put out an album, so he did. And it’s good, but not really essential listening for Dylan fans.

Raghu Mani <> (27.12.2000)

I'd make this a 7 too. The main problem, IMHO, is that it is too short. If Dylan had taken some the best material from the Self Portrait sessions and put it on this album then it would have been worth an 8.

Antonio Real Morillo <> (10.01.2001)

Agreed. Too short. Great "Lay, Lady, Lay". But the duet is a bullet right through your soul, if you've got one. Or maybe I'm too too fond of simple little folkie girl-I-miss-so-much songs sung by husky voices like Mr Cash's.

Didier Dumonteil <> (26.02.2001)

It wasn't Dylan that began the country craze . the Byrds did the year before.It is a minor album.I think that from 1969 onwards ,till 1974,all his albums are either pleasant at best -nashville,self-portrait- or boring-new morning,planet waves,dylan(have you heard about this one?not a major loss because the only worthwhile track is a cover of M.Bojangles)

Nashville is pleasant ,nice,Dylan seemed here to taste a relaxing life.Why not after all he had done?Only "I threw it all away " might refer to a restless past,but anyway 'I was mad,never knew what I had...".The main alteration is the voice,it was hoarse,husky;it became clear,reedy.As for Johnny Cash,have you heard his magnificent latest CD?

Glenn Wiener <> (10.12.2001)

A certainly agree with you about Dylan's singing tone here. Very smooth sounding. You can actually understand what he is saying. A little incorrect on the song classifications. They are not all ballads. 'To Be Alone With You' and 'Country Pie' rock quite a bit for me. Some of the others are more on the order of country shuffles rather than balladeering. A good album for those who don't like the philosophical sound of Mr. Dylan. However, Blonde on Blonde is more approriate for those who value his lyrical style. YOu guys make the choice.

Bob Josef <> (14.03.2003)

A simple Dylan album. Not simplistic, but simple, musically and, now, lyrically. Which upset the people who liked the density of Highway 61 and Blonde on Blonde. But why shouldn't Bob be allowed to do something lighthearted? I like it a lot. It's so atypical of him, though -- the mellow voice, the straightforward love song lyrics, even the jaunty, smiling face on the cover. Bob doesn't have be the Prophet of the Ages all the time! The only slight disagreement is on the new "Girl from the North Country." Despite the presence of Johnny, I like the original better, because this version is taken at such a dragging tempo. I developed a fondness for "I Threw it All Away," because of its placement in the Kevin Costner film For the Love of the Game. It was like a sweet flower in that dung heap of a movie. By my favorite is also "Lay, Lady, Lay." One of the first singles I heard a lot when I first started to listen to AM radio at the age of 11. Sounding very haunting and mysterious to me at the time, it was a lot better introduction to Mr. Dylan for a young kid than, say "Desolation Road" might have been!


Mike Zupan <> (11.11.99)

I agree with you, this album is not THAT bad! The only problem is, that Bob Dylan could do a whole lot better!

Dave <> (20.01.2000)

I agree with your review of self-portrait-as would even the most avid Dylan fans. The only song that I could really ever put up with is 'Alberta #2'. But of all my cds, that one's got to be the one I listen to the least. Actually, I'm surprised that it's still in stores. It's a pretty poor album....even his beard looks bad!

Kelly Laabs <> (22.04.2000)

The cheese factory strikes again... and somehow makes a nice album.

<> (06.07.2000)

I agree with you 100 percent on this album. Actually, I think I like the album more than you do. You see, I can find merit in everything Dylan does. I mean, come on, it's Dylan! No, but seriously, this album kicks ass. As a matter of fact, I listen to this album just as much, and maybe more, than some of Dylan's acknowledged "masterpiece." Why? Because it's damn relaxing, chilled, always fun and interesting, and surprisingly melodical and beautiful. I love Self Portrait. Why the bad reviews? An issue of Rolling Stone I have calls it easily the worst double album released by a major artists. Come on now. "Days of 49," "Alberta," "The Mighty Quinn," "Copper Kettle," both "Little Sadies," "Minstrel Boy,"...these are great songs, regardless of who wrote them or who's playing them. They're highly listenable and.....accesible! Hell, I would call this one of Bobbie's most accesible albums. I don't know. This is an underrated gem and I just wanted speak it.

John McFerrin <> (15.08.2000)

George, I think I've figured out why it is that people hate SP so much but mostly enjoy NS. See, when people first hear NS, they think, "hmm, a hard-core country album. Different, and hey, I don't really much like country, but what the heck, Dylan's doing it, and he wrote the stuff himself, so it must be good." When they hit SP, though, it finally hits the listener - "holy shit, Dylan's doing _country_. EEEEEWWW! And they're covers! YUCK!"

Of course, these people are idiots. I bet that if I combined the NS and SP tracks into one playlist and randomized the tracks, I couldn't tell the difference, and neither could anybody else.. Both are enjoyable background music with good playing. They're not amazing, but they're good.

I'd give each an 11 or so on the overall.

Sean Hutchinson <> (04.10.2000)

5 - This was a disappointment. For me, there’s nothing better than an average song anywhere here. I like his version of Elmore James’s “It Hurts Me Too”, and some of his other ‘covers’ are interesting, but let’s face it, this was Dylan being self-indulgent, recording some of his favorite songs, and not doing anything that special with them.

<> (21.10.2000)

It never ceases to amaze me how many avid Dylan listeners can dislike this album so much. It's filled to the brim with tasty little country grooves, and the live versions of "Rolling Stone" and "She Belongs To Me" are nothing short of fantastic. There's nothing wrong with Dylan letting loose and making a free-flowing album such as this, regardless as to whether or not he writes most of the songs. Besides, a lot of the cuts on this album are better than his original material from the mid-seventies.

Raghu Mani <> (27.12.2000)

My review of Nashville Skyline would probably have given you some indication about the way I feel about Self Portrait. Well, let's make it explicit - I hate it. There are about half a dozen good songs on it but the bad stuff completely overwhelms it. I really do not like his covers of 'the Boxer' or 'Blue Moon' and the Isle of Wight stuff is terrible. I'd give it a 3.

Didier Dumonteil <> (26.02.2001)

You're right M.Webmaster.Self-portrait is a better job than the overrated basement tapes.A masterpiece,this is definitely not but we may find siome good surprises as we listen...

For instance,all the tired horses:even Rolling Stone called it gorgeous.And if you don't like it,what a wonderful lullabye to SEND M.Sandman to your babies!Belle isle is a charming ballad in the Geordie/John RILey/House carpenter style,In brief,always these old british/scottish songs."copper kettle" a song about bootleggers was covered first by Baez on In concert vol1.Dylan's version is slower,but listenable."blue moon" might have been intended as a tribute to Presley.At the time ,he saw in in concert and he wrote "went to see the gypsy " after (new morning.).take a message to mary and boxer are OK but inferior to the S and G and Everly bros versions.There are some turkeys too.But if you can't say something nice about them...

Sergey Zhilkin <> (17.04.2001)

The first time Dylan makes an album without trying to tell you something. No protest songs, not much resonance but strong melodies are still here. Though, I admit that something rubs me against this album. I don't really know what. The songs are not bad, but this is a case when an album doen't have a chance to grow on you. Indeed, what, the heck, can grow on you here? So-so live version of 'Like a rolling stone' or these funny country covers? No. Selfportrait is a kind of album that brings nothing to you. Still, it's good. My rating is - 6.

Kevin MacNutt <> (02.07.2001)

Anyone who cannot appreciate Self Portrait has no heart nor soul. While this is no classic and there are plenty of tunes on it that are not great, I will never condemn this album to the point that most critics and sadly enough, most Dylan fans have. If all you want to label something dull and effortless, listen to Planet Waves, if you want bad, listen to Under A Red Sky, and if you want sacriledge, check out Saved or Slow Train Coming, but don't touch Self Portrait. Where Blonde On Blonde was revolutionary, innovative and groundbreaking; Self Portrait was cozy, charming and very human (and it is human to make some errors along the way). Remember Bob is only human and those who tend to look at him as a "God-figure" should give your Dylan records to your local charity shop since you are missing the point and do not have the intellegence to appreciate a person who is just one damn good artist.  SIDE NOTE: To the 15 year old girl who was praising Dylan for becoming a Christian and liking Saved for that reason,  your comment was a pure insult to people who are religious and not of the "Christian Faith." So little 15 year old girl, your attitude, and many others is exactly why I am questioning Christianity and thinking about Judaism.

Christophe Veyrat <> (18.08.2001)

i love dylan, but this one can hardly be saved. yes, dylan has every right t record what he wants, and i even find it healthy that he too has his weak spots. self portrait is just that. the live versions are tolerable, a few songs are ok, like 'all the tired horses', 'belle isle' and 'alberta'. or even 'take a message to mary' and 'it hurts me too' (check out clapton's version though). but the rest is really not what i like in dylan. which is why i don't think it was overrated, which is now i understand popular to say. i happen to prefer the album columbia released as retaliation when dylan briefly signed with geffen, named dylan (i'm not sure it was released on cd). not very good either, and only covers, but more fun than self portrait.

Niklas Strömberg <> (03.12.2001)

It is a decent album, but not worth a 7. A 5 is more accurate. I always get the feeling as listening to a Bootleg album when listening to Selfportrait with its mixture of really wacky stuff. As background music it is a real killer!

<> (11.01.2003)

Self Portrait is not that bad, I would agree with u there. But I really DONT know why u would give it a rating that is much higher than the rating of basement tapes. I mean, in the All music guide portrait gets a rating of 2 stars while the basement tapes gets a classic rating, and well deserved i might add

Richard Nightingale <> (14.01.2003)

Fully agree with you here, in fact I would be tempted to give it 14.The best way to appreciate this album is to judge it on it's own merits.To compare this album to Blonde On Blonde is rather foolish (Many rock critics do, you don't thank god!) I think Bob Dylan was a completely different person when he recorded this, listen how calm he sounds.He was 29 years old when he recorded this (Only four years older than me) but he sounds so much older, wiser and relaxed. 'Belle Isle' and 'Days of 49' are just as good as anything on Nashville Skyline. Oh yeah!! the rock critics love that one. Y' know the late sixties and early seventies was a very interesting time for American music.: The Byrds released Sweetheart Of The Rodeo, The Band released their self titled album, Dylan Released John Wesley Harding (His best I think), And The Grateful Dead Released Workingman's Dead. All of these albums were rooted in traditional country and folk music.Also they all came from unlikely sources I mean who would have thought that within a year of recording Aoxomoxoa the Dead would record an album stripped down to bare basics.And the same goes for Dylan, corkscrew hair and trippy lyrics to country gentleman in less than a year.Anyway back to Self Portrait, just as good as Nashville Skyline and better than New Morining (He sounds knackered on that album).Just before I go can you please give Sweetheart Of The Rodeo another spin. Your review of this album upset me a bit I'd give it 15 and i'm not joking I love that album.

Take me as I am or let me go!

Michael West <> (03.11.2005)

I find this album fascinating because of its reputation. I think it's actually a mediocre album at best, not a terrible one but not a particularly good one either...but what's really fascinating is that most people think of it as awful, and yet they've probably spent more time analyzing it than any other in the Dylan catalogue! Love it or hate it, it's a piece that just doesn't seem to fit into the puzzle.

The one thing I vehemently disagree about is the comparison to Nashville Skyline: that one is quite romantic and ballad-centered; this one is patchworky and all over the place in terms of mood. So I can absolutely see why people would like one and not the other, they seem to be very different albums as far as I'm concerned.

PS: I wrote a little musing on it at my blog ( and cross-posted at, both of which link to your review. Cheers!


Dave <> (24.01.2000)

I've always loved this album. Although, it does have it's flaws like the stupid "One More Weekend" blues song. Equally weak is annoying guitar work on "Time Passes Slowly" and those corny "la la la's" at the beginning of "Man In Me."

Sean Hutchinson <> (04.10.2000)

6.5 - Not a complete return to form, but some good stuff, and 2 very good ones in “If Not For You” and “New Morning”.

Raghu Mani <> (27.12.2000)

I like this album too but I'm not as enthusiastic about it as you are. The melodies are nice but the lyrics not so nice and the sweet Nashville Skyline voice is gone. Still, there are some very strong songs on this album - so I'll give it a 7.

Didier Dumonteil <> (27.02.2001)

I've never liked this album.It can boast no classics at all(unless the ditty "if not for you" counts.°The melodies are not particularly memorable,when there is one(if dogs run free )Really time passes slowly on this album.I must be honest:at the time 2 albums were always on my mind:plastic ono band and all things must pass-I agree with the web master,Harrison's IF not for you is better-THis was winter 1970-71,and for the time being ,Dylan was a spent force.

Antonio Real <> (17.03.2001)

My favorite here was "The Man In Me", but I didn't know why until I realized it was on "The Big Lebowski". It's incredible how if a song sounds familiar you immediately like it.

Sergey Zhilkin <> (20.08.2001)

So you, George, have a strange passion towards John Wesley Harding and as for me, I'm going to defend New morning 'on the lands and on the seas'. And that's not because I like pulling underrated albums out of dirt. Have you ever noticed that all songs Dylan recorded with the use of piano were rather successful (half of H61, some songs on BoB)? No? Anyway, Bob noticed it himself and probably because of this fact released an record full of great piano chords. Too many people say that they don't like Dylan because his music is so boring and lo-o-o-o-ong. If one thinks so, I advise him to go and listen to New Morning. Noone can deny that there're catchy melodies all over the album and that's the first time mr. Zimmerman uses a bunch of back-up vocals. That's a fine surprise.

I suppose that 1970 was a year of depression for poor Bob. No wonder - he had problems with his wife and critics panned previous record, thing that was least expected. Life is hard. But mr. Zimmerman finds strength and produces a rather optimistic album, filled with such memorable tunes as 'If not for you', 'Time passes slowly', 'Went to see the gypsy', 'New morning' and 'One more weekend'. Oh, sure we have a deal with two sucking stinkers 'If dogs run free' (I tried to like it, really, I told myself many times: 'he was in deep depression, I have to forgive him' - it didn't work) and 'Winterlude'. Skip them, or better rub these tracks on your CD with sand so you will never know what generic tunes Dylan can put out. Stick to highlights: could-have-been-great-pop-song title track, could-have-been-much-more-touching-song 'If not for you' and don't forget to dig short but catchy 'Father of night' where Dylan plays his favorite game 'how many rhymes can you think out to one word'.

I don't know whether the critics panned this effort (Mark Prindle surely did, though) but what I say is that: don't be a complete sod and miss this record. After hearing 80s stuff you can rush to this CD.

Pat <> (29.07.2003)

I just finished listening to this album straight through and I gotta say that it's an understated masterpiece for the fact that it accomplishes what it sets out to do. It's Bob's quiet piano album (like everybody's said) same way Nashville Skyline works, it's his hardcore country album. The songs that stick out are "If Not For You" "Day of the locusts" with the great organ and locust laid in (reminds me of summer) "The pictures were stained with tears and perspiration" great imagery. "Time Passes Slowly" has a great guitar part "Winterlude"'s a funny waltz that I like. And I think "Dogs Run Free" is great, even if it's a little too jazzy to fit the overall scheme of the album. New Morning's great, 'One More Weekend' - I guess I'm just a sucker for blues, and "The Man In Me" is my favorite track I can't believe u didn't make any mention of it, it's the best groove and 1 of my favorite love songs by Dylan*. I think the album's got a great overall feeling when played straight through, it's a great groove, the sum is better than the parts I think, like Harding. Check it out if u like Nashville, Harding and are in the mood for more quiet, less epic Dylan.

*Granted the only dylan albums I own are Freewheelin', Blonde on Blonde, Highway 61, John Wesley Harding, Desire, Blood on the Tracks and Bringing it all back home.

Richard Nightingale <> (17.05.2004)

If every new morning was like this one i'd be throwing myself out of the bedroom window! Without doubt this is Dylan's worst album from the seventies. 'If Not For You' and 'Sign On The Window' are very good songs.But the rest is terrible.Dylan's singing is pretty damn bad on this album. Croaky and lacking any emotion, it's far removed from the voice he used on John Wesley Harding. After this album was released he went into semi-retirement for three and half years. He probably realised he'd lost the plot and took the wise choice of sitting back for a while. When he came back in 1974 he went on the road with The Band and completely ignored this album.Not playing a single song from it. Silence speaks volumes sometimes. Ever heard any New Morning songs performed live? I doubt it. Dylan avoids this album just as much as i do.


Ward <> (19.08.2000)

Good call on 'Final Theme'! I don't listen to this album as much as it's so, well, repetitive. But 'Final Theme's variations on the other theme does have a yearning, keening quality to it that truly PULLS. It is the best song on the album.

Didier Dumonteil <> (27.02.2001)

A waste of money.Only one good track(heaven's door),and I don't agree with the webmaster's opinion:I do prefer the grandiose version on before the flood (out of sheer respect for the artist I pass the budokan reggae effort over in silence)

The movie was a turkey that nobody -either Dylan or Kristofferson and Coolidge-could act at all.

Sergey Zhilkin <> (30.04.2001)

'Knocking on Heaven's door' was planned to be a very gentle and sad ballad. And not a hard rocker by any means. Unfotunately, I've never heard the original on radio - only this awful hard rocking version by a shite band. Why are some people so dumb that it's hard for them even to get a hint in a lyrics. In fact, it's a song about peace and it must be sung in a very gentle way Dylan does. And not crying 'KNOCK, KNOCK, KNOCKING on Heaven's door' like these beer drunken suckers do!!!!!....

....thanks, I feel much better now. But the main gem of the soundtrack is surely 'Finale theme'. Strange, but I don't regret about money spent on only two songs. Maybe that means that they are really that great? And, of course, I agree with you that it's the best soundtrack ever made.

Fidel Juárez <> (03.04.2002)

Yep, some could say the movie's a stinker (especially those who apparently sat through the experience and feel that movies should be done according to their taste --why keep watching when apparently Dylan and co. can't act and it bothers them so?), but it's a film freak's must if only because it revels in Peckinpah's tender side ('Knockin' on heaven's door' mirrors perfectly the story) years before 'Unforgiven's blatant account of the moral position of killing in westerns, blah blah. You get my point. Beautiful, revisionist movie about people who can't literary ACT for good. See why Dylan's inescrutable yet charismatic pressence as an actor isn't to be dismissed quite rapidly as Didier did? Sigh.

Oh, but I do have a point, which is that I consider this as Dylan's truly most underrated album, enhanced by the general disdain from moviegoers, and the conception of soundtracks as marketing tools or poor symphonic wannabes. Self Portrait can motivate indeed absolute rejection from some, as well as sympathy from those who see it as Dylan's way of brushing extreme adulation off. Sort of a stack-o'tracks for Dylan. I mean, was he really trying to pull it off with a cover of "Blue Moon"? No, because it was a joke. I get it. He sang like a cartoon character on that one, but we're supposed to "like" it because it isn't serious. No tens for that one because it isn't suppose to deserve it (even though it's a masterpiece compared to The Basement Tapes), and yet, no one interested in Dylan can be indifferent to it, and some may even think (to some extent, I presume) that he could have had indeed a shot as a mere vocalist for generic country blues (Richard Manuel, anybody?) in spite of his considerable talent as a lyricist and his position as a rock pioneer. Not too far from reality when we consider that one early day he tried to emulate non other than Little Richard! But that reality is way buried under the fact that he's the same man who wrote (insert your favorite classic Dylan album here.)

I like it, I get it, but if I had to choose between both albums and hope for something that could help me understand or appreciate yet another side of Dylan, without theatricality, undoubtedly that album would be Pat Garrett.

(For more info read George Sarostin's review. And Self Portrait can be obtained through Audiogalaxy -although not "Final Theme"! from Pat Garrett, which I luckily did.)


Brian Blacklow <> (05.12.99)

While I agree that Planet Waves isn't a perfect album (mainly because of 'Wedding Song'), I think Bob's most underrated song ever (okay, tied with 'Black Diamond Bay' and the last song on Street Legal) is on this album: 'Dirge'. Beyond the fact that Bob manages to use the word "fiberglass" in a song (a feat I don't think any other artist has ever acehived), it mixes that Blonde and Blonde era wordplay ("like a slave in orbit"), with New Morning lonliness and the stubborn insitence that everything will be okay that he had in 1961 (you can draw a straight line from "when i leave New York I'll still be on my feet" to "I've paid the price of solitude, but at least I'm out of debt").... Furthermore, it perfectly foreshadows BOTT....

Eric-Scott Bloom <> (30.12.99)


Let's hear some of YOUR songs!

This review is such monumental bullshit.

[Special author note: please be sure to visit one of Eric-Scott's pages after you had enough of this here site. He is indeed an important, and often fascinating, modern artist with a lot of wit and talent.

(You couldn't tell it judging by the above comment, though. But believe me, so it is.)]

Steve Knowlton <> (03.02.2000)

The big problem with this album is that Bob didn't give the Band enough time to rehearse. From what I understand, he'd run through the songs once or twice and then record 'em, and it shows. For instance, on "You Angel You" there's a terrific bass line in the making, but Danko fluffs it at the end. One more take probably would have fixed it, but they didn't do one more take. The under-rehearsed feeling spoils a lot of these songs for me.


I've always loved 'Tough Mama''s really driving, melodious, and fun.

Richard James <> (07.08.2000)

I've got a soft spot for 'Wedding Song.' I know it's not too great and probably sounds better for following a lot of dross, but I think it has something that other good Dylan lyrics have: a mixture of the personal and the spiritual. Like most of Blood on the Tracks, Bob equates his own suffering in relationships with that of Christ on the Cross. Bob does this because he grew up with Judaeo-Christian imagery and because he's a bit of a drama queen. The closest song to 'Wedding Song' I can think of is 'I Believe in You', which is similarly good-but-not-good-enough. [His explicit 'religious' stuff does nothing for me usually, though 'Foot Of Pride' is fun.]

Incidentally, Bob is clearly quite interested in song types at this period; he must have gone to the dictionary for dirge, but ironically the song 'Dirge' is not a dirge at all. 'Wedding Song' he chose, I believe, because such songs are called hymnals in English and Ancient Greek literature and share the same word origins as 'hymn'. Bob mistakenly, or ingeniously, puts the two together and comes up with God-as-wife (which he does ad nauseam on BOTT and Desire; 'Shelter From the Storm' or 'Oh Sister,' anyone?).

<> (29.08.2000)

Disappointingly flaccid? A disaster? Did you give this album a 5 or a 1? This is arguably Dylan's most underrated album (I only have 10 of his albums, mind be careful, I might end up liking Self Portrait), and concerning the quality of the songs, his most misunderstood. There was only one song on this album that I didn't like ('Dirge'---gasp, that must mean I like 'Wedding Song'!!!), but first of all, let's concentrate on what you said, George (the comments in parantheses are my personal opinions). You spoke good about 'Forever Young' (both versions, I'm guessing...both are real highlights of this album), 'On a Night Like This' (a pleasant song, though the only song in Bob's catalouge where I can't stand his voice at times), 'Going Going Gone' (a pretty, moody number), 'Hazel' (which sounds suspiciously like 'Going Going Gone', but who cares, two for the price of one), 'Something there is about You' (one of Bob's most beautiful love songs), and suprisingly, you had something good to say about 'Dirge' (overlong and pointless...a real disappointment). So that leaves three songs that you didn't like...'Wedding Song' (a nice acoustic number, believe it or not), 'You Angel You' (pure filler, but nevertheless enjoyable) and I'm guessing, since you didn't mention it, 'Tough Mama'. In my opinion, not only is 'T.M.' the best song on the album (surprised?) being an irresistable, spectacular rocker, it may be one of his meanest songs ever (not coming close to 'Idiot Wind' of course). This album is not one of Dylan's worst...instead, one of his best.

Phillip Joy <> (01.10.2000)

Every comment made here about 'Wedding Song' seems to me to be totally pre-school. I've never heard a more heart-felt expression of love than on that song, and to think that it is on the same album as 'Dirge' just makes the whole thing all the more amazing. He captures both sides of one emotion perfectly. But, having said this, I know nothing, you know nothing. Let's stop trying to gain personal glory by second guessing someone who is so clearly our intelectual senior. Shut up.

Sean Hutchinson <> (04.10.2000)

Actually, this is a decent album. Dylan’s voice is shot, and the Band are less than at their best, but there are some real charmers on here, particularly “On A Night Like This”, and “You Angel You”, even though Dylan gets one of the verses wrong! It’s a real shame that “Nobody But You” was excluded!

Sergey Zhilkin <> (10.12.2000)

I bought this record today morning. My first Dylan's album (you may laugh but it was really hard to find ANY Dylan's albums in my favourite shops and as for this one I'd rather buy some 10/10 albums but there was only Planet waves). I don't know much about Dylan's albums so I comment on this album without any bias.

I liked this one very much, really. Ther's no bad (and even mediocre) songs and I insist on it. Such songs as 'Tough mama', 'Something there's about you', 'Forever young' (both versions), pretty 'On a night like this' and 'Going, going, gone' are real highlights and there's nothing you can do. Other song are listenable and most of them are enjoyable. Plus, why don't you like cover? Or do you prefer cover with all members of the band stupidly (angrily, mysteriously, cruely, winsomely - choose what you want) smiling? Nah, I don't like it. Planet waves cover surely isn't masterpiece but it's still better than photo with the members of the band. My rating is 9/10 (well, maybe I'll change it after listening to some of 'never to be topped' albums)

Raghu Mani <> (27.12.2000)

I seem to like this album a lot more than you do. There is no really weak stuff here (I think 'Wedding Song', for all its over-emoting, is quite decent) but no really strong songs with the exception of 'Forever Young' and 'Dirge' (yeah it's slow but it does have some of Dylan's loveliest lines - "I paid the price of solitude but at least I'm out of debt"). I'd give it a 7 but it is not that far from being an 8.

Didier Dumonteil <> (27.02.2001)

The best songs on this album are what they call in cinematographic jargon "sleepers" .They are waiting..

Take "forever young":i didn't notice it on planet;when it was performed live in the last waltz movie or on Budokan I was won over:not only by  the haunting tune,but the lyrics too.It's got such an universal appeal you could sing that for a birth,for a christening (gulp),for a birthday,for a wedding,for a funer..ouch,sorry,too late for that matter."Going going gone" improved a lot. on the Budokan album and even more during the rolling thunder review(see the bootleg:hold the fort for what it's worth). Some other songs could have been revamped that way:dirge ,a bit stodgy,you angel you even the corny wedding song!

Conclusion :the Band (whom I enjoy though) were totally incompetent here.NOte that this album and the next one were first released on the Asylum label.I've been told that Dylan agreed to get back home (CBS) after the label agreed to release the notorious basement tapes.Eventually the 2 asylum productions are on CBS too again.

<> (08.03.2001)

I think people who don't like this album are missing  some of Dylan's best singing. 'Dirge' is probably the most haunting and powerful song he's ever written. Also contains Robbie Robertson's best guitar solo. Turn this one up loud in the car and sing along. It's one of my favorites. But then again, after Bob I'm a Band fan.

Christophe Veyrat <> (18.08.2001)

i do think this album has been underrated. it may not be that good musically but it's part of what makes it interesting. i take it as "home album", just a bunch of torch ballads as he wrote on the sleeve, nothing more. the problem with dylan is that we always expect something great from him. but why should he be a genius constantly? one good thing about him is that there is always a gem to be found, either a whole song or just a line, on all his albums. and on this album there are a few. 'dirge' is to me a great song, very poignant, and i love the music, once more fitting perfectly the words. there are quite a few great images in it too. the beginning of something there is about you is amazing, the instruments coming in little by little in an eerie atmosphere and then his ragged voice, ad those lyirics "twilight on the frozen lake/ northwind about to break" this to me is as powerful as the last two lines of all along the watchtower. and if i don't care too much for you angel you or on a night like this, i still like 'wedding song' for its honesty. i think it's much better than 'sara' on DESIRE. a funny anectode, long ago i was in england staying with a middle age conservative lady who thought dylan was just a rock singer with weird lyrics, and no poetry at all. i tried to show her his lyrics were great and i gave her the lyrics of blood on the tracks and planet waves (the music sheets). of course the song she looked at was 'tough mama' and i remember her reading aloud in a very solemn way tough mama, meat shaking on your bones. then she turned to me and said, nice poetry indeed! well, i like the song, a lot.

Niklas Strömberg <> (03.12.2001)

It is a really good record actually, but is has one big problem. I seldom find my self listening to it! But when I do I get couth up by it. It's a moody album witch should be listened to in a dark and quite room. But why wasn't there a 20 second gap included between the 2 versions of "Forever Young" when it was transferred to the CD-medium? You totally miss the 2-side LP feeling. This album deserves a strong 7 (Or a week 8 on LP).

Rob C <> (20.05.2002)

I don't really want to get into an argument about Planet Waves (just to say I think its great and that i much prefer it to New Morning), but I just wanted to comment on the bit in your review about "Wedding Song". You say "the stupid 'Wedding Song' that closes the album - Bob singing straightforward love lyrics in an overemoting voice?".

It has been suggested that there is much more to it. Bob claims at the beginning that he 'loves her more than life itself' etc, however the focus changes dramatically saying ' whats lost is lost, we can't regain what went down in the flood' and that he doesn't wish to 'remake the world at large' because he loves her 'more than all of that' (clearly a reference to the fact that he could not continue to live by her wishes and hoping for her to accept his decision to go on tour).

I think this song is Dylan's first parting address to his wife, and not nearly as straightforward as you suggest. I like it a lot.

John Caulfield <> (18.04.2003)

I regard this as one of Dylan’s most underrated albums. As I love folk-based chord structures and simplicity of style, I rate ‘Dirge’ and ‘Wedding Song’ as two of his best ever songs. Other stand-outs for me are the guitar intro to ‘Going, Gone’ and, of course, the slow version of ‘Forever Young’ (also beautifully covered by Joan Baez). Furthermore, I cannot agree that this album is short on melodies. I am person who rates melody as the most important aspect of music, and each of the songs I have mentioned above have distinct, stand-out and memorable melodies that I can bring to mind now, in the silence of my study, and sing out loud. Reading the names of the tracks on say,‘Infidels or Street Legal or Empire Burlesque, ’however, does not cause too many tunes to come rolling into my mind and some of the tracks mean nothing to me at all, despite my having heard the albums numerous times. The problem with Dylan, if you can classify this as a ‘problem’ is that you simply have to have all his albums, as each one contains some absolute, exquisite gem of a song that has the power to express the inexpressible, and, therefore, to transcend the world as we know it. Most of his albums, however, even the ‘big’ ones like Highway 69 have their share of throwaways – but then there isn’t an artist in the world that doesn’t include throwaway or simply amusing or distracting tracks to lighten the load and provide background and contrast to those standout / ‘big’ songs. For sheer volume, range and depth of expression, there can be no doubt that Dylan is the greatest singer-songwriter-poet-musician-performer of all time. About six months ago I had my first opportunity to see the Man himself performing in London and, believe me, he still has the power to entrance.


Steve Knowlton <> (03.02.2000)

That's Richard Manuel singing "I Shall Be Released."

Ryan Mulligan <> (05.03.2000)

I just got this yesterday, and i'm pretty much satisfied by it. You forgot to mention the great 'It's Alright, Ma' version on here. I get bored by the band's playing here too, but the Dylan parts more than make up for it. I don't care for 'Knockin' On Heaven's Door', but i enjoy 'Rainy Day Women' with it's funny, new lyrics. I'll give it a 7. I'd also like to know who's singing on some of those band songs. One voice is pretty scary! BTW, Dylan sounds angry here to me, but it still rules.

I'll just throw this in here.....Bringing It All Back Home deserves a 9, because there's NO WAY that Rubber Soul is better. Be honest, George :) I also noticed you gave With The Beatles a higher rating than Physical Dylan would say, "wow-ee, pretty scary"

Brent McNeal <> (14.03.2000)

Hey, I love your site, but you really need to give The Band a lot more credit than you do, I think. I have just recently come to fully appreciate them myself. Their self-titled album is a complete masterpiece. btw, "i shall be released" was co-written by manuel and dylan. calling their playing "awful" is just not accurate! they have a great, loose feel that's almost impossible to achieve. anytime you hear that really high falsetto, that's manuel...

Sean Hutchinson <> (04.10.2000)

7 - I’ve always liked this album, and I think that most of the versions of the Dylan, and Band, songs are done well. Dylan tends to re-invent songs on stage, and most of the time it works. Worth getting for Side 4, as it was on the record, starting with a great “Watchtower,” played as a tribute to Hendrix. Ever since that 1974 tour, Dylan has preferred to play Hendrix’s version, and Robbie Robertson does a fine job. And how can anyone not like the version of “Like A Rolling Stone” here?! Can’t you feel that emotion? There were people at those concerts, old farts like us, who stood there with the streaming down their faces, hearing Dylan sing “Rolling Stone” and “Blowin’ In The Wind”, and I can understand why. Don’t forget, Dylan had made only 2 live performances in the United States since 1965, and these guys were there! It really is an emotional event - and that’s why Live 1966 isn’t great - it’s perfunctory.

Raghu Mani <> (27.12.2000)

Can't figure out why you are lukewarm about this one. I think it is a great album with some really strong performances by Bob. The problem is, IMO, the Band. I really like a lot of the Band's music but their performances here leave something to be desired. Not that they are bad - its just that, with the exception of 'I Shall Be Released', their tracks are neither better than the original versions nor are they significantly different from the originals. At least Dylan, reworks most of his songs, showing us a completely new dimension to some of them. Still, there's very little bad stuff here and a lot of very good music - I'd give it an 8.

Didier Dumonteil <> (27.02.2001)

That could have been Dylan's best live album!And Because the Band gets in the way,it's not !Nevertheless the Byrds display much more energy than in the previous effort.IT's only when it comes to their songs ,one side and a half is given over to them,and although I appreciate the group on its records,I agree with you:It's Dylan we want here.

Dylan 's tracks are highly exciting here:"most likely...." and "highway......" are brimming with electricity and rage.The accoustic ballads like "dont think twice" and "just like a woman" gain  a strength they don't posess at all on the Albert Hall collection.The accoustic-turned -electric "blowing in the wind" and "all along the watchtower" blow your mind.

Phillip Hawke <> (06.09.2001)

Hello from Canada,

Yes, the American/Canadian distinction makes a difference. The Band, though, is American, 'cause thematically that's where they were at. There's more to it than that: Ronnie Hawkins himself remains Canadian: something about a rambunctious attitude that somehow retains an innocence (an American rambunctious attitude can be downright scary). Neil Young is still somewhat Canadian, retaining Canadian imagery ("Helpless") and bringing something Canadian to American themes ("Ohio" "Southern Man"). Rush is just a little more Canadian yet. But to get really Canadian you need The Guess Who, The Tragically Hip, The Rheostatics, even Leonard Cohen, and my personal choice as most Canadian of all (somehow): Kim Mitchell, right from Max Webster on.

Steven Knowlton <> (12.09.2001)

To correct an earlier comment, "I Shall Be Released" was written entirely by Dylan. Dylan and Manuel co-wrote "Tears of Rage" (not on this album.)

Andy Slater <> (21.04.2003)

This is an album that reaches the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. On the low end, many of The Band's songs are pretty boring to begin with, and then the Dylan ones you mention as being much worse than studio ('Like A Rolling Stone', 'Blowin' in the Wind', as well as 'Don't Think Twice, It's All Right', which sounds like shouting and loses its poignancy. You mention some of the album's highs, like 'I Shall Be Released' and 'Ballad of a Thin Man' - although the latter is not as good as the studio original. You miss, however, the greatest song on this album: 'It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)'. The power in his voice is just incredible, particularly on the closing lines of verses. The line "he not busy being born is busy dying" is, both in the lyrics and in his voice, out of this world. And the line, "Sometimes even the President of the United States must have to stand naked" is so powerful, especially because of the overwhelming cheer from the audience. Remember, this live performance was in early 1974, at the height of Watergate. Dylan's fans lean to the left, me included, so their sense of vindication and comraderie is massive. Apparently, it was at that moment that the audience, for the first time in the history of a rock concert, spontaneously flicked on their lighters, creating the image seen on the album cover.


Ben Greenstein <> (01.10.99)

Well, I'm glad to see that you don't agree with the masses who think it's the greatest album ever made. Me, I don't like it AT ALL, but that's just a matter of personal opinion. I think his earlier stuff shows a much stronger talent.

As for Blood On The Tracks, though, I'd have to say that I just don't get it. I'm not one of those assholes who hates accoustic balladry, but, for me, they have to have melodies that actually go somewhere. There are too many songs that just sit there and strum accoustically, while Bob sings (or tries to, in that wierd but kind of cool voice of his) about lost love or something. And when there are melodies, like on "Idiot Wind" and "Tangled Up In Blue," he ruins them by dragging them on for six or so minutes. Not even a middle eight! I guess that "Simple Twist Of Fate" is kind of cool - really, it's the only song I can stand on here. I can't really explain why, it just seems to do the boring folk thing better than the rest.

I prefer Elvis Costello's King Of America (even though it is an obvious attempt to re-do this record), just because the songwriting is much better and more emotional. I'd give the Dylan album a three.

Jeff <> (05.10.99)

Okay, I'll just play the part of the average Dylan fan here, and say that this one deserves a ten. Admittedly, "Lily, Rosemary, & the Jack of Hearts" is a wee bit too long for my tastes, and it sounds kind of out-of-place lyrically. Other than that, every song is incredibly beautiful. Dylan certainly gives one of his strongest vocal performances, especially on the venomous "Idiot Wind." "Shelter From the Storm" might just be my favorite track, though it depends on when you're asking; any song here might qualify as my favorite. The long running times work (not surprising, since it is Dylan) because the lyrics are so good (again, not surprising) and the band sounds so fresh. My 2nd favorite Dylan album.

Unless I finally get around to buying Saved and find out that it's really fantastic. But that's doubtful. Very doubtful.

Brandon Zwagerman <Brandon.Zwagerman@Colorado.EDU> (09.11.10)

I am sorry, but I have never seen "If You See Her, Say Hello" as filler. I am no musicologist, but FEEL the pain and vulnerability in that song... it moves me to tears sometimes.

Mike Zupan <> (11.11.99)

If you don't like this album, don't call your self a dylan fan. It is just as good as his 60s stuff. it's pure poetry, pure art. and you are way wrong: 'if you see her' is not a filler, 'meet me in the morning' is!! And dylan's guitar playing on the last song is simply brilliant.

And costello can't even lick dylan's boots!!!!

Robert James <> (16.12.99)

The first of the "Dylan is Back!!" albums never really made it for me. It did at least have some good songs on it ('Tangled', 'Shelter') but the majority were pale imitations of his mid-60s work. 'Idiot Wind' tries to be 'Desolation Row', 'Meet Me in the Morning' tries to be 'Outlaw Blues', etc. A great album, if you've never heard his 1965-66 work. A great album if you had to wait through 10 yrs of unlistenable crap to get to it. And certainly a great album compared to the dreck that would follow. But compared to Hwy 61, Blood is derivative and shallow.

Dylan never really came back. 1966 was his last hurrah. Why do you think they're releasing so much stuff from that era now?

Eugene Kuzmenko <> (17.03.2000)

I`m not Konstantin Tikhonov from your Jethro Tull review page--that guy does think Anderson and Gang are Geniuses,the only group capable to decribe the essence of life in words and music.He is superficious of everybody who will say that such albums as Passion Play or Stormwatch are a load of snobby,tasteless overdose of musical inconsistence! (I cannot say the same thing of Thick As a Brick or Bursting Out though:))))

But I was speaking about Blood.. .Well,I want to quote your review of Hard Rain LP: "..the Blood On The Tracks songs are too incomfortable when turned into huge, arena-rock bombastic epics, especially 'You're A Big Girl Now'. It should be a quiet song, god damn! It should be acoustic! OK, I do admit that 'Idiot Wind' with its anthemic sound is convenient for such a treatment, but 'You're A Big Girl Now'? Sheez!" So,George? How should these songs really sound?Of course ,acoustic!Bombastic arrangements simply don`t suit them--on Blood... Bob pours his emotions out so intensively that any additional instruments would "cover" the emotions,the unique feeling one gets listening to this album.

I simply adore first 4 songs,while "Meet me in the Morning" seems a filler--"A Call letter blues" from Bootleg Series is so much better!I like "Rosemary"--to me it sounds like a script of some western shot by Fellini! Sounds hilarious,but it is really so!:)) As for comparisons with Blonde on Blonde--well,here the moods are simply more direct,so don`t try to compare them,please!You wouldn`t compare fish to meat if you like them both,would you?

Christine Lea <> (03.06.2000)

BOTT is FANTASTIC you wallies!!  It has little or nothing to do with imitating his 60s work- this is so obviously more personal and wrought with emotion; the first three are some of the greatest love songs ever ever and 'idiot wind' is the greatest hate song.  My only grievance: 'Lily, Rosemary...' sounds like Postman Pat.

Sean Hutchinson <> (04.10.2000)

8 - Although time has diminished the thrill of hearing his, I would probably have to rate it as his best album, but, as I said in my introductory comments, it isn’t my favorite Dylan album - I just think that you can’t fault any of the songs - there is no song here which is less than ‘very good’, and you can’t say that about any other album Dylan has ever made, in my opinion. I remember buying this on a Thursday in January 1975, the day it came out in England, and getting shivers from “Tangled Up In Blue” and “If You See Her, Say Hello”. The songs don’t have quite the same effect now, but the album never fails to impress. One last point: I think that “Lily, Rosemary, & The Jack Of Hearts” is the best song on the album!!!

Jeff Melchior <> (24.12.2000)

I guess it just goes to show the radical differences in which music can affect different people (that sounds dumb, but it's late, dammit). 'If You See Her, Say Hello' is probably the most beautiful, sad song ever recorded IMO. Can't even listen to the damn thing anymore because it's so representative of a certain time in my life. I hope it doesn't cross over into the rest of the album, though. I can't say that Blood On The Tracks is Dylan's best work because I haven't even scratched the surface of his catalog. I will say that I like it better than Blonde On Blonde which, while innovative and melodic in its own right, is rather sloppy compared to the production values of Blood. Plus, Blood is just such an intimately personal album - from what I understand Bob was going through a divorce at the time of its recording, which explains the conflicting feelings of anger ('Idiot Wind' - wow, you don! 't wanna get on this guy's bad side) with pathos (the aforementioned 'If You See Her, Say Hello'). I refer to it, affectionately, as "the break-up album" - not just in light of Bob's experience but because, IMHO, it's the album that best captures the emotions most of us feel during the experience (ahhhhhh...I'm soooo sensitive. Girls, hold me...).

Raghu Mani <> (27.12.2000)

My taste in Dylan albums is thoroughly conventional. I think this is one of Dylan's best, just a little bit below Highway 61. I agree that the mood is uniform but it adds to the album rather than taking away from it. After all, this is Bob's heartbreak album and the uniformity just makes the album all the more intense and heartbreaking. Needless to say, I'd give it a 10.

Brady Lynch <> (13.01.2001)

Who ever argued that Blood On The Tracks was not a good album, can blow it out there ass. First of all, look at the first song ... 'Tangled Up In Blue', which is loved be many even people who dislike Dylan like that song. Next 'Simple Twist Of Fate', Arguably the best love song written by Dylan, and Dylan is known as one of the best love song writers. Third 'You're A Big Girl Now', which Dylan wrote as an intimate look into himself. He wrote this song more out of emotion, than what the public wanted to hear from him. Fourth, 'Idiot Wind', which I think is great. For those who dont know what it is about, he is talking about all the stupid people in the world, like the ones saying bad things about Dylan. Dylan writes for himself, not the public, and whenever he does it he gets ridiculed. Like this web-page, most of the people are bashing Blood On the Tracks, because it is not what they wanted to hear. Like one person said he would rather hear Dylan play his harmonica, than play the acoustic. Well personally i would just rather hear Dylan. What Dylan plays I will listen too and usually like. If I dislike a song he plays, which I cant think of any, i would just listen to other ones, not BASH HIM FOR PLAYING WHAT HE FEALS. I wouldnt try to make him change to the way I would want, because You would no longer be listen to Dylan, it would be Dylan's voice, but not truely Dylan. Personally i like Dylan because he is the best lyricist of all time, and has an amazingly crude voice, which is often critisized, but i enjoy hears it. And for you that dislike 'Lily, Rosemary, and The Jack Of Hearts', dont listen to Dylan at all then. Dylan is all about writing stories and ballads. Its just something that he does. Just because you dont understand a song, that means to bash it?? Well all you bashing Blood On the tracks, a great emotion masterpeice by Dylan, just go listen to 'Idoit Wind', because your agruements are so stupid and pointless, that you would classify as the people that Dylan sings about in the song. All of you Dylan fans who understand how good this album is, good for you.

fgmangin <> (17.02.2001)

Actually at the end of 'Idiot Wind', in a bold dylanesque move, he actually shoulders part of the blame on himself--- hes not blinding taking shots at his accusers (see THE TIMES THEY ARE A CHANGIN)--- however, 'Tangled up in Blue' is undoubtedly his best love song, heres why:

All the while i was alone

The past was close behind

I seen a lot of women

But she never escaped my mind

And i just grew tangled up in blue


Didier Dumonteil <> (28.02.2001)

It remains Dylan's most sustained piece of work of the seventies.Better than highway 61 revisited and blonde on blonde ,I would not go that far.But early 1975,it was so nice to hear at last a great Dylan album!My favorite track has always been "Lily Rosemary and the Jack of hearts",because of its gusto and its intoxicating  and swirling tune.Some kind os a surrealistic western with recurrent imagery of the cards.At the time,they even spoke about a movie on its theme,featuring Dylan himself as the jack of hearts."Simple twist of fate" and "tangled up in blue"(with an atmosphere that makes me think of "when I paint my masterpiece"-both songs allude to Italy-) are perennials.In,"If you say her say hello" ,the "girl from the north country" remake ,sheer emotion makes up  for the triteness (relatively speaking)of the lyrics.HIs voice had never been in better shape since ... well I don't even know.

"You're a big girl now " -as M.Starostin has stated-is  an intimate song.Accordingly,It's much better in the studio than in the giant stadiums.On the other hand,"shelter from the storm- (in which I see in the lines "they gambled for my clothes" an ominous sign of the Christian era)is as terrific a track when performed electric.I don't go much for "meet me in the morning" or " buckets of rain" ,but it's minor quibble.

With BOTT Dylan reasserted his genius.

Chris Papadopoulos <> (07.03.2001)

Most ungenerous of you, George. Let's take an album by another 5-star act, the Beatles (no argument there), and compare your rating. OK, Let it Be. It rates a 9 and Blood on the Tracks an 8? Is there a single track on LIB that beats 'Tangled Up In Blue', 'Idiot Wind' or, my fave, 'Simple Twist of Fate'? Sure, you could make a case for one or two, but is there anything on Blood as ordinary as 'Dig It', 'Maggie Mae', 'One After 909' (which, I admit, are fun tunes), or 'For You Blue'. (I almost counted 'I Me Mine' for its shitty chorus, but I quite like the verses.) Come on, which of these LPs has more filler than an old Holden? (Think Lada.)

Tullah Sutcliffe <> (08.03.2001)

Well I really don't know what to say. It is only my humble opinion that this is in fact the best Dylan album ever. After reading all the comments that "bash" the album, I really can't understand how anyone could write such things. Obviously those who wrote such comments have never known heartbreak to this extent. For Christ's sake, I'm only 15 and still I understand exactly what Dylan was going through. If any of you knew such torment I assure you wouldn't have the guts to insult this painfully open, brutally honest masterpiece. You would see that it doesn't matter one ioda whether Bob can play guitar, or if the tunes are formulaic, or drawn out. Can you hear his voice? Have you no empathy? No courtesy for a suffering soul? This man has just been through hell and all you can say is, "He's not a virtuoso." I honestly hope I never reach a point of such emotional isolation that this album wouldn't touch my heart and soul in every way. I realize I'm getting terribly bent out of shape over a fucking album, but that's what happens when you love Bob Dylan as more than an artist, when you love him as a human being, a kindred soul, if you will. Mock my outrage if you wish, I could care less what the likes of you think of my opinion.

Richard Vinson <> (09.03.2001)

The fact that you would call BOTT "extremely quiet" makes it apparent that the essence of this album flew completely over your head. There is nothing "extremely quiet" about 'Idiot Wind' or any of these songs, even if they are all mostly acoustic. The whole point of BOTT seems to be Dylan's intent not to walk away quietly from his pain but to stir it up violently and let it hit the fan.

'Lily, Rosemary, and the Jack of Hearts' isn't the best song Dylan ever wrote, but it does have a good country flow to it (which you apparently find distasteful) and tells an interesting old Western tale. And if 'If You See Her Say Hello' doesn't touch you, then you must be a heartless soul indeed.

And if there's anything about Dylan's voice on BOTT that annoys you, I don't understand how you can enjoy listening to any of his work, because on BOTT he's in top vocal form.

George Starostin (09.03.2001)

Boy, I feel some kind of rebuttal on my part is finally necessary here. I really truly can't believe that so many people have managed to misunderstand my intentions and misinterpret my motives. (In fact, I never realized that Dylan has such a rabid following - worthy of Led Zeppelin and AC/DC! Don't you people have a life? Sorry, got carried away...).

For Chris Papadopoulos, who seems very intent on bashing poor Let It Be on every occasion. See for yourself:

1) There are at least two tracks on LIB with just as much spiritual power as the strongest tracks on BOTT - 'Let It Be' and 'Across The Universe'.

2) 'Dig It' and 'Maggie Mae' are one-minute tidbits that can't seriously afflict the rating no matter what you think of them.

3) 'For You Blue', with its unique instrumental section, is vastly superior to 'Meet Me In The Morning' (both could be called "generic blues", but 'For You Blue' has unprecedented guitar parts, and 'Meet Me'... hmmm...).

4) There's nothing as boring on LIB as the endless drag of 'Lily, Rosemary..'.

5) The songs on LIB boast far more diversity in genres and far more complexity in melodic structure than most songs on BOTT.

And anyway, it wasn't me who started this discussion. I, personally, think that it's rather pointless, but well, you wanted my answer, you got it...

For all the others:

I love Blood On The Tracks. Like everybody else, I am deeply moved by Dylan's lyricism and emotionality on most of the tracks - particularly 'Tangled Up In Blue', 'Simple Twist Of Fate' and 'Idiot Wind'. I am hardly 'heartless' and I don't think that all of the commentators on this page experience BOTT in a radically different way from me. Sure, I insist that 'Lily, Rosemary' is stupid, overlong, and doesn't at all fit in with the rest of the album (perhaps it does have a 'good country flow' to it, as Richard Vinson says, but so does Garth Brooks - and I don't find country music distasteful, I find overlong melodyless country rhythms like that distasteful), but apart from that one, all the songs are wonderful and tear-jerking.

BUT: what's so extra special about that? I look at my collection and I see dozens of equally splendid tear-jerking albums. George Harrison's All Things Must Pass. John Lennon's Plastic Ono Band. The Kinks' Arthur. The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds. Derek and The Dominos' Layla. Stevie Wonder's Songs In The Key Of Life (this one works in the opposite direction, but in the same way). All of these records feature loads of well-written songs, and all of them are almost painfully sincere and full of emotional resonance and angst. Yes, maybe you could argue that BOTT beats them all, but that would be an argument never to be resolved - ultimately, just a matter of taste.

To me, BOTT is just an average great record. A simple record at that - I prefer to drool over Blonde On Blonde, because it takes far more brains, audacity and intelligence to penetrate the mysterious world of that album. Twisted, complex, uniquely arranged, epic in stature, it produces exactly the same amount of emotional resonance on me as BOTT; whoever says that BOTT is more meaningful and emotional simply can't see past the esoteric structures that Bob had constructed on Blonde. In that respect, I would take Blonde over the 1975 album any time of day - and naturally, I have to rate it much higher.

To all the flamers out here: Get A Life. If you can't separate minor critique from major dismissal, and prefer to demand total and uncompromised admiration for your favourite records, I could really care less. Yes, Mr Vinson, BOTT is an extremely quiet album, exactly because the songs are mostly acoustic. That was the only thing I wanted to say in my review. I don't mind if you want to understand "quiet" in a metaphoric sense - I'm speaking about MY usage of the word in MY review. If my style doesn't suit you, find yourself another site. As for the dude who complains about "all the comments bashing this album", though there are only TWO such comments amidst a flood of appraisal, he simply has a fascistic streak to him, that's all I can say. Have I responded to everybody? Thanks for the attention, and sorry for the harshness. It's simply painful to me to realize, after all those years of loving Dylan and writing this page - which I thought was more of a recommendation and praise page than a 'bashing' page - that the majority of Dylan fans turn out to be so totalitarian and one-dimensional. Well... I should have known better. At least I'll try to be strong enough and make sure that whenever I listen to the beauty of Blood On The Tracks in the future, it will not cause any nasty associations with rabid Dylan fans in my head. I'll try to do that. I promise! I'm not sure I'll be able to, but I'll do my best.

Sergey Zhilkin <> (18.03.2001)

I can clearly understand your point of view and, in fact, I much agree with it. For me, Blood on the tracks is really the best statement about broken romance but only lyrically. The music, however, is pretty simple. It sounds very nice in the complect with Dylan's voice but without his great vocal it sounds even worse than previous country sound. Oh, and I never considered 'Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of hearts' being too long cause I liked listening to the lyrics. Blood shows the evalution of Dylan. Dylan who is getting out of the blue, becoming more peaceful and wise. And, to tell the truth, this record fits my conception of life well so (please, don't get me wrong - I DON'T disagree with you) I can neasily give this album 10. O-o-o-o-o.... Only few days ago I was completely sure that nobody could tell so much about me in one record (though, I hardly imagine songwriters contesting in 'who will write the album that will please Mr. Zhilkin most' competition) but 'Blood' changed my opinion completely. Oh, Jesus, am I so banal that one can tell much about me without even knowing me?

PS. Well, after writing the letter I thought that it was the special case so here are my 'new' ratings. Rating of music - 5/10, rating of vocal - 9/10, rating of lyrics 10+/10. And the overall rating is (5+9+10)/3 = 8! I really didn't dovetail it!!!

Michael Danehy <> (08.04.2003)

Dylan has to be given credit for not only being able to write some of the best "stream of consciousness" lyrics in rock, he is also capable of writing straightforward (at least for him) words that don't sound at all trite or banal. His versatility as a lyricist makes him all the more captivating and difficult to pidgeon-hole.The same man who writes about Chinese kids with flutes, kings, queens, horses, and one-eyed midgets will also write heart-achingly poignant poetry about immigrants, war, personal relationships, etc. Blood on the Tracks is one of the high points of the "direct style." Emotional content all over the place and nothing like the word games on Blonde on Blonde to function as a mask. This isn't Dylan the clever kid anymore but Dylan the man. He's experienced enough pain to be able to write seriously about it. Combine that overflowing resonance with the slick production values and you can understand why so many fans revere it as his best.

"Idiot Wind" ranks very high in my list of favorite songs. Punk can kiss my ass. None of those anti-establishment cliches can come close to matching the vitreolic intensity of the most biting Dylan recording since at least "Ballad of a Thin Man." The way he sings "From Grand Coulee Dome to the Capitol" almost makes the hair stand up on my neck. Dylan _can_ sing, dammit, just not in a traditionally accepted kind of way. In his own way I'd rank him as one of the greatest vocalists ever in rock. Some fabulous lines in this song too, too many to list, but everyone remembers the part about "winning the war while losing every battle."

"Tangled Up in Blue" is one of the ultimate Dylan standards, of course. Every fan knows it by heart and even non-fans tend to like it. No need to go into much detail except to say that its existence on Tracks merits it an automatic 13, even if every other song was a duet between Steven Tyler and that dude from Foreigner.

And then you have all the other classics; "Simple Twist of Fate", "You're a Big Girl Now", etc. The guitar's in tune. The vocals are never overbearing. Only real duffer here is "Lily, Rosemary, and the Jack of Hearts." Why did Mr. Zimmerman have to make this ode to insomnia so damn long? I can't believe that someone with his ample gifts simply ran out of ideas and had to pad out his comeback album with filler, but it seems that way. Quite a shame and mars what could have been perfection. 14/15

Angus <> (30.04.2001)

Yes, ultimate debate over the quality of this album. Well, I like it, and that should be enough, but for some reason I feel I should try and change the minds of all that have said they didn't like it. I have a feeling that it may not be 'cool' to rate this album so highly because it is so celebrated as a Dylan album..but, I won't say anymore. 'Lily Rosemary'...Is really a great story. It is so intriguing with its little love triangle etc. I do find the harmonica introduction a tad dischordant but the tune is cool. 'Simple twist', 'If u See Her', 'Tangled', 'Shelter' are all AWESOME. 'Meet me In The Morning' is fresh too, Its no filler! Its just a tune that rocks, seriously, go put it on and see that your hips don't start to move...Now I get on to my favourites...'YOure Gonna Make me Lonsome' when you go...An amazing title that with simplicity sums up how anyone feels about a lover. The great bridges- i could stay...never realise the time, and youre gonna make me give myself a good talking to! (hilarious, but true). And buckets of rain, one of the greatest lines- Everything about you is bringing me misery. WHAT A LOVE LYRIC! YOu've never felt if you cant understand that line! And his guitar work, it is real cool...groovy even. And please don't compare this with Highway 61, that is an album that cant be placed next to anything. Blonde is good, but it doesn't surpass this one, id say theyre equal. They shine in different areas.

Christophe Veyrat <> (18.08.2001)

why always compare? the dylan in 65 wasn't the dylan in 75. are you the same persons you were ten years ago? i hope not. so this album should be taken as an album, not as a come back or a testimony of dylan's loss of talent. the songs in 65/66 were great in their own style. those later don't work the same way, but are great too. they're just not the same kind of songs, as dylan didn't have the same life or feelings, and i prefer it this way than whine endlessly about the good old days. blood is a great album to me.' tangled up' is a fantastic song that never ever becomes boring or dull, no matter how often you hear it live. i heard it again this year in concert and it was almost more moving than the original. and i had heard it many times before. the guitar playing on the album is fantastic, all in open tuning and it shows. 'meet me in the morning' is in that regard a great song. i don't like that much the production on 'idiot wind'. the song is great bu i had always felt there was somthing i didn't like about it. i heard the alternate version on the bootleg series and it confirmed my suspicions. the raw version on bootleg makes it the great song it is. as for 'lily' etc, i love the song. there must be something you missed. it is one of those stories he likes and i love, like 'judas priest' and 'black diamond bay'. 'lily' has a great story, i never found it too long, but what i prefer on it is his singing. outstanding. i could listen to it only for the way he sings it. i mean with lines like "they called the hanging judge/but the hanging judge was drunk/ as the leading actor hurried by/in the costume of a monk/no actor anywhere/was better than the jack of hearts" how can you not like this song? it's like a movie (and yes the plot is very conventional, but i suspect that was on purpose) but with a lot of dark spots you have to fill. it's also very visual. it's very hard to write such long and factual ballads. and i have to find yet another singer who can do it as he did it on lily.

Rob C <> (19.10.2001)

ok so perhaps blood on the tracks is slightly overrated (perhaps i say, i dont believe it), and perhaps H61 and Blonde on Blonde are better records, but to rate it equal to BEATLES FOR SALE a bunch of hurridly recorded covers to me seems absolute madness. Of course BOTT deserves 10, and if Beatles For Sale and Help recieve 8 out of 10, BOTT must score at least 15 out of 10. anyone can see that, right guys?.... guys??????

Niklas Strömberg <> (03.12.2001)

This album is as good as people say! A solid 10! I rank it after Blonde on Blonde but before Highway 61 Revisited. There isn't a single bad song on this album. Not one! They are all really great. "If you see here say hello" is so beautiful that is always brings me to tears when I listening to it. The way the lyrics in "Tangled Up In Blue" is written is pure genius! "Lily Rosemary And The Jack Of Hearts" is actually a terrific song, but the arrangement is a bit misplaced on this record. The prior version that was replaced by this version fits much better. But what the heck! The album is not only a masterpiece in it self. No! It is also the proof that an artist can have two creative tops in a career that is equally good! I don't know if any other artist that has accomplish that. The Beatles never got the chance thou.

Ben Kramer <> (23.02.2002)

I pretty much agree with you on this, though I'd give it an extra point because the first side is so excellent. In fact, I wouldn't hesitate to say that it is the greatest side of an album that Dylan ever released. 'You're A Big Girl Now' is beautiful beyond words and so is the superior (not an easy task) 'Simple Twist of Fate'. Dylan is pouring his heart out and he hasn't done so to this volume since Blond On Blonde. Those two songs are just so slow and monotonous and yet the lyrics are unsurpassed. Opening the album is Dylan's biggest 70's hit and it is easy to understand why. 'Tangled Up In Blue' sounds eerily similar to 'Like A Rolling Stone', yet it is very different both lyrically and in Dylan's vocals (at least his expression). It is an excellent song. I know I'm not alone when I say that 'Idiot Wind' is the best song here but what else can I say. It is one of his most emotional songs ever and the lyrics are his best since 'Visions Of Johanna'. His vocals are quite impressive, not in the actual sound but his emotion and expression. Dylan has never sounded like that and he never did again. 'You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go' is also great, although it is a little short. Side two is disappointing with side one being so amazing. The sides best is probably 'Shelter From The Storm' which is one of his most satisfying products lyrically. The rest of the album is forgettable with the exception of 'Lily Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts' which for some reason always sticks in my head. It isn't bad, but it is kind of long and at some parts, mostly the end, it is boring.

It's interesting that so many people swear that this is the greatest album made by mortal man. I mean, it is great, worth a 14 and side one boggles the mind, but this album has some faults to it and there is no way I could call it the greatest album ever or even the greatest Dylan album ever. Also, this isn't the only time Dylan went on an emotional rampage. It also can be found on The Freewheelin' and Blonde on Blonde. Highway 61 Revisited also has elements of the two mentioned albums, but it excels in other areas. So, I will say this as a closing statement: It is definitely worth owning and listening to (probably a few dozen times, maybe more) but it is flawed and Dylan has done better, but not much.

Fidel Juárez <> (30.03.2002)

First of all, I'd like to say that I have been taking for granted this beautiful web site. Not anymore, and I appreciate you, George, for demonstrating your love for rock music and giving many people a chance to ventilate their thoughts on the screen, even if they consist of nothing above pure nada. Speaking of which... Regarding Blood, I believe Dylan once said: "why would somebody enjoy other people's pain?", or something of his disdain. Well, I think it causes a strong impression for anybody who's been recently in a sad personal relationship, without underrating the subject. ('Is your love in vain', for instance, a charming sing-along, hardly could have fitted in the record... it would have sounded weird whereas 'If you see her, say hello' does not... the later is, at least, more plausible to be adressed to a real person.) Could it be that everybody who loves this record bumped into it after they had their hearts broken? Stupid question, but if music has a function other than serve as a catalizer, I believe Blood on the tracks is one of the most useful albums ever made in terms of emotional healing. That's its main attraction --the general acclaim this received in the mid seventies was probably due to the fact that Dylan had not released such a good, cohesive, studio effort since Blonde on blonde. The way I see it, both are the extremes of the spectrum.

The lyrics could well be mantras for the overwhelmed (not as usual, this is a concept album without stretching or being conceptual per se), well thought off as to please the 'sad listener' and anybody interested in personal stories within a song (something like "Dylan, the storyteller"); straight-forward stories, such as 'Tangled up in blue', 'Simple twist of fate', 'Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts' and to a lesser extent 'You're a big girl now' (which almost seems like a confessional letter between lovers, too personal to be read out loud) and songs of hope and disillusion. 'Shelter from the storm', is my favorite: thoughtful and somewhat quiet, drained, and it points to the logical conclusion of the album ('Buckets of rain') with Dylan clearly emphasizing for a moment about the meaningless of life ("Life is sad, life is a bust..."), which is some sort of comfort, I guess. (This is a concept that I could relate to effectively, without chimes, airplanes, heartbeats, cash registers and that kind of paraphernalia -you know which album I'm refering to.)

'Lily, Rosemary...' wasn't nicely arranged for this album, being the biggest flaw that I can think of, and I don't care about the 'formula' that can be clealy traced throughout the album. As much as I love versatility (and Dylan's got plenty of it, remember Blonde?), I don't think that a love-lost confessional album (there's only one subject... right?) can be applied with an equally tell-it-all treatement of musical ideas. Perhaps I'm so fond of the accompanying numbers, that I'm ready to forgive Dylan for this so-so number, and the overall formula.

Sometimes it's Highway 61 Revisited (complex and difficult to pigeonhole, my 'other favorite' Dylan album), sometimes Blonde On Blonde (complex, but the filler is undeniable, if not unmistakable, which leads to a sense of dispersion by the time side three finishes.) Time Out Of Mind can be (now that's pessimism), and maybe the sole 'Desolation row' (which in its own, can be as satisfying than every song in Blood On The Tracks, but only if I'm in a peaceful, romantic mood.) And sometimes it isn't Dylan at all. Who needs a complex, pessimist, tortured genius all of the time? Sure, there's tons of heartbreaking records out there, my favorite being side two of Menlove Avenue. Don't raise your eyebrows, that kind of 'unplugged' version of the darkest numbers from Walls and bridges makes Eric Clapton's seem light by comparison, but, back again, particularly 'Shelter from the storm', 'Idiot wind', 'Buckets of rain' (could it be that the guitar sounds a little bit disturbing because Dylan wanted to play them so?), and 'Simple twist of fate' make this album a must.

Jacob Gonzales <> (06.06.2002)

After rereading George's review of bott, i don't understand where many people are accusing george of disliking bott.

So I will reply to both the comments and george's review.

Let me first say that bott has touched me more than any other album that I have ever come across.

1) it is ridiculous to compare bott to bob or hw 61. your comparing a young genius with a more mature, settled, genius.

2) One thing i do not get is why you gave it a rating of an 8. It seems that you are being over critical of the album. Any one of these songs any other artist (and i mean *ANY*) would kill for. They lyrics are straight forward. If you don't like that, stop taking acid. But the lyrics also put to words feelings and translate events in a way that 99.99999% (yes i did come up with that number logically) of everyone cannot even attempt to convey. I have noticed that you think that a couple of the songs are fillers, basically. "If you see..." is not. for proof, please listen to the original NY session version (I forget where that is found). "lily, rosemary.." I can almost agree with. It takes some getting used to. Sometimes I can't stand it, sometimes its groovy. 'Buckets of rain' is great. The lyrics are amazing, and I *don't* think that he tried to be a virtuoso, he is as you say, a "small humble guy." its a perfect closer. 'Meet me in the morning' might be filler, but it does not let down the emotional intensity, i find it to be a great little blues song. How can you excape the vocals of that song?!

But All these things are quite petty really. If Dylan's strength is to go "straight into the very depths of your soul and [speak] to you on a personal, intimate level" than I say that this album is the peak, if not on par with any of this albums. If your dislike for "formulas", which i found to be a interesting observation, keeps you from placing this album where it should be, then i'm sorry. I understand you love this album, but I think you have trouble seeing past very "minor" flaws. Maybe you don't like it as much because it wasn't revolutionary...???

3) for the commenters.. I don't see how some of you think 'idiot wind' is the best song on the album! Its actually inferior to the NY session version (see bootleg series 1-3, disc 2) and besides, 'tangled' is really the masterpiece of the album. It's the best story Dylan ever told. (Sorry, i keep stressing the NY sessions, which IMO are better than the re-recorded songs (but i guess these are sorta independent of bott)) Its just something that can't really be topped for the style. Does anyone dig the transition from 'tangled' to 'simple'???? man what a contrast!

I personally would rank it at 10, I think a rating of 10 is only for the best, and I'd say that over dylan's career he has produced more than two "10" albums, especially considering other albums by various artists that were given ratings of 10.

Glenn Wiener <> (09.07.2002)

Believe it or not, I have to agree with Ben Greenstein on this one. These songs are oh so long winded without too many captivating hooks. I like 'Meet Me In The Morning' the best with the cool blues guitar licks. 'Tangled Up In Blue' has some cool atmospherics in the background and some good emotion on the vocals. However it does drag a bit. Nothing drags like that 'Jack of Hearts' tune. Is it twelve verses long or thirteen? The same pace without even a slight variation on the drum beat can be a bit annoying. 'Idiot wind' is a decent tune but it drags oh so long and Dylan's voice is really hard to take on this one.

I can appreciate some beauty in Dylan's imagery on Blood On The Tracks. However, the overall impression is just not a very good one.

Dan Zozula <> (23.08.2002)

it is at this album, George, that i find your ratings system faulty for the first time. You mean to tell me that Blood on the Tracks, THE GREAT BOTT, deserves the same rating as New Morning??? Whaaat? I agree with you entirely with your review of New Morning, and I thoroughly enjoy the album. However, it is nowhere near the level of mastery that is Blood on the Tracks. You argue that 'Lily Rosemary'... is a horrible song. Granted, it drags, and its lyrics are meaningless. But match it up with New Morning. I say "If Dogs Run Free" is just as horrible, and just as meaningless. You might point out how "LRTJOH" is much longer. Well then add the horrid stenchfest that is "Three Angels" and i say they equal eacother out. So then let us compare the rest of the albums. The best song on NM? 'Time Passes Slowly'. and it comes NOWHERE close to "Tangled up in Blue". NOTHING on NM comes close to 'TUIB', 'Simple Twist of Fate', 'Idiot Wind', 'Your A Big Girl Now', OR 'Shelter From the Storm'. THerefore i rule this rating illogical

David Dickson <> (08.02.2003)

Hmmm. Guh. Fuh.

Okay, I'm going to be a conformist tool on here and say that I think this is Bob Dylan's best album. The reason? There are no weak points! None whatsoever. A very even album. Not only that, but there are no psycho "weird" things that might throw one off. Highway 61 and Blonde on Blonde are very close in quality, but they're both acquired tastes. For example, "Tombstone Blues", "Ballad of a Thin Man", and "It Takes a Lot to Laugh" takes multiple listens before you figure out where the songs are going, and "Pledging My Time", "Sooner or Later" "Stuck inside of Mobile" and "Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat" are decent, but weak compared to the rest of the material on the double album. Blood on the Tracks, however, is the only Bob Dylan album I enjoyed from start to finish on the very first listen. And I'm enjoying it right now, on sixth (or is it seventh?) listen. And get this- -I haven't even listened to the lyrics yet! And they're supposed to be the best part! What the f&%$?? I like a Bob Dylan album on the basis of the music alone??! SOMETHING'S wrong with the universe.

SO. . . the highlights are "Tangled Up in Blue", "A simple Twist of Fate", "Idiot Wind", "Meet Me in the Morning", "If You See Her, Say Hello", and "Lily, Rosemary, and the Jack of Hearts". Yeah, you heard me. That last song I mentioned. It has absolutely nothing to do with Bob's personal life, but it rules. Completely. If "Stuck Inside of Mobile" is supposed to be awesome, then so is this. Except this is more catchy, more rollicking, and Bob actually SINGS on it. Great song. End of discussion.

Also like the chord progression on "You're a Big Girl Now" and the string bending on the last song, which I forgot the name of-- 'Buckets of Something'. And the other two songs are great too. I had to listen to this about four times before I could begin to pick out which songs were highlights and which ones weren't, and I finally selected my determining criteria: which songs could conceivably get radio play. Those six seemed like they could, and the only reason the other four don't is because they just sound stylistically dated by the standards of 1975. But mark my words: if this had been released right after Blonde on Blonde, it would have kicked that double album's pasty white rump.

Unfortunately, oftentimes, a lot of naysayers just seem to respond with "Well, it's GOOD, but he was more innovative in the '60's." I know THAT! But is it REALLY that important?

Aw, well, George would say yes. Guh.

But I say quality is more important, and that's my two cents. [Yeah right, like I EVER said quality is less important than innovation. It's just that in terms of quality, I see nothing on BOTT that beats out BOB - G.S.].

ANYWAY. . . in my humble opinion, this is the best Bob Dylan album ever. Buy it today.

Brian Bentsen <> (25.02.2003)

While perhaps not as imaginative or innovative as the great 1965-66 albums, Blood on the Tracks remains his crowning achievement and had he only settled for the Bootleg Series version of "Tangled Up in Blue" and replaced the so-so "Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts" with the excellent outtake "Up to Me", it would've been even better - to the point of being frighteningly magnificent. His most focused record, justly famed for its emotional sincerity, never whimpering or sentimental, always heartrending. Now, the lyrics, they could've been plain silly and the musical setting would've carried the whole thing through anyway, as it happens, they're stunning. Dylan is one of few lyricists (Leonard Cohen being the only competition, really) who writes poems, not just lyrics. Every song here is highly evocative, from the epic sweep of "Tangled Up in Blue" through the bitter snarls of "Idiot Wind" to the anguished tenderness of "Buckets of Rain", all crammed with great lines, like "I've heard newborn babies wailin' like a mournin' dove, / and old men with broken teeth stranded without love, / do I understand your question, man, is it hopeless and forlorn? / Come in, she said..." ("Shelter from the Storm") and "I'm going out of my mind / oh, with a pain that stops and starts / like a cork screw to my heart / ever since we've been apart." ("You're a Big Girl Now") etc. etc. Yes, this is my desert island album. Favorite song: "Shelter from the Storm".

Bob Josef <> (18.03.2003)

My favorite of his. Even though I know, objectively speaking, H61 and BOB are better and more complex. I just can identify with the songs here much better. The production is just complex enough to complement the lyrics, but nor so simplistic as to be totally dull -- the organ playing helps a lot. If he had stripped everything down to the level of his early folky stuff or NS, I might agree with the "monotonous" charge. And I actually find the longer songs more interesting and attention-grabbing than the shorter ones. Catchier melodies, to my ears. Yes, even "Lily.."! I find the narrative quite intriguing, more so because he keeps exactly what's going on just out of reach, letter the listener fill in the blanks himself. Same with "Tangled..", which is my favorite song of his. If "Meet Me in the Morning" had been taken at the same tempo as the original "Call Letter Blues" (although those lyrics wouldn't have fit in) and "Up to Me" re-recorded for inclusion, it would be perfect!

Richard Nightingale <> (14.05.2003)

It's the mid 70's and Dylan hasn't issued a great album since John Wesley Harding then suddenly he makes a GOOD album.I emphasize the word good because compared to his mid 60's albums this is not a great album.I recently bought a book called Top 1000 Albums as voted by the general public and Blood On The Tracks was at number 7 ahead of Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde On Blonde. It disappoints me greatly that this album is now considered to be Dylan's finest.Is it me or does this album seriously run out of steam after the first four songs?.Unlike Dylan's mid sixties material this album contains some rather noticeable filler.The best songs on here are 'Tangled Up In Blue' and 'Idiot Wind', the other songs in comparison are quite weak.I respect your honesty for giving this album a rating of 13 and not going along with public opinion.However I feel your rating of 13 might be a bit too generous, i'd personally rate it at 12.

<> (09.04.2004)

I honestly can't understand why so many people think this album is Dylan's best.

I am really not at all interested in Dylan's personal problems which seem to be the main theme of the album. The only 'allegorical' song, 'Lily, Rosemary And The Jack Of Hearts', just sucks. (Thank you, George, for making it clear for me, now I can stop searching for the deep meaning, great relief). True Dylan has (successfully) ended with John Weshley Harding - a good end, a great prayer in the end. This album sucks. Really.

Richard Nightingale <> (13.04.2004)

How strange! No one has mailed you about this album since i did in May last year. Never ever listen to this album if you've just split up with your girlfriend! Tracks like 'If You see her Say Hello' have reduced me to a jibbering wreck over the last 3 months.However my opinion on this album has changed slightly since last May. I understand this album better than i did before.Its now become the soundtrack to my life. Up one mark to 13. it will probably go back down to 12 when i get another woman in my life. Ouch! this album hurts me!

Rajesh Srinivasan <> (16.02.2006)

I would like to start off by saying that only four albums have blown me away on my first listen: The Kinks' Arthur, The Beatles' White Album, The Beatles' Abbey Road, and this album. However, unlike many Dylan fans, I do not believe this is his best album; that spot is held by *Highway 61 Revisited*, which took some time to fully enjoy*.* This is a close second though, beating *Blonde on Blonde* by a bit. One reviewer noted that the first side of *BOTT* may be the best he's ever recorded, and I stand right by this. The only thing that rivals it is the second side of *Bringing It All Back Home.* The first side of this album is almost flawless: Dylan's lyrics on all the songs are top-notch, the bass that marks "Simple Twist of Fate" gives the song a quiet, sad mood, you can't ignore the sweetness of "You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go", all these things are almost indescribable. However, the next side is not nearly as good. "Meet Me in the Morning" is fine…but "Lily Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts"? Repetitive and not very satisfying at all. "If You See Her, Say Hello" is okay, and "Shelter from the Storm" and "Buckets of Rain" finish the album on a good note. And I can't see the problem with "Buckets of Rain"; sure Dylan's not an expert guitar player, but the playing on that song is quite enjoyable and it fits perfectly. Overall, I'd say this album is a weak 14, due to "Lily Rosemary" and some other weak moments on the second side. But I definitely see how you gave this album a 13, this album is really a matter of whether you've had your heart broken or not. Then again, I haven't, so maybe that's not fully true.

LIVE 1975

Brian Bentsen <> (26.02.2003)

Couldn't agree more, the third instalment in the bootleg series and no less impressive than the first two. This is the true Rolling Thunder Revue album, where Hard Rain sounds bloated and weary, Live 1975 will knock your socks off with blistering energy and goooood times. It has Desire written all over it (definitely not Blood on the Tracks), especially Scarlet Rivera's alluring violin is immediately recognizable. Notice how "It Aint Me, Babe" is completely transformed with glorious results, halfway through we get "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue", Love minus Zero/No Limit" and "Tangled Up in Blue" with only Bob and his guitar and that tripple attack leaves you in awe, it's not the subdued beauty of the Royal Albert Hall acoustic set, but every bit as energetic as the best performances on Before the Flood. The Baez duets, well, her cutesy voice can not but flatten any Dylan song, but they're having fun. "We love you, Bobby!" (Be sure to get the limited edition containing bonus DVD performances of "Tangled Up in Blue" and "Isis", both unforgettable, and a single track, "Isis", not very dissimilar to the Biograph version (and not quite as good, actually). Comes with a neet little book full of photos and Sony announcing a release of "the complete 1964 Philharmonic Hall Concert" in 2003. Yeah!)

<> (02.03.2003)

I cannot begin to even describe how good this album is, and I'm not the world's biggest Dylan fan. Probably, the man's most famous tour is the Rolling Thunder Revue which was poorly represented on Hard Rain. This is two cd's full of performances plus a dvd with videos and such. The band truly sounds like they're having a good time throughout, and each one turns in a good performance. Scarlet Rivera's violin playing is extremely impressive. 'Knockin' On Heaven's Door' with different lyrics and a duet with Roger McGuinn is good, as is 'Tangled Up In Blue'. This version of Hurricane is just blistering. If There is one fault, it's that the liner notes tell in great detail how the complete shows went. As this cd picks up from when Bob took the stage, this is slightly a tease. Maybe in the future, a box set featuring everyone's performances would certainly be in order. But the booklet and it's stories and photos are wonderful...and it reminds us of what a beautiful woman Joan Baez once was. Dylan's singing is still awful, and his habit of singing the melody line on the verses and then singing the harmony line on occasion on the choruses is particularly annoying. This is all nitpicking however as this album is a truly great representation of one of the greatest tours of all time. Wish I could've been on that bus. That would've been fun. This is not to be missed and quite simply it's the best live album Dylan has ever done.

Lawrence Hutchinson <> (17.03.2003)

Much more satisfying than Hard Rain. The real treats are the solo tracks, particularly "Mr. Tambourine Man", which Dylan really seems to be enjoying, "Simple Twist Of Fate", with improved, more logical lyrics, a great version of "Baby Blue", not dissimilar to the 1966 version, and, best of all (to these ears) a lovely "Love Minus Zero". Added to that, an excellent driving "Hurricane". The Baez duets I can live without, I must admit. I found it interesting that Dylan sings "It Takes A Lot To Laugh" and "Just Like A Woman" the way he sang them at the 1971 Bangla Desh concerts, rather than the versions he did on the '74 Before The Flood tour.

Live 1975 is, overall, a very satisfying listen, and another in Dylan's series of live recordings (usually) worth your hard-earned dollars. The exceptions would be At Budokan and Dylan & The Dead.

Jacob Gonzales <> (02.04.2003)

I'm writing to clear up some misconceptions you have of live 1975. You seem to believe that whoever "selected" these tracks should be thanked a million times, when infact there are numerous bootlegs of shows equal to the quality of the songs on these discs. Between the first part of the rolling thunder revue, and not the rolling thunder revue II (which is what Hard Rain documents), you could practically select random tracks from the shows and they would be as good as Live 1975. My point? that the rolling thunder revue was amazing, and that this wasn't a fluke, and this creative period ranks just as high or higher than this 60's material. Your review makes me wonder though... if Live 66 is still better than this, why is it rated as a 7? And why are BOTT and Desire rated below this too? For the most part your review is quite on though, this is an excellent album.

Daniel Zozula <> (07.03.2004)

Totally agree. Small side note: I took the call of "do a protest song!" as a witty, hilarious joke by the audience member. Being almost 10 years since "Judas!", the man was making a joke at the fact that, while Dylan may have been vehemently booed before, he was now enthusiastically cheered (We Love You Bobby!, etc). Yelling "do a protest song", to me, almost was like that guy making fun of all the idiots 10 years ago, almost saying "look where Dylan is now." I laugh every single time at that comment. But its all in how you look at it.


Fredrik Tydal <> (11.07.2000)

How come everyone praise Blood On The Tracks and virtually ignore this one? Strange, since this one is just as good and perhaps even better than the the famous 1975 divorce album. The opening "Hurricane" is great - you just have to love the interaction between the violin and the guitar. Yes, of course the lyrics are quite dumb and exaggerative in places, but that's just to get the point across. And Rubin Carter was eventually released, his name cleared and the conspiracy unraveled - don't know if Dylan's song had anything to do with it, though, besides bringing public awareness to the case. The other obvious high-light is "One More Cup Of Coffee" - really great, the violin again. Even "Joey" manages to hold your interest for eleven minutes. And I personally think the closing "Sara" is great; it's quite moving and has some really good lyrics (one of the few numbers where Jacques Levy isn't involved in the words - coincidence?).

Sean Hutchinson <> (04.10.2000)

6 - I also remember buying this the day it came out, and what a difference!! After the very good “Hurricane”, big credit to Scarlet Rivera on violin, and “Isis”, it’s all downhill. The duets with Emmylou are difficult to listen to - I don’t know what Dylan’s trying to do with his voice - he is not a duets singer!! I get no emotion from their collaborations at all, then we have a maudlin tribute to a gangster - perhaps Bob was being satirical - if he was, he failed. “Black Diamond Bay” is kinda funky, but a nothing song. Mozambique was going through a civil war at the time, so the song was hardly apt. And “Sara” - a cute song, but overly sentimental - far less effective than “If You See Her, Say Hello”, where you can actually sense Dylan in pain. I can quite understand how he didn’t win her back with this song!

Raghu Mani <> (27.12.2000)

I just love this one. The violin of Scarlet Rivera and the backing vocal of Emmylou Harris give this a feel unlike any other Dylan album. Lyrically and musically, it is a motley collection but for the most part, it works. The only failure is 'Joey' which is one the few Dylan 11-minute epics that I feel overstays its welcome. It isn't all that interesting to begin with and goes on forever. Replace 'Joey' with 'Abandoned Love' (recorded during these sessions and released on Biograph) and this might even get a 10. As it is, it gets a 9 from me.

Antonio Real Morillo <> (10.01.2001)

Listen to this: there is no Spanish music on "Romance in Durango". I can tell you. I'm Spanish. There is some extremely funny singing in Spanish and a bit of Mexican ("Mexican", alright? Something like a ranchera) musical style. Anyway, I'm not gonna make a fuss about that (too late, I guess). I agree with your comments, except for the fact that I find "Joey" extraordinarily moving. Don't know, maybe it's some kind of Mediterranean solidarity. And "Isis" is my favourite (along with "Joey"), not "Black Diamond Bay".

Didier Dumonteil <> (28.02.2001)

This album was released during the rolling thunder review days (which spawned the Hard Rain album and the "Renaldo and Clara " movie featuring the trio Bob/Sara/Joan)At first I was embarrassed by the length of the tracks.But their appeal grew in force over the years.On two tracks ,Dylan came back to his early topics.I'd never heard about Joey ,king of the street,but although the song is majestic,it doesn't make the character sympathetic for all that.It's not the return of Hattie and Hollis,by a long shot.THe song about Hurricane Carter seems more worthwhile and the argument is closer to the  "the ladder of justice HAS  a top and a bottom"topic.Rivera's violin is awesome."Isis" is quite catchy,"Mozambique" is too,but a bit of a travel brochure.

"Black Diamond Bay",sorry ,it's overlong and boring."Oh sister" might be a song inspired by Joan Baez -at the time ,they were performing duets on stage ,some of which are tremendous -check the bootlegs;the "blowin in the wind" duet is available on Joan's rare ,live and classic box set    .With all its obvious qualities ,I don't think that Desire is on par with the previous effort however.

Sergey Zhilkin <> (08.04.2001)

Yeah, I agree, the worst thing about this record is that certain Jacques Levy co writes lyrics. Just look at the 'Hurricane'! I don't really understand what is it - protest song or a story? It's a real mess, in fact (I really don't like when Bob switches from story to social problems of USA). Novelist and real poet should never collaborate! 'Isis', however, is great but only because Dylan wanted to write a story, too. Really cool song, though sometimes Bob loses the rhyme. I have nothing against 'Mozambique' and female backing vocals, too. Just great short (!!!) song with great singing. Unfortunately, 'Joey' shares the sad part of 'Hurricane' and nothing can save this song, for me at least. Others are no highlights but decent tracks. Nice, indeed, especially 'Sara' and 'Oh, sister'.

But I really don't know how to rate this album. It's not the CD that will see the laser of my recorder often and 98% of it's lifetime will be spent in the box. Tracks are great, indeed, but one thing I'm sure in is that they'll never grow on me. So the final rating is 7, which means that it is worse than Blood. And, by the way, do you really think that Blood on the tracks is a depressing album? To me it sounds very optimistic.

Christophe Veyrat <> (18.08.2001)

i have never digged this album a lot. i wouldn't give it a high rating. i have tried and tried but it just doesn't do it for me. 'hurricane' is a great song, so are 'isis' and 'black diamond bay', but that's about it. i don't like the production, the backing vocals. 'sara' has its moments but it's too mellow. and the melody much too conventional (or should i say much more than usual). i tend to prefer street legal.

Srivatsan Laxman <> (31.01.2002)

I think Desire easily ranks amongst the best of Dylan's albums. It is significantly different from most (all?) other albums in regards to its acoustic content. No one can ever discuss the various musical methods of Dylan without special mention to this album.

'Hurricane' is a brilliant album opener. The acoustic guitaring and congo-type percussions generate a nice and quick rythm, while the violin provides fantastic reliefs in between. 'Isis' has an elaborate and rather unusually stretched (yet attractive) tempo. The drumming is very effective, and the harmonica and violin interludes certainly deserve special mention. I prefer this arrangement to the more rock n roll version of the song in Biograph. 'Joey' is simply a great song! I dont care for its length. It is 11 full minutes of truly powerful music. In fact, after listening to the entire album, it is this song that persists and rings in my head for a long time. Consider the background humming during: "He pushed the table over to protect his family, Then he staggered out into the streets of Little Italy." The effect is very intense and moving, raising the empathy levels to great heights. 'Mozambique', 'One More Cup of Coffee', 'Romance in Durango' and 'Black Diamond Bay' are each innovative and attractive in their own ways .. and no one can question their listenability, melody or effectiveness either. Lastly, while 'Sarah' is admittedly not a great album closer, it cant be faulted either. The lyrics and music together indeed evoke an emotion that is quite rare.

All in all, Desire is a definite 9. No doubt about that. We may deny it the 1 more point needed for a full 10, for the borrowed lyrical services of Jacques Levy.

Carlos Acarreta <> (15.08.2002)

Hello George,

First of all, I would like to congratulate you sincerely for creating such a fantastic website, and for all the effort and work you have put and you still put into it. Your website is a paradise for all good music lovers, and I have spent many incredibly amusing hours reading some of the reviews. It is incredible the amount of effort and time you must have put into it.

Well, after enjoying your reviews for some time, I have now decided to start commenting on the albums, and I have chosen Desire as my starter, since this is the Dylan album I enjoy the most. Let's see if I can explain myself, 'cause this is hard: I don't mean that for me Desire is the best album by Bob Dylan; I think that place would go to Blonde on Blonde or Blood on the Tracks, because I think they are of a higher quality than Desire. However, Desire is the one I enjoy the most of all Dylan's works, and the one that really takes me to heaven whenever I listen to it.

What I like so much about Desire is its variety of themes and it is strangeness. I mean... it sounds unlike any other of Dylan's albums. Listening to this album is like reading a book by Conrad: it takes you to exotic faraways places, this album is like an adventure book. Take a look at the places or cultures that appear in Desire: Egypt, Mozambique, a Hebrew melody, Mexico, gangster-time America, social protest... This album has such an incredible scope! It never fails to make me feel like I am travelling to these places, while living some amazing adventures!

Its sound is different from any other Dylan album. First of all, we have the incredible voice of Emmylou Harris featuring so prominently throughout the album (and Emmylou is a hell of a singer, listen to "Together Again" or her version of "Here There and Everywhere"). Secondly, we have some unusual instruments, specially the violin played by Scarlet Rivera, which also has a prominent place in the album. Q Magazine issued a special Dylan issue about a year ago, and in it they said that Desire is like a gypsified version of Blonde on Blonde, a gypsified version of what Dylan called "that wild mercurial sound".

The opener, "Hurricane", is a treat. This is a song that always sounds fresh to me, no matter how many times I listen to it. I love the violin in it, since it is what really makes the song, and I think it is a really energetic track.

"Isis" is just wonderful, I love the way Dylan sings this one, with a story full of irony and mystery. In this album Dylan is not trying to be essentially surrealistic (like in "Desolation Row" or "Visions of Johanna"), or expressing his feelings (like in "Idiot Wind" or most of Blood on the Tracks). In this album Dylan is telling us stories.

"Mozambique": one of the most perfect matches between lyrics and music I have ever heard: Dylan is singing of beaches, sun and people smiling, but the sound also evokes that. It certainly makes you want to visit that African country. It is such a catchy song!

"One More Cup of Coffee": oh my God!!! The very first time I listened to this song I cried. It is so beautiful, and so much unlike what you would expect from Bob Dylan. The tune is amazing, and I love Dylan's voice in this one. This song ALWAYS send shivers down my spine. I know this can seem a bit too far, but this is actually one of my favourite Dylan songs, together with "Idiot Wind", "Visions of Johanna", "It's All Over Now Baby Blue" and a few others. I LOVE IT!!!

"Oh Sister": I already knew this song from a Greatest Hits package, and I think the duet between Dylan and Harris is great. Another song that fits into the style of the whole album.

"Joey": marvellous; it doesn't matter how long it is, I always really enjoy it, from beginning to end. Another story, but this time, as with "Hurricane", a real one.

"Romance in Durango". Well, so far we have been to the States, Egypt, Mozambique, the Near East... So why not go to Mexico now? And this is where this song takes us: another story, this time a western one, and it always makes me think of a spaghetti western... I can almost see Clint Eastwood! I love some of the Mexican sounds of the song, its whole atmosphere of life in the frontier, on the run. I think the beginning of the song is great, when Dylan sings " hot chili peppers in the blistering sun"... what a way to introduce Mexico in just one verse!

"Black Diamond Bay": another great song, with unusual chord progression in the verses. Another story, another adventure... And this time I can't help but be reminded of a Humphrey Bogart film... if you have seen "To Have or To Have Not" you will know what I mean. Another of the highlights of Desire.

"Sara": fantastic closer. I love this song, it really moves me every time I listen to it, and I think it wouldn't have been out of place in Blood on the Tracks either, although being where it is, it is a great way to close a great album. It is also full of exotic and happy images from Dylan's happier past.

Desire is a fantastic album, and it holds no filler whatsoever for me, every song is great and the running order of the songs is very important, too. A couple of times I have been able to introduce some people who were not fans of Dylan to his music starting with this album. I believe it's a great album to introduce someone into Bob Dylan since, in my opinion, with the exception of Selfportrait, this is the most unusual of all Dylan's albums.

I hope you enjoy my review, and that you publish it if you consider it appropriate. I had been looking forward for a long time to writing a review of Desire, since this album caused an amazing fascination in me from the very first time I heard it.

Glenn Wiener <> (08.05.2003)

Sorry, I just do not find this Dylan CD too desirable. Scarlet Rivera's violin and Emylou Harris's vocals are just way too overdone. That blasted violin is on every single track.

Its fine on the beautiful 'Sara', easily the best song on this recording. However it just grates my nerves on most of the other tracks particularly songs 4 thru 6. 'Hurricane' is a pretty good song in spite of its length and 'Mozambique' is a charming light hearted ditty. However, the rest just does not captivate me much at all. And that 'Joey' number at 11:05 is just patience trying.

<> (19.03.2004)

Not on the same level as Blood On The Tracks. Most of these songs were far superior when played live, especially "Sara" "Oh Sister" "Romance in Durango" "Isis." The Bootleg 75 version of 'Isis' completely blows away the album version. Play the Live one, then the Album version: the album version sounds sluggish and tame compared to the roaring live version. Same goes with 'Oh Sister' and 'Sara', both raised to classic status on the live release. THe album still has enough of Dylan's mysteriousness to pull of an 8 or a 9.

Bob Josef <> (05.07.2006)

No, I really have to disagree -- this is quite a comedown from from the last album. Even if there is more variety in the arrangements, none of the songs really carry the same emotional resonance. The closest is "Sara", which is one of my favorites, but it's just a little bit too direct and sad, lacking the power of something like "Shelter from the Storm" or "Idiot Wind." Some of the songs -- "..Coffee," "Oh, Sister" -- just bore me. I actually had heard the live Biograph version of "Romance in Durango" (is it the same as on the live album?), and I like it much better. That one makes you feel like doing a tango, while the studio version makes you feel like taking a siesta.

There are some other goodies besides "Sara." "Hurricane" was actually the single (split into two) and got airplay despite Levy's profanities -- rather uncharacteristic for Bob. The lyrics are good, and the track moves. The surrealistic storyline of "Isis" is terrific as well, and I'm not bored by the repetitive piano part because of the story. Finally. "Mozambique" is a nice, upbeat pop song - -again pretty atypical of Bob, although it's clear he did no research of the actual conditions in that country before he wrote it.

Still, it seems the Bob peaked with the last album. He clearly needed some help with quality control ("Joey" instead of "Abandoned Love," I agree, was an error). The last one was his last great (as opposed to good) album.


Sean Hutchinson <> (04.10.2000)

6 - Agree with you, George. Ramshackle performances - “Maggie’s Farm” is probably the best of an average lot!

Erik Kennes <> (18.10.2000)

oh no, oh no, I strongly disagree. "lack of energy compensated by a big guitar band"? Come on. I never heard so much energy in an album. Listening to hard rain leaves me exhausted, it's a journey through the darkest corners of every idea experessed in the lyrics. "Idiot Wind" is masterfully played, I never heard a version with as much raw energy and agressive conviction. "I threw it all away" lays bare the desert you're left in when you get through that experience. To me, hard rain is dylan's very best live album, I never heard him as forceful as on this album, it's a symphony of energy, only to be compared with his performance on the "hurricane carter benefit concert" in December 1975 (and sometimes "renaldo and clara").

Raghu Mani <> (27.12.2000)

Agree with you here. This deserves a 6. Some of the stuff just does not work. I don't care for the version of 'Stuck Inside of Mobile' on this album and 'You're a Big Girl Now' is a mess. The other Blood on the Tracks songs are great, though. Overall, a mixed bag.

Antonio Real Morillo <> (10.01.2001)

"Maggie's Farm" sounds sooooooo much better here than on SHB. But maybe it's because I listened to this version before.

Didier Dumonteil <> (22.02.2001)

I sure like this album.While the playing is approximative,the energy makes up for that.Dylan yells,shouts,and creates an electric atmosphere:listen to shelter from the storm for instance!one too many mornings is so different we seem to get a brand new song-even if it were the albert hall pattern-.

The only songs that don't fit the bill are IMO "maggie's farm" (fed up,he did it so many times it's boring,and it wasn't such a great song in the first place:the tune 's got no hook at all)and you're a big girl now for the reasons M.Starling explained.But really when they released the LP on CD,why don't they give us the entire show?In the beginning it was an hour TV show called (how subtle "hard rain").So we're deprived of the four duets with Joan Baez.Nous,Français,nous aimons Joan Baez.And three of this four duets are mind-boggling:i pity the poor immigrant turned into a flamenco-rock (you read well),a drastic remake of blowing in the wind and most of all the best rendition of Guthrie's warhorse "deportee" i've ever heard.Baez and Dylan have known each other for so many years that it makes their duets a lotta more moving than ,say,the Dylan-Harris duets on desire.And there is also a good version of " a hard rain 's gonna fall" -which JUSTIFIES the very title of the album!!!!sung by Dylan with Baez and Roger MCGuinn in the backing vocals.How stingy the CBS executives are!

Jane Cowan <> (20.08.2001)

This is the great Dylan live album - 'Shelter From the Storm' is, well, storming and this version of 'Idiot Wind' is the definitive version. Well worth catching the Hard Rain tv special if you can as the version of 'Hard Rain', unfortunately not included on this album, is incredible, and he also delivers high octane versions of 'I Pity The Poor Immigrant' and 'Mozambique'. Maybe one day Sony will rerelease this with all the tracks from the video too. Those who thought Dylan was a the height of his powers on stage in the 60's should listen to this.


Paul Morris <> (27.08.2000)

Street Legal caps what is arguable Dylan's most creative period--from 1974 to 1978. His most varied and imaginative tours and albums, lyrically rich, deep and diverse and musically more inspiring than any other period in his history. His voice reached a new level of maturity and expression too, as revealed most particularly in Desire and Blood on the Tracks. But for me, Street Legal remains the best album of his career. Atmospheric, moody and possibly his most complex, rich and clever lyrics ever; just look at the imagery of 'Changin of the Guards' or the internal rhymes in 'We Better Talk This Over'. Desire and Planet Waves are also criminally underrated albums.

Sean Hutchinson <> (04.10.2000)

7.5 - Here’s where we disagree! I think this is a very good album. “Changing Of The Guards” is great, as is “Where Are You Tonight” to close the album. In between some rather ordinary songs, there’s the lovely “Is Your Love In Vain”, despite some dodgy lyrics, and “Senor”. This album is as underrated as Desire is overrated, in my opinion. So, I’d agree with Paul Morris on the first point, but I’ve been trying to like DESIRE for 24 years, and still haven’t managed it!

<> (23.11.2000)

It seems most reviewers are down on street legal. It is in my personal top three!

Best song: 'Where are you tonight (journey through dark heat)'

As for being "dark and depressing"...... I like that! Music to me is about "making you feel" .

This album moves me. just my opinion.

Raghu Mani <> (27.12.2000)

I think Street Legal is one of Dylan's most cruelly underrated albums. It is very inconsistent but 'Senor' is a masterpiece and 'Where Are You Tonight' and the 'Changing of the Guards' are both excellent. Some of the other songs are quite nice too. There are a few clunkers but overall, I think it deserves a 7.

Antonio Real Morillo <> (10.01.2001)

I ain't gunna say it's a big LP, but I feel the need to cry out: I ENJOY "CHANGING OF THE GUARDS". Sorry, it was only that.

doc rogers <> (25.02.2001)

Maybe it's something only Bob Dylan fanatics get, but I have to agree with the other rabid fans who emailed you about this one--while I can't say that Street Legal is my favorite Dylan album (too many are tied for that slot), I can say that there is no album that I like better. Street Legal is one of the few that I routinely have to start over from the beginning again as soon as it's over--I usually get stuck listening to it two or three times in a row before I can move on.  I also think you severely underrated Planet Waves, and most of the material after Street Legal.

Didier Dumonteil <> (28.02.2001)

I share M.Hutchinson's opinion.It's an overlooked gem .In several respects,I'd rather have this one than Desire.

"Changing of the guards " is weird ,hard to fathom,but the tune grabs you till the last verse where the cards topic comes round again."New pony " whose name is Lucifer is pretty funny when you know  all the rest of it.I feel in "no time to think" a Stevie Wonder influence.His songs in the key of life was very à la mode circa 1977-1978    ."Baby stop crying" takes us back to the glorious days of the spectorian girl groups even if the lyrics are nothing special.

I've always loved "is your love in vain?" .It's simple without being trite,and it preys on your heart."Senor "sounds like an outtake of "desire" :despair and desolation seem to be the keynotes."We better talk this over" is Sara once more and the last track shows what Slow train coming could have been musically,had Dylan refrained from imposing Holy Scripture to innocent record-collectors.

<> (08.03.2001)

Needed to comment here and was very happy to see that others did as well. This is Dylan's most underated album. If you really understand the lyrical genius behind his writing you can't deny that. It is better than Blood on the Tracks because it is less self- pitying. He's in pain but is not without hope and isn't really feeling sorry for himself either. 'Changing of the Gaurds', 'Where are You Tonight' and others are among the best writing Dylan has ever put out. The performance is marred by poor production but his singing is very good. Can't understand a preference for the singing on Before the Flood over this. You need to give this one another listen.

<> (08.03.2001)

This is a curious record. It seems to be appreciated in Europe and loathed here in the USA. Poorly recorded. The dreaded back up vocals and the whiniest vocals he's ever put on record. That being said 'Changing', 'Senor' and 'Where Are You Tonight' are better than anything anyone else did in the whole damn decade. With the exception of Who's Next of course!

Matthew Price <> (09.03.2001)

I hate to be repetitive after reviewing the reader's feedback, but this is truly an underrated album, especially the new re-mastered version.  Take it with its flaws: yes, some lame lyrics, 'Is Your Love in Vain' is filler, and 'Where are you tonight' is structurally (music-wise) Like a Rolling Stone Redux, but c'mon, it is eminently listenable and has a consistent feel throughout.  It sits in my CD changer for weeks at a time; I always want to remove it but can't bring myself to do it.  Pretty good stuff for a guy who is about to mentally fall apart...Dylan on a verge of a nervous breakdown if you will. Enjoy!

Stephen Picca <> (18.04.2001)

This is by far Dylan's most underrated album. Some of  the songs on the album- 'Changing of The Guards'/'Senor'/'Is Your Love in Vain?'/'We Better Talk This Over'/'Where Are You Tonight?'-are as good as anything Dylan has ever done. Dylan is heading for an emotional breakdown and artist that he is, he is taking us all for the ride into the depths of despair. The problem with the album is that the other songs are very difficult to appreciate (endless, ?meaningless lyrics, boring repetitious background vocals etc.). Maybe it is because these other songs on the album are so difficult to appreciate that most fans and nearly all critics have written off this album. That is a big mistake on their part; parts of this album is Dylan at his best. Ever.

Christophe Veyrat <> (18.08.2001)

now talk about an underrated album. when it was released in france they said "dylan goes las vegas". i can understand it and it took me a while to discover what a great album it is. i must admit the new remasterd version helps a lot. i agree the production is at times too much, and i don't care much for 'no time to think' or (sorry) 'baby please stop crying'. 'love in vain' is not bad, but like 'sara' it's too mellow. on the other hand, how can you overlook 'new pony', 'senor' or 'where are you tonight?' they alone would give this album a high rating. 'new pony' is such an erotic song, it is the quintessence of the blues, with evocative lyrics, heavy blues riff, and his voice on it is perfect. i don't think he has ever been that sexual in any other song. 'senor' is as dark a ballad as he has done before and 'where are you tonight' compares to me to his 60's stuff in terms of quality, imagery and emotion. the choruses bring me chill every time, i want to scream with him. and what about the guitar solo at the very end. this song would go on any greatest songs list.

Niklas Strömberg <> (03.12.2001)

Now you are way of! This is a deep and rich record with many dimensions. Unfortunately the bad sound is one of these dimensions. Try to do overcome that and you will see what a fantastic record this is. I must confess that I wondered "what is this shit!" the first time I listened. But only after a couple of listenings I loved it! Please give it both a second and third chance if that's what it takes to make you love it as strong as I do. I give it a strong 8.

5-Leach <> (02.09.2004)

You usually do great Dylan critique, but this one's a swing-and-a-miss. You fail to acknowledge the thought process one must go through to successfully complete such a change. To incorporate the horns and back-up vocals the way Dylan did is remarkable considering his previous releases. The complexity and sincerity of the music is blatantly better than that of The Times They Are A-Changin' or even John Wesley Harding. The musicianship is superior to previous recordings and recordings to follow and other than Blood on the Tracks, that warm, welcoming feeling has never been so warm or welcoming. So on your review, I give you a D+ and I demand a re-write!

<> (02.03.2006)

I taped this off the `LP` and it was okay. Then I played it in the car for ages. I really like every track. I think you're way off here George. It's got a great `feel`. I bought the re-mastered CD. Even better. Go on mate, give it another go!!


Brent McNeal <> (14.03.2000)

ok, i love dylan, even bad dylan, but rating this better than before the flood is simply ludicrous!! this is probably the only dylan record i have that i have to turn off at some point every time i put it on (usually around the godawful reggae version of "don't think twice"). again, i love your site, but i respectfully disagree on this one!

Raghu Mani <> (27.12.2000)

I agree with one of the comments on your website. Rating this higher than before the flood or even Hard Rain is crazy. This record is smooth to the point of being totally bland. Smoothness may work for some but not for Dylan. Needless to say, I consider this to be one big bore. Without ever being unpleasant, it manages to get highly irritating. I'd give it a 4.

Didier Dumonteil <> (23.02.2001)

As soon as it was released,it was panned by a ruthless press.Now,in 2001,we wonder why!This is mainly an uneven,spotty production.So,more than any Dylan albums ,your opinion will be subjective as ever.

It seems that Dylan ,after a stint on a Cohen album produced by Spector ,felt like paying a tribute to the greatest producer of all times.THat would explain the street legal orchestrations and female vocals.That was to continue on budokan on which forever young and the times they are... are given the full spectorian treatment.It works ,particularly in the latter's case ,because the two studio versions on the mediocre planet waves weren't satisfying.

The slow version of i want you may seem unbearable to some but it's really stunning because dylan seems to sing the words with so much emotion it almost makes you cry... and forget the lack of the last verse.THe renderings of an almost frolicsome simple twist of fate , casual tambourine man and love minus zero,are winners too. As for the rest,i've always hated maggie's farm,so i can't tell whether it's improving here,shelter from the storm is better as an heavy metal version on hard rain,don't think twice and heaven's door don't live up to the flood versions.

In a word no that much bad,but not that much good either...

doc rogers <> (25.02.2001)

I have to say that I think you're pretty much spot on with your At Budokan review, with one exception: I think the album deserves a 9. I also like At Budokan better than Before the Flood (which I think is an 8) and I like it as well as Hard Rain. For many of the songs included on At Budokan, these are my favorite versions, and there isn't one that I don't like, even though there are a couple, like Oh, Sister, for which I prefer other versions.

It surprises me that Dylan fans wouldn't like it _because_ it's so different--surely, one of the reasons that you're a Dylan fan is because of his shape-shifting, chance-taking, damn-the-torpedoes approach, no? (If not, I can only imagine that you're only a fan of one or two Dylan periods.) That doesn't mean you're going to _like_ something just because it's different, but disliking it for that reason alone seems just as silly. At Budokan is an incredible album, full of emotion, passion and not the least, creativity.

Michael H. <> (15.08.2003)

You can read about this in the chapter "On The Road/The Worst Live Albums" section/chapter of "The {new} Book Of Rock List's" by Dave Marsh and James Bernard. Also it ended up in the book "Worst Rock-And-Roll Records of All Time : A Fan's Guide to the Stuff You Love to Hate" by Jimmy Guterman & Owen O'Donnell from 1991.


<> (29.08.2000)

I agree that Slow train is a real surprise. I am not a fan of Christian all ! But, can anyone deny the beauty of "I Believe in You"? Graceful, elegant, heartfelt.

And "Gotta Serve Somebody" is a fine rolling piece of Dylan fun...(was his conversion, supposed to be all furrowed brow and fist pounding?). Certainly of all his Christian music, this one holds up as a unified a unified rock album.

Sean Hutchinson <> (04.10.2000)

6 - Now this was the first time I didn’t buy a new Dylan album when it came out! I’d heard “Gotta Serve Somebody” on the radio, with its emotionally dead Dire Straits production and guitar sound, and Dylan was back to preaching at us, for the first time since 1964! I respect anybody’s religious beliefs - just don’t ram them down our throats and call it entertainment! Anyway, years later, I bought this to consolidate my collection, and I must say I was impressed by “Slow Train” and “Precious Angel”, and “God Gave Names…” is actually rather charming - I’m going to teach it to my kids when they’re old enough!

Raghu Mani <> (27.12.2000)

When I first heard this album, I didn't like it at all. It's not that I dislike religious music but the combination of Dylan and religion seemed very hard to take. It's taken almost 10 years but now I like this album a lot. There are still a couple of tracks I don't like but most of the album is great. I'd give it an 8.

Antonio Real Morillo <> (10.01.2001)

You seem to have a problem with Christianity, don't you? I appreciate that, man, I'm a helpless case of atheism, but I try to follow Lenny Cohen's vision: if they're gospel songs, take them and think of them as gospel songs. There is something mysterious in Bob's mind, and his Christian era is as strange and fascinating as his psychotic-stream-of-consciousness masterpieces. Simple lyrics, yes, but there ain't nuthing wrong with simplicity, is there? And, hey, how come you say nothing about the best song of the album and one of my favourite Dylan tracks? "Precious Angel" is more Knopfler's than Dylan's, okay, but it IS beautiful.

Didier Dumonteil <> (22.02.2001)

As i said in my times they are a changing message ,this god is not the merciful Jesus whose picture we saw in our Sunday schools but the dreadful Yahve,whom Dylan used -with humor- in 'highway 61'.But here,it's not funny at all.How Lennon was right to write a spoof on "gotta serve.."!It's a humorless,dull and even threatening offering.'Man gave names'... was a big hit in FRance and that's easy to see why:it's got a simple -fake reggae -melody that with new words ,could be a nice ad for coke!I know (or I wanna know) that genuine christian spirit is more tolerant and less narrow-minded.

Christophe Veyrat <> (18.08.2001)

i am not a christian, hardly a believer, but this album is one of my favorites. great music, very good writing, whether you buy the message or not. in fact i don't think it is very preachy, which is why it is so good. i agree with you on most songs except 'when he returns'. the song is amazing. the music is very apropriate, and i have tried hard to find the resemblance with any of elton john stuff. the words are amazing. the singing is too. i had an atheist listen to the song and he was moved. this song is eerie, it has something to it. if dylan's songs are about feelings, this one does it. each time i listen to it, and let me repeat i am not a believer, i brings me chills.

Sergey Zhilkin <> (22.08.2001)

I always hated when my parents read extracts from Bible and not because I was a kind of diehard atheist (I really believe in God, mind you) - just because I liked reading such stuff only when I was in mood and, sure enough, I liked doing it without anyone's help. But this record .... it .... oh, my, Dylan reminds me my mother .... now, listen, how can he be so importunate, singing out some banal phrases (sorry, but these generic lines 'well, it may be a Devil or it may be the Lord// but you gotta serve somebody'. Thanks, Bob, I already know it)?!! Even my mother wasn't so tiresome. Anyway, enough bashing, there's still some bread left.

It was obvious that Dylan WAS religious (some early songs), but that's the first time he puts out a real Christian record. In fact, not the first (John Wesley Harding was a bit religious) but it was followed by two others so people usually consider this trilogy to be the only venture to the Beginning of the world. Okay, I don't mind.

On musical side, Slow train beats some previous bland records (Street legal, Planet waves and his first three LPs). Mark Knopfler brings a great Dire Straits' atmosphere and good back-up band is here too. That's fine cause it really works - there're only two bad songs - last track (I don't even remember its name) and 'I believe in You' (which is surely NOT about a girl). Others are good, especially 'Man gave names to all the animals' (one of the most unexpected endings - after this rather childish song my blood runs cold) and 'Do right to me baby' (almost a hard rock song! Great riff!). 'Gotta serve somebody' isn't such a highlight for me cause (tounge in cheek voice) ya know, ma-a-an, it saunds all ze same... Yeah, and 'Slow train' is a great blues number. That's it about music - a good album 'Slow train' seems to be from that point of view...

...but from lyrical side... it's, well... uhm ... I'll try to explain. You've got to admit that on 'Slow train' Dylan says 'fuck you' to his big audience. How come he says that the way we, his devoted fans, live is wrong? How can he critisize us? On previous records he used to bash dirty 'bad guys' and we used to nod our heads in agreement. But now things have changed and I tell you it's not very comfortable to listen to a man who thinks he is higher than you, even if he's only a little step higher. We are accustomed to Dylan who is always in our line (remember how carefully we listened to 'Hurricane', or symphathised Bob on Blood on the tracks?), Dylan who is always ready to use his talent to put down any enemy but this time mr. Zimmerman says 'fuck you' to his most devoted part of listeners. Surely, you can simply not notice that message and say that I'm very paranoid... maybe, but why does he rejects his old way of living then?


Bernard Couture <> (23.02.2002)

This is a comment on your reviews of Dylan's Christian albums. Here are a few quotes taken from your review of Slow Train Coming:

" This album should SUCK! And yet - for some strange reason, it doesn't. "

" Apparently, Bob's sudden convergence to Christianity did not make any serious impact on his songwriting skills. "

" Not all of the songs are really intent on driving that point home, and even those that are can easily have their lyrics overlooked while you concentrate on the general musical aspects. "

Why is it that you seem to consider that when an album deals with Christian themes, it already has two strikes against it? Considering that many of mankind's greatest works of art were inspired by the general theme of religion or Christianity, and that the subject of spirituality is certainly much more interesting from an intellectual point of view than the usual "boy loves girl" lyrics most of rock music deals with, I personally would be especially curious to listen to an album from a talented artist that deals with religion instead of some other, more banal, less deep subject. The albums that "should suck" are actually those that just rehash usual, "popular" rock topics, from drugs and sex to partying and rebellion.

[Special author note: okay, I did not think that point needed any explanation - but I think that John McFerrin's comment on the review of Saved below pretty much sums up everything further I would have to say on this subject.]

Tagbo Munonyedi <> (29.05.2006)

The notion of " rock as rebellion " has a long and verdant history and has been the wellspring of many important movements and scores of great songs since the mid sixties. Jerry Lee Lewis notwithstanding, rock as rebellion wasn't really a 50s thing. Not one of the rock'n'rollers of that era was concerned with overthrowing the state, stopping wars, changing the world or liberalizing 'the establishment'. In point of fact, and this I find highly ironic, it was the conservative ( and in too many instances, racist ) establishment and the, for the most part, white 'upstanding moral majority' that first made the connection between rock'n'roll and rebellion. Sometimes, if you tell people something enough times, they'll believe it and then act upon it ! But the real architechts of the idea were the newly emerging rock media of the 60s. True, some of the lyrics of songs of the time made you think and wonder, but the idea that communication came only via records is at best romantic. But stating your views in interviews was another matter altogether, wearing your hair long and taking time over your image spoke volumes and it was as these kind of themes came together that songs began to emerge that openly flouted the norms of post war Western societies ( principally the US of A and UK, though not exclusively ). Many of the rock musicians of the 60s were rebelling, and quite openly, even the "nice" ones like the Monkees, and alot of pain and frustrations were endured ( not to mention deaths ) in the quest for social change and that nebulous concept " freedom ". Without going into a long one, one of the chief aims of many artists within rock and all it's associated fields and disciplines was the notion of personal freedom and the right to live one's life as one felt fit, without government interference and that of institutions that were seen as agents of the govt like the police, the family, the church, the schools, the army and such like. The right to do, think and believe whatever the hell one wanted was central to this ethos. But in truth, this view and it's related offshoots were riddled and raddled with inconsistencies at best and sheer hypocrisy at worst and reached it's openly hostile zenith point in '79 with the release of SLOW TRAIN COMING by one of the counterculture's favourite sons, Bob Dylan. But hadn't he always distanced himself from the counterculture ?

It's easy to forget the ballyhoo that greeted the release of the album 27 years ago. Looking at various reviews and articles of the time, you'd think Dylan had committed murder ! If he'd had a sex change or become governer of California on a right wing ticket, he wouldn't have faced more hostility. The reason ? He became a christian. Or more to the point, he wrote and sang songs about it and possibly for the first time, left people in no doubt as to where he really stood on matters. Oh well, so much for the right to think, believe, say and do what you want. Suddenly he wasn't playing word games but was saying things straight ( like on BLOOD ON THE TRACKS, a rare deviation ) and not many of his peers and fans were prepared to live out their own credo. But he didn't only upset them. He upset many Jews because he wasn't even calling himself a Messianic Jew or completed Jew { a term applied to those Jews that believe Jesus - Yeshua - to be the Messiah } like Arlo Guthrie and others. He upset many conservative right wingers coz he remained fairly unconventional and he upset alot of christians coz he didn't play pap. He upset the guitarist, Mark Knopfler { Dylan was one of his idols } who complained to his manager that all the songs were about God. The Straits drummer, Pick Withers, found the sessions a strain. Lennon, while trying to remain respectful, nonetheless expressed a kind of cynical surprize ( expressed in a private parody of SERVE SOMEBODY ). Dylan seemed to upset everyone ! ( Well, not literally everyone. But you know what I mean. ).

But what of the songs ? I find SLOW TRAIN COMING to be one of the most remarkable and courageous sets recorded. Many got so hung up on " bloody hell, Dylan's found God ! " that few noticed that it was actually a damned good and perceptive set. It's one of the happier sounding Dylan sets I've heard, but he still don't sound happy ! But he does sound relieved and fairly content and completely enthused, rather like a cynic who has fallen in love or just had a child. It's a fascinating response to the build up of crises that he'd ploughed into over the last four years and he just had to get it into song. This album and it's follow up sound like a catharsis to me. MAN GAVE NAMES... is such a funny little song, set to a delicious Anglo - American reggae shuffle. On the surface, it's almost like a nursery rhyme; I could easilly see young kids singing this and as with much of the album, I think the lyrics are wonderfully placed. But they actually deal with a point that is deep, namely, that in handing over the responsibility to man for naming the animals, God was not only being inclusive ( that would be too PC ! ), but was actually handing over the reins ( or should that be reigns, ha ha ) of power in what's meant to be a joint venture. It's also significant that the last line of the song alludes to the fact that man blew it. WHEN HE RETURNS is an interesting track. If it sounds sparse and unfinished, that's coz it was just a demo for someone else. Dylan says that he didn't really want to do the album initially and the songs actually frightened him coz he knew that there'd be all kinds of interpretations attached and he'd get major flak and a critical roasting so he was going to give this song to one of the lady backing singers to sing, but while doing the demo, he changed his mind. It had begun as a full band version. I can see why it frightened him ! I think it's a song of uncompromising beauty and is in some ways the ' tails ' to I BELIEVE IN YOU's ' heads '. The latter is a lovely reflective love song that shows that Dylan was already experiencing troubles for his new faith. It threw people coz it was an unambiguous love song to a deity he couldn't tangibly see. But that is faith. GONNA CHANGE MY WAY OF THINKING is a zippy, funky piece that is beautifully played by the whole band. Musically it's so simplistic without sounding predictable. Lyrically, it sits with the next one to it, DO RIGHT TO ME BABY as one of the songs where Dylan seems to be having a go at himself and questioning his motives and outlook, juxtaposing them with a world that he's leaving behind. WHEN YOU GONNA WAKE UP pissed alot of people off and was probably one of the tracks that caused one reviwer to say that Dylan sounded unpleasant and hate filled. But when wasn't he ? Bob had been like that for ages, from protest, through his finger pointing period, through his legendary put downs in song - not to mention the way he scared other artists [ telling Keith Richards that he could've written ' Satisfaction ' but that Keith couldn't have written ' Mr Tambourine Man ' or Lennon admitting to being nervous of Dylan ] and the press. To be honest, WAKE UP could have been written 13 years previous from a countercultural perspective and he would've been hailed as a hero. The spirit of the song had been in zillions of songs by a multitude of artists. GOTTA SERVE SOMEBODY demonstrates how hard it is for a great lyricist to lose that talent. Just as Pete Townshend didn't when he followed his guru, Meher Baba, or Bob Marley didn't when he became a Rastafarian, neither does Dylan. The rhymes are funny and I tend to notice them more because the music is like the plate with the meal on it. That said, I love the song with it's unexpected musical bits flying in here and there. What it's producer, Jerry Wexler called, Dire Straits confection ! PRECIOUS ANGEL is a rocking triumph that's pretty dramatic, the music brilliantly captures the tensions and uncertainties inherant in the words. Dylan had been bearing open his soul in increasing measures recently and this song and SLOW TRAIN in different ways bear this out. The drama, anguish and sheer weightiness of prophetic insight and vision { prophetic in the sense of hearing or seeing from God then relaying what has been seen or heard, not glorified fortune telling } comes across strongly. God may give the boundaries within which one operates, but the thoughts are still those of the artist, which is why this may have a huge biblical input and is definitely in God's dimension but it is uniquely a Bob Dylan album. As he says, this was all part of his experience. A great album that does what alot of great albums do, entertains, gets one to groove, challenges and makes one think. It's no more " Us and them " or finger pointing than some of his best work, it's just that we all are now included in the target, friend and foe alike ! Last word with Dylan - " whoever was meant to pick it up picked it up ."

<> (16.07.2006)

Now this may shock you, but this is by a long way my favorite Bob Dylan album. I can understand why you would give it a mere 7, but everytime I see that number I just beg for it to become a 10. But hey, its a 27 in my book. Now I admit, I am a strong christian, but I generally don't like christian music. This album, however, describes what I know with such unmistakeable force that when I heard it for the first time I was a Dylanite for good. This is the first Bob Dylan album I ever listened too, and without it I would have never have gotten into him, and would have missed a something that changed my life forever. The thing that bugs me the most is that I read the Rolling Stone review, and you'd think by it that they would have given it a five star rating, but it only gets a three. I mean, one thing the reviewer says is that "This may one day be known as Bob's greatest album ever." I think it is. Whether it be the gloomy pop of "Gotta Serve Somebody" or the absolute jaw droping power of "Slow Train", I never get bored of anything this album throws at me. I've even grown to absolutely adore "Precious Angel", a song I used to make a lot of fun of. For me, "I Believe In You" is so inspiring to me. I was shocked to learn that you didn't like this song. I wasn't really shocked, however, that you didn't like "When He Returns", but I don't in anyway think it sucks. I love the Piano on it. And as a christian, the Lyrics mean a lot to me. As odd as it sounds, I have never heard "Candle In the Wind" despite the fact its the highest selling single of all time, so I can't really comment on that accusation. All in all, it doesn't matter to me. I love this album so incredably much. I'd buy it again just so it would climb the charts. It was only his second platnum album (After Blood on the Tracks). I know there was good reason to it. I am pretty nieve, so I still hold on to thinking that Bob is a christian even nowadays. I read many facts. I think that he just got tired of being clamed. Whatever the case, it doesn't demimish the importance of this album to me. I kinda rambled on this comment, but hey, this album is worth it to me. Creme de la creme.


Aurora Caradonna <> (19.02.2000)

I don't agree with you when you call Saved the worst Dylan's album. Ok the lyrics are terrible but the music is great. The band plays very well and the songs are very effective, especially the "fastest" ones like 'A satisfied Mind', 'Saved', 'Solid Rock' and 'Are you ready'.

And by the way don't you go crazy for the voices of the three backing vocals?

Eugene Kuzmenko <> (17.03.2000)

George,you wouldn`t believe,but this is one of 5 most favourite Dylan` albums of mine...

No,I totally cannot understand you as for this album.No melodies?What about "What Can I do for you?" or "In the Garden"? No good lyrics?Come on,listen to the lyrics of "Saved","Hanging On" and some other songs.Well,if you simply don`t stand Christian background of the album--just say so!But these songs are determined,powerful (especially rockers)and full of musical surprises(just listen to Bob`s harmonica solo on "What Can I do for you?").Sincere,absolutely not banal album deserving "9" mark. Why 9? Well,because "Covenant Woman" seems to be a kind of filler...

Paul Butler <> (09.08.2000)

Absolutely brilliant album full of some of Dylan's finest singing. "Saving Grace" and "In the Garden" are among my favourite Dylan songs. "Saved" is full-blown Blues-Rock at its best. "Covenant Woman" is a beautiful tribute to a woman (I wish I'd found it for my wife).

Come on, wake up from the sixties!!  

Feliciano Arrazolo <> (22.08.2000)

I think you're way off on your critique of Saved and Dylan's Gospel Trilogy.  Saved is also one of my favorite Dylan albums.  As a Christian, I have deep appreciation for Saved and the rest.  Maybe some day, you too (and thousands of his heathen listeners) will see the beauty and truth of a song like "Solid Rock":

For me He was chastised, for me He was hated,

For me he was rejected by a world that He created.

Nations are angry, cursed are some,

People are expecting a false peace to come.

Well, I'm hangin' on to a solid rock

Made before the foundation of the world

And I won't let go, and I can't let go, won't let go

And I can't let go, won't let go, and I can't let go no more.

This and other songs from this period are few of the songs from Dylan's work that can actually move me to tears.  Also, 'Covenant Woman' is a beautiful song.  "Pressing on" is some of his most soulful work.  Too bad you are too spiritually blind to see it.  I apreciate a lot of your evalutations, but your thoughts on the music of this period do not surprise.  Dylan was being bold and prophetic with his music, and also very musical.  It is his critics of this period who are trite and ordinary, and yes, blind.  Utterly unable to receive the truth for they do not have ears to hear.  I love a lot of Dylan's early stuff, but I am so glad, and I continue to be impressed by his boldess that he made these albums.   They are not perfect, they are flawed as is the man, but they are so worth it.

Having said this, I will continue to read your album reviews (I'm not done yet) because I definitely think that you do have many good insights into Dylan's work.  I'm glad I discovered your site.  Thanks.

[Special author note: well, I never said Saved isn't enjoyable Christian music. If you treat it from a purely religious aspect, I guess the experience can be cathartic. But if I were a devoted Christian, I'd rather turn to J. S. Bach for inspiration. And I certainly wouldn't need Dylan retelling me the basics of the New Testament in such a straightforward copy-cat manner. P.S.: I don't have anything against Christianity as long as it is tolerant.]

John McFerrin <> (30.08.2000)

Oh boy, here we go. As visitors to my site probably know, I am a Mormon, and an extremely devout one at that (and don't anybody dare go into a 'Mormons aren't really Christan' spiel - those blow my mind with their stupidity and are a waste of my time). I love my faith with all of my heart, blah blah etc etc.

That being said, I can't stand 'Christian rock' or 'Christian pop'. I think that, quite frankly, they're offenses to both Christianity and to rock. They are ridiculously banal lyrically - the straight-forwardness of the lyrical passages is always pathetic beyond words. And the cheapening of the religion through horrendously underdeveloped music and STUPID verses are, to me, EXTREMELY offensive.

For me, there are three good musical ways to get spiritual inspiration as a Christian. The first is to go straight to the point with hymns - and I don't mean stupid commericalized ditties that people in collegiate Christian organizations like to sing, I mean regal, solemn and reverent numbers like How Great Thou Art.

The second is through classical. Bach and co. dedicated great deals of their work to God, and listening makes it obvious why.

The third, and my most common choice, is through spiritually-vibed but _not_ faith specific pop and rock. There are TONS of uplifting but not specifically Christian, and most importantly _good_, albums out there. As silly as it might seem to some, Yes fits the bill a lot. So do the Moody Blues (To Our Children's Children's Children and its accompanying vibe in particular). So does the Who (Tommy and Quadrophenia.) Heck, so does Genesis (there are countless climaxes of spiritual catharsis on Selling England by the Pound). And, for crying out, the Stones catalogue is filled with Gospel music that has nothing to with religion but is still uplifting in its own, ironically debauched way.

My point? If you feel so insecure in your faith that you need pop and rock music to specifically 'buoy' you _doctrinally_, even at the expense of quality and good taste, then you have serious, serious problems with your spirituality.

Sean Hutchinson <> (04.10.2000)

5 - I also bought this, but heaven knows why!!! There isn’t really a good song on here, just a bunch of average songs.

Raghu Mani <> (27.12.2000)

What a let down! I like his other two Christian albums but this one stinks. It isn't that the songs are bad - they are OK and all that. What irks me about this album is that there isn't even a single memorable song here. If all copies of this album were to vanish off the face of the earth tomorrow, there isn't a single song I would miss. This isn't something I can say about any other Dylan album - Self Portrait has 'the Mighty Quinn', Knocked Out Loaded has 'Brownsville Girl' and even Down in the Groove (which may be on average a worse album) has 'Death is Not the End'. I'd give it a 2 only because I cannot bear to give any Bob Dylan album a 1.

<> (13.01.2001)

Damn straight!  I love Dylan (especially Freewheelin') but this just sucks!

Didier Dumonteil <> (24.02.2001)

The main difference with the previous offering lies in the fact that there is at least one good track:the procolesque "in the garden" where dylan shows a certain emotion.As for the remnants of the recording ,it's more of the same:Dylan ranting at the perils of disbelief!

richard wells <> (07.03.2001)

Oh, yah, Dylan had to be one of the crankiest Christians around, and as grating as this album can be it definetly shows off Dylan's genius for making any form his own.  This is hard core gospel and as close as a lot of us are going to come to rocking out in a Black church.  Beyond that, the opening cut, "A Satisfied Mind" is one of the greatest renditions of this song ever recorded.  Talk about down, dirty, spooky, sexy and everything Greil Marcus claims for roots music - this is a cut any musician would die for.  From there into "Saved" is a stunning transition.

<> (08.03.2001)

A bad album. No argument there. But as with all Dylan records there are always a few masterpieces. 'What Can I Do For You' has one of the most passionate harp solos ever put on tape.  Clinton is right. The inspiration was left on the road and never made into the studio. The only song that is better on tape than live is 'Pressing On'. One of Dylans best. No foolin'.

Sergey Zhilkin <> (27.05.2001)

Saved! shows us what Dylan is without his lyrics-composing skills. The music is far beyond horrible, too (yeah, it's an exagiration but if we start to bash a record we should put it in the trash completely, shouldn't we?). No possitive thoughts about this one.

PS. Nothing against Christianity.

Christophe Veyrat <> (18.08.2001)

i have always loved this album, from the first day. and again i am far from being religious, god knows (well i hope he doesn't). but i have always tried to see what he was trying to say and how he said it, and if i can relate to the feelings he's trying to convey, then it's enough for me. and on this album i can. i don't share his devotion, but the feeling of total surrender to love, whoever it is for, is moving. i agree the production is somewhat of a failure, but that doesn't make the songs worse. word has it that dylan tried to stop the release of the album at the last minute to reproduce it and couldn't. i can understand why, nevertheless there are great songs there. his version of 'satsified mind' is one of the best i've heard. 'pressing on' has emotion, well at least it does for me. the lyrics of 'saved' are great, i play it on my guitar often and enjoy myself as much as when i sing 'from a buick 6'. the first stanza of the song is very well written, fits perfectly within the music and at times is almost a rap. yes that first stanza reminds me a little of 'subterranean homesick blues'. the harmonica solo on what can i do for you is also one of his best ever. but emotionally the true gem is 'in the garden'. the emotion builds up slowly, as the music does, and the lyrics seem to go around in a circle, it is an obsessive song, in which he in fact repeats the same thing over and over, but with a crescendo and slight variations, and this is what gives it strength. it is not a great album, but certainly does not deserve the 1 you gave it.

Niklas Strömberg <> (03.12.2001)

Come on! It is not that bad. It is not even the worst stuff Dylan has put out. As for the music it is really enjoyable. The lyrics are sometimes very weak, but give the man a break! It deserves a 4 or 5.

Bernard Couture <> (09.09.2002)

George, you should be ashamed of yourself : because of your allergy to Christian music, I put off buying Saved for months, thinking I didn’t want to spend 20 $ on «Dylan’s worst album.» Well, I finally did buy it, and it turns out it’s a very good record. Sure, the lyrics are simplistic to the extreme, but they work in a kind of «bible-thumping» way. I mean, subtlety is nice, but straightforwardness can be fun too, when you get the feeling that the person singing really does believe in what he sings. As for Dylan’s singing, it’s great to hear him put so much energy and devotion into his performances. It’s quite a change from his usual deadpan approach. 'Covenant Woman' and 'Saving Grace' are admittedly weak songs, but 'Solid Rock' is one of my favourite rockers of all time. Come on, that song’s got at least three different hooks, and a great guitar riff. Bob’s harmonica parts on 'What Can I do For You' are amazing, and 'Pressing On' builds up to an exciting climax. As for many of the songs being « rip-offs » of generic gospel songs, that may be true, but Dylan often bases his material on older or traditional musical patterns. I don’t think there’s a single song on Freewheelin’ or Love and Theft that is truly original in that respect. So anyway, I just want to point out to anyone reading these reader comments that Saved is a very interesting record, and that it deserves a hell of a lot more than a 1. George only hates it because songs about God or Jesus make him uncomfortable...

[Special author note: the last statement is absolutely incorrect, and anybody who read my reviews of Slow Train Coming or Shot Of Love will see that immediately. This album is shit. Perhaps the case is vice versa - only those people love it who have a knack for Christian music in any form?]

Glenn Wiener <> (29.04.2003)

I bet your never thought you would see the day when I would send in commentary on this Dylan recording. Your amusingly negative review on this record intrigued me to borrow it from my library. Honestly, there are things I like very much about the record and other things which I do not care for.

Positively, I think the album rocks along quite nicely with enough emotion that boredom certainly does not settle in. Some strong piano runs particularly on the title track and steady drumming are certainly highlights. Some of the lyrics around the verses are pretty good.

Negatively, the stylings and arrangements are way too similar from song to song. The wailing background vocalists are a bit patience trying on a song to song basis. Also on many occasions these background vocalists actually drown out Dylan on many moments. Throw in the fact that there seem to be more instrumental solos on this Dylan recording than on previous recordings, the feeling here is that Dylan sounds like a guest musician on his own record!!!!! Also many of the lyrics on the songs choruses are overly repetitive. Yes there are way too many times when this repetition reaches the levels of Bad Company or even Foriegner.

The religious overtones are certainly much more blatantly Christian than either Slow Train or Shot Of Love. This may make some audiences uncomfortable. As I am not Christian, I try to apply the meaning of the songs to a more mainstream purpose and find there are moments of inspiration. However, I would definitely prefer it if Dylan was little more subtle with his approach in this arena.

Overall, my feeling on Saved is sort of com see com sa.

Richard Nightingale <> (12.05.2003)

What the bloody hell are you talking about?

Are you seriously telling me you think Empire Burlesque, Infidels, Down In The Groove and Under The Red Sky are far better than this??????????????? Your Bob Dylan Reviews are fantastic but I think your review of this album is confusing to say the least.Why confusing?, well you give Slow Train Coming a 12 and that album is actually far more inconsistent than Saved. Okay Saved is a lot more heavy going on the preachy side of religion but the arrangements and singing are passionate and gutsy.Your main problem with this album seems to be with the lyrics.Actually the lyrics here are far better than any you will find on Nashville Skyline or Under The Red Sky but you conveniently overlook this!.And if your gonna slag of Dylan for writing religious lyrics why don't you have a pop at George Harrison for all those songs he wrote on All Things Must Pass and Living In The Material World?.I'd give this album an overall rating of 11.It's not his best album I admit but it's certainly not his worst.

P.S. Knocked Out Loaded is better than Empire Burlesque or Down In The Groove.

[Special author note: to clear things up - yes, I am quite seriously telling everybody that it is the worst Dylan album ever; yes, I agree that Slow Train Coming is less consistent because it has some good songs interspersed with some bad songs whereas Saved is consistently shitty; no, I can't call any of these middle-of-the-road, hookless, predictable arrangements "passionate and gutsy"; my main problem is NOT with the lyrics because I don't mind bad lyrics if they're set to good melodies, which is not the case here; and at least George Harrison never sounded like he wrote anything on direct order from Billy Graham or Pat Robertson.]

Stephen Cambria <> (10.06.2003)

I find Saved much more enjoyable than Slow Train - LESS preachy, not more- more subtle in its conviction, and much MUCH better music than the Knophlerized Slow Train

Ben Hollinger <> (23.04.2004)

George- I agree that Slow Train is a stronger Christian album.. But I can't believe that you rated Red Sky and Self Portrait higher than Saved... At least Saved is inspired!! There are some very weak tracks here, but I love the title track, "Solid Rock", and a couple of other tunes here are pretty sweet. In this case, I've gotta tell you that I feel that it may come down to a matter of faith. If you aren't a Christian, perhaps you'll miss the point.

Then again, some of these issues are simply a matter of taste.. You can keep your Red Sky, and I'll keep my Saved.

Joe Wong <> (15.06.2004)

There's only one reason why I bought this album. And it's for the song 'Saved'.

Lindsey Eck <> (02.10.2005)

Well, I have a story. On the Saved tour, Dylan appeared at the tiny Worcester (Massachusetts) Auditorium, which seated about 3,500. My friend and I bought four tickets and couldn't get anyone else to go, so we wound up selling the other two for less than face value on the steps of the auditorium. Dylan had failed to sell out a venue that seated 3,500! Nobody wanted to hear his Christian music. You know what? I loved that concert. He didn't play a single classic Dylan song; it was all Christian material, and he was very full of himself, making comments such as: "If I met a Jehovah's Witness, I would not say, 'God bless you.' I might say, 'God save you.'" But he was backed up by an amazing group of Gospel singers and I didn't mind at all that he didn't play older songs that we had already heard in live versions and seen on film (The Concert for Bangla Desh). Great concert.

Tagbo Munonyedi <> (03.12.2005)

This is one of those albums that it seems one can't be neutral about ! I love Dylan's work from 63 onwards and as a christian I've long had a healthy appreciation of Dylan's lyrical inventiveness....I think most of us that dig Dylan have.Saved,however, is what happens when a major writer/poet has a life changing encounter with God. I know that possibly sounds like a crazy statement to most's hard to put it into words and this is what Dylan was finding with this album. On the one hand he was trying to artistically express things going on within himself that were too weighty to contain;at the same time there was a contentment with what he saw as the security of Christ's truth and I think that accounts for the lack of "edgy" music on here. That said, I think it's a good album. It was quite gutsy of Dylan to attempt to put into sound his own idiosyncratic vision of "gospel" flavoured songs. Maybe it's because this is such a personal album for me {"Covenant Woman","What can I do....","In the garden","Pressing on" & "Saving grace" being particular faves} but I've never been embarrassed by Saved - many christians have ! The more you hear it, the deeper it sinks and musically it is fairly varied. And if it never quite climbs to the stunning heights of his 60s output, well,it was never meant to. This shows Dylan in a relaxed place and some of life's tests were around the corner....tests and realizations that ultimately produced Shot of love and in particular Infidels.


Paul Butler <> (09.08.2000)

You seem to get it all wrong repeatedly!! 'Lenny Bruce' is a moving tribute to an artist who got run over by the establishment. You don't even mention "Every Grain of Sand" which is one of the most beautiful hymns I've ever heard

Sean Hutchinson <> (04.10.2000)

5.5 - Agree with you on most points. Actually, there is a lovely version of “Every Grain Of Sand”, as you know, on The Bootleg Series 1-3, and I prefer it to this one, even though there’s a dog barking in the background. Anyway, another average Dylan album.

Raghu Mani <> (27.12.2000)

I agree with you on your overall rating - I'd give this a 6 too - but disagree on almost everything else. The best song on this record is 'Every Grain of Sand'. I can't believed that you almost completely ignored it in your review. The melody is lovely and the lyrics are gorgeous - they could have been written by William Blake. The really sad thing about this album is that it could have been so much better. Some of the outtakes from this album which surfaced on Biograph and the Bootleg Series are so much better than the stuff that made it onto the album. What was Bob thinking?

Didier Dumonteil <> (28.02.2001)

The end of the trilogy and to my mind the best one.Here,Dylan is closer to the tolerant Jesus of the Gospels.His "every grain of sand" shows humility,and we can feel his rapture over God's creation.It may have inspired Van Morrison's "in the garden"(No guru,no method,no teacher)and"When will I ever learn to live in God? (Avalon Sunset). The secular track "Lenny Bruce" is welcome too.

But what an hideous sleeve!

Richard Nightingale <> (14.05.2003)

I love this album, in fact I would place this easily in my Dylan top ten.Unlike Slow Train Coming this album is consistently brilliant from start to finish.Also this album is very raw in it's production (a rarity in the 80's) the slickness of Slow train Coming is gone, replaced with a live spontaneous feel. First track: 'Shot Of Love' bang!!! Dylan had not played with this amount of venum since Blonde On Blonde.

And he keeps going, playing many hidden and forgotten gems that rank along side his best work.Don't the harmonica solos on 'Every Grain Of Sand' break your heart?.I think this is Dylan's last gasp of genius, although I like Oh Mercy and Time Out Of mind I would rather listen to Shot Of Love anyday. Bizarrely as good as this album is it could have been better: He left 'Caribbean Wind' and 'Angelina' off the album replacing them with 'Dead Man Dead Man' and 'Trouble' (the two worst tracks on the album).Thankfully these tracks can be found on the Biograph and Bootleg Series box sets.Dylan followed this album with Infidels a non religious album.It charted higher than Shot Of Love but showed a serious decline in his songwriting skills.Overall rating for Shot Of love? I'd give this 14, a highly recommended album that you can pick up in England for only £6.99

Tagbo Munonyedi <> (29.05.2006)

The furore that surrounded "Saved" is still puzzling - it's little different in my mind to Ray Charles, an R & B great, putting out an album of C & W standards ( mind you, that was pretty controversial in it's day ) or Elvis or Little Richard doing an album of gospel hymns / faves or Miles Davies doing " Sketches of Spain " or " Porgy and Bess " or any number of examples of artists that took an interlude or a step sideways to pursue a project that was perhaps out of their current direction ( some might even argue that 'Their Satanic Majesties Request' was the Stones' " Saved " in that they followed the current vogue for psychedelia - and never returned to that style and that in itself speaks volumes. But the album had some magnificent tracks on it. There again, maybe that's a dumb example ! ). Puzzling, that is, except that bar one song, Dylan wrote them all himself. Puzzling, that is, except that this was Dylan. Elements of the rock fraternity seemed quite happy to straightjacket it's heroes which seems rather hypocritical to me. Lennon, whose death had recently prompted a rethinking of the previous 20 years, had come up against the same thing both as a Beatle [ REVOLUTION 9, 2 VIRGINS, LIFE WITH THE LIONS ] and on his own or with Yoko and he complained incessantly about it, as had quite a few artists. I think that if there was one golden rule in popular music, for better or for worse, it was 'don't tell the artist what to play !'. Of course, not everyone went for it, but it certainly underpinned the artistic if not the business side of things. Dylan was renowned for being his own man and his previous two albums were recorded at a time when he was experiencing cataclysmic inner changes in his life. I would categorize SLOW TRAIN COMING and SAVED as Dylan breathing in. Now it was time for rock's bard and poet laureat to breathe out..... The sound of most of this album is so sloppy and live and that lends it a distinctive feel. It almost seems like a throwback to the days when the songs were very much created on the hoof. Unlike most, I see that Dylan's " Christian " output ( for want of a better term, personally ooh, I can't stand it, I can't stand it !! ) took in four albums, not three and this is the one that is in no way slick. I think it's the weakest of the quartet but it's still really enjoyable. He's definitely breathing out here. I don't think he was being fake or insincere on the previous album, he was in the early flushes of a new way of life and was so eager to get these new songs down that having come off a long tour, the tired and frazzled band just went straight into the studio. To use one more John Lennon analogy, it's reminiscent of his latterday Beatle Yoko songs. From '68 on, they nearly all seemed to contain references to her or were open declarations of love to her [ even JULIA, about his mum, combines the imagery with Yoko, his ocean child ]. Then after a while, when he'd gotten used to her and they'd fought a bit, he sang about other things. Same with Bob in a way. Some disillusionment often sets in after conversion. Most of the time it's not so much with God, but with other Christians and that can have positive and negative results. People handle things differently and can deny there was ever any substance in what they earlier claimed, rather like the way some believers rewrite their history before conversion, like it never happened. The problems and hasssles of Dylan's world hadn't gone away and in the opening cut, he's admitting that he's struggling.....but he also knows what to do this time. Although there's quite a few instruments, there's a minimalist feel that's there right from the start and it never really goes away. HEART OF MINE carries on the thread that was in songs like DO RIGHT TO ME and CHANGE MY WAY OF THINKING a couple of albums back. I swear, this sounds like a loose rehearsal ! I like it though. PROPERTY OF JESUS is the sequel to I BELIEVE IN YOU and much as I dig it, I can see the man is struggling with being the property of Jesus ! Signing over the rights of your life to someone you can't see is faith and it can be testing. It's supposed to be !The thoughts and opinions of one's detractors and peers can weigh pretty's a neat groove with a lovely chiming guitar and some smacking drums. LENNY BRUCE is one beautifully heartfelt tribute to a guy who may have been hounded by the establishment, but who was also a self destructive junkie. Virtually every account I've heard about him romanticizes him but there are accounts that paint a truer picture. I'm not sure what Dylan's song does but it's lovely. It's helped my view of Bruce by neither portraying him as a hero or a villain but as a man. Besides, who can resist the marvelous pronounciation of Lenny as Linny ( Dylan becomes a Kiwi ! ) or being told that he didn't cut off any babies' heads ! For many years, I found it hard to tolerate WATERED DOWN LOVE. It seemed to me to take unmelodious minimalism to new and ridiculous heights and the chorus was the chorus that never was and the lyrics were pappier than anything I'd ever heard him write. The whole song seemed like the whole band tossed it off there and then, no rehearsal, no arrangement, no enthusiasm, no joy, no emotion, not even any depression, just blah. The epitome of ' blahdom '. So why did I start liking it ? You know, I've got no idea. I can't even remember when I did. All I know is that I do now. It's not a classic or anything, but hey ! It's good blah. My version of the album has never had the song about the groom at the altar but it does have the kicking DEAD MAN, DEAD MAN which for me is one of his masterpieces, an altogether weird piece. It's hard to describe, set to a reggae lilt, it sounds almost psychedelic without ever quite getting to the point of psychedelia, coz he was never that way inclined. He seems to be really pissed off in the lyrics and that really whining anger and frustration is great, adds some real meat to this very strange meal. Rather satisfying. IN THE SUMMERTIME is ok, another sparse softy with some interesting harmonica, but it's a bit of a come down after his stunning solo on WHAT CAN I DO FOR YOU from the previous album. But the song does evoke sort of summery feelings in it's sound and imagery. Along with DEAD MAN, my fave rave on the album is the bizarre and hilarious TROUBLE. The music is played the way Dylan sings, with a twang and a drawl, it's like the musical equivalent of his voice. The lyrics are really good and they so make me laugh. They're not intentionally funny, I've just got a warped sense of humour. Actually, they're quite perceptive and some of the imagery is rough but real. How he manages to make this song interesting is beyond me, but that's why he's Dylan. Even when past his peak, he still does it and with flavour. EVERY GRAIN OF SAND is a lovely, touching piece. But it sounds like something that I've heard before and 20 years on I still can't figure out what. The first time I heard it, it was instantly recognizable even though I'd not heard it. Weird. It's harmonica is very tuneful, out of keeping with most of the instrumentation throughout this album which is really loose and spontaneous sounding. As a whole, it feels unmelodic but it really isn't and it does convey a number of moods while SAVED only conveyed two. I would agree that this is where the 80s Dylan really begins. I feel kind of sorry for him though. Along with his peers of the 60s generation of rockers that so changed many lives, they were the real trailblazers ( as opposed to the 50s rock'n'rollers ) and there was no songwriter artist precedent in rock for making music in your late 30s, let alone your 40s. So all those guys would be forever ploughing a new furrow as they got older and older. How long and how much could such voices count ?


<> (22.11.99)

just a few quick cases of references to bob's "return" to judaism on this record: 'Neighborhood Bully' is about Israel; the lyric "no man sees my face and lives" in 'I and I' refers to the story in Exodus of Moses standing on Mt. Sinai and receiving the Revelation from God. God utters these words to Moses.

Richard James <> (07.08.2000)

I tend to put Bob's shift back to Judaism in the early eighties as less religious than political. As you correctly point out, there's not much Bible on Infidels, but there are piles and piles of Zionism. Jokerman is ruined for me by the subtle references to the J-man being Israel (I've got a bootleg album called Outfidels which makes this explicit) and as for 'Neighbourhood Bully' ("His enemies say he's on their land," indeed - well he is isn't he?)... As Bob became middle-of-the-road rock monster in the eighties, so his politics veered towards the right and where, in the sixties, he had gone against mainstream American politics, he now supported it directly, blindly and stupidly.  

Paul Butler <> (09.08.2000)

I don't know what disco sounded like in your part of the world but saying that 'Union Sundown' is disco is really quite hilarious! This is one great album

<> (31.08.2000)

Although, by no means a "comeback" album, Infidels marked a return to form (with Bob's strengths and weaknesses as lyricist and composer in full flower)... 'Jokerman' may well be his finest tune of the 80's. It sounds like an old friend from the get-go. As instantly familiar to me as the snaredrum crack that opens 'Like a Rolling Stone'. And the melody does indeed fly by the light of the moon. Lovely stuff.

Sean Hutchinson <> (04.10.2000)

6.5 - This is better, although there’s nothing great on here - it ’s an example of style winning out over substance, and no matter how good the production and backing musicians are, they can’t disguise the fact that Dylan’s songs are pretty average - but this is at least listenable.

<> (23.11.2000)

I love this album. Great musicians! Strong writing! Hot grooves! Of course, some of the best songs were left off.(bootleg vol.# 3has them) This album Rocks!!!

P.S - the next few albums after this went way south.

Raghu Mani <> (27.12.2000)

My feelings about this album are the same as for the previous one. I'd give this a 6 too. The similarities are uncanny. Both albums have one great song, a few other good ones, some rather bad songs and a bunch of outtakes that didn't make the final cut which were far superior to most of the songs that did end up on the album. In the case of Infidels the outtakes are even better than the Shot of Love ones. 'Blind Willie McTell' is as good as anything he ever wrote, 'Foot of Pride' is great and some of the lesser outtakes like 'Tell Me' are better than garbage like 'Neighborhood Bully' and 'Union Sundown'.

Ryan Mulligan <> (01.01.2000)

Boring! The lyrics are great, of course, but where are the melodies? "Jokerman" is by far the best song on here, and nothing's bad, but it leaves you bored. What's Sly Dunbar's problem? The drumming on every song is dull and lifeless. Why is Knopfler there? I'll give it an 11 as a total, because Dylan's lyrics are so good, but he's done better than this many times.

<> (07.03.2001)

Get rid of 'Union Sundown', 'Neighborhood Bully', 'Cleancut Kid'.

Add 'Blind Willie', 'Tell Me', 'Foot of Pride', 'Lord Protect My Child'(maybe)

Do a little resequencing and viola: a great album

Sergey Zhilkin <> (27.05.2001)

Rip-off! Rip-off! Can you imagine this? Dylan is ripping off himself! Blood on the tracks plus Highway 61 plus Dire Straits plus dull drum beat = Infidels! The only good thing about this record is its lyrics. But these melodies... 'Man of peace' is a fast version of 'Gotta serve somebody', 'Sweetheart like you' reminds me Knopfler very much. You know, when I started playing my CD, I got a feeling that our brave pirates mixed up Dylan with Dire straits. Indeed, Dylan's voice is so close to Mark's here... 'Neighborhood bully' reminds me something from H 61, but this time it sounds too boring. As for the good moments, they are still here. Highlights are the title track, 'License to kill' (I really can't understand why so many people call it dull. Maybe Tom Petty's version on '30-th anniversary concert' will help them?), 'I and I' and 'Don't fall apart on me tonight'. All of them are interesting from both sides - musical and lyrical. The only minus of all these tracks is that they don't make you cry, laugh, think. You'll never start singing with Dylan on here as you did on Blood on the tracks or Blonde on blonde.

Infidels adds almost nothing to Dylan's legacy but, nevertheless, you should try it. Nothing special but after discovering many horrible disco albums of 80s you'll be very glad to fall upon this one. My rating is 6/10.

Christophe Veyrat <> (18.08.2001)

from what i understand it could have been a great album. i think he blew it, but it's his choice after all. but this missed oportunity has always made me too disappointed to really apreciate it. the original choice of songs makes me scream with frustration when i see what eneded up on the album after all. 'union sundow', 'neighborhood bully' and 'i and i' should have been replaced with 'julius an ethel', 'blind willie mc tell' and 'foot of pride'. and what about 'death is not the end' which should have been there. it could have been a fantastic album.

<> (19.08.2001)

I don't think you can have a better rhythmn section than Sly and Robbie. Their playing, plus the guitars of Knopfler and Taylor make this album. I believe Dylan's lyrics here get really sloppy. 'Jokerman' and 'License to Kill' sound like great Dylan songs at first, but upon closer inspection they make little or no sense. While in the mid 1960s Dylan was trying to be surrealistic, it seems by Infidels he is just being obscure or stupid. Perhaps 'Jokerman' is a good lyric that I fail to understand, but 'License to Kill' with lines like "man has created his doom, first step was touching  the moon" shows plain lunacy. Were we living in the Garden of Eden until the Apollo spaceflights?  The lrics to 'Union Sundown'  are even more ridiculous. Besides the laziness with the lyrics, there are too many dog songs on this record. Still I actually still listen to this record often, because of the music. I don't undestand the criticism of Sly's drum playing--I think it is perfect. The drumming on Highway 61 I find completely annoying, but that is another story. 'Foot of Pride' is my favorite Dylan song--the music, the singing and the lyrics combine to portray a coherent sense of venom at the world.  'Blind Willie McTell' is a great song too. No idea what the hell Dylan was thinking when he left those songs off the record.

Niklas Strömberg <> (03.12.2001)

The best 80's album! If Dylan only had selected the right tracks it would be a real masterpiece. Replace the song "Union Sundown" with "Blind Willie McTell" for example and the rating would be a bit higher. As it is, the rating stops at an 8.

Amalia Ejarque Lopez <> (30.08.2005)

This is an underrated Dylan Records. Some tracks could have been left off and others put on but it's very fine the way it is. I have this with Shot of Love on one CD and fine Infidels to be the superior album. 'Jokerman' is one of his best 80's songs in my opinion. 'Sweetheart Like You' is just that, sweet, and I wan't to learn how to play it on my guitar because just yesterday I found myself singing "...what's a sweetheart like you doing in a place like this" beautiful. Unlike others I find 'Neighborhood Bully" to be fun. It's got a cool riff and rock pretty well. That's all I have to say.

Tagbo Munonyedi <> (03.12.2005)

Another underrated Dylan album. As a person grows and undergoes different experiences this will doubtless reflect in the twists and turns that the person takes, especially if they're musical(Lennon once said he wrote whatever the circumstances he was in,"whether it's on acid or in the water").In "Infidels" we see Dylan coming to terms with the reality of where he has been for the last 5 years and seeing that even with one as fantastic as God on one's side, life is full of battles and frustrations that have to be fought and won.There's no guarantee that every one will be won.... And it really shows in the songs. It is a very moody and understated piece of work and I dig it ! No one should be surprized at the shift towards "Zionism" (I don't like to put it that way but the reviewers seem comfortable with that word) because a respect for the Jewish heritage( and by extension, an understanding) is an outcome of looking seriously at the bible with an open mind over a long period of time. But these elements have long been part of Dylan's work("Highway 61 revisited","Desolation Row","John Wesley Harding"," Renaldo & Clara",etc).

Are the songs presented here without melody ? I think not. There are some lovely melodies here and besides, melody has never been a strong Bob suit although I think he is melodic.......if you can stretch beyond the predictable. As for Sly and Robbie on bass and drums,let us not forget that these 2 in the 80s,certainly, were the most in-demand rhythm team in reggae ( they appear on so many albums you want to scream-but they are good and varied) and beyond and of course Knopfler & Clark were going to bring something " strait" to the show. One of Bob's strengths has always been his ability to incorporate different peoples and their styles to his work{ Bloomfield, Kooper, Scarlet Riviera, Bob Beckett etc, etc}. Almost no one comments on the humour within the darkness (see "Man of peace", "Jokerman") but the weariness here transports these songs into a different place altogether. Incidentally, I can and do listen to every album while tidying up/washing up etc ! Far from being a mark of bland rubbish, it's a sign that the stuff is good enough to lift me as I work and transport me to somewhere else.....


Jim Sheridan <> (08.10.99)

I think that the two new songs - "I And I" and "License To Kill" have more excitement than any tracks on this album. The guitar on each absolutely kills - the coda to the latter is about as perfect a guitar statement as can be made - and Bob delivers each with conviction. This tour was heavily booted; there ARE better shows!

Raghu Mani <> (27.12.2000)

In my opinion, the worst Dylan live album I have listened to (I haven't heard Dylan and the Dead yet). My main problem is that Dylan has forgotten to sing here. Even a Dylan fanatic like me will find his "singing" on this album irritating. I'd give it a 3 tops.


Sean Hutchinson <> (04.10.2000)

5 - I bought this because of some of the reviews, and was seriously disappointed!! This album makes my point about the quality of the content not being hidden by fine musicians and sharp production even more strongly! “Dark Eyes” and “Emotionally Yours” aren’t bad, but they’re the best of a pretty weak bunch of songs.

Erik Kennes <> (18.10.2000)

I'm sorry but to me this album is a real disaster. Not so because of the quality of the songs: many songs are good, as is displayed by other versions of the same songs. Other versions of "When the night comes falling" are much better, without this electronic drums who destroy totally the sound of the album. The production of the album has transformed the songs into disco sausages.

Raghu Mani <> (27.12.2000)

The pseudo-disco sound of the album prevented me from liking it for quite a while but once I got past that, I realized that there were a few really nice songs here. The only great song here is 'Dark Eyes' but 'Tight Connection', 'Clean Cut Kid' and 'Emotionally Yours' are nice. If Dylan had used the version of 'When the Night Comes Falling' from the Bootleg Series, we could have added that track to the list too. Overall, a 5.

Niklas Strömberg <> (03.12.2001)

Ohhhh!!! Please turn it off! This record really stinks! Among with Knocked Out Loaded and Down In The Groove this stands as the lowest of low among Dylan albums. In order I maybe give them a 3, 2 and 3. I never see myself listening to these records. Sometimes I just put them on to give those second chances, but they just don't do anything for me.


Jacob Gonzales <> (08.04.2003)

I don't understand what you have against biograph... I believe that all thet tracks go together, making listening very enjoyable. It isn't perfect, and there are a couple of tracks that i get tired of ('blowing in the wind', 'like a rolling stone', 'masters of war') but there are plenty of live and alternative versions which make this a great compliation. The best track has got to be either 'Abandoned Love', which you totally overlooked, 'I'll Keep it With Mine', or 'You'r a Big Girl Now'. It isn't as quite as good as The Bootleg Series, but for the average fan it's a great resource. The last track is a killer, 'Forever Young' has never sounded so great. I'd give it a 8.

Earl McPherson <> (17.04.2003)

My exe gave me this record for Christmas a little while after it came out. She couldn't stand the guy but she sat with me when he played Chapel Hill back in '89. That was a very tight band. I'd give it a 9 just for "Abandoned Love" and Caribbean Wind" by themselves.


Raghu Mani <> (27.12.2000)

If it weren't for 'Death is Not the End', I'd give it a 1. Because of that song, I'll give it a 2. Looks as if Dylan wasn't interested at all; and if he was this bored, why was he releasing albums at such a fast pace? This is his third album in less than 4 years and each album is worse than the previous one. Not that Dylan is completely out of ideas - the best stuff on these three albums put together would have made one reasonably good album.

Fidel Juarez <> (15.11.2001)

It is to be supposed that you meant lack of "sympathy", instead of "contempt" (as you wrote in your review), regarding Dylan's attitude towards his audience. But be the contempt what it may, it doesn't mean that everybody should feel alluded.

As you rightfully expressed, there can't be a truly stinker in Dylan's discography... even in the universally despised Knocked out loaded (fresh out of 1986, your favorite year) if only because it contains the very pretty "Brownsville girl"... and I kinda like "Silvio" for its dumb, yet catchy rhythm (certainly, down in the groove). Ultimately, I think that Dylan's fans are better off with the inclusion of both songs in the Greatest Hits package, volume III.


Fredrik Tydal <> (14.04.2000)

I saw this cheap so I figured I'd take a chance. Dylan and the Dead seems like a strange combination at first, but it works. The Dead plays a solid back-up of course, not that I'd doubt it. Bob's voice is so-so to me, but delivers anyway. Best tracks are probably "Slow Train" and "I Want You". "Knockin' On Heaven's Door" is a disappointment, though - with Bob coming in at the wrong time constantly (on purpose?). A few Dead songs wouldn't have hurt a bit - personally, I think "Friend Of The Devil" would have worked perfectly.

Ah, well; you can't always get what you want. The cover is embarrassing; the inlay photo with the whole gang assembled is much better.


Sean Hutchinson <> (04.10.2000)

6.5 - This doesn’t live up to the hype that surrounded it - “a stunning return to form”, etc - but the songs are all pretty good and the production creates a good atmosphere. “Most Of The Time” is my favourite, and then “Shooting Star”. He actually sounds like he means it on “Most Of The Time” - it would have been a great addition to Blood On The Tracks.

Raghu Mani <> (27.12.2000)

After the utter dreck the preceded it, this album seemed to me like a return to his glory days. Unfortunately, it has not aged all that well. When I first heard it, I might have given it a 9 but right now it is somewhere on the borderline between 8 and 7. Most of the songs are very good, except for the perfectly horrible 'Disease of Conceit' but nothing really blows you away either. The best thing about the album, in my opinion was that it gave us the feeling that Dylan was interested in making music again - it certainly hadn't seemed that way for a few years.

<> (08.03.2001)

You forgot to mention that it contains two of the best songs ever written- 'Most of the Time' and 'Ring Them Bells'.

Antonio Real <> (17.03.2001)

The best song here is "Man In The Long Black Coat". No doubt inspiration for Nick Cave's classic "Red Right Hand"; the atmosphere is very similar in both songs. Amazing beginning: thanx Daniel Lanois!

Sergey Zhilkin <> (27.05.2001)

[27-th of May will be remembered for Sergey Zhilkin bashing Bob Dylan, I suppose]

For me, Oh mercy is the record where Bob nearly became old fart. I wonder who wrote the lyrics of 'Political world'. Who? Bob himself? But these lines sucks: 'We live in a political world, where peace is not welcome at all'! I mean that Bob could easily explain this thought in better words, with his famous words play. All the ballads are extreme dull. I don't even understand what happened to his songwriting skills. None of these tracks has a good melody. I know, we remember Mr. Zimmerman for his voice, not tunes, but he has to compose something more melodic than this. Ok, I agree that 'Man In The Long Black Coat' is decent track but that's the only gem lying in garbage. However, lyrics and melody of 'Everything is broken' doesn't impress me much.

While writing this letter I heard 'Shooting star' and ...mmm... liked the lyrics. Melody is rather nice, too. OK, maybe I was too hot when saying that Dylan was becoming an old fart, but let's agree that Oh mercy is a letdown, comparing even with Infidels. I rate it with 10/15 scores.

Niklas Strömberg <> (03.12.2001)

This is a solid 7. The individual songs are rather good, but it is the mood through out the records witch gives it its minor greatness. With better song selection it could have been an 8.

Brian Bentsen <> (25.02.2003)

Oh Mercy is a strange experience, on the first listen you're overwhelmed by one stellar song after another, only to realize that they wear out pretty darn quickly, making it the exact opposite of the other Lanois produced Dylan album Time Out of Mind, that rewards repeated listens. Only "Ring Them Bells" and "Most of the Time" age somewhat gracefully (excellent lyrics too) and "Shooting Star" and "Man in the Long Black Coat" are both decent. Contributing to the strangeness, the Oh Mercy sessions produced two great songs that somehow didn't make it on to the album: "Dignity" and "Series of Dreams", the latter probably the best outtake since "Blind Willie McTell".

Bob Josef <> (31.03.2003)

I know where the title came from! It's what you cry out when you first hear Dylan's vocals here, slapping you hands over your ears. Or would that be "Have Mercy"?

OK, it's not quite THAT bad. But Bob's new gargling-with-Drano voice is rather hard to get used to. But, fortunately, the songs themselves are suprisingly good. The mood is really quite downbeat, though. Only "Ring Those Bells" expresses any sort of optimism. Lanois' atmospherics really make the ruminations on lost loves ("Man in the Long Black Coat", "Most of the Time") even more haunting. "When Teardrops Falls" has that sort of 50's retro feel which sounds like it was picked up from his work with the Traveling Wilburys. But it doesn't sound like he picked up on any of the fun there for his own work, judging from his utter anger and despair of stuff like "Everything is Broken" and "Political World". I do like "Disease of Conceit", too -- a rather pointed discourse on the sin of pride.

Overall, a very cool listen. But, I dread picking up Time Out of Mind if his voice his deteriorated futher from this, 12 years on.


Brian Blacklow <> (02.05.2000)

I can't listen to this album.  Seriously.  I pull it out maybe once every three months just to give it a shot.  And as soon as I hear "Wiggle, Wiggle" I go into spastic convulsions and need to turn it off.  You're totally right that Dylan shouldn't be *required* to always write serious lyrics, but UTRS has the dumbest lyrics of not just any Dylan album, but any album ever released by a major artist.  Combine this with the fact that Dylan's voice is the worst it EVER would be, and UTRS gets the ignominious distinction of being the only Dylan album that I consider completely worthless.

Sean Hutchinson <> (04.10.2000)

5 - Agreed. Nursery rhyme lyrics, very poor voice, but fine musicianship. “Born In Time” is potentially a very good song, but Dyaln can’t sing it on this album. The best tracks are the last 2 - “Handy Dandy” and “Cat’s In The Well” - nonsense, but good fun.

Raghu Mani <> (27.12.2000)

I think I'd agree with you on this one, though I'd rate it a little lower. Maybe a high 4.

Douglas Wilber <> (07.03.2001)

There is subtle stuff here, masked by the surface patina of "nursery rhymes." You never get to it if you can't listen to it, but whose loss is that? As with every Dylan album, that certain listeners reject UTRS could be the fault of the album, or could be blindness on the part of the listener. You may never know.

John Haas <> (22.09.2001)

I must take issue with everyone who knocks this album. I think it is fantastic, and extremely sophisticated in conception and in execution. First, always remember, when you hear a song that seems silly at first blush, such as "Wiggle Wiggle," that THIS IS THE SAME MAN THAT WROTE "Visions of Johanna," and that maybe, just maybe, he's smarter than you are, and that maybe, just maybe, you're not getting it. Second, what is the essence of this album? Essentially it's Dylan doing what so many have been demanding he do for so long--give us another Highway 61 Revisited. Bouncy rockabilly and surreal apocalyptic denunciations--that's what both these records are. The failure wasn't D's, it was the audience's: his listeners couldn't keep up with him. (Hardly surprising, given all the sappy music on the radio that cluttered the decades between H61R and UTRS, that it was reviled, whereas the warm Lanois production of OhMercy was embraced. Two sides of the one Dylan coin, they are!!) Finally, let me recommend listening to this in your vehicle: it's great driving music! Well, I doubt I've changed anyone's mind, but thanks for listening.


Sean Hutchinson <> (04.10.2000)

7.5 - Essential listening. Some wonderful stuff, especially on the 2nd CD. Highlights: “Seven Curses”, “I’ll Keep It With Mine”, “Call Letter Blues”, “When The Night Comes Falling From The Sky”, and the best 2 - “Blind Willie McTell” and “She’s Your Lover Now” - just imagine how could Blonde On Blonde would have been with “Lover” on it, instead of a couple of those shorter ‘fillers.’

Kai Häggman <> (03.06.2002)

Certainly there is one song in this great package that stands out above everything else. 'Blind Willie McTell' might even be the best ever Dylan-song...It might also be the best song ever that was left over from the original product. Only Dylan can leave out songs like these from his records..

Bob Josef <> (14.05.2003)

Another freebie -- and it was like finding an old trunk in the attic full of treasures. A few random comments:

The rawness of some of the early folk stuff ("House Carpenter", "Walls of Red Wing", "Only a Hobo", and especially "Seven Curses") make for some harrowing, but moving listening;

The rocky version of "It Takes a Train to Laugh.." and "Sitting on a Barb Wire Fence" should have been on H61 instead of some of the stuff that did get there;

"Call Letter Blues" is definitely better than the final "Meet in the Morning", at least musically;

There was plenty of room for "Series of Dreams" on Oh Mercy! This song also shows indirectly how much an influence Daniel Lanois has on U2 -- it sounds like they appear backing Dylan on this track, but they don't appear at all.

I could also do without more derivative talking blues, but at least they're funny. The only absolute dud for me, though, is his incoherent poetry recitation. I can take Dylan's ramblings when they're backed by solid music, (ever try to get through the endless poem in the liner notes of Another Side..? I haven't yet) but this is a waste of tape. Otherwise, there's lots of excellent stuff even for less than hardcore fans.

Brian Blommer <> (31.01.2004)

There are really too many gems on this collection to mention in any reasonable manner. Two for me are "Every Grain of Sand" and "Foot of Pride".

The former is Dylan at his most vulnerable and honest, in my opinion. (This sentiment is completely destroyed in the Shot of Love version, probably the clearest example of how even the greatest genius can make the most glaring mistake.) The honesty and tenderness of this version always puts shivers up my spine. (Note the strange coincidence of his dog barking after he says "Sometimes I look, there's someone there, other times it's only me.") The melody of this version (based on an old folk arrangement, Dylan has said) is haunting. And, really, is there a better written song by Dylan, or anyone else?

With "Foot of Pride," Dylan detonates a bomb of angry intensity and believability that every death/thrash/speed/punk/grunge metal band rolled into one only comes within a thousand miles of reaching in its darkest, wettest nightmare. Perhaps he is able to do this because he's blessed/cursed with seeing too clearly the true evils of this world, and knows that he is also blessed/cursed with the gift of articulating deadly accurate and well-aimed outrage at it. If he named names on this one, you can bet he'd have to fear for his life.


Erik Kennes <> (18.10.2000)

you write "any old folksinger could sing 'em just as well". This is not a question of personal preference anymore, this is simply wrong. Did you ever hear the other versions of some of theses songs? Do you really know how Dylan is able to transform a folksong, to reach to the depths of its meaning? Have you ever heard another version of "Arthur McBride" and "Black Jack Davey". Please do me a favour: compare "Never let me go" in its original version by Johnny Ace, and Dylans singing during the Rolling Thunder Revue. He transforms a crooner song to a song full of raw energy. He gives radically new interpretations to folk songs on good as I been to you and proves he is an excellent and authentic folk singer.

Raghu Mani <> (27.12.2000)

I'd give it a 7 too. A charming collection of folk and blues covers. Whether or not he knows how to compose a good song anymore, he sure knows how to find one. The songs themselves are very good as are Dylan's performances. Still, there is nothing outstanding about this album. All that it shows is that he is an excellent performer of acoustic material and that he has a good ear for songs and that was amply demonstrated on his debut album released 30 years before this one.


Ryan Mulligan <> (17.10.2000)

This one took me by surprise. An excellent all covers album, in my opinion, and Dylan sure knows how to find a good song. "World Gone Wrong', "Blood In My Eyes" and "Jack-A-Roe" stand out, and I also love that line in "Delia"(all the friends I ever had are gone). Everything else is either good or average, and I actually listen to this more than New Morning. It shouldn't get too high of a rating, because it is all covers, but it's a fine album. My Dylan collection is almost complete now....yet to pick up a copy of Saved.....

Raghu Mani <> (27.12.2000)

This is so similar to the last one that I'd give it the same score. I actually think that it might be marginally better than the last one but, like before, nothing outstanding here.

Antonio Real Morillo <> (12.01.2001)

This is one of those cases in which I feel obliged to listen to the whole LP just to get to the last bit: "Stack-A-Lee" (you should listen to Nick Cave's version, a totally different business), "Two Soldiers" and "Jack-A-Roe" are my favourites. I know this is just an album of covers, but it's got something. Bob sounds like grandpa singing tunes from the old days to his amazed grandchildren. Who wouldn't like to be Bob's grandson for a day?

<> (18.08.2001)

Must be something wrong with me, but I love World Gone Wrong and cannot listen to Good As I've Been To You. Most people I've talked to rate them as pretty much the same record, but I find Dylan's singing to be mostly terrible on Good... but more or less back to his glory days on World Gone Wrong. Also his guitar playing is more inspired. I do like 'Tomorrow Night' and 'Hard Times' on Good..., but after that I would take every song on World Gone Wrong . I consider World the beginning of Dylan's rebirth. After a decade or more of decline, he started to respect the music again and put effort into his performances. His live shows, which were becoming an utter embarrassment, became significantly better. So much so that you could say that was a good show wiht a straight face. And in a few years he was able to put together an album of new songs that, to me, matched such epics as Blood on the Tracks. Even his liner notes on World Gone Wrong show he is trying again, and, perhaps most importantly, that he has regained his sense of humor that had been missing since Desire.


Dirk Logemann <> (27.05.2004)

The best song? 'Love Minus Zero/No Limit' - No question!

The worst song? 'Knockin' on Heavens Door' - it sounds tired seeing it has been used as radio filler and feel-good [enough for another beer] pub music for years. It just seems icky here. But maybe perfect for MTV.


Brian Blacklow <> (05.12.99)

Highlands is taken from the Robert Burns poem "Highlands".... Bob took certain lines for the song straight from the poem.... so I don't think the title has anything to do with 'Sad Eyed lady of the lowlands'...

Paul Butler <> (09.08.2000)

In the Picador paperback of American Psycho by Brett Easton Ellis page 222, the (anti) hero muses to himself "Outside it's not dark yet but it's getting there". Yet another example of Bob delving into literature and popular art?

<> (08.09.2000)

I was hoping to slowly and chronollogically collect all of Bob's albums (the next most recent album I have is 1976's Desire), but after hearing such great news about this album (not to mention the THREE GRAMMIES it could you not mention that?!), I couldn't resist. As it turned out, this deserved every single bit of praise from the critics. (hey, it's about TIME they started writing good things about Bob again) The seven long years Dylan spent between writing all original material obviously paid off extremely well, judging from the spectacular first track, "Love Sick". Probably the best and most eminently listenable of Bob's opening songs since "Rainy Day Women #12 & 35", I was immediately drawn well as kinda Dylan's raspy vocals (I quickly got used to it, though..he), as well as the ghostly organ and crisp guitars. Wonderful song. From then on, the rundown of songs is basically gritty blues song, followed by tear-jerking ballad, followed by blues song, etc...and my God, it worked beautifully. Thanks to some spectacular guitar work and Bob's story-teller-like singing, Dylan single-handedly creates some of his best and most listenable 12 bar blues songs since Blonde on Blonde...the best being "Dirt Road Blues", "'Til I Fell in Love with You", and the closing track, "Highlands". I'm not going to go into how it's Bob's longest song ever or the fact that the critics loved it (it's not my favorite of Dylan's long songs...the best of those would be the 11 minute "Desolation Row"), but I can pretty sum up this 16 minute song by saying, "It sure doesn't seem that long" (by the way, George, you're probably the only person I've encountered in my lifetime who thinks this track is overlong). The same thing can basically be said about every other track on this album...all of the them seemed to pass by quickly and left me wanting more (what was the problem here, George?) The only gritty blues songs I don't really care for would have to be "Can't Wait" and "Million Miles"...nothing really special here. Which now leaves me open to talk about the spectacular "Cold Irons Bound"...while easily passing the test for "best song title", I think this track also deserves the title of "coolest song ever made". It also seems to be a concert favorite as well (In my opinion, Bob's best song at a concert I went to in June, was this one). And then there are the ballads. The best of the four tear jerking songs on TOOM is a close draw between "Not Dark Yet" and "Standing in the Doorway" ("Tryin' to Get to Heaven" gets credit for Bob's harp solo, and "Make you feel My Love" is noteable for its excellent piano), but overall, all of these rank highly with some of Bob's most affecting love conclusion, George, I respect you trying to be original and all by giving this album an 8 (or, as you stated, a "weak" 8), but c'mon...we both know this deserves a solid 10. This is a masterpiece; this is Dylan in all his Bobness. If Dylan had died in 1997 of that disease he got (thank God he survived), it's safe to say that he would've gone out in a bang. But as long as this remains Bob's latest album, and not forgetting his well-recieved "Neverending tour", it's quite clear that BOB IS BACK!!

Sean Hutchinson <> (04.10.2000)

7 - Very good. Warms the heart to hear it. “Cold Irons Bound” and “Not Dark Yet” are the real, old Dylan!!

Raghu Mani <> (27.12.2000)

My reaction to this was so similar to the reaction I had for Oh Mercy that I was afraid that this album wouldn't age well either. However, three years hasn't diminished my love for this album, It is still a 9 in my book. The only real problem with this album is that it is overlong and has a couple of songs of dubious quality ('Can't Wait', 'Till I Fell In Love With You'). However, that's only quibbling - the dodgy tracks are easily skipped over and what's left is about 60 minutes of brilliantly dark music.

Glenn Wiener <> (22.05.2003)

Like the blues tone but the songs are hit and miss. The lead off tracks 'Sick Of Love' and 'Dirt Road Blues' make a great one two punch. 'Make You Feel My Love' is another gem. But some of the other cannot justify their length as the melodies just are not captivating. Other songs are deathly slow particularly the never ending 'Highlands'. Gosh 16 1/2 minutes of blues without much of change in instrumentation.

Anyway, Love And Theft is a significant improvement over this batch. However, the quality is definitely good.


Raghu Mani <> (20.09.2001)

I got the album about a week ago and I have given it maybe a half-dozen or so listens. I have to say, I kinda agree with your comments on the album but I would rate it higher than you did - more or less on a par with Time Out of Mind (which means a high 8 or a low 9). This isn't Dylan at his peak but a very good album, nonetheless. The album that I find most like this one is the Basement Tapes. On both of these Dylan sounds like he is having fun and goes through a whole gamut of musical styles. The only song in the whole collection that I could do without is "Bye and Bye". Some interesting lyrics but either it is completely lacking in melody or Dylan's voice isn't quite up to the task - maybe a little of both. The other song which I feel could have been omitted (even though I like it) is "Lonesome Day Blues". It is all too similar to "Cry A While" and the latter is a much more interesting song what with the tempo changes and some really neat lyrical touches. That apart, the record is great. Song for song, it may not be as good as its predecessor but in this case, the old cliche that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts holds true. This is no Highway 61 or Blonde on Blonde but it is an immensely enjoyable album. If considered in relation to those albums the accolades it is receiving are a bit much but it is a lot better than anything else I have heard this year - and in that sense all the 5 star ratings and A pluses are well deserved.

<> (21.09.2001)

Just thought you might like to know that Mississippi was originally written for Sheryl Crow, appearing on the Globe Sessions several years back. I haven't heard her rendition (nor have I heard any of her songs, actually) so I can't compare the two. As for the album, I enjoy it immensely, but I still wish it contained 'Things Have Changed', its semi-contemporary single.

Oh, and for any unfortunate souls who read my postings on music babble, I picked up Time Out Of Mind today, so you can add that to the list.

I apologize for the predominantly rational and coherent nature of this message. I'll atone for it later.

Doron Diamond <> (21.09.2001)

I like the album a lot. It's great, but nowhere near 5 stars or his best since BOB. It's just as good as Nashville Skyline and Desire though, and for someone his age, with the amount of material he's already released, that's incredible. It's also probably the best album this year. I too think Dylan is at his best when writing depressed music, which is why TOOM is still much better than this. "Po' Boy" is a legit Dylan classic, and among the top 50 songs he's ever written IMO. The other songs are all at the very least "good" or catchy in one way or another, so that instantly makes this a winner. 'Mississippi' is very good, but not incredible, and from the TOOM sessions anyway, so it doesn't truly count IMO. The rest of the songs are like I said, catchy, with "Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum" and "Floater" being the two other minor standouts. Needless to say, it's a very, very good album, even better when you consider who it's from and when, and gets even better with each listen. With one classic (Po' Boy) 3 very good songs ('Mississippi', 'Floater', 'TDandTD') this is definately worth picking up. The bonus version is even better with the extra two tracks. I had the same thoughts as you George- I pray Dylan is able to maake one more album of TOOM quality, because this would be one of the most disaapointing ways to end the legend of Bob Dylan, despite the Album's quality. Maybe he secretly has 10-12 songs that he'll release only once he's gone, and make that his final album. He can call it "Walkin' Down (That Lonesome Road)" or "(Walkin' Down) That Lonesome Road." I think it'd be fitting! But really, I pray he ends his career with something else, because this would be a disappointment of sorts. Anyway, good review for Love and Theft, George!

Sergey Zhilkin <> (08.10.2001)

I'm really glad that Dylan's lived up to the moment I became his fan and produced a new album. And it's not really that essantial that this album can't reach even 70's stuff - the main point is that I became the witness of new Dylan's album! And then I will have the full right to tell the story to my children how I ran to market, outrunning thousands people who wanted to get this album too... I'm really pleased to see not an official compilation with one supa-dupa extra best from 90's bonus track but an album with 12 new tracks. Come on, think about it, who released such albums in 2000 and 2001! ELO, Iggy Pop (although, critics hailed this effort as comeback to loud sound, album still sucks), Paul McCartney with a crappy historical album, Clapton with both half-succesful Riding with the king and Reptile and Yes with a 'retro-Yes' album. So Dylan really stands out with his album (which is 'retro', too - drumming looks like it was borrowed from 70's) cause there're some original ideas (original by Dylan's standards) - 'Po' boy' and 'Mississippi river'. The latter has full rights to become a member of all time best Dylan comiplation (only if it's a 2CD compilation), I have to admit. But what about the others, you'll ask? Hmm, they're ordinary, not great and not bad, as usual. Aren't you bored of all these usual R'n'B and blues numbers? We've known them for years! They are not original by all means.... And yet the answer is 'no, they are good'. Poetry is no great shakes, unfortunately (except the 'Mississippi river'). I mean, heck, there were no really great lyrics' moments since...since Good as I been to you. So let's be satisfied with Old Dylan who hasn't chewed his talent yet but is nearing his limit.

What more can be said? I must notice that Dylan is actually the only one of awoken this year artists whose release is necessary. And, yes, I agree with you on the point that L&T would be a strange way to finish career

PS. I saw Love and theft on two CDs with two unreleased songs appearing on second disc, which is proudly announced by sticker on a cover. But the actual names aren't given so I suppose it's the case of record company releasing different mixes or something like this. Buyer beware.

<> (15.11.2001)

quick correction on your user comments. Dylan wrote "mississippi," not Sheryl Crow. She may have recorded it first, but she did not write it.

Niklas Strömberg <> (03.12.2001)

This is at least as good as TOOM. I can accept the 8 rating on that record, but not the 7 on this. It is not a single bad track on it, and the lyrics are just hilarious and clever. It almost gives a feeling of the mid 60's albums. It is either a strong 8 or a week 9. Can't decide.

Viktoria Zupan <> (18.12.2001)

Sheryls version is acctually quite good, it is offcourse the best track of the globe sessions, I think 'mississsipi' sounds better when played faster. Album is wonderful though, far better than Time out of mind.

Srivatsan Laxman <> (06.01.2002)

i guess the minimum that dylan has achieved in his this latest album, is to live up to all the expectations and build-up, that preceeded its release. I would describe love and theft as: a suprise package, lighter than usual, very well-knit, (but) lyrics not v penetrative. overall, i would rate it an 8 confidently, may be even a 9.

its always been to dylan's credit that his greatest hits collections span 4 full CDs, and yet, they fall way short of showcasing his work in true perspective. love and theft undoubtedly swells that un-showcased greatest hits list further, at least by another half a dozen songs.

yet, what probably gives this album its biggest punch is the overall appeal. you never feel like skipping a single song, when listening to the album. you dont want to tamper with the sort order either. the rythm and the melodies alternate and follow one another in almost perfect sequence.

my favourite tracks are (in no particular order of merit): 'tweedle' .., 'mississippi', 'lonesome', 'moonlight', 'high water', 'po boy', 'honest' .., 'cry' .., 'floater' .., ... oops!! i have almost listed them all .. sorry!

at least in a couple of songs (either the lighter ones, or the more serious of the lot), dylan could have been a bit more sincere with the lyrics. i would have then given the album a full 9 without batting an eyelid!

keep going bob .. we'll always want more.

Dave Confer <> (24.01.2002)

First of all, I think you've done a good job with this site. I will concede that I am a Dylan fanatic, but not to the extent that I am personally offended by your less-than-good reviews of many of his albums, nor to the extent that I believe him to be a king among men whose work can't rightly be negatively reviewed. So preach on, and don't let all the "Dylan is my God" hate-mail letters get you down.

I was reading your review of Love and Theft, and I got hung up on the part where you said you didn't quite know what the message of the album was. It's definitely harder to pin down a certain message that the album as a whole attempts to get across to the listener, much harder than an album like Time Out of Mind or Slow Train Coming. I would say that one thing Dylan is trying to say with this album, which I believe you touched on, is "I'm not finished yet, and you'd better believe I've still got a few tricks up my sleeve." As you said, it was a total departure from the emotions expressed in Time Out of Mind. I think Dylan was trying to say, among other things, that just because Time Out of Mind made it sound like he was at the end of the road, that doesn't necessarily mean he is.

Glenn Wiener <> (20.03.2003)

A very good CD by Mr. Dylan. Loaded with textures and styles. Plenty of good blues numbers and old time swing tunes not to mention some touching ballads. It was nice to hear Dylan's version of 'Mississippi'. Usually I like other people's versions of Dylan songs better but in this case both the original and cover are equally good in their own way. Many many highlights on this CD. 'Po Boy' and 'Bye and Bye' are beautiful swing numbers. 'Honest With Me', 'Tweedly Dee Tweedly Dum', and 'Lonesome Day' are stunning blues tunes.

Good assessment regarding Clapton's Reptile CD. Eric you need to give Bobby D a call as these musicians really know how to play. Its shame there aren't more solos on this CD. Nonetheless its a winner.


<> (28.07.2002)

A Dylan greatest hits CD? HA! Blonde on Blonde ALONE is better than 99% of artists ENTIRE greatest hits cds. JWH? H61? SAME THING! the idea of a dylan "greatest hits" cd is the most ridiculous thing ive ever heard. thats like being able to buy an entire mansion, but only sitting in the rooms that the real estate agent suggested.

Brian Bentsen <> (14.03.2003)

The best summarization (and by "best" I mean "least insufficient") of Dylan's work is arguably The Essential Bob Dylan. If you're a newcomer and don't really know where to start, this it it. The only regular Greatest Hits of interest to devoted fans, however (discounting historical importance and such), is Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits, Vol. 2 (or More Bob Dylan Greatest Hits, as the european counterpart was titled), seeing that it has six tracks then unreleased and still not too easy to come around elsewhere: 'Watching the River Flow', 'Tomorrow Is a Long Time', 'When I Paint My Masterpiece', 'I Shall Be Released', 'You Ain't Goin' Nowhere' and 'Down in the Flood', all very solid ("I Shall Be Released" is also to be found on Biograph, "Tomorrow Is a Long Time" only on the obscure australian compilation Masterpieces, "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere" and "Down in the Flood" were newly recorded and differ from the Basement Tapes versions).

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