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Tangled Up In Bob

Now that I’m the proud owner of the Bob Dylan: The Complete Album Collection Vol. One I now have to consider the best way to actually tackle listening to this behemoth. Given that this is a 47 disc box set including 35 studio albums, 6 live albums and another album of miscellaneous non-album tracks, I’m not really going to be able to listen to it all in a quiet afternoon.

My plan is to progressively listen to either one album from this set or revisit another related piece of Bob Dylan music or media every couple of weeks. I’m quite interested in what the cumulative effect of listening to and thinking about the music and career of possibly the greatest ever songwriter will be. While this means that I will have to listen to the much dreaded Dylan and the Dead album again, it will be genuinely interesting to revisit this in the context of his overall career.

For each album or other item that I’m revisiting, I’ll provide a brief background and review, as well as my reaction to the piece as part of Dylan’s overall career. I’ll also make note of my favourite track, as well as my favourite cover version of a track from each album.

Dont Look Back (1965)

031 Don't Look Back

Released in 1967 Dont Look Back is a fly on the wall documentary following Bob Dylan during his ten day tour of the UK in April/May 1965. Falling just over a month after the release of Bringing It All Back Home, the film captures Dylan at a fascinating turning point of his career. Dont Look Back is also particularly notable with D. A. Pennebaker being given a level of access to the enigmatic Dylan that has not been seen since. That said, Eat The Document, Dylan and Pennebaker’s rather unsuccessful attempt to film his 1966 UK tour may have played a role in this change of heart.

Continue reading “Dont Look Back (1965)”

Bringing It All Back Home (1965)

028 Bringing It All Back Home

Bringing It All Back Home is Bob Dylan’s first masterpiece, notably it’s also his first album to make it into the Billboard Top 10 Albums chart. The first notes from the electric guitar in the introduction to “Subterranean Homesick Blues” are an immediate declaration of intent, separating Bringing It All Back Home from the folk music that had comprised Dylan’s career up to that point. Structurally, the album is divided into two halves with side one featuring Bob Dylan backed by a rock band and an acoustic side two. Lyrically, the album continues on from Another Side Of Bob Dylan in eschewing the protest and socially conscious songs of his early albums and moving towards the more personal and sometimes surreal.

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The Bootleg Series Volume 9: The Witmark Demos (1962-1964)

026 Witmark Demos

It seems appropriate at this point to take a brief diversion from Bob Dylan: The Complete Album Collection Vol. One to close out Dylan’s “folk” years by looking at the remainder of his studio recordings from this era. The Bootleg Series Volume 9: The Witmark Demos: 1962-1964 collects together demos recorded by Dylan for the publishing companies Leeds Music and M. Witmark & Sons. Although over two-thirds of the tracks on this release were subsequently re-recorded and released by Dylan in the 1960s, there are fifteen tracks that until the release of this album in 2010 had only been available as bootlegs.

Continue reading “The Bootleg Series Volume 9: The Witmark Demos (1962-1964)”

Another Side Of Bob Dylan (1964)

024 Another Side Of Bob Dylan

Another Side Of Bob Dylan is Bob Dylan’s fourth studio album and is one that is too readily dismissed. Recorded just five months after The Times They Are A-Changin’, the album comes at an interesting point in Dylan’s career and is unique amongst his discography. The album is often referred to as Dylan’s last “folk” album and musically this is correct, the album was recorded solo by Dylan on vocals, acoustic guitar and harmonica in a single session on June 9 1964. However, lyrically Another Side Of Bob Dylan breaks away from the earnest protest songs and tales of injustice so prevalent on the previous albums.

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The Times They Are A-Changin’ (1964)

022 The Times They Are A Changin

Bob Dylan’s third album The Times They Are A-Changin’ was released just eight months after the extraordinary The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan. While it’s his first album comprised entirely of original songs, The Times They Are A-Changin’ lacks the variety and humour of its predecessor. A series of earnest ballads focussed on social justice and racism, the album is a bit heavy going at times, but the presence of three extraordinary songs elevates its status.

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The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan (1963)

018 Freewheelin Bob Dylan

It’s difficult to reconcile that the same artist released the landmark album The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan only fourteen months after his relatively unremarkable debut Bob Dylan. This is the album where Bob Dylan’s skill as a songwriter became apparent. As opposed to his thirteen track debut which featured just two original titles, The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan counts only two covers amongst its thirteen tracks and these have been rewritten in such a way to as put his own stamp of originality on them. Continue reading “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan (1963)”

Bob Dylan (1962)

016 Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan’s eponymous debut album certainly makes for enjoyable listening and gives many hints of the artist he will become, but realistically it is the sound of a young musician finding his voice. Of the album’s thirteen tracks, only two tracks (“Talkin’ New York” and “Song To Woody”) are written by Dylan, with the remainder of the album comprising folk and blues standards. Continue reading “Bob Dylan (1962)”

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