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movieman1957

What Are You Listening To?

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Listening to FUNKYTOWN.  The notion just struck me that I wanted to listen to 'Lipps, Inc.''s big hit from '80. 

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With nothing to do and nowhere to go these days in NYC, I decided to listen to every Bob Dylan album in chronological order.

1) Bob Dylan-the debut album in 1962. It's OK, not very impressed. He growls through some old blues song like "Fixin To Die" and "In My Time Of Dyin". He yodels some country/folk tunes like "Freight Train Blues". My favorite song is the original "Talkin' New York" which tells of his first experiences as a musician in the city.

2) The Freewheelin Bob Dylan-his sophomore album is a vast improvement on the first and one of his best ever. Several songs like the beautiful anthem "Blowin In The Wind" and country flavored "Don't Think Twice, It's All Alright". "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" is the first time we get to hear the surreal imagery that be more prevalent in the next few years. There is also the venomous protest song "Masters Of War". There are some lighter moments with some very funny talking songs like "Talkin' World World III  Blues" and "I Shall Be Free". The latter one has President Kennedy asking Bob how he can make the country grow. Bob tells him "Brigette Bardot, Anita Ekberg, Sophia Loren... country will grow"

3) The Times They Are A-Changin-Dylan's most serious work yet. The title song is one of his best, a powerful look at the changing times with great lyrics like "The line it is drawn, the curse it is cast, the slow one now will later be fast." "With God On Our Side" is a bitter look at war and American history. There some standout protest songs about recent events- "The Ballad Of Hollis Brown" is about a farmer who is starving from poverty that killed himself and his family with a shotgun, there is pounding guitar riff through out it. "A Pawn In Their Game" is about the murder of Medgar Evers which blame is put on Southern politicians. "The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll" is a heartbreaking and infuriating story of a rich man who killed a maid and got a 6 month sentence. 

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4) Another Side Of Bob Dylan- a very good album and the final link in between the acoustic folk music and the electric rockers that would soon follow. It has two that became very popular with cover artists "All I Really Want To Do" and "It Ain't Me Babe". "Black Crow Blues"features the first time we get Dylan playing piano. "My Back Pages" has some great thoughtful lyrics like "I was so much older then, I'm younger then that now". There are two hilarious story songs- "I Shall Be Free No 10" which talks about Cassius Clay and Barry Goldwater. "Motorpsycho Nitemare" is about the narrator stopping at a farmhouse where the suspicious farmer thinks he is that traveling salesman he heard about. His daughter resembles Tony Perkins and offers the man a shower. "Ballad In Plain D" is a brutally honest account of the end of a love affair due to meddling from his girl's relatives.

5) Bringing It All Back Home-my favorite album. The opening song "Subterranean Homesick Blues" is a driving rocker with wild and great rhymes. "Maggie's Farm" is a fun protest song in which the narrator is employed by a family who use, abuse and exploit him. "Love Minus Zero/No Limit" has some of Dylan's best poetic lyrics. Another very funny talking song is "Bob Dylan's 115th Dream" .  The second side has no rockers instead some subdued mostly acoustic songs. Dylan is on guitar and harmonica, occasionally accompanied on bass. "Mr Tambourine Man" is one of his greatest songs, with the title character offering escape from everything with his jingle jangle music. There are two stark and ominous songs 'Gates Of Eden" is one of Dylan's most cynical, as he talks of only good things in Eden, probably representing the after life and nothing good outside of it, "It's Alright Ma, (I'm Only Bleeding") is a great one about apathy, as Dylan says this is life, not always great and not much can be done about it. 

6) Highway 61 Revisited-Dylan goes full throttle rock and roll with this one. A close second for my favorite album. "Like A Rolling Stone" may be Dylan's best song ever. Driving guitars, carnival like organ and wonderfully wild lyrics. "Tombstone Blues" is a great rocker with excellent guitar and bashing backbeat throughout. My favorite track "Ballad Of A Thin Man" is  a tale of a square named Mr Jones who cannot understand the people he comes in contact with. Musically great with a Ray Charles inspired piano riff. The second side has some of Dylan's wildest imagery. The title song has a shrill police whistle among the great music, it tells of characters who can only can get certain deeds done if they go down this mystical Highway. The final track is "Desolation Row" an 11 minute epic with spare instrumentation including a Mexican cantina flavor to the guitar. The characters in the song include Cinderella, Einstein, The Phantom Of The Opera who all seemed to be headed to either their salvation or doom on the titled road.

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^ I'm in NJ and also on lockdown.  When I'm in a DYLAN mood, I always go for Blonde On BlondeThe Greatest Hits Volume 2 is also hugely enjoyable.  Otherwise, Highway 61 Revisited ...or Bringing It All Back Home which I think is his best album.  You've inspired me.  Listening to: 

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If anyone wants to chime in what they think of Dylan's albums, please do.

7) Blonde On Blonde-many feel this is Dylan's best. I think it's a great album but not as good as the last two. "Rainy Day Women #12 &35" is the rollicking, wild first track, it became a big hit and sounds like a drunken marching band. Dylan's backing band of mostly Nashville musicians are terrific throughout the record. "Visions Of Johanna" is a good laid back track with surreal lyrics. Side 2 is the best, with hit singles "I Want You" with a catchy ringing guitar riff and the great love ballad "Just Like A Woman". My favorite song is "Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again" a fun song with great playing and love the refrain. "Leopard Skin Pill Box Hat" is a hilarious break up song. Another interesting song is "Fourth Time Around" with some very funny lyrics and similar instrumentation to the Beatles "Norwegian Wood" (John Lennon noticed that). The final track takes up all of Side 4 "Sad Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands", it's an interesting epic of Dylan worshiping a woman he seems to feel is a goddess. (we later find out it is written for his wife Sara.

8. John Wesley Harding-a more subdued Dylan here, but for the most part the music is as good as ever. It begins with the title song, a Woody Guthrie-esqe tale. There are some haunting folk songs like "As I Went Out One Morning" and "I Dreamed I Saw St Augustine". The best song  became a Dylan classic "All Along The Watchtower" an ominous sounding song about a Joker and a Thief which sets up the story and quietly concludes. There are more Guthrie types songs with "I Am A Lonesome Hobo" and "I Pity The Poor Immigrant". The final track is a sweet country tune "I'll Be Your Baby Tonight".

9) Nashville Skyline- Dylan closes out the 1960s with a simple country record. Many of the Nashville musicians from the last two albums are back again and still do a great job. The first track is a remake of "Girl From The North Country" which was on Freewheelin. It's a duet with Johnny Cash but they can't seem to get together on the harmony, it almost sounds like an outtake. The soothing ballad "Lay Lady Lay" became a big hit and is my favorite on the album. Some other good tunes are "I Threw It All Away" and "One More Night". It's a pretty good record but Dylan's weakest since his debut. 

 

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I won't be reviewing any  Dylan greatest hits, live albums or Basement Tapes type collections, just official studio albums.

10) Self Portrait-Dylan's first of the 1970s is a disappointing grab bag of covers and a few originals. My favorite song on the album is on Side 1, "Days Of 49" a good old folk song about the gold rush days, Dylan sounds most confident on this one. There is a nice cover of Gordon Lightfoot's "Early Mornin Rain". One of the problems on here is we get two versions of some songs. One "Alberta 1" is a good bluesy original, "Alberta 2" is a faster version not needed. One of the better originals is good story song "Little Sadie" but we also get really bad rehearsal version called "In Search Of Little Sadie". The worst of the cover songs is an awful version of Simon & Garfunkel's "The Boxer". Dylan double tracks his voice but the harmony never gets together.

11) New Morning-A great improvement over the last two albums. There are many nice love songs on here. The first song became one of his most covered "If Not For You", Olivia Newton John had a hit with it and George Harrison did the best version on his All Things Must Pass.  The title song and "The Man In Me" are joyous, the latter got more popular when The Big Lebowski was released. The songs are dominated by some great piano playing on tracks "If Dogs Run Free"and 'Winterlude". My favorite song is the last one "Father Of Night" with great inspirational lyrics and more great piano playing.

12) Pat Garrett And Billy The Kid-Dylan's soundtrack to the Sam Peckinpah movie. It's a lot of guitar strumming and 3 forgettable versions of the same song "Billy". One classic came out of it-"Knockin On Heaven's Door" one of Dylan's most haunting songs. It became a hit single, only problem is it's only 2 1/2 minutes long, I could have listened to 3 or 4 more verses and the chorus over and over again.  

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3 hours ago, Det Jim McLeod said:

The songs are dominated by some great piano playing

I think it was AL KOOPER on piano. 

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13 hours ago, Allhallowsday said:

I think it was AL KOOPER on piano. 

Yes, he is on most of the songs, though Dylan himself is credited with playing piano on a few of them. 

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^ First word is censored. 

BADLANDS was on TCM this afternoon; interesting group of mature subject movies so far today, like GUN CRAZY and THE HONEYMOON KILLERS

 

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13) Planet Waves-a very good album with backing by The Band. There are some energetic rockers like "On A Night Like This" and "Tough Mama. Another Dylan classic on here is 'Forever Young" a beautiful inspirational song which parents would relate to regarding their children. There is a raw, emotional song called "Dirge" about guilt and self loathing, some of his most powerful lyrics in years. My favorite song is the last, "Wedding Song" an acoustic, stripped down song with very personal and  touching lyrics about the love of a woman he clearly worships more than life itself.

14) Blood On The Tracks-one of Dylan's most acclaimed and definitely one of his best. There are many songs of lost love, most sung in first person. The opening "Tangled Up In Blue" is one of the best with tales of going down the road to the next joint. Other good ones are "Simple Twist Of Fate" and "You're A Big Girl Now" all sung with great passion. "Idiot Wind" is a bitter song with some dark and witty lyrics.  My favorite song is "Shelter From The Storm" with some great lyrics about being taken in by a kind woman away from all the troubles of the world. Interesting biblical references like "crown of thorns" and "gambling for my clothes".

15) Desire-another very good album with some protest and love songs. "Hurricane" is a powerful song about Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, a boxer who Dylan says was wrongly convicted of murder. no symbolism here just plain straight talk. There is good use of violin playing by Scarlet Rivera on the whole album, best use is on the haunting "One More Cup Of Coffee". "Joey" is another true life story of gangster "Crazy Joe" Gallo. My favorite is the last "Sara" a raw, personal song about the love of his wife who he is losing. This is one of Dylan's best songs ever.

 

 

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16) Street Legal-a slickly produced album with some good sax playing. "Changing Of The Guards" and 'No Time To Think" have some surreal imagery and word play Dylan hasn't used in awhile, the female R&B backup singers sometime drown him out though. My favorite song is the catchy "Baby Stop Crying". Another good one is an ominous tale "Senor (Tales Of Yankee Power)" in which the narrator is being taken somewhere in a foreign land by some mysterious Senor, maybe to his death. Otherwise most of the songs are just OK or forgettable, this album is very inferior to the last 3.

17) Slow Train Coming-Dylan's first Christian album has great lyrics and brilliant playing by Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits on guitar, the female backup is much better on this one. My favorite is the first 'Gotta Serve Somebody" which sets the tone musically and lyrically, though there are a couple that are just as good. "Precious Angel" has a great inspirational chorus of "Shine your light on me!". "When You Gonna Wake Up" is Dylan's angriest Christian song with great keyboards and horns. A few others can be seen as religious but don't actually mention God or Jesus at all. "I Believe In You" can be just taken as believing in just some ordinary human being. "Slow Train" is a great bluesy song which also has ambiguous meaning. I think this is Dylan's best since Blonde On Blonde.

18) Saved- Dylan's first album in the 1980s, and a big letdown after the great last one. "Saved" and "Solid Rock" are two of the livelier songs, they sound like they could have been old time gospel numbers. The others are mostly dull and lifeless. Dylan's weakest since Self Portrait.

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26 minutes ago, Det Jim McLeod said:

I think this is Dylan's best since Blonde On Blonde.

What about Blood On The Tracks

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3 minutes ago, Allhallowsday said:

What about Blood On The Tracks

A great album, I just like the musicians and some of the songs a bit better on Slow Train

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1 hour ago, Det Jim McLeod said:

A great album, I just like the musicians and some of the songs a bit better on Slow Train

 Slow Train is held in high regard.  I don't know '70s DYLAN well and never owned albums that interested me like Tracks and  Slow Train

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