Saturday, 2 June 2018

Bob Dylan - Blood On The Tracks (1975)


Released January 1975

Recorded at A & R Studios, New York City

Firstly, whatever format you buy this album, the sound is pretty much uniformly excellent. I have the current remaster from "The Complete Album Collection" box set. Those crystal clear, razor sharp acoustic guitar parts (check out the intro to "You're A Big Girl"); that lovely, melodious, gently rumbling bass; that great drum/percussion sound and then Dylan's voice (and also his harmonica) as good as it ever sounded. Just spectacular sound.


1. Tangled Up In Blue
2. A Simple Twist Of Fate
3. You're A Big Girl Now
4. Idiot Wind
5. You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go
6. Meet Me In The Morning
7. Lily, Rosemary & The Jack Of Hearts
8. If You See Her, Say Hello
9. Shelter From The Room
10. Buckets Of Rain

Secondly, I want to make a case for the often-maligned "Lily, Rosemary & The Jack Of Hearts". It is one of my favourite Dylan songs of all time. It was the first song I heard from this album, back in 1975 and I bought the album as a result. Ok, I accept that it sits rather strangely amidst the soul-searching, lyrical poetry of much of the album's other material. However, it is a truly great Dylan "narrative poem" in the same style as "Brownsville Girl", "Hurricane" and, latterly, "Tempest" (another one that divides fans). I guess you either like Dylan's "story songs" or you don't. Yes, it is repetitive, musically and in the fact that it is verse after verse irritates some people. However, I love the characterisation, the story, the cinematic atmosphere, Dylan's delivery. It is perfect in every way as far as I'm concerned.

Of, course, so is the rest of the album - the great poetic songs of "Tangled Up In Blue", with its marvellous imagery, and the lovely "Shelter From The Storm"; the tortured and tender love songs, "Simple Twist Of Fate", "You're A Big Girl" and "If You See Her Say Hello" with their spectacular turns of phrase; The slow, insistent blues of "Meet In The Morning" and the two folky "short songs" that end each of the old "sides" in "Buckets Of Rain" and "You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go". All marvellous in their own way.

Then, lest we forget, there is the titanic "Idiot Wind" - Dylan spitting out invective left, right and centre bemoaning his broken relationship, the press and the state of the country/world in general. Even in his criticism though, his use of language is magnificent. I don't have words to describe it sufficiently, I'm afraid. Much as I have declared my love for "Lily", "Idiot" has to be the jewel in the crown.

One of the century's greatest albums. No question.


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