Saturday, 2 June 2018

Bob Dylan - Highway 61 Revisited (1965)


Released August 1965

Recorded at Columbia Studio, New York City

The album that blew the windows wide open. Yes, half of “Bringing It All Back Home” had introduced the “electric” element to Dylan’s sound with a colossal bang, but here it took it to the max and mixed it with some of his most evocative, cinematic, imagery-full lyrics. Indeed, some of the most adventurous lyrics popular music had ever seen. Remember, this was 1965. The Beatles were only just out of the covering of rock n roll standards on half their albums, The Rolling Stones of covering blues standards and The Beach Boys were still singing about surfing, cars and girls. What Dylan achieved on this album was just remarkable.


1. Like A Rolling Stone
2. Tombstone Blues
3. It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry
4. From A Buick 6
5. Ballad Of A Thin Man
6. Queen Jane Approximately
7. Highway 61 Revisited
8. Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues
9. Desolation Row

The “bookend” tracks of the album are is two best - the sensational, six minute single, “Like A Rolling Stone”, from whose opening guitar notes so many were inspired, notably a young Bruce Springsteen, who said hearing it literally changed his life from that point onwards. Then there is the monumental, magnificent, mighty “Desolation Row", eleven minutes of Dylan heaven, and my own personal favourite Dylan track of all time. It is so good, its verses so potent, it is virtually impossible to write about it.

The album is packed with other gems too - The frenetic blues rock of “Tombstone Blues”; the imagery of “It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry”; the madcap blues of “From A Buick 6” and the religious overtones of the barnstorming title track. Then there is the lyrical poetry and swirling organ attack of “Queen Jane Approximately” and “Just Like Tom Thumb Blues” with its great opening line  - “when you’re lost in the rain in Juarez, and it’s Easter time too…”.

“Ballad Of A Thin Man” sees Dylan spiting out invective at “Mr Jones” as only Dylan circa 1965 could do. Every track broke new boundaries. Simply one of the greatest albums of all time. “Sergeant who”? Two years before “Pepper”, Dylan was releasing material like this.


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