Monday, 30 July 2018

Bob Dylan - New Morning (1972)


Released October 1970

Recorded at Columba Studios in New York City

Around 1970-72 was the time many artists put out laid-back, contemplative, rustic country rock - Van Morrison's "Tupelo Honey", Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young's "Deja Vu" and this, from Bob Dylan. It is a beguiling piece of work. It has been praised a lot, especially in comparison with "Self Portrait", which I feel is wide of the mark, slightly. Personally, I much prefer the latter. This album I find somewhat stark and unrealised. It came only four months after the reviled "Self Portrait", yet it avoided the brickbats and was hailed as a refreshing breath of fresh air. I am not quite sure why. It has always seemed throwaway and lightweight, to me.


1. If Not For You
2. Day Of The Locusts
3. Time Passes Slowly
4. Went To See The Gypsy
5. Winterlude
6. If Dogs Run Free
7. New Morning
8. Sign On The Window
9. One More Weekend
10. The Man In Me
11. Three Angels
12. Father Of Night

"If Not For You" (covered by George Harrison on "All Things Must Pass" and made a hit single by Olivia Newton-John is appealing and country-ish. "Day Of The Locusts" was a bit of a bizarre, staccato song about Dylan receiving an honorary degree, while "Time Passes Slowly" is very much in the "Nashville Skyline" country vein. "Went To See The Gypsy" is one of the best cuts, a full, bassy and pounding tale of Dylan visiting Elvis Presley in concert in Las Vegas. There is a better version of it on "Another Self Portrait", however. "Winterlude" has a waltz beat and sounds like an old country song from the 1940s. "If Dogs Run Free" is quite a rarity among Dylan's songs. It is a piano-driven jazzy song, with Dylan croaking throatily some cod-philosophy while backed by some intensely irritating "Scooby-do-dooo, bah, bah, bah" backing "scat" vocals. At times, this really is quite awful, yet it has a vibrancy of sound about it and a sort of perverse appeal.

The title track features some excellent organ and bass work and has a lively, upbeat refrain. One of the album's best tracks. "Sign On The Window" is very much a "Self Portrait" type song - a plaintive piano-driven ballad, featuring some intrusive "woo-woo" backing vocals at times. It has Dylan ruminating about living in a cabin in Utah, catching rainbow trout and having a bunch of kids who all him "Pa". All very relaxed. The best (and only) blues rocker on the album is the punchy "One More Weekend", this is probably my favourite and is a throwback to the mid sixties. It is good to hear him rock and sing about seduction, as opposed to bucolic pleasures, for the first time in a while. "The Man In Me" is not at all bad either - a slow soulful groove. Less of the country, more of the Band-style rock ballad.

"Three Angels" is a bizarre oddity. Dylan narrates some surreal lyrics about what, I am not really sure. "Father Of Night" is one of Dylan's first devotional sons, a precursor to his 79-82 "born again" material, but, as yet, he had not seen the light.


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