Tuesday, 28 August 2018
Bob Dylan - Another Side Of Bob Dylan (1964)
Released August 1964
Recorded in New York City
This, Bob Dylan's last all-acoustic "folk" album is one of those that I don't play so much, for some reason. I much prefer its predecessor, "The Times They Are A-Changin'". I'm not quite sure why that is. I think I prefer the more blatant "protest" songs of that album and "The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan" to the more tongue-in-cheek, or romantically bitter tunes on offer on this outing.
1. All I Really Want To Do
2. Black Crow Blues
3. Spanish Harlem Incident
4. Chimes Of Freedom
5. I Shall Be Free #10
6. To Ramona
7. Motorpsycho Nitemare
8. My Back Pages
9. I Don't Believe You (She Acts Like We Never Have Met)
10. Ballad In Plain D
11. It Aint Me Babe
The opener "All I Really Want To Do" has Dylan in light-hearted mood, but I have to say I much prefer The Byrds' version. "Black Crow Blues" is a fine piano and harmonic driven blues, but in my opinion, it could really do with some bass and drums. "Spanish Harlem Incident" is a lyrically incomprehensible number but, as with the previous one, it cries out for a full band. Not so for the next number though, the starkness of a gently strummed, melodic acoustic guitar suits the apocalyptic warning of "Chimes Of Freedom" that has Dylan showing solidarity with the outcasts, the downtrodden and the oppressed. It is the one real "protest", socially aware song left here. It is, unsurprisingly, my favourite song on the album. Bruce Springsteen memorably covered it on the 1988-89 Amnesty International tour. It is simply a marvellous song.
"I Shall Be Free No. 10" harks back to the sort of thing he was doing on the first two albums. It is amusing enough, actually pretty witty, but it wears off after a while. It is ok to listen to just once in a while. At least the studio version doesn't have an audience laughing at the funny parts. "To Ramona" is a gentle, tender number. Dylan is definitely a different animal on this album - less stridently protesting, more poetic, more romantic, more lyrical, more diverse, more whimsical. For many, it makes this album a more satisfying listen. For me, I preferred the more biting, aware numbers, but I totally understand what they mean. "Motorpsycho Nitemare" is a bluesy, witty stream of consciousness with some excellent amusing couplets, particularly the one about taking a shower.
"My Back Pages" is another great song made even better by The Byrds, showing what could be done with a band turned up high. It does, however, have a moving, plaintive appeal to it. Dylan is already sounding considerably world-weary in his tone and lyrics on this. "I Don't Believe You" is a staccato and beguiling number, while "Ballad In Plain D" has Dylan griping, tediously, about his girlfriend's sister. Just let it go, eh, Bob? "It Ain't Me Babe" is one of the best songs on the album, and it closes the set. It has Dylan again cynical about aspects of the heart.
There are undoubtedly some fine songs on here, and Dylan has certainly diversified his songwriting approach. There are other changes necessary too, though. These songs need more of an accompaniment - get yourself a band and strap on an electric guitar and play .....loud!
- August 28, 2018