Quick Review (LP): Blonde on Blonde by Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan
Blonde On Blonde
Columbia; 1966

My Rating: A (90/100)

Best Tracks: "Visions of Johanna", "One of Us Must Know (Sooner or Later)", "I Want You", "Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again", "Just Like A Woman", "Absolutely Sweet Marie"

Return of the Jedi to Highway 61‘s Empire Strikes Back to Bringing It All Back Home‘s A New Hope

– Alternate album title: Bobby’s Bad Hair Day.
– "Rainy Day Women" may be a bit of a novelty, but in terms of arrangement, it’s a pretty awesome novelty.
– Sounds very similiar to Highway 61 Revisited, but the key difference is thematic. Highway 61 was a road record, this one is a broken hearts record.
– I question whether it was necessary to include "Pledging My Time" and "Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat". Then again, the record might be a little too sweet if he hadn’t, and they are both pretty solid tracks.
– Love the piano on "Sooner or Later." Huge song!
– Read somewhere that "Visions of Johanna" is about the devil. I can see that.
– "Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again" is one of the greatest tracks ever. Period. The drums, the circus organ, the noodly guitar in the left speaker, Dylan’s lyrics, and especially that chorus. Oh Bobby!
– I’ve read somewhere that unreleased versions of most of these songs exist that include guitar from Robbie Robertson. Hopefully a deluxe edition will bring those to light one of these days.
– Anyone know what the meaning of the album title is? I’ve never been able to figure it out, except in a sort of really wooden, non-subtle way.
– He sure has a thing for beginning his songs with adverbs: "Obviously 5 Believers", "Absolutely Sweet Marie", "Temporary Like Achilles"
– Good grief, "Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands" is laaaaaaawwwwwng. "Desolation Row" was one (great) thing, but given that "Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands" sounds quite a bit like a few other tracks here, it’s nowhere near as affecting. Although I do like it well enough I suppose.
– You know what? This would be a great album to perform live. Dylan is probably past his prime on it, but a good tribute record with a follow-up might be in order.
– Just listened to a Sound Opinions podcast where they interview Al Kooper, who played organ on this record and was sort of Bob’s band leader. It was pretty revelatory. Al’s favorite song? "I Want You." Why? Because of the sixteenth notes that the guitar player runs at the bottom of every line of the chorus. You gotta listen close, but he’s got a point. It’s the little things like that that are the icing on the cake of this brilliant album.

Be sure to check out my other Dylan reviews

Consequence (5/5)
Consistency (5/5)
Concept (5/5)
Cohesion (5/5)
Songs (4.5/5)

Quick Review (LP): This Desert Life by Counting Crows

this desert life counting crows Counting Crows
This Desert Life
DGC; 1999

My Rating: A- (83/100)

Best Tracks: “Mrs. Potter’s Lullabye”, “Amy Hit The Atmosphere”, “All My Friends”, “High Life”

The Band‘s influence is still prominent, but what I think of with This Desert Life is Gram Parson‘s cosmic americana. There’s something particularly starry-eyed about the recordings here, with the more epic tracks achieving the sort of prolonged, brilliant focus that Duritz had only come close to achieving on Satellite‘s longer tracks. Standout performances belong to guitar wizard Dan Vickrey (again) and drummer Ben Mize, the former for continuing to channel Robbie Robertson’s humble-pie lead work, the latter for delivering some of the best working man rhythms since Kenny Buttrey’s magical performances on Blonde On Blonde. I’ve already declared my love for “Mrs. Potter’s Lullabye” elsewhere, but dozens of listens in it’s still one of the greatest things I’ve ever heard, the divine love child of “Rocket Man”, “City of New Orleans”, and “Stuck Inside of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again.” And while Duritz got tagged with the “Van Morrison” mantle pretty early on, this record’s “All My Friends” is the track that comes closest to emulating the blue-eyed soul man. This is a wide-open road record, a celebration of classic rock that is at the same time the most focused and well-written in the Crows’ catalog. While it didn’t quite score the big hits, it’s the band’s sleeper, the little known gem that is just waiting to be discovered, by you and everyone else.

Cohesion (5/5)
Consequence (4/5)
Consistency (4.5/5)
Concept (5/5)
Songs (4.5/5)

My review of Recovering The Satellites
My review of August And Everything After
SputnikMusic review
AMG review