Having collected many of the Bob Dylan Reissue Series, I was beginning to think that Sony would never re-release this 1970 chart-topper, which underscores why I think it remains such an underrated record some forty years later. Reluctant to buy the ancient original CD release, I've waited patiently for a remaster - and I was not disappointed.
Arriving in the wake of the baffling SELF PORTRAIT, NEW MORNING drew cries of relief from many scribes upon its release, many echoing the critic Ralph J. Gleason's view that we had "got Dylan back again".
Indeed, NEW MORNING is a comforting, friendly little album which presents Bob Dylan at his most approachable. Settled domestically and having since embraced a more direct form of songcraft from his mid-1960s work, NEW MORNING basks in the glow of an artist seemingly content with his lot. Songs like 'If Not For You', the album's most famous tune; 'The Man In Me'; 'Winterlude'; and 'New Morning' all share an up-beat musicality; while a customary sense of surrealism pervades the rousing 'Day Of The Locusts', as Dylan recollects accepting his honorary degree from Princeton University. Meanwhile, the jazz shuffle of 'If Dogs Run Free', embellished with the arresting scat-singing of Maeretha Stewart, and the curious spoken-word tale of 'Three Angels' lend NEW MORNING a dash of eclecticism.
True, NEW MORNING will always remain in the shadow of, say, HIGHWAY 61 REVISITED or BLOOD ON THE TRACKS, but there's little doubt it contains bucketloads of charm and warmth. From the first time I played this newly remastered edition of NEW MORNING, I felt I had known the album for years.