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The Mancunian Candidate "The Cellar Tapes - visit www.myspace.com/themancuniancandidate for details"

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Plays John Mayall
Plays John Mayall
Price: 7.63

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fine Live Album, 8 Nov 2009
This review is from: Plays John Mayall (Audio CD)
I had the pleasure this year of witnessing John Mayall live in action for the very first time, still trying for a Cellar Tapes' interview with the man mind but you cannot have everything. Despite his years, his voice and execution is still as sharp as ever, certainly still deserving of his reputation as the King and Head of State of the British Blues, but where did it all begin?

It all started for John Mayall not far from the Cellar of Pure 107.8 FM actually, in the town of Macclesfield in Cheshire. Infused by his father with a passion for Jazz and the Blues, Mayall after serving three years of the Korean War hit the ground running, first joining Manchester Art College and then setting the local scene alight with his thirst for all things Bluesy. Even in these early days, Mayall found it difficult to hold down a steady band line-up, rotating his choice of company at will. In 1963 however, Mayall made the decision to leave Manchester and head for that Laanden, at the same time creating a new outfit called The Bluesbreakers.

It didn't take long really for Mayall and his new group (line-up subject to change obviously) to make waves in London, especially at venues like The Marquee. After a brief false start, The Bluesbreakers led by John Mayall settled on a line-up to at least release a debut album. This first line-up was John McVie, a bassist who would later put the Mac in Fleetwood Mac, Roger Dean on guitar and Hughie Flint on drums. This line-up in December 64' went to a pub in West Hampstead, London, called The Railway Hotel for the Klooks Kleek club night to play a very special gig, it happened to be a recording session for The Bluesbreakers debut album as well.

Released in February 1965 on Decca, John Mayall Plays John Mayall was the debut album for a man who would become the figurehead for the British Blues scene of the 1960's and beyond, as well as being one of the best live albums of the decade. The first thing to mention about this album is the marvellous way it was recorded; The Railway Pub just so happens to be right next door to the Decca Studios. Miking the band up, feeding the wires out of the pub window, through another window and into a desk in the Decca offices sounds more like a story from the Punk era, but that is precisely how this album was recorded.

The next significant thing to mention is the unexpected number of originally penned material on offer, especially for a debut release. It's also the type of material on this record which is a bit surprising, Mayall is obviously a blues connoisseur, but on this record he is the ring leader of the hard edged R&B circus with some tender moments, on a backdrop of a very passionate and appreciative audience, this album is a real cracker from start to finish.

This marvellous live debut has some great numbers on it, beginning with an enthralling live version of Crawling up a Hill and finishing wonderfully with Chicago Line. Also for a bit more interest, The Bluesbreakers are joined on stage a few times during the set by saxophonist Nigel Stanger, for me his finest moment is on R&B Time, vibrant stuff.

As with many albums in the Cellar, this album has been reissued over the years, and now includes some extra stuff, including a couple of stunners most noticeably the singles from late 64'/early 65'; Crawling up a Hill and Crocodile Walk. Clearly John Mayall would release a few follow ups to this debut which would heavily overshadow it. But before Eric Clapton, Peter Green and Mick Taylor stepped into the Bluesbreaker revolving door, John Mayall recorded one of the finest live albums from the 1960's here and surely not a bad debut overall.


The Pretty Things
The Pretty Things

5.0 out of 5 stars A Raw And Edgy Affair, 3 Nov 2009
This review is from: The Pretty Things (Audio CD)
I often describe The Pretty Things as the band The Rolling Stones could have been, I obviously like Alan Partridge but there is a hint of truth with that statement as well. The roots of The Pretty Things after all lie with a line-up which included Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. Ultimately this line-up didn't last past college, but in many ways the Pretty Things line-up which went into Stanhope Palace to record their debut were the real deal back in 1965, not the after effects of some publicity drive. For The Pretty Things were you see beyond notoriety, they struck fear into parents and the record label they were signed to, indeed the first producer Fontana selected for the inenarrable task of recording this dysfunctional mob of misfits left soon into the recordings, this producer also happened to be the head of the label, oops!

It is therefore more than amazing that The Pretty Things managed to stay signed let alone release a debut album, but alas in 1965 that is exactly what they did, releasing their self titled debut on Fontana Records. On a backdrop of alcohol fuelled Rock n Roll, and a tug of war with record execs about how loud can an amp go before it becomes inhumane, The Pretty Things have released one of the great sixties debuts.

These recordings were driven by Dick Taylor, a guitarist who had a lot to prove since his former band mates had made it big with The Rolling Stones. It's probably understandable then that he wanted to do things his way; with the help of a band who were equally uncompromising, they forced Fontana to leave quickly after they signed the cheques through fear for their lives.

This album begins with the Bo Diddley number, Roadrunner, unlike the original and other cover versions, there is no sign of a "Beep Beep" with this one, it's completely raw and primal, a lot like the rest of the 26 minutes of this LP. Judgement Day is up next, another harmonica drizzled feast for the depraved.

This album is certainly a raw and edgy affair, with more instantly likeable songs like Big City, Oh Baby Doll, with another Chuck Berry song closing the album off nicely, with the gorgeous Don't Lie To Me. But the fun doesn't stop there, in later years this album has been reissued with some extra songs from The Pretty Things 65' period; the pick of these is Rosalyn, marvellous stuff.

This album certainly is not for the faint hearted, it often gets messy and dishevelled to say the least in places. But to their credit The Pretty Things have recorded something quite hostile and uncompromising here, an album which wears its heart on it sleeve, this is pure and proper Rhythm and Blues, no fads, no trickery, no cons, just the proper music you'd expect from this legendary band. Someone should probably make a movie about this lot.


Reflections 1965-1969
Reflections 1965-1969
Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: 21.95

26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Marvellously Enigmatic, 8 Oct 2009
This review is from: Reflections 1965-1969 (Audio CD)
There is something quite marvellously enigmatic about Les Fleur de Lys, a band who in collector circles have become a byword for the obscurely brilliant. Several line-up changes, random name changes midstream and those classic missed opportunities always destined this band to remain an exclusive love for all those in the know, but such is music.

Initially formed in Southampton in 1964, the band like so many others in England at that time were branching off from Beat music and developing a much more harsher R&B edge, but through the sixties they would rub shoulders with some of the big names, change their line up and change elements of their style to suit, yet somehow they remained strangely continuous through the decade to their eventual split in 1969.

In all that time however this marvellous band never released an album, but with Reflections released on Blueprint in 1997, the collectors can finally stop digging at the back of those charity shops for that elusive 45 and finally find all of Les Fleur de Lys' output in one place. And what a collection of songs it is, from their more famous work with Sharon Tandy, through to the more unusual and forgotten collaborations with Jimmy Page and Jimi Hendrix.

In the early days of being signed to Immediate, Les Fleur de Lys had a producer of some notoriety; indeed it was no other than Jimmy Page. Between them they recorded a number of absolute stunners, most notably Buddy Holly's Moondreams and Pete Townsend's Circles. Circles in particular is a favourite of mine, similar to some of The Birds' output of the same time but with some rather fetching guitar play contained within, still brutal but at the same time refined. Despite this, chart success eluded them, but London during the mid sixties was a hive for solid R&B groups, and Les Fleur de Lys found no trouble in producing new material on London's fine club circuit, if only they stayed together long enough to reap the rewards.

Incidentally, over the years members of Les Fleur de Lys have gone onto play in bands called The Spencer Davis Group, Jefferson Starship and King Crimson but I wont go through every personnel change in this bands history through fear of curing insomnia, but I will say two things on this subject. Only the drummer Keith Guster was there at the start and the end, and for me the better line-ups of this band were the ones containing fellow child of Lancashire Bryn Haworth, who joined the group from 66 onwards. For me his inclusion rounded the sound and gave it a direction pointing more at the blues and even jazz, whilst still finding time to dip their toe into the Stax sound of the Mod clubs with songs like the pleasant Stop Crossing The Bridge.

Undoubtedly though the highlight of this band's output was their work with Sharon Tandy. Two tremendous efforts can be found here, the impressively dark Daughter of The Sun and the shockingly under appreciated Hold On, a song which I think is one of the finest to come out of Swinging London. Other highlights include the thumping I Like What I Am Trying To Do, and the final single, Liar, a very pretty little number.

For a band that had quite a few line-up changes in their time, Les Fleur De Lys remained consistently brilliant throughout the 1960's. A favourite band for many a collector, this CD really does capture the brilliance of this band and aside from a couple of ventures into a Mod sound, the continuity and radiance of this CD means that rather then feel like a patchwork compilation of a bands elapsed work from over the years, it feels more like a celebration of a piece of Swinging London that we should never really have forgotten.


Psychotic Reaction
Psychotic Reaction
Price: 9.40

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Freakishly Decent Listen, 29 Sep 2009
This review is from: Psychotic Reaction (Audio CD)
Formed in San Jose in 1965 and only lasting a mere two years, Count Five were just another chapter of the splurge that was the west coast Garage explosion of the mid sixties. Easily dismissible as a one hit wonder, many collectors and experts would argue that bands like The Seeds, The Standells and The Chocolate Watchband left much more of a lasting memory than Count Five ever did. But I reckon this band might be worth another look.

In 1966, Count Five released their one and only LP, named after their big hit. It's probably easier and lets be honest, fitting, to begin therefore with that inspiring song which has made Count Five famous throughout the ages. The title track of Psychotic Reaction is a thing of beauty, a pure garage classic which is one of the few songs from the garage era that I think could be played to the uninitiated and instantly convert them, it has everything, an unstoppable rhythm and beat, a hypnotic guitar and one of the most brilliant pieces of harmonica play ever conceived, an English R&B standard with a bit of American grit, marvellous.

Now at this point, many observers would stop there, but I reckon a band that created a song as glorious as Psychotic Reaction, might have a few more aces up their sleeve. And indeed the album does have its moments; there is the sleazy Pretty Big Mouth, a song which does the job. More garage pleasantries follow with The World and Out In The Street. The best song outside the big hit though is They're Gonna Get You, which includes some well placed high pitched singing. But Count Five were no Sonics, away from these highlights they do struggle to make that leap to the next level, but that in some ways is part of their charm.

It goes without saying that perhaps Psychotic Reaction is not one of thee landmark garage albums like Here Are The Sonics or No Way Out, but I have to say that it is certainly a tier two must have after your toe is well and truly happy in the water. For me Psychotic Reaction does have enough moments on it to keep your attention and does merit a purchase from the more advanced sixties garage connoisseurs out there, quite a freakishly decent listen actually.


Open
Open

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Unique Piece of 1967's London, 7 Sep 2009
This review is from: Open (Audio CD)
Brought together out of the remnants of Steampacket, a rhythm and blues outfit whose other members included Rod Stewart and Long John Baldry; Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger and The Trinity would go on to become the ultimate proponents of Psychedelic Jazz. Their finest moment together would come in 1967, with the release of their debut, entitled Open; it really is a unique piece of 1967's London this one.

Open begins with a sawing noise (as in a man cutting wood), which than goes into some marvellous lounge action, this is Brian Auger and The Trinity, perfect instrumental stuff with a brass section thrown in, In and Out is followed with another Auger instrumental, Isola Natale is again another loungesque tune which is just fabulous and well worth the money alone.

But this album really kicks in by track three; Black Cat begins with a cuckoo clock followed by Auger screaming in a count in, and BANG! We're off! This song is by far my favourite from this album and is just staggering stuff, perhaps one of the best songs from the sixties. I'm not really sure how I can even begin to do this song justice by just using boring old words, but let's just say that after one listen you may need some help to pick up your chin from the floor, glorious, wonderful and magnificent all rolled into one.

We're kind of brought down to earth by a lovely solo piano instrumental from Auger on Lament for Miss Baker, this is lovely sweet stuff but probably only goes to demonstrate how truly strange and odd this album is at times, for from here it goes into the six minute progressive exotic jazz rampage of Goodbye Jungle Telegraph. From track three to the end of this song, you will be sure to sit there believing you may have bought some funky, jazzy compilation, but alas not, you have merely bought an album like no other.

But what of Julie Driscoll? Well for the flip side she finally makes her entrance, and what an entrance it is ladies and gentlemen; Tramp, the first of these tracks is just proper mod and is very impressive, her voice is belting and with a backing band like Brian Auger and The Trinity, you just know that they must have been very happy with themselves back when this album was being made, all boxes are ticked here. This is reaffirmed with Why (Am I Treated So Bad), the electric A Kind of Love In, and the fabulous Break It In.

The original album finishes with a pleasurable 8 minute beastie, a cover of Season of The Witch, which is nice! But in later years Open has been subject to a reissue, with modern versions of this album we have the wonderful inclusion of some of the belting singles from this fine act during 67 and 68. The finest and probably best known is This Wheels on Fire, this Bob Dylan cover reached number five back in the day.

For me there is little doubt, combining all the best bits of Psychedelia with the Avant-Garde whilst mixing in Jazz with R&B, what Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger and The Trinity have done is make the ultimate popular jazz album. Firstly if you're new to jazz, this is a perfect place to start, but with all the other elements rolled in, if you're just a music lover in general, you will not be going too far wrong in purchasing this marvellous record.
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A Date With Elvis
A Date With Elvis
Price: 12.41

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Would You Have it Any Other Way?, 3 Sep 2009
This review is from: A Date With Elvis (Audio CD)
After well over four years of personnel changes and battles with the old record label, The Cramps were finally in the right place to make that long awaited comeback album. It's a good job I was only 2 years old at the time they made it back into the studio, I don't think I could have coped with the anticipation of it all. The personnel on this album is really the story, no longer a four piece Poison Ivy plays both lead and bass on this album following the departure of Kid Congo Powers back in 1983. But with the ever-present Nick Knox on drums and of course the marvellous Lux Interior on vocals, this album is far from a papering over the cracks exercise.

A Date With Elvis, released on Big Beat in 1986 after being recorded in 1985, was undoubtedly more of the same but after four years, it is no doubt a welcome edition to The Cramps catalogue and is entirely penned by Interior and Ivy, making this the first Cramps album to contain all original material, it should also be said, as well as laying down bass and some filthy fuzz filled guitar, Poison Ivy also Produced this record. The album begins with a noise more akin to the opener of I Had Too Much to Dream Last Night by The Electric Prunes from 1967; it soon beds in mind and returns to more Cramp like surroundings, How Far Can Too Far Go is what you'd expect.

The final bar of the opener merges nicely into the second track, the beautifully titled The Hot Pearl Snatch; again this is classic Cramps, thumping, filled with innuendo and musically filthy, the same can be said for the song What's Inside a Girl and of course Can Your Pussy Do The Dog, for some reason when I hear Lux Interior sing these songs it sounds almost sweet and innocent. Track three; People Aint No Good starts with a school chorus of all things, a chorus that you can just about hear under the guitar and pounding drums if you listen close enough, all enhancing the normally retro sound of the band, marvellous!

Speaking of which, a first of first happens on track six, Kizmiaz, features the vocals of Poison Ivy, out of tune this may be, it reminds me of 1960's all girl group The Shaggs, they were pretty dreadful, but this song aint too bad after a couple of listens, almost lovely after three listens, this song in particular is a departure for The Cramps.

Normal service is resumed for the final few tracks of this album, my favourite song Cornfed Dames, which sounds like a bastardised version of Not Fade Away, the beating yet sinister (Hot Pool of) Womanneed is glorious, and the album finishes well too, with the slow ballad of Its Just That Song, sang by Lux Interior like a slightly inebriated Elvis Presley, I ask you dear reader.....would you have it any other way? Its good to have you back!


Et Moi Et Moi Et Moi 1966-1969
Et Moi Et Moi Et Moi 1966-1969
Price: 9.99

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Yet Another Example of the Brilliance of the French Music Scene, 1 Sep 2009
Born in Paris in 1943, Jaques Dutronc was a naturally talented musician, learning the piano and the violin whilst just a little lad, but he soon progressed! If you're from France you might think it bizarre that Jacques Dutronc is not that well known in the UK, in fact there has only ever been one album that has successfully brought together all of this marvellous man's output from the 1960's, and even more strangely it has only just recently been released. With Et Moi Et Moi Et Moi released on RPM in 2009, this figurehead of popular French culture finally gets his chance to shine in the Anglosphere.

Lets be honest, the chic filled glory of the 1960's French music scene is something really to behold by any music lover, its actually really difficult to find a dud album from the sixties amongst the multitude of singers and producers from across the English Channel, but with this compilation, any thoughts of Serge Gainsbourg or the yé-yé girls must surely take a back seat to the talents of Jacques Dutronc, a man who literally had it all in his musical arsenal.

This compilation begins with the title track, Et Moi Et Moi Et Moi was Dutronc's first big hit in France back in 1966, and it is easy to see why, a song which certainly swaggers and oozes marvellousness combining the best of Anglo Rhythm and Blues with a French twist. And to be fair, on looking through the sleeve notes, its easily noticeable that this man was at one point the coolest man alive, with a repertoire to match. Three more songs joined this opening single on Dutroncs first EP, thankfully all of these songs can be found on this compilation, these include the excellent J'ai Mis Un Tigre Dans Ma Guitare, the RnB effort of Mini Mini Mini and the brilliantly garagey Les Gens Sont Fous, Les Tamps Sont Fous, quite the EP, shifting 300,000 copies back in 1966.

On the back of such success, it was only natural that more EP's would follow, giving Dutronc permission to paint an even broader canvas, for example songs like Les Playboy sounds more like a musical number, whilst On Nous Cache Tout, On Nous Dit Rien sounds like something that would be at home at a Northern Mod club. Currently my favourite track on here is L'espace D'une Fille, a sweet little number that warms the heart even if I don't know what the words mean.

On first listen to this album you are instantly hit with a sense that life cannot get any better, you'll feel like you have bought a little treasure and indeed you have, by the tenth listen you will no doubt have convinced yourself that Jacques Dutronc is one of the greatest musicians ever to have lived. There honestly is not one bad track on this album, providing us Anglo folk with yet another example of the brilliance of the French music scene of the 1960's. All in all, a guaranteed winner for your music collection! And another great unearthing job by RPM Records with great linear notes included.


Open (USA Cover Art)
Open (USA Cover Art)
Offered by Boyrecords
Price: 19.97

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Unique Piece of 1967's London, 25 July 2009
This review is from: Open (USA Cover Art) (Audio CD)
Brought together out of the remnants of Steampacket, a rhythm and blues outfit whose other members included Rod Stewart and Long John Baldry; Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger and The Trinity would go on to become the ultimate proponents of Psychedelic Jazz. Their finest moment together would come in 1967, with the release of their debut, entitled Open; it really is a unique piece of 1967's London this one.

Open begins with a sawing noise (as in a man cutting wood), which than goes into some marvellous lounge action, this is Brian Auger and The Trinity, perfect instrumental stuff with a brass section thrown in, In and Out is followed with another Auger instrumental, Isola Natale is again another loungesque tune which is just fabulous and well worth the money alone.

But this album really kicks in by track three; Black Cat begins with a cuckoo clock followed by Auger screaming in a count in, and BANG! We're off! This song is by far my favourite from this album and is just staggering stuff, perhaps one of the best songs from the sixties. I'm not really sure how I can even begin to do this song justice by just using boring old words, but let's just say that after one listen you may need some help to pick up your chin from the floor, glorious, wonderful and magnificent all rolled into one.

We're kind of brought down to earth by a lovely solo piano instrumental from Auger on Lament for Miss Baker, this is lovely sweet stuff but probably only goes to demonstrate how truly strange and odd this album is at times, for from here it goes into the six minute progressive exotic jazz rampage of Goodbye Jungle Telegraph. From track three to the end of this song, you will be sure to sit there believing you may have bought some funky, jazzy compilation, but alas not, you have merely bought an album like no other.

But what of Julie Driscoll? Well for the flip side she finally makes her entrance, and what an entrance it is ladies and gentlemen; Tramp, the first of these tracks is just proper mod and is very impressive, her voice is belting and with a backing band like Brian Auger and The Trinity, you just know that they must have been very happy with themselves back when this album was being made, all boxes are ticked here. This is reaffirmed with Why (Am I Treated So Bad), the electric A Kind of Love In, and the fabulous Break It In.

The original album finishes with a pleasurable 8 minute beastie, a cover of Season of The Witch, which is nice! But in later years Open has been subject to a reissue, with modern versions of this album we have the wonderful inclusion of some of the belting singles from this fine act during 67 and 68. The finest and probably best known is This Wheels on Fire, this Bob Dylan cover reached number five back in the day.

For me there is little doubt, combining all the best bits of Psychedelia with the Avant-Garde whilst mixing in Jazz with R&B, what Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger and The Trinity have done is make the ultimate popular jazz album. Firstly if you're new to jazz, this is a perfect place to start, but with all the other elements rolled in, if you're just a music lover in general, you will not be going too far wrong in purchasing this marvellous record.


Transformer
Transformer

5.0 out of 5 stars Three Great Minds Combining to Create Perfection, 21 July 2009
This review is from: Transformer (Audio CD)
Lewis Reed was born in New York in 1942, of course now you know him as Lou Reed, co-founder of the absolutely tremendous Velvet Underground. Reed left the Velvets in 1970 after recording Loaded, a cracking album which left him with mixed feelings about his career with the band. It was not until 1972 that Reed finally launched a solo career, starting with his steady self titled debut, not an ideal start. But later that year Lou Reed at last made the waves his talents deserved with his second outing, an album which would go on to be one of the finest of all time.

Transformer was released on RCA in December 1972, and finally saw Reed climb the heights of his previous years artistically, but not only that, it also saw Reed make new ground commercially, something he never really did with The Velvet Underground in their heyday. Transformer was produced by the Godfathers of Glam Rock, Mick Ronson and David Bowie, both of whom idolised the man immensely. With Reeds ability alongside Bowie and Ronson's passion for the man, it was obviously going to be one cracking album from the outset, particular as both Bowie and Ronson were at their artistic peak together during 72.

This well crafted and fabulous album begins with Vicious, straight away you can hear that Reed and Ronson have hit it off marvellously, it has all the individual traits of both men, cracking Reedesque vocals and lyrics combined with some typical hard edged guitar stylings from Ronson. They also combine stunningly on Track 4 too, with the pulsating and brilliant Hanging Round.

But the song which has captured many people's imaginations over the years happens on track 3, joining a family of Lou Reed songs which mean a lot more than they initially let on; Perfect Day is a clever and beautiful song yet has a feeling of heavy dark clouds lurking in the background, a glorious achievement for all concerned be it lyrics, arrangements and production, it really is a flawless song for the ages. Proceeding this legendary song is an old unreleased Velvet Underground song entitled Andy's Chest, but reborn for the Glam era, and you know what? It's certainly not out of place for 1972

The highlight for many a listener must surely go to track number 5; Walk on The Wild Side, despite all my ravings about Perfect Day, is probably the signature tune for the entire album, and perhaps for Reed's entire solo career. And despite the song's content regarding transsexuals, recreational drug use, prostitution and oral sex, the song was a commercial hit, to this day receiving daytime airplay, brilliant! There's more under the radar cross dressing subtlety with the song Make Up too, its like The Factory never left Reed.

The second half of the album certainly lives up to the brilliance of the first half, but if the first half was about Reed and Ronson, the second is surely about Reed and Bowie. Songs like the gorgeous Satellite of Love and Wagon Wheel only goes to show the might of this album, it really does have all the hallmarks of a classic release this. And don't even get me started on I'm So Free, a song which is guaranteed to be played more than once on your first listen of this album.

Transformer in many ways is Reed's rebirth, helped by men who idolised him; Reed has created perhaps an album which overshadows anything the three men primarily involved had done before or since. That undoubtedly is a controversial thing to say especially as one of these men is David Bowie, but this album is absolutely staggering and literally has no flaws whatsoever, a moment in time where three of the greatest musical minds of the 1970's combined to create an album of perfection.


Highway 61 Revisited
Highway 61 Revisited
Price: 5.80

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dylan at His Literacy Best, 19 July 2009
This review is from: Highway 61 Revisited (Audio CD)
Bob Dylan rolled into 1965 with a boot filled with amps, wires and a new sense of vigour and purpose. In March of 1965 he released the first of his "plugged in" albums, called Bringing It All Back Home, bold in its approach the reception to this album was mixed with Dylan obviously making the decision to expand his musical repertoire, but with songs like Mr Tambourine Man and Its All Over Baby Blue, this venture into the electrical world was still a toe in the water when compared to the follow up.

Released on Columbia in August 1965 and produced on the whole by Bob Johnston, Highway 61 Revisited was the sixth album from Bob Dylan and firmly established Dylan's credentials as a song writing genius. Contained within are just a mere nine tracks, it must be said that that is pretty sparse for a 1965 album granted, but the listener is far from being short changed here with this album, quite the reverse in fact. Barring a couple of three minute songs, the tracks on this release are quite truly epic in their outlook and delivery.

The album begins with what is now one of Dylan's greatest moments from this period; Like a Rolling Stone is the ultimate tale of a fall from grace, with Dylan snarling his way through the song directing his resentment towards some poor unfortunate woman or other. Seriously I'm not aware of what this woman did in her time, but I'm sure she never deserved a six minute rant being aimed at her by one of mankind's greatest ever lyricists, that aside this song is tremendous, but you already knew that.

There are of course other wonderful numbers to be found here, let's start with Tombstone Blues, like the opener it is a true epic and does seem to go on forever, but this is not a problem because there is definitely something being said in this song. Dylan on this album in general just appears to be able to write and write and write, streaming off verse after verse of content which is of interest and something to behold. But also on this song he is joined by a filthy bluesy lead guitar, wonderful stuff.

Probably the most ambitious and fixating marathon song on this album is the much celebrated Ballad of a Thin Man. This song goes in and out of being my favourite Dylan song of all time; it is just so dark and ominous in its feel that you cannot help but be perplexed by it, and I am not alone; Many scholars have tried to establish who the desperate character of Mr Jones is that Dylan sings about in this "ballad", demonstrating the power and imagery being portrayed by Dylan in this song, so intensely that it has created its own mythology and wonder.

Bucking the trend for long numbers is From a Buick 6 and the title track, the better of these two is of course Highway 61 Revisited. Lyrically it is brilliant and musically it is probably his most upbeat number from 1965. But this album is really about the lengthy song, and they don't get any longer than the closing track; Desolation Row at over eleven minutes it is so long you can actually feel yourself getting older as you listen, but of course with the aging process comes wisdom, and this song is such a beautiful and worthwhile experience its well worth a full on listen every once in a while.

From this album, Dylan went into 1966 and released Blonde on Blonde, another step forward, but Highway 61 Revisited certainly serves up its own progression in Dylan's career. Here Dylan is certainly at his literacy best, streaming off verse after verse of unrivalled imagination and depiction, yes the songs on the whole are long, but they really need to be, this is not a typical album, it's more an experience. Easily a Must.


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