32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
Unquestionably one of his best albums,
This review is from: World Gone Wrong (Audio CD)
This album is overshadowed by the critical acclaim given to many other Dylan recordings. Of course, you can buy it here from Amazon, but many record stores don't even display it in their otherwise pretty large Dylan sections.
Perhaps it's the absence of original songs that makes the album seem less 'kosher' in some way than most of his others. But I think such attitudes are wrong. His decision to select and re-structure these songs was a very deliberate one, and that - in itself - is something that one could speculate upon at some length. The easy answer is that he had insufficent original material with which to put together a self-penned album, but such answers treat Dylan as if he were like other artists - and all the evidence shows that he's not that at all.
The overall effect of the album is to create a kind of 'mood'. That is surely his intention. It's something to play late at night, not in the sunlight. Having been a fan of his music since first hearing his music in the school Art Room in the 60s, I rate this album and 'Blood On the Tracks' as among his best three or four albums ever. This one seems to 'get inside' Dylan in a way that many other highly-rated albums don't. Maybe it's a bit like when a writer describes his or her favourite writers. You might like their own work best, but you think "I never thought that xyz was all that good, why do they like them so much?". But without trying to understand 'xyz', you surely can't understand the writer. And in that context, how many Dylan fans really listen to Guthrie? His sound is too dated for most of us. So Dylan has made some earlier songs that would not be very palatable to a modern audience in their original forms accessible to us...
The vocal treatment on these recordings is a little, let me say, rough. And I can't help but think that's deliberate, too. Almost as if his aim is to focus the listener on the words, not his performance of them. His sleeve notes suggest that this is no casual, thrown-together batch of covers. Go on, be a rebel and buy it!