19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Bob's Quiet Biblical Influenced Classic,
This review is from: John Wesley Harding (Audio CD)
It has taken me a number of years to fully appreciate 'John Wesley Harding' but i've finally come to the conclusion it's arguably Bob's finest album.
The album does not seem particuarly revolutionary particuarly when compared with its more extravagant prececessors 'Bring It All Back Home', 'Highway 61 Revisited' and 'Blonde On Blonde' but it was nonetheless a very brave release. Bob decided to swim against the tide somewhat as it must be remembered its release coincided with the excesses of the psychedelic era with 'Sergeant Pepper' leading the way in 1967.
'John Wesley Harding's relatively 'quiet' release and its folk/country contents being rather modestly recorded with minimum instumentation and Bob's rather muted vocal delivery has managed to forever cast it in the shadows of Bob's more celebrated work. However, the album's strong biblical and moral references delivered in a series of parables has perhaps made 'John Wesley Harding' Bob's most mysterious and impenetrable work to date. Within these songs he raises a series of questions but delivers no firm answers - it's up to the listeners to draw their own conclusions.
The album's title refers to the outlaw John Wesley Hardin although the details within the song's lyrics are inaccurate.
All 'John Wesley Harding's songs sink in over time although patience is a virtue. The strength of the songs are the questions they raise and the ambiguity within the use of the language Bob chooses. This is the reason the album is one of Bob's most enduring.
The final couple of songs 'Down Along The Cove' and 'I'll Be Your Baby Tonight' are a little more simplistic in tone pointing the way to Bob's follow up 'Nashville Skyline'.