12 of 108 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars
Dreadful., 8 April 2002
It starts brilliantly with Like A Rolling Stone, but doesn't so much descend in quality as plumment spectacularly. I was first introduced to this album by a friend who liked Dylan, who had bought it knowing it was part of his "holy trinity" (with Blonde on Blonde and Brining it All Back Home) and was surprised at how bad it was. In fact, he was so surprised he gave me the album to get my opinion of it. And he's right - this is an appalling record. Somewhere along the line Dylan forgot to how to write lyrics. His skill is in blending narratives, protest and beautiful folky imagery. The presumably automatic writing present on this album is just uninteresting rubbish. Almost every track is a tuneless dirge, and when Dylan does find a melody he stretches it out to the point where it becomes boring - so Ballad of a Thin Man is a good 2 minute song stretched out to 5. Desolation Row is a good song, almost as good as some of his earlier stuff, and Dylan obviously thought so too: hence it being an unneccessary 11 minutes long. This is worsened, of course, by the meaningless lyrics - at least in Masters of War or A Hard Rain or something there was something to be gained from including hundreds of verses. Dylan, not a brilliant vocalist, seems to be competing for title of Worst Singer in the World here as well. Even Shaun Ryder would object to some of his vocals. It's all so bad it's laughable. But worst of all (well, the lack of tunes is probably the worst bit but also) it has none of the charm of The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan. That touching record had that special *something* that all genuine classic records do, and could put a smile on your face. The miserable songs of Highway 61 Revisited are buried under dreary and repetitive organs and electric guitars, and the constant feeling that Dylan is taking himself far too seriously. And The Velvet Underground & Nico beat him at creating the ultimate folk/blues/pop/avant-garde record anyway - Waiting for the Man and The Black Angel's Death Song in particular seem like the sort of thing Dylan was trying to write here. But he didn't, of course. I will continue to buy Dylan albums, and listen to the ones I own, but I would not want to hear this record ever again.