Top positive review
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Back in 1974, just before BoTT...
on 27 June 2012
Eclipsed by the seminal follow-up release `Blood on the Tracks' and late-career Grammy winner `Time out of Mind', Dylan's 1974-released `Planet Waves' is nevertheless a very good album with some sublime moments. PW marked the beginning of a new creative period in the mid-1970s, and is one of Dylan's more notable though less appreciated creations in a long and variable career with too many high points to list.
This is the first (and only?) studio album Dylan recorded with The Band, his on-stage backing-group led by guitarist Robbie Robertson. The music has a lot of energy, plenty of light and shade and some sublime lyrical moments. The confident and heartfelt voice of an artist in his creative prime is evident here. Highlights are `Something there is about You', `You Angel You' and two very different versions of `Forever Young' - especially the first, slower and more personal variant (Dylan admitted during the recording sessions "I been carrying this song around in my head for five years and I never wrote it down, and now I come to record it I just can't decide how to do it" so he did several different versions, two of which ended up on the album).
The closer `Wedding Song' is a Dylan-poetic classic with warm, poignant and heartfelt lyrics shot through with a hint of humour, reminiscent in lyrical content to `Sara' on the 1976 `Desire' album and in simple-acoustic musical form to `Shelter from the Storm' from BoTT.
All in all, PW is an interesting and just-short-of-great album from one of Dylan's two or three most creative periods, the immediate precursor to BoTT and in a similar musical, lyrical and thematic groove. If you like BoTT and you have never heard PW, give it a listen.