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4.4 out of 5 stars
New Morning
Format: MP3 Download|Change

Following on from June 1970's self-indulgent and often derided "Self Portrait" double album (funnily enough hindsight has many loving it to pieces) - critics and the public alike went nuts for the supposed 'return to form' of October's "New Morning". The British pummelled it into the No. 1 slot when it was issued slightly later in November of 1970 - and no self-respecting Bob Dylan "Greatest Hits" or "Anthology" is complete without "If Not For You".

Some have even said that "New Morning" is as good as 1975's meisterwork "Blood On The Tracks" - which in my mind is stretching credulity and the obvious audio truth way past its limit. "New Morning" is a solid Dylan album only with some moments of greatness. And re-listening to it in 2017 on this fabulous Remaster hasn't changed my opinion on that. Here are the Winterludes...

UK released May 2009 - "New Morning" by BOB DYLAN on Columbia 88697347002 (Barcode 886973470022) is a straightforward CD Remaster of the 12-track 1970 album and plays out as follows (35:50 minutes):

1. If Not For You
2. Day Of The Locusts
3. Time Passes Slowly
4. Went To See The Gypsy
5. Winterlude
6. If The Dogs Run Free
7. New Morning [Side 2]
8. Sign On The Window
9. One More Weekend
10. The Man In Me
11. Three Angels
12. Father Of Night
Tracks 1 to 12 are the album "New Morning" - released 21 October 1970 in the USA on Columbia KC 30290 and November 1970 in the UK on CBS Records S 69001. Produced by BOB JOHNSTON - it peaked at No. 7 in the USA and No. 1 in the UK.

Given that the original single-sleeve LP was so staggeringly boring to look at - the new 8-page inlay comes as a blessed relief. It's made up mostly of in-studio photos - Bob at the microphones - reading lyric sheets - the boys in the band discussing what to do next with Producer Bob Johnston. Al Kooper plays Keyboards, Guitar and French Horn - David Bromberg plays Electric Guitar and Dobro - Buzzy Feiten plays Electric Guitar - Russ Kunkel is on Drums with Maeretha Stewart guesting on "If Dogs Run Free" on Background Vocals. There's no new liner notes per say.

But at least we get that stunning GREG CALBI Remaster - a man whose had his mitts on McCartney's "Band On The Run", Paul Simon's "Graceland", Supertramp's "Crime Of The Century" and "Breakfast In America" and even John Mayer's Remastered catalogue. Calbi has turned in another winner - these Dylan remasters are all jobs well done it has to be said.

The photograph on the rear cover is a youthful Bob in early 1962 with one of his Blues heroes – the barnstorming big-lunged Victoria Spivey – famous for misery raunchy tunes like "Furniture Man Blues" and troublesome fools like "Dope Head Blues" (see my review for the 20CD Box Set "Roots & Blues"). Though in hindsight – it's an odd photo to feature here with precious little on the album resembling Blues Music except maybe some of "One More Weekend". Word has it that the "New Morning" project was going to be another double set – a sort of Part 2 to "Self Portrait" combining covers that moved him in his youth with new material (some of those outtakes have turned up on the "Bootleg Series" of CD reissues) - but perhaps because of the backlash to "Self Portrait" that idea was paired down to the single LP we now have made up entirely of BD originals.

The album opens with "If Not For You" – a hooky-as-Hell love song Beatle George Harrison had debuted to the world only weeks earlier on his 3LP Box Set "All Things Must Pass" on Apple Records (the opening song). People love this song to Dylan's wife of the time - perhaps because that weird organ sound Al Kooper gets harks back to his 60ts sound on "Highway 61 Revisited" and that thinny Harmonica back even further to "Freewheelin' Bob Dylan". And despite it’s rather slight feel BD sings - "...without your love I'd be nowhere at all..." and you can't help but think he actually means it this time (Olivia Newton John would lodge her first chart hit in February 1971 with "If Not For You" on Uni Records – No. 25 USA). "Day Of The Locust" feels like a great Bob Dylan song - while "Time Passes Slowly" was reputedly amongst the first three tunes recorded for an abandoned musical version of "The Devil And Daniel Webster" called "Scratch" (the other two were "New Morning" and "Father Of Night"). I have a very sweet cover of "Winterlude" by England's Steve Gibbons which he did for his 1998 CD "Bob Dylan Project" – Gibbons doesn't change its strangely casual nature and "...this dude thinks you're grand..." lyrics. We go early-morning smoky barroom Jazz for the spoken "If Dogs Run Free" that features scat vocals from Maeretha Stewart. As he'd veered away from 'Bob Dylan' – fans naturally went nuts and slagged off the song as derisory and all things unholy – but I've always thought it kind of brill. One man's heaven is...

Side 2 opens with the very Van Morrison sound of "New Morning" – acoustic guitars and lingering organ – marital bliss clearly keeping him happy (skies of blue – so happy just to see you smile). The album’s other biggie for me is "Sign On The Window" – a ballad with lyrics that I still can’t figure out – three’s a crowd – down on Mean Street – a cabin in Utah – catch rainbow trout. Whatever you read into the forlorn sad words – I love his piano playing while the band plays catch up and that impassioned vocal is the strongest on the whole record. "One More Weekend" is a slippin' and slidin' Bluesy trollop of a song – the band finally sounding like a cohesive unit as they boogie in that Bob Dylan way (great Remaster). Some people enjoy "The Man In Me" but those girly vocals feel forced to me - I much prefer the simpler almost Gospel spoken song "Three Angels" with its 'concrete world full of souls'. The album finishes on the piano and voices rumble of "Father Of Night" - a sound Cat Stevens would tap on his "Foreigner" album in 1973. The one-and-half-minute song is also an indication of his emerging beliefs - gorgeous audio as he sings of "...father of air and father of trees...that grows in our hearts and our memories..."

Good - great - ordinary - different - the same – I love it – I don’t love it - it's Bob Dylan. Even now his enigma eludes me...and would we have it any other way...
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 23 September 2012
By 1970 Bob Dylan had got married to Sara, recovered from a motorcycle accident, and fathered children. He must have been feeling happy and relieved, New Morning being clear evidence of new-found happiness such as (one suspects) he has never quite managed to find since.
This came out when I was working in a shop called Record Fayre in North Finchley (anyone remember it?) and we played it a lot. Our manager, Mr Hutchison, who wasn`t a regular Dylan buff, liked it too, especially the title track, said he found it a happy song. You can say that again.
The weird thing about NM, coming between such disparate albums as John Wesley Harding, Self Portrait and the later Planet Waves and Blood On The Tracks, is that it shouldn`t work. His voice is at times shaky, some of the lyrics are the simplest of his career, one or two of the songs are basic to say the least, unadulterated happiness is not always aesthetically pleasing, and it`s only 35 minutes long, though that`s a reasonable length for an LP of the period.
So why is this one of my favourite Dylan albums? Being Dylan, he translates his bushy-tailed, almost boyish joy into music that sounds like nothing else. He`s always been able to do this: Blonde On Blonde, John Wesley Harding, Street-Legal, Desire, Oh Mercy, Time Out Of Mind...they don`t sound like any other albums being made at the time, or at any time. Same with NM.
There are one or two staightforward, almost throwaway songs here, eg. the gauche If Not For You, the gloriously bluesy One More Weekend, and the arcadian Time Passes Slowly - which Judy Collins sang beautifully on Whales & Nightingales, turning it into a soaring celebration. Bob sings it with wayward wantonness, over his own equally wayward piano backing. The result is a funkily delirious paeon to the rustic life.
Then there are more substantial songs like the strange Day Of The Locusts, with its enigmatic lyric and explosive chorus; the lovely lilting Winterlude, a lovers` waltz which is as beguiling as it is unexpected; Sign On The Window, a ruminative number that only grows in stature the more one hears it; Went To See The Gypsy, a story-in-song that`s easy to overlook but shouldn`t be, as it`s rather special.
If Dogs Run Free is a spoken song and has to be heard to be believed. It still surprises even now, though I have to say it`s never been a favourite.
The last three songs form a kind of spiritual trio. The Man In Me will be familiar to fans of The Big Lebowski, in which it`s used to good if ironic effect:

The man in me will hide sometimes to keep from bein` seen
But that`s just because he doesn`t want to turn into some machine
Took a woman like you to get through
To the man in me

Three Angels is another spoken song, a most affecting two-minute tale you`ll either love or pass over. I love it.
The closing Father Of Night is even more brief, a hurried hymn of thanks, and a fitting finale to this most modest of Dylan releases.
Here`s a lyric from one of the best tracks, Sign On The Window, which seems to sum up this ultimate `feelgood` Dylan album:

Build me a cabin in Utah
Marry me a wife, catch rainbow trout
Have a bunch of kids who call me "Pa"
That must be what it`s all about
That must be what it`s all about
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on 7 June 2009
Having collected many of the Bob Dylan Reissue Series, I was beginning to think that Sony would never re-release this 1970 chart-topper, which underscores why I think it remains such an underrated record some forty years later. Reluctant to buy the ancient original CD release, I've waited patiently for a remaster - and I was not disappointed.

Arriving in the wake of the baffling SELF PORTRAIT, NEW MORNING drew cries of relief from many scribes upon its release, many echoing the critic Ralph J. Gleason's view that we had "got Dylan back again".

Indeed, NEW MORNING is a comforting, friendly little album which presents Bob Dylan at his most approachable. Settled domestically and having since embraced a more direct form of songcraft from his mid-1960s work, NEW MORNING basks in the glow of an artist seemingly content with his lot. Songs like 'If Not For You', the album's most famous tune; 'The Man In Me'; 'Winterlude'; and 'New Morning' all share an up-beat musicality; while a customary sense of surrealism pervades the rousing 'Day Of The Locusts', as Dylan recollects accepting his honorary degree from Princeton University. Meanwhile, the jazz shuffle of 'If Dogs Run Free', embellished with the arresting scat-singing of Maeretha Stewart, and the curious spoken-word tale of 'Three Angels' lend NEW MORNING a dash of eclecticism.

True, NEW MORNING will always remain in the shadow of, say, HIGHWAY 61 REVISITED or BLOOD ON THE TRACKS, but there's little doubt it contains bucketloads of charm and warmth. From the first time I played this newly remastered edition of NEW MORNING, I felt I had known the album for years.
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on 30 September 2013
As I recall this came out rather hurriedly after the "disaster" many journalists considered "Self Portrait" to be. While it cannot be
considered in the same league as the best of his 60's output the album has enough good moments to recommend it and it's
certainly as strong as the much trumpeted return to form that "Planet Waves" was supposed to be. I don't play it that often
compared to his "electric" 60's albums but when I do it passes the time amiably enough.
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on 5 March 2015
A fabulous collection of tight edgy rock songs. Ignore the poor reviews, they make little sense. Dylan doesn't have bad albums and this is proof, being that it was hastily put together and alegedly rushed out in the wake of its predecessor. Your toe will tap and once the lyrics stick you'll be wailing along with him all the way. A half an hour sprint that leaves you grinning and calling for more.
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on 11 November 2017
Not his best by a long way but it has a couple of good moments.
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on 27 September 2015
A couple of really good songs:the others ok.
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on 29 July 2016
an underrated album from dylan.Arrived promptly
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on 23 January 2018
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on 14 July 2013
Maybe not his best album but still well worth having.

Dylan not at his best still takes a lot of beating. Some really good songs.
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