2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Dylan at His Literacy Best,
This review is from: Highway 61 Revisited (Audio CD)
Bob Dylan rolled into 1965 with a boot filled with amps, wires and a new sense of vigour and purpose. In March of 1965 he released the first of his "plugged in" albums, called Bringing It All Back Home, bold in its approach the reception to this album was mixed with Dylan obviously making the decision to expand his musical repertoire, but with songs like Mr Tambourine Man and Its All Over Baby Blue, this venture into the electrical world was still a toe in the water when compared to the follow up.
Released on Columbia in August 1965 and produced on the whole by Bob Johnston, Highway 61 Revisited was the sixth album from Bob Dylan and firmly established Dylan's credentials as a song writing genius. Contained within are just a mere nine tracks, it must be said that that is pretty sparse for a 1965 album granted, but the listener is far from being short changed here with this album, quite the reverse in fact. Barring a couple of three minute songs, the tracks on this release are quite truly epic in their outlook and delivery.
The album begins with what is now one of Dylan's greatest moments from this period; Like a Rolling Stone is the ultimate tale of a fall from grace, with Dylan snarling his way through the song directing his resentment towards some poor unfortunate woman or other. Seriously I'm not aware of what this woman did in her time, but I'm sure she never deserved a six minute rant being aimed at her by one of mankind's greatest ever lyricists, that aside this song is tremendous, but you already knew that.
There are of course other wonderful numbers to be found here, let's start with Tombstone Blues, like the opener it is a true epic and does seem to go on forever, but this is not a problem because there is definitely something being said in this song. Dylan on this album in general just appears to be able to write and write and write, streaming off verse after verse of content which is of interest and something to behold. But also on this song he is joined by a filthy bluesy lead guitar, wonderful stuff.
Probably the most ambitious and fixating marathon song on this album is the much celebrated Ballad of a Thin Man. This song goes in and out of being my favourite Dylan song of all time; it is just so dark and ominous in its feel that you cannot help but be perplexed by it, and I am not alone; Many scholars have tried to establish who the desperate character of Mr Jones is that Dylan sings about in this "ballad", demonstrating the power and imagery being portrayed by Dylan in this song, so intensely that it has created its own mythology and wonder.
Bucking the trend for long numbers is From a Buick 6 and the title track, the better of these two is of course Highway 61 Revisited. Lyrically it is brilliant and musically it is probably his most upbeat number from 1965. But this album is really about the lengthy song, and they don't get any longer than the closing track; Desolation Row at over eleven minutes it is so long you can actually feel yourself getting older as you listen, but of course with the aging process comes wisdom, and this song is such a beautiful and worthwhile experience its well worth a full on listen every once in a while.
From this album, Dylan went into 1966 and released Blonde on Blonde, another step forward, but Highway 61 Revisited certainly serves up its own progression in Dylan's career. Here Dylan is certainly at his literacy best, streaming off verse after verse of unrivalled imagination and depiction, yes the songs on the whole are long, but they really need to be, this is not a typical album, it's more an experience. Easily a Must.