It took me quite some time to get `into' Dylan. From my early teens I was buying as many albums as I could afford but it wasn't till after I'd passed twenty that I broke my duck with him (`Blood On The Tracks'). I wasn't sure about his voice (`of sand and glue' as Bowie memorably described it), and that bloody harmonica got on my nerves. Even then I didn't rush out and add to my collection (Neil Young remained my main `dirty hippy secret' in those days of punk), but just bought the odd one every now and then. `Bringing It All' I've probably owned for less than ten years but well, it's the one, isn't it?
There's lots of albums I love more, there's even a couple of Dylan's that I listen to more, but this is the one, isn't it? This is the one where he truly became `Bob Dylan' - nobody's spokesman but his own, constrained only by the limits of his own imagination. Just listen to the songs! - they're almost ridiculously brilliant. You want social commentary? (though from a more cynical, worldly point-of -view than previously), then try `Subterranean Homesick Blues' or `It's Alright Ma'. You want to hear a beautiful tune? Then try `She Belongs To Me' or `Love Minus Zero' or Mr Tambourine Man'. You want to hear him having a good sneer? (and, let's face it, nobody sneers as well as His Bobness), then try `Maggie's Farm' or `It's All Over Now, Baby Blue'. Even the `fillers', those songs which aren't really supposed to be up to much, they're all really great as well! (That's `Outlaw Blues', `On The Road Again' and `Bob Dylan's 115th Dream' in case you hadn't already guessed).
I still prefer Neil Young because, deep down, you know he's one of us (except he writes better songs, plays better guitar and has a bigger collection of plaid shirts); Bob Dylan isn't one of us - he's one of them; one of those `clever bastards' Ian Dury warned us about. He knows it and he doesn't care whether we like him or not, he's `Bob Dylan' - he can do what he likes. Fair enough I say.
If you're out there wondering if you should try a `Dylan' - do it, buy this one, it's the one.
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