Bringing It All Back Home (1965)


 
1. Subterranean Homesick Blues 2. She Belongs to Me 3. Maggie's Farm 4. Love Minus Zero/No Limit 5. Outlaw Blues 6. On the Road Again 7. Bob Dylan's 115th Dream 8. Mr. Tambourine Man 9. Gates of Eden 10.It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding) 11.It's All Over Now, Baby Blue

 

Ah....the first ever endeavor where Mr. Dylan decided to alienate many of his cult following. Here, he does it by playing electric instruments. It's actually quite funny all of these years later to ponder exactly what all the fuss was about. My thinking is the tight knit crowd of Greenwich Village prided themselves so much on being so different from the masses, that they didn't want the rest of the world to experience this genius. I've never quite understood that mentality. This album isn't really that much different than his last release, Another Side of Bob Dylan. Sure, there are those "electric" instruments, but melody and structure wise, the differences are not that noticeable. Plus, by the time we get to the middle of side 2, Bob has slowly peeled away those new influences, and the album easily transfers back to the folksy style that we're all familiar.

Then there's the fact that the music here is, quite simply, some of the best he's ever done. Had the music suffered at all in terms of quality, it would be very easy for more people to discount Bob's new venture into unexplored territories. However, dare I say, this is quite possibly his best release up to this point in his career. No, nothing could be as influential as some of his earliest works, but song for song, this record is darn near immaculate. From the opening lyrics of the classic Subterranean Homesick Blues, "Johnny's in the basement/Mixing Up the Medicine/I'm on the pavement/Thinking 'bout the government....", you already somehow know that this album is going to be a classic. The song never makes any sense, yet is so uniquely "Dylan" that it ranks among his all time best.

The whole album is littered with great songs. Some, such as Love Minus Zero/No Limit, Mr Tambourine Man and It's All Over Now, Baby Blue have endured in popularity throughout the years, and I would be afraid to count just how many artists have covered these songs and somehow made them unique enough to resonate with that particular artist as well as Dylan. Then there are those tracks that are so uniquely what you would expect from Dylan, that they have appeared on countless live albums and compilations both in this original form and alternate versions such as Gates of Eden, Maggie's Farm and the highly underrated It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding).

Although he's still political, his politics aren't quite as heavy handed as they've been in the past, and his humor, if anything, has increased a bit, both in lyrics and in his approach. Especially charming (and some may say annoying) is the "left in" goof at the beginning of Bob Dylan's 115th Dream, where he breaks out laughing several seconds into the song before the finished, fixed product continues. So all things are good here. Sadly, with everything he did during the sixties turning to gold, this is one of those releases that seemed to get a little bit overlooked, which shouldn't be the case. This is one of his true, classic, "best of the best ofs".


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