Highway 61 Revisited (1965)


 
1. Like a Rolling Stone 2. Tombstone Blues 3. It Takes A Lot to Laugh, It Takes A Train to Cry 4. From a Buick 6 5. Ballad of a Thin Man 6. Queen Jane Approximately 7. Highway 61 Revisited 8. Just Like Tom Thumb's Blue 9. Desolation Row

 

Many people might say that Dylan lost his "folk" persona on his last record, Bringing It All Back Home, but upon closer reflection that's not really true. That album had electric instruments, but the style was almost identical to his early work. There is no mistake, however, that this record pretty much throws the "folk" label out the window. As with anything in Bob Dylan's illustrious, varied career, it was never really about what style he was attempting, but whether or not the music was memorable. He would struggle in later years at times when he would transition, but that's not the case here.

On his first "rock/pop" album, he manages to create yet another great piece of work which seemed to be par for the course during the time-changin' sixties. This album is a masterpiece just because the majority of the songs are outstanding and timeless. Other than the leadoff track, the well known Like a Rolling Stone, there might not be much here that the casual music fan would be familiar with, but any diehard Dylan fan can list off at least half the tracks here as being among "his very best" and his many compilations, bootlegs and live releases would be rightly littered with many of these very tracks.

You might possibly argue that there's some of the "folkiness" still here, but that really is debatable. Dylan's trademark voice will always be associated with that genre, but the real issue is that whatever style he's tackling, and he tackles many, the songs are all powerful. The blues shows up more prominently in such tracks as the timeless It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry and, to some degree, Queen Jane Approximately and his country sound also begins to be evident on the album's closer, the eleven minute Desolation Row (although I confess that as powerful as this song is, I wish it would have been cut in half). He's at his best when he's just churning out (what could be defined then as) rock songs such as the track Highway 61 Revisited, Tombstone Blues, and the above mentioned Like a Rolling Stone.

With everything this man touching turning to gold, it's easy to see why he was regarded in iconic respect during this turbulent decade, a label he never really relished. Maybe he actually enjoyed the fact, then, that so many of his early listeners were showing up at his shows and booing him whenever he picked up an electric guitar. Good for you Bob. Stay true to yourself. Especially with results like this.


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