Planet Waves (1974)


 
1. On a Night Like This 2. Going, Going, Gone 3. Tough Mama 4. Hazel 5. Something There is About You 6. Forever Young 7. Forever Young (con't) 8. Dirge 9. You Angel You 10.Never Say Goodbye 11.Wedding Song

 

This is probably the strangest release from Bob Dylan in terms of its notoriety. It's sort of "forgotten" or "blended in" deep within his catalog. Ask a Bob Dylan geek to name every one of his albums in order, and this is probably the one that he will inadvertently skip. In many cases, it's hard to designate this album. You can't really say "This is the Bob Dylan album that _________". So it's not that well known in many circles.

So now let's give this record a bit of justice. First, although many would agree that the above is true, this record somehow managed to hold the dubious achievement of being Bob's first ever number one album. A bit ironic considering all those masterpieces that came out a decade ago. Then, you have to praise this album for its consistency. Something that had been missing, or maybe sporadic over the past several years. At first listen, many compare this album to New Morning that came out three years ago. There are some similarities, but whereas that album had a more country feel to it, this one sounds more folksy (70's folksy, that is) and has a much more "Americana" feel to it.

The main reason is that he has his old backing band The Hawks (later called The Band, who were stars in their own right) helping him out with the songs on the album. Had it not been for The Band, it's obvious that this album would have sounded much different, and probably nowhere near as good. As a matter of fact, this is probably his most "The Band influenced" album (and I'm including the wonderful The Basement Tapes as well, even though that was a better album).

This isn't a perfect record, and, as mentioned earlier, it isn't that noticeable either. But listening to the album front to back shows many of its charms that may have been missed. The one song that everyone probably knows, Forever Young, is here, and many would argue that song justifies the full purchase price of the album alone. He actually does two versions of that song here (the second called Forever Young Con't) that run back to back. That was perhaps a bit much. Other highlights are the opener, On a Night Like This, the closer, Wedding Song and most of everything in between.

I've always thought Going, Going, Gone was a bit overrated and Tough Mama and Dirge sound a bit forced, but everything thing else here is a joy for me to listen to so many years later. I wish that some of the songs at the end of the record went on a bit longer. It almost seems as though on songs You Angel You and Say Goodbye that he was trying to "hurry up and finish" the songs and they seem to end prematurely. A shame since those cuts are strong as well.

Maybe this record should be a "must" for those who love The Band, and a "maybe" for anyone who doesn't. Anyway, I still think it deserves a little bit more credit that what it seems to have received all these years later.


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