Category Archives: Bob Dylan albums

Today: Bob Dylan released Bob Dylan in 1962 – 51 years ago

Bob Dylan album

..His talent takes many forms. He is one of the most compelling white blues singers ever recorded. He is a songwriter of exceptional facility and cleverness. He is an uncommonly skillful guitar player and harmonica player.
~Stacy Williams (“Bob Dylan” LP. liner notes)

Dylan’s first album can hardly be faulted. It is a brilliant debut, a performer’s tour de force,….
~Michael Gray (BD Encyclopedia)

Talkin’ New York:

Wikipedia:

Released March 19, 1962
Recorded November 20 and 22, 1961,Columbia Recording Studio, New York City, New York, United States
Genre Folk
Length 36:54
Label Columbia
Producer John H. Hammond

Bob Dylan is the debut album by American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, released in March 1962 by Columbia Records. Produced by Columbia’s legendary talent scout John H. Hammond, who signed Dylan to the label, the album features folk standards, plus two original compositions, “Talkin’ New York” and “Song to Woody”.

bob dylan 1961

Man of Constant Sorrow:

Recording sessions

The album was ultimately recorded in three short afternoon sessions on November 20 and 22 (1961). Hammond later joked that Columbia spent “about $402” to record it, and the figure has entered the Dylan legend as its actual cost. Despite the low cost and short amount of time, Dylan was still difficult to record, according to Hammond. “Bobby popped every p, hissed every s, and habitually wandered off mike,” recalls Hammond. “Even more frustrating, he refused to learn from his mistakes. It occurred to me at the time that I’d never worked with anyone so undisciplined before.”

Seventeen songs were recorded, and five of the album’s chosen tracks were actually cut in single takes (“Baby Let Me Follow You Down,” “In My Time of Dyin’,” “Gospel Plow,” “Highway 51 Blues,” and “Freight Train Blues”) while the master take of “Song to Woody” was recorded after one false start. The album’s four outtakes were also cut in single takes. During the sessions, Dylan refused requests to do second takes. “I said no. I can’t see myself singing the same song twice in a row. That’s terrible.”

The album cover features a reversed photo of Dylan holding his acoustic guitar. It is unknown as to why the photo was flipped.

bob dylan 1961 recording sessions

In My Time of Dyin: 

In less than one year in New York, Bob Dylan has thrown the folk crowd into an uproar. Ardent fans have been shouting his praises. Devotees have found in him the image of a singing rebel, a musical Chaplin tramp, a young Woody Guthrie, or a composite of some of the best country blues singers.
~Stacy Williams (“Bob Dylan” LP. liner notes)

Track Listing:

Side one

  1. “You’re No Good” – Jesse Fuller 1:40
  2. “Talkin’ New York” – Bob Dylan 3:20
  3. “In My Time of Dyin'” – trad. arr. Dylan 2:40
  4. “Man of Constant Sorrow” – trad. arr. Dylan 3:10
  5. “Fixin’ to Die” – Bukka White 2:22
  6. “Pretty Peggy-O” – trad. arr. Dylan 3:23
  7. “Highway 51” – Curtis Jones 2:52

Side two

  1. “Gospel Plow”  – trad. arr. Dylan 1:47
  2. “Baby, Let Me Follow You Down” – trad. arr. Eric von Schmidt 2:37
  3. “House of the Risin’ Sun” – trad. arr. Dave Van Ronk 5:20
  4. “Freight Train Blues” – trad., Roy Acuff 2:18
  5. “Song to Woody” – Bob Dylan 2:42
  6. “See That My Grave Is Kept Clean” – Blind Lemon Jefferson 2:43

Personnel:

  • Bob Dylan – vocals, acoustic guitar, harmonica

Technical personnel

  • John H. Hammond – production

bob-dylan-studion 1961

Baby, Let Me Follow You Down:

The Songs:

By the time sessions were held for his debut album, Dylan was absorbing an enormous amount of folk material from sitting and listening to contemporaries performing in New York’s clubs and coffeehouses. Many of these individuals were also close friends who performed with Dylan, often inviting him to their apartments where they would introduce him to more folk songs. At the same time, Dylan was borrowing and listening to a large number of folk, blues, and country records, many of which were hard to find at the time. Dylan revealed in an interview in the documentary No Direction Home that he needed to hear a song only once or twice to learn it.

The final album sequence of Bob Dylan features only two original compositions; the other eleven tracks are folk standards and traditional songs. Few of these were staples of his club/coffeehouse repertoire. Only two of the covers and both originals were in his club set in September 1961.

Dylan stated in a 2000 interview that he was hesitant to reveal too much of himself at first.

bob dylan 1961 2

See That My Grave is Kept Clean:

Aftermath

Bob Dylan did not receive much acclaim until years later. “These debut songs are essayed with differing degrees of conviction,” writes music critic Tim Riley, “[but] even when his reach exceeds his grasp, he never sounds like he knows he’s in over his head, or gushily patronizing… Like Elvis Presley, what Dylan can sing, he quickly masters; what he can’t, he twists to his own devices. And as with the Presley Sun sessions, the voice that leaps from Dylan’s first album is its most striking feature, a determined, iconoclastic baying that chews up influences, and spits out the odd mixed signal without half trying.”

However, at the time of its release, Bob Dylan received little notice, and both Hammond and Dylan were soon dismissive of the first album’s results.

Bob Dylan’s first album is a lot like the debut albums by the Beatles and the Rolling Stones — a sterling effort, outclassing most, if not all, of what came before it in the genre, but similarly eclipsed by the artist’s own subsequent efforts. The difference was that not very many people heard Bob Dylan on its original release (originals on the early-’60s Columbia label are choice collectibles) because it was recorded with a much smaller audience and musical arena in mind.
~Bruce Eder (allmusic.com)

Spotify:

Check out -> Bob Dylan albums @ JV

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Continue reading Today: Bob Dylan released Bob Dylan in 1962 – 51 years ago

Today: Bob Dylan released “Good As I Been To You” in 1992 – 20 years ago – updated

My voice was never really that glamorous. But a big vocal range really isn’t necessary for the type of songs I sing. For what I sing, my voice does pretty well.
(Bob Dylan to Greg Kot in August 1993)

“My songs come out of folk music…..I love that whole pantheon. To me there’s no difference between Muddy Waters and Bill Monroe.”
(Bob Dylan)

Here is a brilliant live version of “Blackjack Davie” from 1993.09.12 – Great Woods – Mansfield, Massachusetts:

Wikipedia:

Released November 3, 1992
Recorded Mid-1992
Genre Folk, blues
Length 55:31
Label Columbia
Producer Debbie Gold

Good as I Been to You is the twenty-eighth studio album by American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, released in November 1992 by Columbia Records.

It is composed entirely of traditional folk songs and covers, and is Dylan’s first entirely solo, acoustic album since Another Side of Bob Dylan in 1964. It is also his first collection not to feature any original compositions since Dylan in 1973.

On the charts, Good as I Been to You reached #51 in the US and #18 in the UK.

Since launching the Never Ending Tour in June 1988, traditional covers became a feature at virtually every concert, often as part of an acoustic set. After recording Under the Red Sky in 1990, Dylan would not release an original song until 1997, and during that time, he would increasingly rely on his stockpile of covers for ‘fresh’ material. Dylan called these covers “the music that’s true for me.”

Aftermath:

The response to Good as I Been to You was surprisingly positive, particularly for an album with very modest ambitions. It drew comparisons with the acoustic sets featured in Dylan’s “Never Ending Tour” shows, drawing much praise for his interpretive skills. A number of critics pointed out that Dylan’s voice was now physically ravaged, but the focus was often on the phrasing. “Dylan sounds now, in comparison to his younger self, like one of those ghosts,” wrote David Sexton of The Sunday Telegraph, “but a powerful ghost. The effect is not so much nostalgia…as deeply inward.”

Michael Gray:
….Yet this album, imprecise, errant, at times blurred and furry, is a singular creation that gains as well as loses by Dylan’s loss of the effortless certainty
of youth. Dark, complex, surreal and fractured, it is like an inspired, lost work from some opiumthralled folk archivist throwing his own torrid genius into celebrating the myriad strengths of anonymously created song: song from before there was a music industry to kill off its mystery and its purpose. Stand-out tracks: ‘Hard Times’, ‘Arthur McBride’, ‘You’re Gonna Quit Me’, ‘Diamond Joe’ and ‘Froggie Went a-Courtin’’. The fine outtake ‘You Belong to Me’ was used on the soundtrack of Oliver Stone’s film Natural Born Killers.

Here is “Jim Jones” from the second Supper Club Show Nov 17 1993:

David Wild (Rollingstone.com):
…..In its stripped-down intensity, Good As I Been to You recalls the midshow acoustic segments that in recent years have been a consistent highlight of Dylan’s Neverending Tour. Even more than that, the album’s intimate, almost offhand approach suggests what it would be like to sit backstage with his Bobness while he runs through a set of some of his favorite old songs. This is a passionate, at times almost ragged piece of work that seems to have been recorded rather than produced in any conventional sense.

Only a quarter of a century late, this is the sort of album the people who booed Dylan’s decision to go electric wanted from him. And for the most part, the songs on Good As I Been to You are the same sort of material that might have appealed to the younger, freewheelin’ Dylan back in the days when he was being influenced — by Woody Guthrie, for example — rather than exerting profound influence in his own right. Still, at least one selection — the unlikely but oddly delightful “Froggie Went A Courtin'” — evinces some of the fascinating perversity that fans have come to expect from Dylan in his middle age.

………… This fascinating exploration of musical roots is more than a diversion for musicologists. Good As I Been to You shows that sometimes one can look back and find something that’s both timeless and relevant. It also proves once again that Dylan can still be every bit as good as he’s been to us in the past. Which is, of course, as good as it gets.
Read more @ rollingstone.com

 

My fav song from the album is “Hard Times“.

 An extremely sincere rendition of this song was recorded in the summer of 92 and released on Dylan’s “Good As I Been To You”. Dylan premiered the song in concert on April 12, 1993 in Louisville, Kentucky. The song which was always employed as a show opener, was an almost constant feature throughout Dylan’s 93 summer tours, until it was suddenly dropped, mid tour, on August 21, 1993, never (as of yet) to return.
~Derek Barker (The Songs He didn’t write)

Here it is:

Here is Dylan & “Hard Times” @ Willie Nelsons’ 60th Birthday TV Special (KRLU-TV Studios – Austin, Texas, 27 April 1993):

Tracks:

All songs are traditional, arranged by Bob Dylan, except where noted.

  1. “Frankie & Albert” (arranged by Mississippi John Hurt) – 3:50
  2. “Jim Jones” (arranged by Mick Slocum) – 3:52
  3. “Blackjack Davey” – 5:47
  4. “Canadee-i-o” – 4:20
  5. “Sittin’ on Top of the World” – 4:27
  6. “Little Maggie” – 2:52
  7. “Hard Times” (Stephen Foster, arranged by De Dannan) – 4:31
  8. “Step It Up and Go” – 2:54
  9. “Tomorrow Night” (Sam Coslow and Will Grosz) – 3:42
  10. “Arthur McBride” (arranged by Paul Brady) – 6:20
  11. “You’re Gonna Quit Me” – 2:46
  12. “Diamond Joe” – 3:14
  13. “Froggie Went A-Courtin'” – 6:26

Personnel:

  • Bob Dylan – vocals, guitar, harmonica
  • Stephen Marcussen – mastering
  • Micajah Ryan – mixing
  • Jimmy Wachtel – front cover photography

Spotify:

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Continue reading Today: Bob Dylan released “Good As I Been To You” in 1992 – 20 years ago – updated

Today: Bob Dylan released “Infidels” in 1983 – 29 years ago

….I wanted to call my next album, whenever I made it, Surviving In A Ruthless World. I wanted to call it that. Before we even went into the studio, “The next album I do I’m gonna call Surviving in a Ruthless World”. But something was holding me back from it, because for some reason… somebody pointed out to me that the last bunch of albums that I made all started with the letter S. And I’d say, “Is that right?” There must be a story or something. I didn’t want to do another one beginning with S just f for superstitious reasons. I didn’t want to get bogged down in the letter S whatever the letter S stands for. And this Infidels came out, just came into my head one day, I guess. This was after we had that album done that it just came in my head that this is the right title for this album. I mean, I don’t know any more about it than anybody else really. I did it. I did the album, and I call it that, but what it means is for other people to interpret, you know, if it means something to them. Infidels is a word that’s in the dictionary and whoever it applies to… to everybody on the album, every character. Maybe it’s all about infidels.
~Bob Dylan (to Kurt Loder in March 1984)

Jokerman – official video:

From Wikipedia:

Released October 27, 1983
Recorded April–May 1983 at the Power Station, New York
Genre Rock
Length 41:39
Label Columbia
Producer Bob Dylan, Mark Knopfler

Infidels is the twenty-second studio album by American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, released in October 1983 by Columbia Records.

Produced by Mark Knopfler and Dylan himself, Infidels is seen as his return to secular music, following a conversion to Christianity, three evangelical, gospel records and a subsequent return to a secular, culturally Jewish lifestyle. Though he has never abandoned religious imagery, Infidels gained much attention for its focus on more personal themes of love and loss, in addition to commentary on the environment and geopolitics.

The critical reaction was the strongest for Dylan in years, almost universally hailed for its songwriting and performances. The album also fared well commercially, reaching #20 in the US and going gold, and #9 in the UK. Still, many fans and critics were disappointed that several songs were inexplicably cut from the album just prior to mastering—primarily “Blind Willie McTell“, considered a career highlight by many critics, and not officially released until it appeared on The Bootleg Series Volume III eight years later.

Here is a “legendary” performance of Jokerman @ Letterman:

Continue reading Today: Bob Dylan released “Infidels” in 1983 – 29 years ago

Bob Dylan – The Bootleg Series Vol. 4: Bob Dylan Live 1966, The “Royal Albert Hall” Concert

Well, but you see, Columbia’s never offered to do that. They have done that with The Basement Tapes and the Budokan album. But they’ve never offered to put that out as a historical album or whatever. And believe me, if they wanted to do it, they could.
~Bob Dylan to Kurt Loder in 1984

 “I still can’t believe they’ve finally put it out. I just keep staring at my copy.”
~Andy Kershaw (BBC Radio 1 DJ)

14 years ago today… they finally put it out, this surely calls for a celebration!

Baby, Let Me Follow You Down:

From Wikipedia:

Released October 13, 1998
Recorded May 17, 1966
Genre Rock, folk rock, blues rock
Length 95:18
Label Columbia
Producer Jeff Rosen

Live 1966: The “Royal Albert Hall” Concert is a two-disc live album by Bob Dylan, released in 1998. Recorded at Manchester’s Free Trade Hall. It is from Dylan’s famous world tour in 1966, having been extensively bootlegged for decades, and is an important document in the development of popular music during the 1960s.

The setlist consisted of two parts, with the first half of the concert being Dylan alone on stage performing an entirely acoustic set of songs, while the second half of the concert has Dylan playing an “electric” set of songs alongside his band The Hawks. The first half of the concert was greeted warmly by the audience, while the second half was highly criticized, with heckling going on before and after each song.

Here are two (of many..) “real” bootleg covers of this concert:

Continue reading Bob Dylan – The Bootleg Series Vol. 4: Bob Dylan Live 1966, The “Royal Albert Hall” Concert

Today: Bob Dylan released “Tempest”

Shine your light
Movin’ on
You burned so bright
Roll on, John

Finally….. it’s here!

Although it’s way too early to pass judgement.. this has to be a classic!

We got “Early Roman Kings” a couple of weeks ago, and “Duquesne Whistle” ~1,5 weeks ago. Both songs bore witness of greatness. iTunes have been streaming Tempest all week.. but now it’s finally available for everyone.

I’ve burned through it 3 times today.. still rolling as I write this.. GREAT stuff!

It is surely way better that “Together Through Life& feels better than “Modern Times” as well. Comparison with L&T & TOOM will have to wait…

 Some facts from Wikipedia:

Released September 10, 2012

September 7, 2012

Recorded January–March 2012 at Groove Masters Studios in Santa Monica, California
Genre Rock, folk rock
Length 1:08:31
Label Columbia
Producer Bob Dylan

Artwork:

The cover art for Tempest incorporates a red tinted photograph of a statue located at the base of the Pallas-Athene Fountain in front of the Austrian Parliament Building in Vienna. The statue is one of four figures on the intermediate platform of the fountain bowl personifying the main rivers of Austria-Hungary: the Danube, the Inn, the Elbe, and the Moldau. The figure shown on the album cover represents the Moldau. The sculpture was created by Carl Kundmann between 1893 and 1902 based on architect Theophil Hansen’s original plans.

Critical reception:

  • In his review in Rolling Stone magazine, Will Hermes gave the album five out of five stars, calling it “musically varied and full of curveballs” and “the single darkest record in Dylan’s catalog.” According to Hermes, the album draws upon elements common throughout Dylan’s career—especially the last three albums—with music that is “built from traditional forms and drawing on eternal themes: love, struggle, death.” Hermes continues:

    “Lyrically, Dylan is at the top of his game, joking around, dropping wordplay and allegories that evade pat readings and quoting other folks’ words like a freestyle rapper on fire. “Narrow Way” is one of Dylan’s most potent rockers in years, and it borrows a chorus from the Mississippi Sheiks’ 1934 blues “You’ll Work Down to Me Someday”. “Scarlet Town” draws on verses by 19th-century Quaker poet and abolitionist John Greenleaf Whittier; and allusions to Louis Armstrong and the Isley Brothers pop up elsewhere.” ~Will Hermes
    According to Hermes, the two most powerful songs on the album are “Tempest” and “Roll On, John”. The title track, about the sinking of the RMS Titanic, is a 14-minute epic consisting of 45 verses and no chorus, with an Irish melody supported by accordion and fiddle. The song depicts a series of horrifying scenes—of passengers falling into the icy waters, dead bodies “already floating”, men turning against other men in murderous acts—presented against acts of bravery, such as one man “offering his lifeboat seat to a crippled child.” The closing track, according to Hermes, is a “prayer from one great artist to another”, and stands as a reminder that “Dylan now stands virtually alone among his 1960s peers. His own final act, meanwhile, rolls on. It’s a thing to behold.”
  • In his review for American Songwriter, Jim Beviglia gave the album four and a half out of five stars, calling it “the kind of meaty offering that his most ardent fans desire most.” The deceptively gentle instrumental passage at the start of “Duquesne Whistle”, Beviglia observes, is a perfect opening to an album of “sudden juxtapositions and mood shifts that occur not just within songs but sometimes within verses.” Through the easy tempo of “Soon After Midnight”, the grinding blues of “Narrow Way”, the soulful guitar lines of “Long and Wasted Years”, and the remorseless biting lyrics of “Pay In Blood”, Dylan captures “humanity, in all of its flawed glory, at every turn.” The musical antecedents of some of these songs are transparent: “Duquesne Whistle” from “Thunder on the Mountain”, “Scarlet Town” from “Ain’t Talkin'”, “Tin Angel” from “Man in the Long Black Coat”, “Early Roman Kings” from the blues classic “Mannish Boy”, and “Pay In Blood” from “Idiot Wind” or “Like a Rolling Stone”.  Dylan’s singing is strong on the album, especially on songs like “Long and Wasted Years”, where he toys with the phrasing of each line, teasing out “every bit of hurt in this tale of love gone wrong.” “His voice may be shredded,” Breviglia observes, “but he can still interpret a song like no other.”
  • In his review in the Los Angeles Times, Randall Roberts wrote, “Few American writers, save Mark Twain, have spoken so eloquently and consistently at such a steady, honest clip, and the evidence continues on Tempest.”  According to Randall, the album reveals a “master storyteller” at work as Dylan “continues to explore the various strands of early American roots music that he internalized as he matured.”

    “At their best, new songs such as “Scarlet Town,” “Tin Angel” and “Roll On, John” show an artist swirling in musical repetition and the joy of longevity. Each is longer than seven minutes and each deserves to be heard again the moment it ends. He mixes these longer narratives with a few four-minute, expertly crafted gems that float like whittled wooden birds come to life—especially “Long and Wasted Years,” a bitter song about a dead marriage.” ~Randall Roberts
  • In his review in The Guardian, Alexis Petridis gave the album four out of five stars, but downplayed some of the superlatives offered by other reviewers who have compared Tempest to some of Dylan’s finest work. 
  • In his review in The Sun, Simon Cosyns gave the album five out of five stars, calling it “a magnificent beast of an album”. According to Cosyns, the album “continues Dylan’s rich vein of late-career form” and in some ways surpasses his recent albums based on “sheer lyrical and vocal power while managing to stretch the familiar old timey sonic palette in all sorts of unexpected ways.”
  • In his review in The Telegraph, Neil McCormick called the album “among his best ever”.  According to McCormick, the songs on Tempest reveal a Dylan “genuinely fired up by the possibilities of language” and that the entire album “resounds with snappy jokes and dark ruminations, vivid sketches and philosophical asides.” McCormick continued:

    “Tempest is certainly his strongest and most distinctive album in a decade. The sound is a distillation of the jump blues, railroad boogie, archaic country and lush folk that Dylan has been honing since 2001’s Love and Theft, played with swagger and character by his live ensemble and snappily produced by the man himself. A notoriously impatient recording artist, Dylan seems to have found a style that suits his working methods. Drawing on the early 20th-century Americana that first grabbed his attention as a young man (and that he celebrated in his Theme Time Radio Hour shows) and surrounding himself with slick, intuitive musicians capable of charging these nostalgic grooves with contemporary energy, his late-period albums.” ~Neil McCormick

  • Allan Jones in Uncut Magazine gives 10/10 & writes:

    Bob Dylan’s fantastic new album opens with a train song. Given the wrath to come and the often elemental ire that accompanies it, not to mention all the bloodshed, madness, death, chaos and assorted disasters that will shortly be forthcoming, you may be surprised that what’s clattering along the tracks here isn’t the ominous engine of a slow train coming, a locomotive of doom and retribution, souls wailing in a caboose crowded with the forlorn damned and other people like them. …

    …the sheer tenderness of the closing “Roll On, John” is as much of a shock as a mere surprise. A belated tribute to John Lennon, the song’s as direct and heartfelt as anything Dylan’s written probably since “Sara”, whose occasional gaucheness it recalls, as Dylan roams over Lennon’s career, “from the Liverpool docks to the red-light Hamburg streets”, quoting from Lennon and Beatles’ songs along the way, including “A Day In The Life”, “The Ballad Of John And Yoko” and “Come Together”. The affection expressed for Lennon in the song is tangible, makes it glow like a force-field, and by the end is totally disarming. “Your bones are weary, you’re about to breathe your last,” Dylan sings to his dead friend. “Lord you know how hard that bit can be,” before moving onto a spine-tingling elegiac chorus: “Shine a light/Move it on/You burned so bright/Roll on, John”.

    Read more over @ uncut -> Allan Jones – Tempest 

Track Listing:

  1. “Duquesne Whistle” (Dylan, Robert Hunter) 
  2. “Soon After Midnight”  
  3. “Narrow Way” 
  4. “Long and Wasted Years” 
  5. “Pay in Blood” 
  6. “Scarlet Town” 
  7. Early Roman Kings” 
  8. “Tin Angel” 
  9. “Tempest” 
  10. “Roll on John

All the lyrics: -> @ expectingrain.com

  Continue reading Today: Bob Dylan released “Tempest”