Monday, December 6, 2010

#73 Bob Dylan-Bringing It All Back Home


Artist: Bob Dylan
Album: Bringing It All Back Home
Label: Columbia
Year: 1965

If The Beatles set the world ablaze in early 1964, Bob Dylan did it one year later. In a lot of ways, Bringing It All Back Home isn't that different than its predecessor, Another Side of Bob Dylan. The lyrics (of course, always debatable), were noticeably less political, and Bob began singing about relations with a strong focus on poetry. Of course, there was the matter of electric guitars and drums. Bringing It All Back Home was released in March, but the backlash wasn't felt until he performed the electric set live at the Newport Folk Festival in July. Time has obviously been kind to Bob, and Bringing It All Back Home is where Bob Dylan defined, basically, what would be rock and roll.
The album is broken up into two parts: the rock and roll, electric Dylan on side A and folk material on side B. The boogie of that first side is unforgettable. "Subtarranean Homesick Blues" remains one of his most celebrated songs: a portrait of a rag-tag lifestyle at a blistering pace. What's most striking is how Dylan's vocals have changed. It's as if he's ignoring the fact that there is a microphone in front of his face, and singing like he needs to be heard over the new electric band. Every lyric on the song is a gem, and the side keeps up well. "Maggie's Farm" is one of his most fun stories, and after a gotcha intro, "Bob Dylan's 115th Dream," ends up being one of his funniest songs. Songs like "Outlaw Blues" and "On The Road Again" draw on his blues and Chuck Berry influence heavily, and while it may be hard to appreciate now (or even then, considering what his next two albums sounded like), it clearly lays the framework for his greatest work.
On the other side of the record are four of his most beautiful songs. "Mr. Tambourine Man," with gorgeous electric guitar underneath, was never done better. And "It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)" is one of his most scathing songs, and the first real time Dylan truly waxes philosophical. "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue" gives some of his best imagery, and again, his anger is audible. Whatever Dylan was fed up with (remember, this is before Newport), is clearly tossed off for good in his lyrics.
Today, the album, while not sounding dated, is a bit...out of date. His next two albums would be not just his, but pretty much anybody's best. Still, Bringing It All Back Home has some of his best songs. The playing isn't as loud as it would be with his next group of session musicians, and the laid-back feel is a treat. He had to learn to crawl before he could walk, and Bringing It All Back Home not only sets the stage for some of the greatest rock and roll in history, but gives one of the best overviews of all of the sides of Dylan (political, romantic, beauty, anger, and more) in one neat place.

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