What is there to say about this album. As ‘Lost John’ states, its a bridging album to ‘Another Side of Bob Dylan.” Or as I say, a lateral shift. Local songsmith David Kraai reveres the album so much he got it signed by Sally Grossman, (the young woman sitting in the back of the album cover).
An album which does not frequent my Dylan rotation as much as it should, let’s begin with the. ‘bar room brawl songs’. Yes they are rowdy, full of ruckus and sly humor. Five out of eleven tracks encompass this sound, count em’. ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’ kicks the album off by stepping on the ruling classes foot.
Following the sound scale, Dylan morphs more meaning with word collage and twisting historical references on, ‘Outlaw Blues’, ‘On the Road Again’ and ‘Bob Dylan’s 115th Dream.’ Then there’s ‘Maggie’s Farm’ a tromp over the common man working as a gear in the economic machine. A rebuke of that act, a criticism, though no alternative to such is brought to light. This hobo sailor shoved it in the gut on the opening cords of each and maintains the fervent energy through out.
Two dear love songs add to the portions of this album describing an ideal muse and finishing with ‘It Ain’t Me Babe.’ The latter a richly sounding six string tune on the dissolving of the speakers relationship, although we don’t know how far in it he was. Dylan breaks the spell the character has of him possessing an ideal mate.
Now for the marrow of the album for the purest. ‘Gates of Eden’, a song many analysts won’t touch for they feel it is enigmatic. I will delve into it simply. Dylan describes a place of nirvana like qualities. An ethereal promise land where truth, justice and equality exists; ‘…there are no Kong’s inside the gates of Eden.’
Intellectually, my favorite Dylan song, ‘Its Alright Ma I’m Only Bleeding’ follows in a row of heavy hitters. Describing phones leaders and a plastic culture, Dylan proclaims that ‘…he not busy being born is busy dieing.’ Certainly Dylan is such that rebirth is a perpetual motion.
‘Mr. Tamborine Man’ Wordsworthian in imagery describes the presence of the muse or the purity of a cleansed soul. The arrival of the tambourine man is a mystic rejoice of kinds. When all is reduced, if such can be, with less treble and a hair more production, BIABH is a perfect companion to ‘Another Side of Bob Dylan,’ almost seamless in its transition. Listening to them back to back as I did gives you a strong profile view of the artist at large. Catch him if you can, (or if his body guards allow it.) Take it from me who was once carried off by them at the Capital Theatre, they won’t!
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