Bob Dylan’s 28th Best Studio/ Bootleg Album

A black-and-white close-up of Dylan's face looking down

The Times They Are a-Changin’
1964
Grade — B-

With the protest movement in full swing, Dylan released his second, and subsequently last, of that style of rebellion with The Times They Are a-Changin. The title track became a big hit, and one of Dylan’s most popular and celebrated songs, achieving number 9 in 1964 on the UK Charts. The song also was placed as the 59th best song of all time by Rolling Stone Magazine.

The rest of the album is good, but like with Slow Train Coming had little variation in sound from song to song. Dylan was certainly delivering strong messages and got people’s attention, but the piece lacked some of his wit, and all of his humor, as it didn’t achieve the success that the previous record The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan achieved.

Most of the pieces are very strong ones, whether with “Ballad of Hollis Brown” being the tale of a struggling farmer killing his wife, five children and himself, or with “Only a Pawn in their Game” focusing on how the poor white men are just as brainwashed and mistreated as the black folks. The odd song out is “Boots of Spanish Leather”, but its a superb love song.

This album is a bit of a step down from some of his other 60’s work, but is mostly brilliant.

The Times They Are a-Changin’ – http://grooveshark.com/#!/s/The+Times+They+Are+A+Changin/4gReT0?src=5

Boots of Spanish Leather – http://grooveshark.com/#!/s/Boots+Of+Spanish+Leather/3JqVSP?src=5

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Bob Dylan’s 30th Best Studio/ Bootleg Album

A black-and-white photo of the backseat of a car with two men lying in it

Together Through Life
2009
Grade — C+

When hearing that Robert Hunter from the Grateful Dead was helping co-write this entire album, I feared the worst. If 1988’s Down in the Groove and the live performances Dylan and the Dead were anything to go off of, Bob’s three album run of great music seemed to be nearing the finish line. Luckily however, it seems that “third time’s a charm” saying has some validity to it, and thus, Together Through Life was born.

The resulting piece is one full of accordions, blues, and a pretty new sound for Dylan. The record can get a little samey, but its still fun enough where, at times, this gets a pass. There’s some really good stuff, and although it is a step down from the previous three works of Time Out of Mind, Love and Theft, and Modern Times, the sound of the album and some strong lyrics push it into the good, but mostly average, bracket.

The problem, as stated before, is the sameness of a lot of the songs. “Life is Hard”, “If You Ever Go to Houston”, “Forgetful Heart” and “This Dream of You” all suffer from this. Not that its a bad sound or anything, but too similar to each other. 

This is why the good songs really stand out on the album. “Jolene”, “Shake Shake Mama”, “It’s All Good”, and the biggest hit off the album “Beyond Here Lies Nothing” are all great pieces. If the whole album diversified like this, it would be a lot higher on the list. As is, its an above average collection of songs from two men who are two of the best wordsmiths of our lifetimes.

I’ll leave you with Beyond Here Lies Nothing – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7TbmP2vXeQs&feature=kp

Bob Dylan’s 31st Best Studio/ Bootleg Album

Self Portrait
1970
Grade — C+

This was Dylan’s first negatively reviewed album since his introduction eight years earlier, catching people so off guard that one Rolling Stone writer so elegantly put it as “What is this shit?”.

It’s true that this mostly covers album is fairly bizarre, especially when compared to the levels of excellence that the 60’s brought for fans. Bob however has said himself that it was something of a joke “to get the hippies off my lawn”.

The album was more criticized for its unnecessary over-production more than Dylan’s actual performances, which is why the stripped down versions released in 2013 were so much better received.

Self Portrait is quite an amusing name for a cover album, as is the cover art, showing Dylan’s frightfully stunning artwork. Not to worry, I’m being sarcastic.

The songs? Well the songs that just fall flat are “Alberta #1”, “Alberta #2”, the live performance of “She Belongs to Me”, and of course the Dylan original, “All the Tired Horses”. The last of these is the leadoff track, using the wordplay, “All the Tired Horses in the Sun / How I supposed to get any writing done.” over and over again, not sung by Dylan. Not that it would of added overly much.

However the songs that work are really nice. The biggest works are the covers of “Belle Isle”, “Copper Kettle”, and the traditional “Days of ’49”. All three have Dylan at his covering best — which is to say he belts out the songs like he would one of his own, instead of a straight forward cover.

Overall this album would have been a lot better if it had better production (or just less of it), but as is, its just a curious music artifact that will have new, uninitiated fans scratching their heads.

Days of ’49 — http://grooveshark.com/#!/s/Days+Of+49/2CKzfd?src=5

Bob Dylan’s 38th Best Studio/ Bootleg Album

A painting of the profile of Bob Dylan's face with red, yellow, purple, and black stripes

Dylan (1973)
1973
Grade — C-

Later the same year Pat Garrett was released skewing Peckinpah’s vision due to CBS , Bob Dylan ran into some troubles with studios of his own. These troubles stirred with the record company he had always been a part of, Columbia Records. Working on a new contract, negotiations soured with higher ups, and Dylan fled to Asylum records for a year or two, temporarily ending his run with Columbia.

None to happy about one of their solid stars jumping ship, they released outtakes from his albums “Self Portrait” and “New Morning” sessions entirely without the artist’s consent. Hand picked as ones executives chose to be the most fruitless and embarrassing, they slapped on the horrid cover and shipped it to entirely negative reviews from critics.

Dylan was appalled, requesting the record not be made for CD in North America, and renamed it after one of the songs on the piece, “A Fool Such as I”.

Is there anything salvageable? Sure.

That track “A Fool Such as I” is quite fun, as well as the overly goofy “Sarah Jane” and the traditional favorite covered by many, “Lily of the West.”

However the cover of Elvis’ “Can’t Help Falling In Love With You” is not a song Dylan does especially well, as its — well — an Elvis song. The corny lyrics are perfect for the king of cool, but for the Wizard of Wheeze, it falls flat.

“The Ballad of Ira Hayes” and “Mary Ann” are even worse, as while Cash’s version of Ira Hayes is at the very least entertainingly grating, Dylan’s is just…well, grating.

The album has enough good moments to not be as abysmal as Dylan himself makes it out to be, but if you were in his shoes, you’d probably say the same thing. Definitely something I have in my collection for my record player, but only played for the three good songs I mentioned and the very interesting “Spanish Is the Loving Tongue” cover to end it.

Song from the album is quite certainly Dylan’s given name to it, but its unavailable, so here’s “Lily of the West.” — http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xxpi7u_bob-dylan-lily-of-the-west_music

Joan Baez and Bob Dylan are the two best versions I’ve heard so far, what a coincidence.

Bob Dylan’s 39th Best Studio/ Bootleg Album

The name of the album in black on a white background

Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid
1973

Grade – D+

After abandoning his star status after 1970 to spend some down time with his young children and wife, Dylan was set to add another first to his repertoire. His first, and ultimately the only to feature all new material, soundtrack to a movie. The movie was a mess however, being skewed from the original vision that director Peckinpah had in mind. CBS completely moved around the movie to leave out important scenes and alter the order of said scenes. Dylan’s music was also shuffled, leaving the movie to be assumed a mess.

For a soundtrack, its not really that disappointing, as music is usually tertiary or quaternary in a movie unless ones like “O Brother Where Art Thou”, “Phantom of the Opera”, etc. As an album however, it fairs relatively poorly, with most cuts being instrumentals.

There is nothing wrong with this style of music, however Dylan is not listened to for his guitar. He is fairly skilled at the guitar, sure, but people listen for his lyrics and his voice. The album is therefore mostly a bore, as what sounds nice in a motion picture does not always translate well to the record player.

Of course there are a couple exceptions, including one of the biggest hits of his career, “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door.” Eric Clapton and Guns and Roses both have covered the Top 20 hit, and its one of Dylan’s most played songs for his own shows as well.

“Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” is a song of near-fatality relating to the movie, and almost single-handedly makes this album a good one. Almost.

“Turkey Chase” is a fairly good instrumental, and some of the others are good, but again, not what Dylan’s best at. There aren’t really any bad songs like “Ugliest Girl In the World”, but lots of boring flute solos and guitar picking. Entertaining for some, but for Dylan fans, a bit to be desired.

If you want to see the music and movie at their best, check out Peckinpah’s cut, made in the 1980’s.

I can only find live versions of “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” so here’s one of my favorites off of MTV Unplugged. – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cJpB_AEZf6U

Enjoy the classic song over 40 years later.

My Next Countdown – Bob Dylan Albums

https://i1.wp.com/images.fineartamerica.com/images-medium-large-5/bob-dylan-1966-tom-roderick.jpg

There are far too many people that don’t know of this artist’s existence. Its always odd when I meet someone who blankly stares at me when I mention the name, even know the music they were just talking about was heavily influenced by Robert Zimmerman. His more common alias, Bob Dylan, has shaped music by turning the Beatles onto ‘their inspiration’ and turning the Hawks into the rock and roll icons, The Band. His singing is mocked, but copied even more. The unparalleled lyrics are what he’s most commonly sited for, and his words have become a part of society for the long term.

Bob Dylan has had his ups and downs in his career. Peaks and valleys ranging from being unwillingly stapled to the protest movement with Joan Baez, to being ridiculed for making some of the best music in history because he sold out. With a swelling of talent after a grueling end to a relationship with his wife, he later saw the light as a born-again Christian, and eventually became an 80’s washup. After a heart attack and a break from songwriting, he has indeed made a comeback over the past 2 decades, renewing that old rebel’s spirit.

Dylan has one of the largest musical portfolio’s in history, which continues to grow because of new studio albums, and old content surfacing because of the Bootleg Series. Besides the Man in Black and a few other exceptions, Dylan has some of the largest collections of music in history, with 75 or so albums.

I’m here to bring the studio and bootleg albums into the chair next to me, and dissect each one directly. For me to tackle the most influential man in 20th and 21st century music is something I’ve tried before, but come up short. I shall try to be as thorough as possible, and if you don’t agree, that’s fine. There are so many different combinations (I have 43 albums to write about after all) that I can’t be 100% right. It’s all a matter of opinion, as any list is.

So join me as I tackle the jew-fro himself, Bobby D.

I do not own that photo.

Pokemon – #43 Pokemon (Blue) – #44 Pokemon (Red) – Ponyta, Rapidash

https://i1.wp.com/fc09.deviantart.net/fs71/i/2012/250/8/4/dark_rapidash___wallpaper_by_dragonsdenda-d5dvwun.jpg

FIRE
– TM Fire Blast
– TM Fire Spin
– TM Toxic
– TM Body Slam

Rapidash is not just the Pokemon that the fan club president in Vermilion seems to sleep with regularly, but also a Pokemon that can hold its own — for a fire type. Getting it all the way in Cinnabar is a pain, as well as its evolution taking place in the 40’s, not to mention its bad defenses and not so bulky typing.

Why use it? Well if you want 100 attack and 105 speed, Rapidash seems really nice. 65/70/80 is a pretty unimpressive defensive spread when you factor in its a fire type, who owns the honor of being weak to Water, Ground and Rock, three of the best attacking types.

As with most RBY Fire types, lack of Flamethrower is annoying, though you get decently powered Fire Blast and the classic Fire Spin + Toxic combo of goodness. Only normal moves are Physical for Rapidash, so use Body Slam on everything else that isn’t hurt by Fire, and keep a supply of Ethers on hand.

It’s an alright Pokemon that has glaring flaws. For a fire type, its serviceable, but really just use others if you really like the type.

I do not own the photo. I remember this being the art for Dark Rapidash from the TCG.