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.

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