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Music Review: Bob Dylan – Blonde On Blonde

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Bob Dylan released Blonde On Blonde in 1966 and in many ways it completed and culminated the first phase of his career. A motorcycle accident would separate this release from his next which would find a far different Dylan.

Rolling Stone Magazine ranked this album as the ninth greatest album of all time, which may be too low. This is one of the rare double albums that should not have been a single disc. In many ways it established double disc releases as a viable commercial entity as it achieved double platinum status. The songs bring to a completion the musical advances begun on Bringing It All Back Home and Highway 61 Revisited. Personally I place Blonde On Blonde at the top of the Bob Dylan pantheon.  

Dylan continued to record with a variety of rock musicians. Charlie McCoy returns to bring his country guitar to this release as did keyboardist Al Kooper. More important to his future are the appearances of Danko, Robertson, Hudson, and Manuel who would go on to form four fifths the Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall Of Fame group, The Band, who would play such an important part in his subsequent career.

In many ways Blonde On Blonde is Dylan’s least disciplined album as he lets his imagination run wild. There is no overall theme or direction but there is wit, sarcasm, melody, imagery and even some wonderful love songs along the way.  

The words, “Everybody Must Get Stoned,” begin the musical journey as part of the upbeat and offbeat “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35." Just check out Proverbs 27:15. “Pledging My Love” is a blues song that Dylan would morph away from during the next part of his career. “Visions Of Johanna” is a poignant love song about things always just out of reach. “One Of Us Must Know (Sooner Or Later)” is Dylan in the confessional. And this is just side one of the first disc.

The gems continue throughout the album. “Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again” is just a joyful romp. “Leopard Skin Pill-Box Hat” is Dylan at his humorous best. This bluesy song is filled with memorable images “Just Like A Woman,” with its unique vocal delivery, is one of Dylan’s most covered songs. “Most Likely You Go Your Way (And I’ll Go Mine)” is a song of parting or getting rid of; take your choice. The serious content is hidden in an upbeat tempo. “Absolutely Sweet Marie” find Dylan in all out rock mode with guitars and organ in support.  

“Sad Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands” concludes the album and takes up the whole fourth side of the original release. This eleven plus minute opus is a hypnotic ode to his wife Sara.

Blonde On Blonde is a scattered and ultimately brilliant look into the musical mind of Bob Dylan. It remains a fascinating listen four decades later and is legitimately recongnized as one of the best albums in history.  

  

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About David Bowling

  • cuervodeluna

    I agree that Blond on Blond was Dylan at his best.

    Stuck inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again is my favorite.

    In fact, just coincidentally, I used the title in a blog on another website today….

  • http://www.soundclick.com/bands/page_music.cfm?bandID=463156 JC Mosquito

    I once wrote a song called, “Stuck Inside a Mobile Home with Memphis Blue and Slim,” and another one called “Black On Black” (maybe I should write one called, “Hey Mister Bongo Drum Man”). I mention this only because I was never a hardcore Dylan fan – then, one day I realized how much his influence permeated all of rock and roll, whether one cared to admit it or not. This album and Highway 61 Revisited should not be underestimated.

  • zimmie’s pal pj

    Blood on the tracks..’nuff said?

  • http://www.soundclick.com/bands/page_music.cfm?bandID=463156 JC Mosquito

    BOTT is great too – on most days I place it one baby step behind the other two mentioned on just because H61 and BoB were so startling when they were released.

  • cuervodeluna

    And then there is that great Peckinpaw film, Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1973) with a smashing score by Dylan which included Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.

    I have been revisiting it on DVD.

    Great film, despite a few obvious flaws–and one which really DESERVED to be called Through a Glass Darkly.

  • cuervodeluna

    Gettin’ dark, too dark to see…in this internet cafe:

    PeckinpaH.

  • http://meetdavidblack.blogspot.com David Black

    I would recommend finding and downloading a bit torrent file of Blonde on Blonde in mono.

    Once you’ve heard it, the stereo mix sounds like crap.

    Mono mixes of 60s stuff is hands-down the superior listening experience.

    For further proof, listen to any of the Beatles stuff from that time in mono.

    Want some great Dylan of that 1961-1966 period?

    Download “Ten of Swords,” a set of about 10 or so CDs.

  • jt

    Blonde on Blonde in my view is the best work by Bob Dylan. Visions of Johanna, Memphis Blues Again, Pledgin’ MY Time, and so many others not to mention the beauty of Sad Eyed Lady…this is unparalleled and stands alone for its fusion of lyrics and melody. There are others which are better than most artist’s best work (like BOTT); however BonB is unique and nothing comes close.

  • http://www.soundclick.com/bands/page_music.cfm?bandID=463156 JC Mosquito

    David – you wanna stir the pot? Just start a parallel thread with an article called “Dylan’s Best Album of All Time.”

  • Raph Cohen

    Blonde on Blonde simply made me GIVE AWAY all my Beatles and Stones albums … I felt it was all so far BELOW this masterpiece they had become obsolete … I just retained one THEM album because of the quality of the vocals by Van … The rest to me sounded like cheap POP compared to the true meaning full art contained in the six Dylan albums I then owned (I was missing the original Dylan…) …

    Nevertheless, I never regretted this, and to this day, when visiting friends, if I hear tracks from Revolver or Aftermath or any other pre-B/o/B Beatles or Stones I usually cannot stand to hear the song to its end …

    Bob’s B/o/B changed the world of Pop-Rock forever.