Negotiations between Bob Dylan and Columbia records broke down in 1973. Dylan quickly decided to sign with the Asylum label and went merrily on his way to began work on his next album which would be titled Planet Waves. Columbia in a fit of pique or more likely revenge released Dylan on November 19, 1973. Counting Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid, he released 32 studio albums during his career and this may rank as number 32.
In his defense he had little or more likely no responsibility for Dylan. Columbia assembled outtakes and discarded tracks from the Self Portrait and New Morning sessions and released them as his latest album.
I find only two or possibly three worthwhile songs among the chaff. “Lily Of The West” is an old English ballad that migrated to America and became a folk song performed by such artists as Joan Baez, Peter, Paul and Mary, and The Chieftains before Dylan. It is a love song about a girl named Flora who was the “Lily Of The West.” He gives a fine performance and even brings his harmonica along for some fine playing. “The Ballad Of Ira Hayes” is a semi-spoken song that tells a story. It harks back to his early work except for the female back-up singers, which in this case is not as bad as it sounds.
“Can’t Help Falling In Love” also has back-up singers and here the results are not good. This is a classic Elvis Presley song and he is not Elvis. HIS interpretations of “A Fool Such As I” and Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi” are not so much bad as they are laughable. At least he seems to be trying on “Mr. Bojangles.”
The only other redeeming song is an alternate version of “Spanish Is The Loving Tongue.” His excellent vocal raises above the song itself and the backing band.
Dylan has been mercifully out of print for years. Ultimately, except for a song here or there, it is a disposable album and not one that is reached for when the mood or desire to play some Dylan music comes over you.