I have reached an impasse with following my ideals of getting years done as they are statistically required and to do an artist’s album in order. This is the issue with the likes of Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones and The Beatles as they were acclaimed from very early on when not many other artists have remained as such. Therefore I am visiting Highway 61 Revisited a bit early so I am able to free up later Bob Dylan albums. Working to such a methodology is a bit weird but… that’s how I like to work.
So far I have looked at two of his previous albums and noticed how, as with all good singers, they showed improvement. Between The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan and Bringing It All Back Home there was a polishing and degree of maturation to be found. With this third album (released the same year as Bringing It All Back Home) I am happy to say that this is the first of his albums where I have enjoyed it all the way through without any tracks feeling jarring or skippable. It is also the first one I can see finding its way onto my iPod playlist whilst I am at work.
Why does this work better than the previous albums? It might be that in the few years since I wrote about them (as they were entries from a previously failed attempt to listen to the 1001 albums) my musical taste has expanded to include more folk music. However, I think that it is mainly because everything feels a lot more refined in some areas, including his voice which is more palatable here than in the previous albums.
He was always socially conscious but here his song-writing and compositions have caught up to the ideas in his head. The sprawling 11 minute closer ‘Desolation Road’ and the opener ‘Like A Rolling Stone’ are easily the best things I have ever heard him do. It’s actually made me mildly excited to hear Blonde on Blonde, the next album of his on the list chronologically and his highest placement.