Bob Dylan - Bringing It All Back Home - Review
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critics' view

The first of two Bob Dylan albums in 1965, and the prolific songwriter is restless for something new, something different. He finds it too. Pop, Rock, Blues and Folk are all explored, dueted or multi-intertwined in an ambitious quest to tread new paths. Side One opts for a full band approach whilst Side Two continues to showcase the solo songwriter (albeit with some countermelody electric guitar from Bruce Langhorne). This deliberate progression was further underlined with a change of image. Gone were the scruffy jeans and work shirts, replaced by a Carnaby Street wardrobe, sunglasses day or night, and pointy “Beatle boots”. His lyrics continued their trend towards the abstract and personal. The more mysterious Bob either pulled you in closer or alienated you further – I wasn’t there man, but I’d sure have been in the former category without question. This guy was creating and always true to himself – take it or leave it that’s your problem.

The album opens up in spectacular fashion with the lead single “Subterranean Homesick Blues”, a whirlwind of verbal soundbites which suggest counterculture’s where it’s at. Are you straight or are you square? Dylan said: “It’s from Chuck Berry, a bit of ’Too Much Monkey Business’ and some of the scat songs of the ’40s.” It was all of that and something new to boot. On the album highlight, “On The Road Again”, Bob digs back in time as he strives for reinvention, taking Memphis Jug Band’s “On The Road” and driving it home with a pop rock beat and some proper whack lyrics which are just a joy to digest: “Well I wake up in the morning there’s frogs in my socks, Your mama, she’s a-hidin’ inside the icebox, your daddy walks in wearin’ Napoleon Bonaparte mask”. What the hell’s he going on about? Apparently, the theme is “resistance to society is enacted through self-exile”. I don’t care that I don’t always get it! Side One finishes with “Bob Dylan’s 115th Dream”, Bob the loon is in full flow on this highly satirical and highly surrealistic story where the narrator “discovers” the modern day United States. It’s a genuine treat to be inside this crazy head.

You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows. Bob Dylan rocks man…

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