Bob Dylan - Blonde On Blonde - Review
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Surprisingly, recording sessions with the NYC “Highway 61 crew” weren’t going so well for the follow up, and only one song, “One Of Us Must Know (Sooner Or Later)”, was deemed good enough. Producer Bob Johnston persuaded Dylan to head down to Nashville and surrounded him with a cadre of top-notch session men. At Dylan’s insistence, the services of Al Kooper (organ, piano) and Charlie McCoy (guitar) were retained, along with his touring guitarist, Robbie Robertson. Dylan famously praised the latter as “the only mathematical guitar genius I’ve ever run into who doesn’t offend my intestinal nervousness with his rear-guard sound.” He has a way with words that boy. And I know exactly what he means.

“Blonde On Blonde” was an ambitious double album set, meticulously packed out with 14 epic chapters, featuring what Dylan later called “that thin wild mercury sound“. Al Kooper described the album as like “taking two cultures and smashing them together with a huge explosion… the musical world of Nashville and the world of the quintessential New York hipster”. On “Visions Of Johanna” Bob’s got them playing JUST right – listen to Joe South’s light but rhythmic and tuneful bass, Robbie Robertson’s insistent guitar chops, Al’s out of reach organ and Bob’s harmonica of longing. This concoction is pure lust on 33⅓. It’s immediately followed with “One Of Us Must Know (Sooner Or Later)”, the break up song of all break up songs, in which Paul Griffin’s piano, Al’s organ and Bob’s vocal almost reinvent an entirely new genre melding gospel and classical traits with their pre-established “folk rock with attitude” template.

The intoxicating onslaught of “Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again” has seven minutes of prose with virtually no pause for reflection, and features the immortal line “Your debutante just knows what you need, But I know what you want.” It makes me blush every time. With an exemplary level of taste on show (as always) “Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat” digs on Lightnin’ Hopkins’ “Automobile Blues”, both with melodic snips and lyrical patterns. Old sarky pants has great fun as cheating lovers, materialism, fashion victims and animal cruelty are torn to pieces, all within an immaculate 4 minutes of electric blues perfection. With “Blonde On Blonde”, Bob Dylan moved on to create something entirely new. Folk rock now comes with added grooves and extra warmth. And he’s only gone and made the greatest album of the year for the fourth year in a row…

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