Thursday, February 02, 2017

The Minimalism Project - The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan



A couple of years ago I started attempting (on this very blog) to review all the albums that I owned. I got about four or five in and lost momentum. Now I am proposing a different approach. This year I intend to listen to every CD I own - and if I don't love it I will get rid of it. (read more about my minimalism project here) I am going to do mini reviews of the albums as I go.

The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan (1963)

I am a Bob Dylan fan - but I don't love his work universally. I am not enamoured of his early more folky stuff (even though I do like folk music), nor am a a massive fan of his later work. If I had to pin down my favourite Bob Dylan years they probably range from 1970 to the mid nineteen eighties. Freewheelin... is very early Bob Dylan indeed, but still there are echoes of things to come - especially in tracks like Masters of War - a song aimed at the industry of war (and based on a folk song), which put me in mind (a little) of Hurricane from the album Desire. Hurricane is much more sophisticated in terms of arrangement and production but Dylan sings it in a similar way. What I found interesting was that some of the tracks on the album I know better as cover versions. In the 80s I had an album called It Ain't Me Babe, a compilation of Dylan covers by famous musicians, which included excellent versions of A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall and Girl of the North Country by Bryan Ferry and Rod Stewart respectively. These covers are so good that I find they have spoilt the original stripped down versions for me. I find them interesting but I don't love them in quite the same way. Maybe it's the nostalgia coloured glasses through which I view those covers - the early 80s were my formative years after all. Or maybe it's simply familiarity. Whatever I don't love this album in quite the same way. Maybe I just love Dylan's more fully developed work. There are moments I really enjoyed here - Don't Think Twice, It's Aright and Corrina, Corrina for instance. I am not convinced that this album is a keeper for me though - I am going to put it to one side and listen to it again before I decide.

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