Tag Archives: Bob Dylan

273. Steve Earle – “Side Tracks”

As I keep confessing, when pressed (it doesn’t take much) to belt out a karaoke tune, I often opt for Steve Earle’s tale of John Lee Pettimore.

On this album we get a sense of Earle’s preferences when in such a position. This is a collection of curios from his career, many of which are covers.

Earle has unsurprisingly eclectic tastes, which ditties here from The Flying Burrito Brothers, Nirvana, and our recent reviewee Bob Dylan.

He also is prepared to tackle the reggae genre (not particularly successfully), and also embrace very mainstream country.

Steve also some slightly cooler crooning buddies than most of us. He shares a mic here with cycling’s former First Lady (Sheryl Crow), and You Am I soundalikes, The Supersuckers.

As my description perhaps gets across, there are many elements that make this release pretty disjointed and throwaway. The saving grace is Earle’s enthusiasm, his love of performing, and his ability to not tread across into the (large) embarrassing uncle area of the karaoke stage. 

This is far from an essential Earle effort (there are a few more of his CDs that I suspect are, and which I do not (yet) own). 

File under: You don’t win friends with side-salad

261. Bob Dylan – “Blonde on Blonde”

OK, lest we have a repeat of the Beach Boys ‘to do’, I’ll come right out and declare my application for citizenship of Philistinia.

I’ve spent a day with one of Dylan’s purported classics and it has left me rather cold.

This is the album where he embraced electricity thus alienated a sizeable portion of the folk-Luddite community. 

I’ve always assumed this historical moment saw him laying down some meaty riffs and scaring wildlife.  The reality is just a little bit of amplification and a fuller sound.

Gone, however, is the humour, energy and exuberance of his previous effort. Sure the opening track (Rainy Day…) has the schoolyard entendre about getting stoned, and he gets all whacky mocking a Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat later on.

Outside of the brilliant Stuck Inside of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again I have never fallen for anything else on this album.  Bobby boy seems to have lost much of his idiosyncrasy and diversity.

I don’t want to give up on him, however.  Tell me fans, which of his albums should I chase up?  What will engage me as much as “Another side of…”?

File under: Diminishing blondes’ reputations for fun

260. Bob Dylan – “Another Side of Bob Dylan”

Bob Dylan is one of the music legends that hovers around any discussion of influencers, innovators etc, and one of the few such icons to grace my CD shelves.

Album cover CD Another Side of Bob Dylan

I picked up this album because I wanted to hear what all the fuss was about (beyond having the most parody-prone vocal style in all of popular music). I was also a big fan of one track (Motorpsycho Nightmare) which was regularly covered by local live stalwarts Dan & Al.  

It seems I picked a winner.  Each track on here is packed fill of fantastic couplets and imagery.

Bob reveals himself to be a funny chap. The aforementioned track a hilarious take on the old farmer’s daughter yarn.  He tops it with the rollicking I Shall Be Free No. 10 chock full of Ali-mimicking boasts that get increasingly ridiculous.

He also delivers his big folky political commentary epics (i.e. Chimes of Freedom), romance (Spanish Harlem Incident), lovelornness (I Don’t Believe You…) and some great stompy acoustic blues (Black Crow Blues).

This is an artist bursting with creativity.  Beyond the specificity of some political commentary, this an album that still sounds fresh and exciting.

File under: Get on side

120. Solomon Burke – “Don’t Give Up On Me”

As a music fan, you hold out for those moments when you are truly blown away by a live performance. Often these moments appear from leftfield.

Solomon Burke album cover Dont Give Up On MeJust such an event happened to me a few years ago at Bluesfest up in Byron Bay. On the program was one Solomon Burke, lauded as a soul legend but with whom I was unfamiliar.

He turned out to be some much more. Perhaps the largest human I have ever seen on stage, he presided over an ever-expanding entourage of singers and players, all while ensconced in an appropriately grand and gaudy throne. The music was perfectly constructed and rousing soul. Lots of call and response, lots of theatre, great muscianship, and best of all – Burke’s charisma and voice.

What was intriguing was the quality of the songwriting on some songs. It turns out these were his latest output (i.e on this here album) and penned specifically for him by such luminaries as Dylan, Waits, Costello, V.Morrison and B.Wilson. They are beautiful, slower-paced numbers that he wraps his super smooth vocal chords around. His timing is perfect, the songs elevating him above the soul pack.

Alas I can’t find you a decent video off the album, but here’s a short snippet of him performing a tune he had on the Dirty Dancing soundtrack:

File under: A huge voice on a huge man