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Bob Dylan

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iTunes Review

When baby-faced Bob Dylan entered the studio in late 1961 to record his debut, no one expected such greatness. The album is packed with spirited, well-executed covers of old blues and folk tunes—including many eyebrow-raisers such as Bukka White’s “Fixin’ to Die”—which proved Dylan’s immense talent for song interpretation. The two originals here signalled an emerging, Woody Guthrie-inspired genius: “Song to Woody” beautifully blends poignancy and innocence while “Talkin’ New York” is rich with wit and insight, and both are uncanny accomplishments considering Dylan was only 20 years old.

Customer Reviews

A decent first effort he wouldn't surpass for three years

The Good: Dylan brought a lot of energy and enthusiasm to making the album, and the resulting songs prove to be good 'uns more often than not. 'Fixin' To Die' features a remarkably intense vocal performance whereby the youthful Bob half-convinces the listener his Bobness is indeed about to begin pushing up daisies. While it would be eclipsed by the famous 1966 live version, the reading here of 'Baby, Let Me Follow You Down' works really well, as does Dylan's idiosyncratic take on 'House Of The Risin' [sic] Sun' where, interestingly, he opts to sing from the female perspective. Not that he actually sounds Just Like A Woman though... But the album highlight is a major charmer of a (railroad) track called 'Freight Train Blues'; its lyrics are admittedly patchy, and Bob slurs some words, but in the final analysis he gives a great little performance of a great little ditty. Of the two songs credited as being all Dylan's own work, 'Song To Woody' is noteworthy for being at least adequate. As a general album comment, Dylan's guitar (and harmonica) playing is consistently impressive - and expressive too - throughout. The Bad: A couple of Bob's selections are out-and-out clunkeroos. 'Pretty Peggy-O' is an Americanised Scottish folk song and, well, suffice it to say that it's the sort of thing that gives folk music a bad name. 'Gospel Plow' is Bob with his bible-brandishing hardcore hat on; the upshot is that it's not a pretty listen. That song is also the most glaring example of another album characteristic that some will find a lot more irksome than others, namely too much of nothing in the form of a plethora of religious references. Oh, and there's a runnin' gag happenin' throu'hout the album involvin' Bob substitutin' an inverted comma for the letter 'g' in song titles at virtually every opportunity: there are no fewer than FOUR such titles (almost one in three)! Which would be fine - except it's not such a great ('reat?) joke. Is it? And The Summary: A patchy but striking debut with four stand-out tracks. Dylan went on, of course, to make far superior albums, but in truth the greater part of his subsequent output would be distinctly inferior to this first substantial work. Having listened attentively in recent months to about 15 of Dylan's most highly regarded albums, I'd rate this as essential for the serious Dylanophile, but one that the more casual listener can safely skip - though at least four tracks are eminently downloadable. For the record, the four Dylan albums that I reckon everyone in an ideal world would have are: 'Highway 61 Revisited', 'The Bootleg Series Vol. 4: Live 1966', 'John Wesley Harding' and 'Blood On The Tracks'. And in the interests of balance, four frequently over-rated albums spring to mind, viz. 'The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan', 'Another Side Of Bob Dylan', 'The Basement Tapes', and 'Time Out Of Mind'.


Being a big fan, I would have say this is his BEST ALBUM!!!!

I don't know why I love ya like I do...

This album... Nothing like Dylan ever recorded again... There's no protest songs. No 'Like a Rolling Stone'. But there is Dylan, his guitar, and his harmonica. And though there are no 'bad' tracks, this album is often overlooked and underrated. It's understandable why, it's pretty much traditional folk songs, and it's aged too. But the album shows us a pre-fame Dylan. Singing about New york, freight trains, and Woody Guthrie. Nevertheless, each song sounds good in its own right. Not for everyone, that's for sure. But if you like Dylan, get this album.


Born: 24 May 1941 in Duluth, MN

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Bob Dylan's influence on popular music is incalculable. As a songwriter, he pioneered several different schools of pop songwriting, from confessional singer/songwriter to winding, hallucinatory, stream-of-consciousness narratives. As a vocalist, he broke down the notion that a singer must have a conventionally good voice in order to perform, thereby redefining the vocalist's role in popular music. As a musician, he sparked several genres of pop music, including electrified folk-rock and country-rock....
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