Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Bob Dylan New Morning 1970

I suppose I could write about Blonde On Blonde, but what is there left to say? I like much of Dylan's work, but between 1967's John Wesley Harding and 1975's Blood On The Tracks, both classics, things were mostly disappointing. Except for New Morning. I rank it much higher than many would put it in Dylan's cannon, and you should hear it again.

If Not For You is a celebratory love song with a nicely simple arrangement. Day Of The Locusts features soulful singing from Dylan, and Al Kooper's organ "high whine and trill". On Time Passes Slowly, Dylan's deceptively simple piano and languid vocal are paired to the fine dueling lead guitars of David Bromberg and Buzzy Feiten(?). The funky beat and scratchy guitar figure of Went To See The Gypsy are genius, and the line "He did in Las Vegas, and he can do it here" is irresistible. The frolic of Winterlude follows, and the tongue-in-cheek traditionalism is fun. The jazzy blues of If Dogs Run Free ends the first side with Kooper's fine piano and Maeretha Sweart's scat vocal.

The back side is solid, too. New Morning celebrates life and love with a great lead break, a hooky chorus, and sweet organ throughout. The yearning for simpler times, and Dylan's own simple, Randy Newman-esque piano make the difference on Sign On The Window. One More Weekend is a classic Dylan country blues that sounds like a Blonde On Blonde outtake (a good one). The soulful ballad that is The Man In Me is marvelous "happy" Dylan. Three Angels is a bit of a jolt in an otherwise fun record. But it's solemn, surreal, and when the choir kicks in... Father Of Night ends the record on a simple, deep note, with all the faces of God called upon in prayer.

It's monumental. In a simple, easy, organic way. That's Dylan for you.

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