13 January 2013

13th Jan - Bob Dylan's The Times They Are A-Changin'

Artist – Album: Bob Dylan – The Times They Are A-Changin’
Released:  13th January 1964
Sounds Like: The times they have a-changed

Bob Dylan’s third effort is now almost 50 years old and the world into which it was introduced was quite different from the one which we now inhabit. Having just perused 1964’s Wikipedia page (hey, history isn’t my strong point!) a number of important names stood out: Martin Luther King Jr, Che Guevara and Lyndon B Johnson, who between them represent racial struggles, communism and the war on Vietnam and poverty*. Later that year Dr Robert Moog would invent his first synthesizer and The Kinks’ first self-titled album would be released, kick starting the evolution of rock and roll in to pure rock. But back in January 1964 the acoustic-y folk sound, alongside Spector-ish girl groups and mop top era Beatles, were where it’s at.

With all that in mind, it’s perhaps no surprise that this collection of protest songs sounds of its time. With just Dylan’s idiosyncratic drawl and guitar it can sound bare, and some of the political allegories, although historically interesting, mean less today. The title track, ‘One Too Many Mornings’, ‘With God on Our Side’ and ‘Boots of Spanish Leather’ are timeless stories; thankfully, ‘The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll’ and ‘The Ballad of Hollis Brown’ are (mostly) not.

That being said, even if it does belong to a different time, it’s still brilliant, like repeats of Keith Floyd’s cookery programmes. Dylan’s playing is masterful, and his poetry, though more direct than that to come on the following year’s Highway 61 Revisited and notably more sombre than his first two albums, is still staggeringly well constructed; the sound of a genius becoming comfortable with his talents.  

*1964 was also the year Nicolas Cage and my Dad were born but I’m unsure how to shoehorn them in. Oh look, I just did!

Albumaday... rating:   8/10

1.       The Times They Are a-Changin’ – 3:15
2.       Ballad of Hollis Brown – 5:06
3.       With God on Our Side – 7:08
4.       One Too Many Mornings – 2:41
5.       North Country Blues – 4:35
6.       Only a Pawn in Their Game – 3:33
7.       Boots of Spanish Leather – 4:40
8.       When The Ship Comes In – 3:18
9.       The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll – 5:48
10.   Restless Farewell – 5:32

Listen to ‘With God on Our Side’: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PnRdsSC3YwM

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