The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan/The Times They Are A-Changin/Another Side Of Bob Dylan
The reason I give it four stars is, other than being a cheap way to pick up all three albums, this package has little marketing value other than economics. It would have been interesting had they stuck on a few unreleased tidbits from the Columbia vaults on here, rounding them out to about 75-80 minutes apiece.
That doesn't mean I think the music is not good. I tend to think of Dylan's work in trilogies, with this acting as his Folk Trilogy. While the debut is folk, this, with the exception of two tracks off FREEWHEELIN', is entirely Dylan's material.
In this package, we have one of the single most important albums released in the Sixties here: THE FREEWHEELIN' BOB DYLAN. Its anthems are well known, and it has one of my favorite Dylan compositions ("Don't Think Twice, It's Alright"). I highly recommend THE BOOTLEG SERIES VOLUMES I-III, with the first disk having some great outtakes to this album. Tracks I think should have been included: "Let Me Die In My Footsteps", "Bear Mountain Picnic", "Lay Down Your Weary Tune", and "House Carpenter". This could have very easily been a double album, and there are a lot of great outtakes to this. The amazing thing, though, is had it been a double album it would still stand as important as it does now.
THE TIMES THEY ARE A-CHANGIN', is, to me, the weakest of these three albums. Dylan has two albums that capture such emotional depths it is very hard and intense listening. One is BLOOD ON THE TRACKS, and the other this. Which is better depends on what you want, though for most people BLOOD will be the better listen.. THE TIMES THEY ARE A-CHANGIN' deals with Dylan's cynicism of life, and his plea to get things back in order. It is pure folk, with none of the electric guitars permeating his music as in later albums. (From my own standpoint, although I love folk music, I think Dylan's rock albums are some of the best around. For me, both are richly satisfying, which is something he has over The Beatles. Bubble-gum pop is alright, but not near as good as the real thing. The Beatles' later period is much better than their earlier period, whereas Dylan was more well-rounded). Not to say it's not good, but it pales next to FREEWHEELIN' and ANOTHER SIDE. Has anyone noticed that when Dylan does works in series of threes the second installment is always the weakest? It happens here, it happens with SAVED of the Christian Trilogy, and it also happens with the Double Album trilogy (BLONDE ON BLONDE, SELF PORTRAIT, and TIME OUT OF MIND). Anway, about this record, it has Dylan in ultra-protest mode, with a bunch of angry songs. "Seven Curses" should have been on this record. The title cut is probably one of Dylan's most famous anthems, and "Ballad" is about a farmer shooting his family because of severe economic circumstances. The standout cuts are "Times", "One Too Many Mornings" (which gets an excellent rendition on the ROYAL ALBERT HALL CONCERT), "Only A Pawn", "When the Ship Comes in", "Boots of Spanish Leather", and "Hattie Carroll". The epic song "With God on Our Side" talks about the universal tactic of the political machinery of nations: they sell whatever they are doing militarily as "This is what your God wants," and by doing so justifying their actions. They are appealing to the almost universal belief of God in a cultural system, and taking advantages of syntaxes. Although not always wrong, Dylan is right that a lot of it is damned propaganda to obtain more power for the leaders. It stands as an important album, and it has Dylan at a stage of protest where we never see him again. But, as the Amazon reviewer points out, he sounds just as world weary here as he does on TIME OUT OF MIND, though the latter is a much better record. Its also interesting to compare this to the track "Things Have Changed", the latest word we have heard from Mr. Zimmerman. Dylan's come a very long road.
ANOTHER SIDE OF BOB DYLAN, to me, is simply an amazing record. This is the album before BRINGING IT ALL BACK HOME, where he went electric for one side. Just as the title suggests, this shows Dylan moving away from the protest-topical songs and into more introverted lyrics. This process of deconstructing personas Dylan has continued throughout his career. This subject matter, especially that of "Ballad In Plain D", is very far from anything on TIMES THEY ARE. It instead stands as a more personal record. The only cuts not really necessary are "I Shall Be Free #10", which has a few references that should have been taken out ("I sat my monkey on the log in order for him to do the dog he wagged his tail and shook his head he went and did the cat instead he's a weird monkey"). The other throwaway is "Motopsycho Nitemare", but its simply hilarious. This record also stands as the one that introduced me to Bob Dylan, and it is the first Dylan album I listened too all the way through. So it has some sentimental value to me. But I can listen to it now, and simply be amazed at how really good it is.
Like I said, the only motivation to buy this is it's a great way to pick up the albums if you don't already have them. This would stand as a much more important rerelease had it included rare and unreleased stuff at the end of the records, but as it is this item is only of nominal interest to collectors of Dylan. Columbia has done this with a lot of its artists and musicians, and there's another pack of Dylan, featuring NASHVILLE SKYLINE, NEW MORNING, and JOHN WESLEY HARDING.
to collectors The music's first rate, but this package little value to collectors