Bob Dylan Gets Given The Cheese

Bob-Dylan-young-portrait-color

This has been no small task. In fact it’s a been fucking huge task. But we are now in a position to give Bob Dylan The Cheese.

In the final analysis, the correct ranking of Bob Dylan albums is :

01 Blood On The Tracks (1975)
02 Highway 61 Revisited (1965)
03 Blonde On Blonde (1966)
04 Bringing It All Back Home (1965)
05 Modern Times (2006)
06 Desire (1976)
07 Oh Mercy (1989)
08 Time Out Of Mind (1997)
09 Infidels (1983)
10 Planet Waves (1974)

11 The Tempest (2012)
12 Love And Theft (2001)
13 Nashville Skyline (1969)
14 John Wesley Harding (1967)
15 New Morning (1970)
16 The Times They Are A-Changing’ (1964)
17 The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan (1963)
18 Together Through Life (2009)
19 Slow Train Coming (1979)
20 Street Legal (1978)

21 Another Side Of Bob Dylan (1964)
22 Bob Dylan (1962)
23 Saved (1980)
24 Shot Of Love (1981)
25 Empire Burlesque (1985)
26 Down In The Groove (1988)
27 Knocked Out Loaded (1986)
28 Under The Red Sky (1990)
29 Self Portrait (1970)

NOT INCLUDED IN THE CHEESE :
– ‘Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid’ (1973) because it was a soundtrack and mostly instrumental
– ‘Dylan’ (1973) because it was a cash-in by the record company that didn’t involve Dylan’s input
– ‘The Basement Tapes’ (1975) because it feels like a random collection of songs made 8 years earlier more than an actual album.  It’s feels like it belongs to the official ‘bootleg’ series.
– ‘Good As I’ve Been To You’ (1992) and ‘World Gone Wrong’ (1993) because they’re cover albums.
– ‘Christmas In The Heart’ (2009) because it’s, well, a Christmas album.

This all turned out well I think.  The rock trilogy albums probably have better songs end to end than ‘Blood On The Tracks.’  But there is just something about that album that makes it the best.

So, Bob Dylan has been Given The Cheese.

 

DYLAN-MANNY-730

 

Cheese 1

Bob Dylan – Non-Album Tracks

Dylan’s catalogue is fucking massive, so its not surprisingly there is a shit load of his material that never made it onto his albums.  In fact, he has more stuff that didn’t make it onto an album than most rock artists have in their entire catalogue.  Besides maybe Springsteen.  A lot of these tracks are scattered all over the place but what follows is the neatest, easiest to find tracks that are really strong.

 

Bob Dylan - Basement Tapes 2

The ‘A Tree With Roots’ Bootleg (1967)

This is the Bootleg mentioned when ‘The Basement Tapes’ was Given the Cheese.  It has almost all of the tracks that were known to be recorded during this era and is a much better listen than the actual ‘Basement Tapes’, which in of it’s self is a good album.  A lot of what is on this bootleg is fantastic.

 

Dylan - Greatest Hits

Greatest Hits Volume II (1971)

This release had six unreleased tracks, all from the Self Portrait/Basement Tapes/New Morning era.  They’re all worth a listen but the best are probably

– ‘Watching The River Flow’

– ‘I Shall Be Released’

-‘You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere.’

 

Dylan - Biograph

Biograph (1985)

This is a box set compilation that has 53 total songs, 18 in which had never been released before.  Most of the unreleased tracks are from the 1960’s but there are a few from later eras.  My favourite is probably ‘Abandoned Love’ that was left off of the ‘Desire’ album.  It’s a really good song.

‘Quinn The Eskimo (Mighty Eskimo)’ is pretty good too.

 

Dylan - Bootleg 1

The Bootleg Series Volumes 1-3, 1961-1991 (1991)

Despite their name, the ‘Bootleg Series’ is an official collection of non-album material from Dylan.  So far there have been ten of them – five that are mostly live albums or full concerts and five that that are almost all made up of studio tracks.  They’re either tracks that didn’t make an album or they’re earlier/alternate versions of tracks that did.

This first one covered 30 years of Dylan’s career, with 34 songs covering the folk era (1962-1964) and the rock trilogy era (1965-1966.)  The best stuff on this album are the outtakes from the post-Christian era (1983-1990), which isn’t surprising since this is the era where Dylan left a lot of his best work off albums for reasons that make no sense to anyone.

The absolute best of these are probably :

– ‘Blind Willie McTell’ (from the ‘Infidels’ sessions), which is actually one of Dylan’s best ever tracks and it’s a crime it was left off ‘Infidels.’

– ‘Foot Of Pride’ (from the ‘Infidels’ sessions)

– An alternate take of ‘When The Night Comes Falling From The Sky.’  The version that ended up on ‘Empire Burlesque’ is shitfull to say the least.  This version is awesome though.

– ‘Series Of Dreams’ (from the ‘Oh Mercy’ sessions.)

 

Dylan - Greatest Hits 3

Greatest Hits Volume III (1994)

This had one very good unreleased track from the ‘Oh Mercy’ sessions –  ‘Dignity.’  It’s a really good track.

 

Dylan - Bootleg 8

The Bootleg Series Volume 8 – Tell Tale Signs, 1989-2006 (2008)

Most of the material on this release is from Dylan’s post-1997 comeback, and there is some great stuff on it.  There are lots of alternate versions of tracks from ‘Time Out Of Mind’, many which do not have the distinct Daniel Lanois production that people either loved or hated.

My favourites from this one are :

–   Alternate version of ‘Someday Baby’ from ‘Modern Times.’  I much prefer this version to the one on the album.

–   ‘Tell Ol’ Bill’ from the soundtrack to ‘North Country’ which sounds very much like a ‘Modern Times’ song.  It’s a very good track.

–  ‘Dreamin’ Of You’ from the ‘Time Out Of Mind’ sessions.  This is a great song.

–  ‘Huck’s Tune’ from the soundtrack to ‘Lucky You.’

–  ‘Marchin’ To The City’ from the ‘Time Out Of Mind’ sessions.

 

Unknown

The Bootleg Series Volume 10 – Another Self Portrait, 1969-1971 (2013)

There are some tracks from the ‘Basement Tapes’ era and from ‘Nashville Skyline’ on this but the vast majority of tracks are from either the ‘Self Portrait’ sessions or the ‘New Morning’ sessions.

The whole thing is worth listening to, mainly because Dylan (reportedly) purposefully fucked up the ‘Self Portrait’ album and the tracks here from those sessions are vastly superior to anything that made the album.   Almost everything from the ‘New Morning’ sessions are an improvement on the album versions too.

There probably could have been one excellent album from the ‘Self Portrait’ and ‘New Morning’ sessions.  This whole era needs to be 10-Tracked.

Bob Dylan – Bob Dylan (1962)

Bob Dylan - Bob Dylan

GREAT SONGS
Man Of Constant Sorrow
House Of The Risin’ Sun

VERY GOOD SONGS
You’re No Good
See That My Grave Is Kept Clean

GOOD SONGS
In My Time Of Dyin’
Fixin’ To Die
Pretty Peggy-O
Highway 51 Blues
Freight Train Blues
Song To Woody

NOT MY THING
Talkin’ New York
Gospel Plow
Baby, Let Me Follow You Down

TRASH
None

THE CHEESE : Dylan released 4 acoustic, folk albums at the very beginning of his career. Even though at least 2 of these albums are undeniable classics, I don’t especially rate this period highly. I obviously much prefer Dylan with a band.  But some of the music from this period is classic stuff that millions of people love – so what the fuck do I know?

This is the probably the worst of the 4 folk albums. It’s not a bad album at all, it’s just short on ideas or memorable moments.  We’ll obviously cut Dylan some slack here. It was his debut album, he was only 20 when he recorded it, and within a year he’d be writing some of the most famous songs ever written. It just wasn’t all there yet.

Bob Dylan – The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan (1963)

Bob Dylan - Freewheelin

GREAT SONGS
Blowin’ In The Wind
Girl From The North Country
Masters Of War
A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall
Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright

VERY GOOD SONGS
Down The Highway
Corrina, Corrina

GOOD SONGS
Bob Dylan’s Dream
Oxford Town
Talkin’ World War III Blues
Honey, Just Allow Me One More Chance

NOT MY THING
Bob Dylan’s Blues

TRASH:
I Shall Be Free

THE CHEESE : Probably the 2nd best of the folk period. The majority of the album doesn’t do too much for me, not really. But that’s a taste thing obviously – I much prefer the non-folk Dylan stuff. With that said, this is a classic album and no doubt deserves to be.  

But those top 5 songs are incredible. Dylan was still just 20 years old he wrote those 5 songs. Can you believe that? Those words came from a 20 year old. Unbelievable.

Bob Dylan – The Times They Are A-Changin’ (1964)

Bob Dylan - The Times

GREAT SONGS
The Times They Are A-Changin’
Ballad Of Hollis Brown
Boots Of Spanish Leather

VERY GOOD SONGS
With God On Our Side
One Too Many Mornings
North Country Blues
When The Ship Comes In
Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll

GOOD SONGS
Only A Pawn In Their Game
Restless Farewell

NOT MY THING
None

TRASH
None

THE CHEESE : My favourite of the 4 folk era albums. ‘The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan’ had a higher number of individual great songs but I prefer this album on a whole.

I keep banging on about it, but it’s just remarkable that Dylan was so young when he wrote these incredible lyrics. Dylan was 21 when he recorded these songs. He was 21 when he wrote ‘The Times They Are A-Changin’’ That’s insane. I didn’t know my ass from my head when I was 21, I sure as shit couldn’t come up with anything as coherent as the stuff on this album. I couldn’t now either, come to think of it.

 As someone who is not a huge fan of Dylan’s folk period, this is the one album from this era that I play on a semi0-regular basis.

Bob Dylan – Another Side Of Bob Dylan (1964)

Bob Dylan - Another Side Of Bob Dylan

GREAT SONGS
Chimes Of Freedom
It Ain’t Me, Babe

VERY GOOD SONGS
All I Really Want To Do

GOOD SONGS
Spanish Harlem Incident
To Ramona
Motorpsycho Nightmare
My Back Pages
I Don’t Believe You (She Acts Like We Never Met)
Ballad In Plain D

NOT MY THING
Black Crow Blues

TRASH
I Shall Be Free No. 10

THE CHEESE : This really isn’t a very good album and is quite a step backwards from the previous two.

Dylan’s performance at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival is infamous. Dylan ‘surprised’ the audience at the festival by playing an electric set…a set he only got 3 songs into before being booed off the stage by the angry folk hipsters who believed he had betrayed them.   It is seen as a startling reinvention – which it was.

But Dylan ‘going electric’ is often seen as a bold move. It’s almost seen as one he didn’t have to make but did it anyway because he wanted to move in a new direction and was tried of how the folk scene viewed him as some kind of prophet. This is no doubt partially true.   But I think this album, his final folk album, makes it clear that the folk thing had gotten stale, it had played itself out and Dylan absolutely needed to change direction. Because the album just isn’t all that good.   Either that or Dylan had gotten so sick of the folk scene that his heart just wasn’t in it and the album suffered as a result.

Regardless, the next stage in Dylan’s career was probably his best.

Bob Dylan –Bringing It All Back Home (1965)

Bob Dylan - Bringing It All Back Home

GREAT SONGS
Subterranean Homesick Blues
She Belongs To Me
Love Minus Zero
Mr. Tambourine Man
It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)

VERY GOOD SONGS
Maggie’s Farm
Outlaw Blues
Gates Of Eden
It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue

GOOD SONGS
On The Road Again

NOT MY THING
Bob Dylan’s 115th Dream

TRASH
None

THE CHEESE : There is nothing The Cheese can write about this album that hasn’t already been written a million times by people considerably smarter than us.   Dylan’s 1st rock album and it’s considered one of the greatest albums in rock ‘n roll history by music journalists, fans, modern-day hipsters, the 90’s alt crowd, dipshits, assholes, etc.

It’s actually only partially a rock album. Side One is electric but Side Two is made up of acoustic songs in the folk style of Dylan’s previous albums. Interestingly, these acoustic/folk songs were better than most of ‘Another Side Of Bob Dylan’ is final folk album.