Bob Dylan – Blood On The Tracks (1975)

Label – Columbia
Producer – Bob Dylan

O.K, one realizes that to stand amongst a group of music critics and Dylan fans and castigate the Minnesota maestro is a capital crime punishable only by something worse than death. Fortunately, some can gravitate above that fear and say what they think. The truth is, HE CAN’T SING ! For 20 years this reviewer has maintained a belief that one day he can understand the adoration, start a kind of Dylan epiphany, but however many times one listens to “Blood On The Tracks” that ignition never sparks, that musical window never opens.

Following a triumphant tour of North America in 1974, Dylan returned to find that his marriage was beginning to unravel and this forms the basis for many of the songs from “Blood On The Tracks”. It’s a confessional of sorts, cataloguing the emotional turmoil of a tragic separation. There’s sorrow, bitterness, anger, and regret in the lyrics, and when one reads them on paper they can be quite powerful.

Dylan recorded the album in New York, and on the eve of release it was pulled to give time to re-record five of the songs. He moved back to Minnesota for the sessions, deciding that to release an album of 10 songs all in the same E key would be a limiting experience for the listener. And so five tracks were rearranged in different keys and the album was finally released in January 1975. Completely acoustic it contains many songs the fans regard as classic Dylan including “Tangled Up In Blue”, “Twist Of Fate” and “Shelter From The Storm”. Dylan mixes spoken word, loosely tuneful, and then nasally off key howls at various points (“Idiot Wind” becomes an awful “eeeeidiot wind”) all of which make this Reviewer cringe. “Lily, Rosemary And The Jack Of Hearts” rambles on for an interminable 9 minutes and seems to have about 38 verses.

I apologise to the hacks and Dylan fans now by saying, I’d love to hear the whole album performed by an artist who can sing with even a modicum of tune. For all of its brave and honest lyrical intention and attention, of the 10 tracks on “Blood On The Tracks” Dylan still can’t find a decent melody.

6/10

A1 Tangled Up in Blue 5:40

A2 Simple Twist of Fate 4:18

A3 You’re a Big Girl Now 4:36
A4 Idiot Wind 7:45

A5 You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go 2:58
B1 Meet Me in the Morning 4:19
B2 Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts 8:50
B3 If You See Her, Say Hello 4:46
B4 Shelter From the Storm 4:59
B5 Buckets of Rain 3:29

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