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Blonde on Blonde is overrated


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Initial post: Dec 26, 2012 12:55:46 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 26, 2012 12:56:03 AM PST
alexwilbury says:
When I first got into Bob Dylan several years ago, the first album I bought was Highway 61 Revisited. After picking my jaw up off of the floor, I started reading more about Dylan and kept hearing about this "electric trilogy", so I went and bought "bringing It All Back Home". Again, a home run masterpiece of a record.

So then I read where people kept saying "Oh man, you haven't heard nothin' yet! Go get Blonde on Blonde! It's the best." So I got it and... it was underwhelming. It was long, bloated and very self-indulgent, which is the exact opposite of the other two parts of the "trilogy.

I simply cannot understand the extreme adoration that this album gets on the intenet and in the press. Now don't get me wrong, there is a pretty good album in there if you cut off about 4 or 5 tracks, but as it is, the album is a jumbled mess.

Posted on Dec 26, 2012 1:01:01 AM PST
While I completely disagree with your assessment of Led Zeppelin, I totally agree with this one. BIABH and H61R--both two of the greatest rock albums ever made. But I can barely get through "Blonde On Blonde". I thought I was the only one who found it a crashing bore from start to finish (outside of the masterful "Visions Of Johanna").

Posted on Dec 26, 2012 3:20:32 AM PST
"Blonde On Blonde" is rated about right, as one of the greatest achievements in the history of rock music.

Posted on Dec 26, 2012 5:15:44 AM PST
Hinch says:
I own all of Dylan's albums from the sixties thru the nineties. BLONDE ON BLONDE isn't one of my favorites. That doesn't make it overrated. It's irrelevant whether it is or not. Some think it's one of his best. Some don't.

Posted on Dec 26, 2012 10:13:42 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 26, 2012 10:16:36 AM PST
I love Blonde on Blonde, while there may be some filler involved(Temporary Like Achilles, to a lesser extent, 4th Time Around and Obviously 5 Believers), songs like Johanna, Stuck Inside, I Want You, Most Likely, Just Like, and Pledging My Time display what Dylan was trying to achieve with the previous HWY 61 and BIABH sets. I think he had the right musicians and the music was perfect for what he later coined as "That wild thin Mercury Sound" he was looking for. I've gone through most of Dylan's peaks and valleys within his sprawling career(outside of his last few studio releases) and Blonde on Blonde is certainly one of his peaks next to the Rolling Thunder era, which I personally love the most.

Blonde on Blonde is certainly not overrated, if I were to rate the 65/66 era I'd probably put Blonde on Blonde in between Back Home(1st) and HWY 61(3rd).

Posted on Dec 26, 2012 2:39:18 PM PST
alexwilbury says:
"I thought I was the only one who found it a crashing bore from start to finish (outside of the masterful "Visions Of Johanna"). "

"Visions of Johanna" is in my top 5 Dylan songs. But clearly one masterpeice doesn't make the whole album great, otherwise Shot of Love would be considered great for having "Every Grain of Sand". So what am I missing here? I can give you "Rainy Day Women" for its atmosphere alone, but Highway 61 this album ain't.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 26, 2012 2:51:19 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 26, 2012 7:05:11 PM PST
I agree that it is not as good as the other parts of that trilogy, particularly if taken out of its context.

Like the "White album" it can be perceived as a sprawling mess, but that is its hidden attraction.

There's something in there for everybody, but maybe not everything for anybody.

It seems longer than it actually is, being as how it fits on a single cd and I think it works better listened to as individual sides, as on the original vinyl.

I still think there are some gems hidden in there, "Visions...." as mentioned, "Positively 4th street" and even "Sad eyed lady....." when I'm in the mood. Oh, and "Just like a women".

"Bringing it....." is my fave Dylan and I listen to it from beginning to end quite often.

"It's alright Ma (I'm only bleeding)" is a modern day masterpiece.

As for ratings, remember "Everybody must get stoned."

Posted on Dec 26, 2012 3:05:51 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 26, 2012 3:07:37 PM PST
@indydefense: I don't see how Blonde is any less than what was found on HWY 61 or Bringing it all Back Home. All 3 are equally related and natural progressions within his career at that time. Its certainly not a terrible record as you seem to make it out to be, but that's on my side of the street, positively...ha

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 26, 2012 3:25:40 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 26, 2012 3:25:58 PM PST
>>.....(outside of his last few studio releases).....

Your missing some quality stuff there IMHO Thirty.....

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 26, 2012 6:08:00 PM PST
^^^I'll get there. Its only Together thru Life and Tempest that I haven't heard..we'll skip the Xmas album...

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 26, 2012 6:21:32 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 26, 2012 6:24:59 PM PST
Oh yeah, I am not even dedicated enough to go there.

"Together....." has one stand out tune for me, "It's all good".

Last time I saw him live he did most of that album, and that song was the highlight of the show for me.

Interestingly enough, he did the first and last song of both sides of the vinyl from ".....61".

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 26, 2012 6:26:02 PM PST
I wonder if you have seen or heard of "Masked and anonymous".

Posted on Dec 26, 2012 6:45:51 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 26, 2012 6:48:43 PM PST
I did rent it. From what I recall it was interesting. Only saw it once...I'd really like to check out Renaldo and Clara the infamous 4 hour film that he made during Rolling Thunder. I've caught snippets of footage thru Youtube but snippets only. I don't think Bob is very proud of what was eventually the final product and unless I missed the boat, there's no official release of this film.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 26, 2012 6:58:46 PM PST
It's the other side of "I'm not there" for me. Sort of Dylans own version of his mythology.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 26, 2012 7:01:35 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 26, 2012 7:02:03 PM PST
Oh, I've got that on boot.

Talk about ramshackle, but it has some great footage from his "Rolling thunder tour".

I saw that tour. One of the BEST darn shows I've seen, and I was up a tree in the rain.

"One more cup of coffee before I go
Into the valley below."

Great stuff.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 26, 2012 7:20:49 PM PST
@BuckBuckaw: it's not so much that "Blonde On Blonde" is sprawling (I love the White Album to pieces!), but that the musical style of many of the songs just does not appeal to me. The rock'n'roll on BIABH and H61R was very focused, rollicking, rhythmic, and prickly, with a bit of a 50s retro feel but with Dylan's contemporary lyrics and attitude on top. It moved and grooved; it *rocked*. The rock style on "Blonde On Blonde" is this kind of meandering, laid back, rootsy thing with (IMO) unmemorable melodies, plodding rhythms and Al Kooper's organ attempting atmospheric fills that wander on and on...and on. Even songs that are a bit more sprightly (ie. "I Want You") run catchy melodic ideas well into the ground.

Lyrically, it's an interesting set with some arresting themes and imagery, but I don't think the words are as mindblowing and insightful as the fans do (with a few exceptions). "Johanna" isn't the only thing that's good on it--there are a few others on it I can listen to. But overall I find it hard-going compared to the previous two, almost a chore to get through to the end, as if I have to force this "good" music down my throat like brussel sprouts or something. When I start yawning about five minutes in, I know it's a bad sign. Again, I realize my opinion of the album is in a small minority. However, even those who claim the album is as good or better in quality than BIABH and H61R, would have to admit that musically, it is in a somewhat different style. That difference is basically where I part ways with the rest of you.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 26, 2012 9:15:31 PM PST
This is Dylan with his foot jammed down on the peddle.

He was driving the music so hard that for some he drove it right off the cliff.

Posted on Dec 26, 2012 9:17:38 PM PST
@Buck Buckaw: but you see, that's the thing--to me the music on BOB sounds anything but being driven right off the cliff. More like to bed with a nice glass of warm milk. ;)

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 26, 2012 9:23:37 PM PST
Funny, I get the opposite impression, but that might be some of the reason why we are so far apart on this album.

But in saying that, I'm probably not the person to best defend this album.

Posted on Dec 26, 2012 9:27:52 PM PST
@Buck Buckaw: believe me, I've tried to get into what others see about it. I've read many lyrical analyses of how daring and "Zen-like" Dylan was on this album. Subverting identities, submitting questions with no answers, daring to parody Lennon, etc. I sort of see a kind of "edge of cliff" feeling to the words, where he leaves it all hanging, but I'd appreciate it more if it came with music I actually liked.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 26, 2012 9:41:10 PM PST
Oh no doubt.

The calliope sound that runs through the album can get very testing.

I think he was trying to piss off as many folksters (and others) as he could.

Amphetamine will do that to ya.

Posted on Dec 26, 2012 9:54:09 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 26, 2012 10:09:59 PM PST
alexwilbury says:
"@indydefense: I don't see how Blonde is any less than what was found on HWY 61 or Bringing it all Back Home. All 3 are equally related and natural progressions within his career at that time."

The difference for me is the other two parts of the trilogy have a very aggressive and streamlined feel to them. And although they do have some filler songs, the filler manages to feel essential, unlike Blonde on Blonde, where the filler drags the whole album down. I know some people might want to burn me at the stake for saying this, but I actually rank Self-Portrait higher than Blonde on Blonde, as it is a more pleasant and enjoyable listen for me than Dylan whining his way through "One of Us Must Know" or doing a boring Beatles impression on "4th Time Around".

"I did rent it. From what I recall it was interesting. Only saw it once...I'd really like to check out Renaldo and Clara the infamous 4 hour film that he made during Rolling Thunder. I've caught snippets of footage thru Youtube but snippets only. I don't think Bob is very proud of what was eventually the final product and unless I missed the boat, there's no official release of this film."

I've always felt that, like Elvis and The Beatles, Dylan needs to stick to what he does best: music. However, he did do some interesting film editing on "Eat the Document"; Dylan's editing on that makes Michael Bay's look like Kubrick's in its rapidness and randomness.

"@Buck Buckaw: but you see, that's the thing--to me the music on BOB sounds anything but being driven right off the cliff. More like to bed with a nice glass of warm milk. ;) "

Bingo. You and I are in a small minority among Dylan fans!

Posted on Dec 26, 2012 11:19:53 PM PST
Not at all! I love it!

Posted on Dec 27, 2012 1:12:48 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 27, 2012 6:00:35 PM PST
Hinch says:
My favorite Dylan albums: John Wesley Harding, Blood On The Tracks, Desire, all his early albums up to and including Bringing It All Back Home, Slow Train Coming, Good As I Been To You. Least favorites: Nashville Skyline, New Morning.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 27, 2012 5:39:29 AM PST
JWH...now there's an overrated album. Nashville is one of my faves.
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Discussion in:  Rock forum
Participants:  15
Total posts:  37
Initial post:  Dec 26, 2012
Latest post:  Dec 30, 2013

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