John Lennon/plastic Ono Band - John Lennon
== Introduction == My self imposed John Lennon solo education started with the soundtrack to the film 'Imagine', then when I was in my twenties I purchased the album 'Imagine'. When I was thirty, a friend of mine was really into listening to John Lennon and he was learning how to play some of his tunes on the guitar. Whenever ... I used to go round to his house, he always had this album playing, although 'Isolation' was the track that I used to hear a lot, whether he had it on repeat or not, I don't know. I just couldn't get this song out of my head, I needed to hear it in my own time, so I decided to go out and purchase this album....
== Plastic Ono Band ==
John Lennon had already released three albums without The Beatles, the first two being albums of experimental music and the third being a live album which confirmed John's decision to leave The Beatles. John had kind of officially left the band for eight months, when Paul McCartney announced to the press with his first solo album that The Beatles were no more. During this time John and Yoko had embarked on a course of Primal Therapy with Arthur Janov, in Los Angeles, this involved trying to relive repressed childhood traumas. John and Yoko didn't complete the course, as John's visa had expired, so the couple flew back to England. Lennon called a few musicians that he had worked with before, including his old band mate Ringo Starr and an old friend from the early days with The Beatles in Hamburg, Klaus Voormann, together with Phil Spector on piano and production and also Billy Preston, who John and Ringo had previously worked with on The Beatles 'Let it Be' album, they started to make the most personal of albums John had ever recorded.
== Track By Track ==
=== Mother ===
The album begins with a church's funeral bell tolling and this song ode to Lennon's mother and father. Lennon felt abandoned by both of his parents, when he was just an infant, his father left his mother and flitted in and out of his life. One of the most significant things that had a massive impact on Lennon's life though, was the death of his mother when he was only 17; She was killed when she was knocked down by a drunk off duty police officer. This is a nice slow number, John expresses his yearning for his mother and it ends with the refrain "Mamma don't go, daddy come home', which descends into a scream. I find this track quite haunting and it also lets you into John's mindset at the time, but it is also a fantastic way to kick off the album, and at 5:47 it doesn't seem to wane like some songs of this length would. The song was released as a single in the U.S. and reached number 43 on the Billboard Hot 100.
=== Hold On ===
After the primal screams of 'Mother', we have quite a mellow little tune in 'Hold On'. According to John this is him living in the moment and cherishing each day. In this song he sings "Hold on John, John hold on, everything's gonna be alright", he is reassuring himself that whatever life throws at him, he's got the strength to deal with it. The core players of Klaus and Ringo accompany Lennon on this short track, it is under 2 minutes long, although the message is pretty clear and perhaps doesn't need anything else added to it. During this song's instrumental break John offers up a bit of humour by imitating the Cookie Monster from children's programme 'Sesame Street' and uttering the word "cookie". It kind of throws you a bit when listening to this song, as it is so unexpected that you wonder if this is actually a demo recording, that slipped onto the final cut of the album by accident.
=== I Found Out ===
In this rocky little number John is dismissive of all religions, he mentions Jesus and Hare Krishna and refers to the latter as "pie in the sky". There is also a lyric "I seen through junkies, I been through it all. I seen religion from Jesus to Paul", perhaps a dig at his former band mate? John also revisits the theme of abandonment from his parents in the lyric "I heard something 'bout my Ma and my Pa. They didn't want me so they made me a star". I love this track it, the guitar part is played through a fuzz box effect pedal and it really sounds dirty in contrast to Lennon's clear vocal with the echo effect. This song was released as the B-Side to 'Imagine', perhaps to reiterate to Paul "Imagine is Working Class Hero with sugar on it, for conservatives like yourself"
=== Working Class Hero ===
This track sees Lennon in Bob Dylan mode here for this modern folk song. This is John in politically charged mode, singing to the working classes, giving them praise "A working class hero is something to be!". He also uses an early line that he reworded on his song 'Woman is the Nigger of the World' "They hate you if you're clever and they despise a fool", this time he is using it to describe the middle-upper classes rather than men having a go at women. The song caused some controversy with two of its lines that contained an expletive, resulting in lack of air play. This track is just John and his acoustic guitar, and in my opinion, this is all that is needed on the track, you aren't sitting there there wondering where the rest of the band is and I hadn't given it much thought until I did some research for the purpose of writing this review.
=== Isolation ===
I love this track, in this song Lennon deals with his feelings of isolation, and how he and Yoko were treated by outsiders "Just a boy and a little girl, trying to change the whole wide world", before changing the pace, to have a go at the listener, "I don't expect you to understand, after you've caused so much pain", but he does make apologies for the listeners feelings by saying "But then again you're not to blame, you're just a human, a victim of the insane", perhaps this was directed at the press intrusion. I love the vocal on this track, John sings with total emotion and the echo effect, which is evident on much of this album, really makes this song stand out.
=== Remember ===
The song sees John playing piano staccato style(where the note ends abruptly) throughout, and it is quite hypnotic to a point. There isn't really a chorus in this song, but more of a bridge where John changes the tone and theme a musically and lyrically. This is a song that was born out of Lennon's primal therapy sessions. In this, I think what John is trying to say is, that no matter how things are now, things always seemed worse in the past and we shouldn't dwell on things. "Remember how the man, used to leave you empty handed. Always, always let you down" was probably referring to his childhood and perhaps his feelings towards his father. During the bridge John sings about not feeling sorry for things that you've done in the past "Don't you worry 'bout what you've done, Don't feel sorry 'bout the way it's gone". The song ends with an odd twist, a snippet from an old nursery rhyme, "Remember, oh remember....the fifth....of November", followed by an explosion. I quite like this song, the piano has a nice rhythm to it and the way the song abruptly ends, is fantastic.
=== Love ===
This is a beautiful song and sums up really what John Lennon was all about. This song is John's thoughts on exactly what love is and he sums it up beautifully, "Love is real , real is love. Love is feeling , feeling love. Love is wanting to be loved"; very simplistic lyrically, but it doesn't need to be complicated to get the message across. This song features Phil Spector on piano and John on acoustic guitar and there is a 35 second intro at a feint volume, before the vocal kicks in at a normal volume, this happens with the outro too (it is much quieter than the rest of the song). This song wasn't released as a single in John's lifetime, although he did want it to be, but the record company opted for 'Mother' instead. This did eventually get released as a single in 1982 (two years after his death) to tie in with the compilation album 'The John Lennon Collection', it reached number 41 in the U.K. Singles Chart.
=== Well Well Well ===
The mood changes with this blues number, with a bit of smut thrown in for good measure. In this song Lennon sings about himself and Yoko, I heard someone refer to this song as having a bit of cannibalism in the lyric "She looked so beautiful I could eat her", it is very doubtful Lennon was showing signs of cannibalistic tendencies and was probably referring to oral sex, but it is all said innocently, so the viewer can make his/her own mind. 'Well Well Well' is the longest song on the album at 5:59 and I'm surprised Lennon didn't do his throat a lot of damage recording it, as the song ends with Lennon screeching out the lyric "Well well well!" building the screeches up higher and higher each time before starting at the same bluesy pace as the beginning. For the last 40 seconds of the song the chorus is repeated before Lennon abruptly stops as if he has ran out of breath. The ending of this song sounds more like a rough demo, the way it just stops.
=== Look At Me ===
I love this song, I would even go as far as to say that it is my favourite song on this album, and that's a tough choice, considering the songs are all equally as good in my opinion. In this song Lennon is asking himself "Look at me, who am I supposed to be", it's like he is trying to rediscover who he is, as other people see him differently to the way he sees himself. This is a little acoustic number, that sounds similar to The Beatles 'Julia' from their 1968 album,'The Beatles' and was written during The Beatles stay in India, it also uses a similar finger picking style to a few of Lennon's other compositions around about that time. There is no percussion track on this and it is just John and his acoustic guitar.
=== God ===
"God is a concept, by which we measure our pain", sings John in the first line of this song, and just in case you didn't understand or missed the message of this song, he repeats the line after announcing "I'll say it again". In this song Lennon seems to denounce every idol and myth, including Elvis, I Ching, Magic, Hitler, Zimmerman(Bob Dylan), Jesus, Bible, Buddha etc and he goes on to end this part of the song by singing "I don't believe in Beatles, I just believe in me, Yoko & Me". In the final part of the song, John references The Beatles in "I was the walrus, but now I am John" (I am the Walrus was a song written by John Lennon for The Beatles Magical Mystery Tour album), it is like he is shedding off the The Beatles mantle and now he is just John, the solo artist. John sounds like he is singing the final line, "The dream is over" with some regret and sadness that The Beatles machine had come to an end. The song is played along to a piano that does sound like the song 'Love Letters' that was made popular by Ketty Lester in 1962. Billy Preston, who played some organ parts during The Beatles 'Let it Be' sessions plays piano on this track and he is joined by Ringo on drums and Klaus Voormann on bass.
=== My Mummy's Dead ===
The album ends on the same theme has it started on; The death of Lennon's mother. This time though, he opts for a morbid nursery rhyme, sung to the tune of 'Three Blind Mice' (Not a cheery nursery rhyme anyway, perhaps that is why he opted to use this tune, I can't see it having the same effect if sung along to 'Humpty Dumpty'). This song just features John on electric guitar, singing into a low-fidelity microphone, which gives it quite an eerie effect, it is the kind of song you would imagine being played in a scene from a horror movie, and just leaves you thinking "wow!" at the end of the album. This is the shortest song on the album clocking in at a mere 49 seconds.
== Track Listing ==
All songs written by John Lennon
1 - Mother
2 - Hold On
3 - I Found Out
4 - Working Class Hero
5 - Isolation
6 - Remember
7 - Love
8 - Well Well Well
9 - Look At Me
10 - God
11 - My Mummy's Dead
The album was released on 11th December 1970 and reached number 11 in the U.K. Album Chart and number 6 in the U.S. Billboard Album Chart, it has also been certified gold in the U.S.
== Price ==
You can purchase this album on compact disc, from www.amazon.co.uk for £10.72 including postage or if you prefer, you can purchase a downloadable version from the same site for £6.99. The price is quite high for a single CD, but it is a classic album so that is justified in my opinion.
== Verdict ==
I love this album, I don't think there is a single bad track on it, some people might argue that 'My Mummy's Dead' is a throw away track, but I think John just intended to end the album with a little light relief after the heaviness of some of songs on here. I like to think 'God' was the final song on this album and 'My Mummy's Dead' was John's take at an 'Her Majesty' (A Paul McCartney song that was tagged onto the end of The Beatles, 'Abbey Road' album) type album ending. I have to give this a flawless 5/5 for this album, I can't fault this album at all and coming straight off the back of The Beatles split, I actually prefer this to the other Beatles first few solo efforts. I would recommend this to anyone that has perhaps heard a couple of Lennon's solo songs and wants to hear more or in fact anyone, this is another one of those albums you must listen to before you die, it's only 40 minutes out of your life, and it will be 40 minutes you won't regret.
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LegenSometime In New York City - John Lennon
== Introduction == I came across this album for the first time when staying at my brothers, I was having a look through his vinyl collection and found this album. The thing that stood out for me was the cover, it was all done like a newspaper with the lyrics printed on it like stories. I had heard the song 'New York City' on a ... live album and decided to put this on the turntable and see what the other tracks were about. I didn't like it at much and it wasn't until I bought it on CD a few years later that I fully appreciated it. With the advent of the internet, information was so readily available and I used the album as a guide. Each song told a story, except it wasn't a made up story, it had true meaning behind it and I began to see the songs as adverts for the actual bigger picture. For each song I researched what/who they were about, I learned so much and it is thanks to this album, what an eye opener.
== John Lennon ==
John Lennon for people who have lived on the moon for all their life, was an English singer, songwriter, multi instrumentalist, who started one of the biggest bands in the history of music; The Beatles. After an eight year music career at the upper end of the charts, the band called time and went their separate ways. Lennon went on to have moderate success, although it wasn't until after his assassination December 8th 1980 that he achieved more posthumous success. During his lifetime as a solo artist he released seven solo albums including three number ones, & ten singles, with 'Imagine' being his only number one UK Single, after his passing he had 3 consecutive number one singles between December 1980 and February 1981, starting with 'Just Like Starting Over', 'Imagine' and lastly 'Woman'.
== Sometime in New York City ==
Following on from the classic 1971 album 'Imagine', Lennon and Ono decided to relocate to New York in September of that year. Now, Lennon was trying to get U.S. citizenship at the time, yet he got himself involved in all sorts political protests, and put his weight behind every movement going (probably not the best thing to do, he had already had a go at the Nixon administration on his previous album). Lennon decided to team up once again with producer Phil Spector and this time recruited a local political street band called the Elephants Memory Band (renamed the Plastic Ono Elephants Memory Band), and they set about writing and recording an album full of political and social songs. It was around this time and probably in no small part to the songs on this album and the company Lennon was keeping that the F.B.I started their surveillance on John and Yoko and the government started deportation proceedings. The album was released in 1972 and was a critical and commercial failure, Lennon had taken things too far and some say committed career suicide. The album still reached number 11 in the U.K. album charts although fared worse in America where it only reached number 48.
== Track By Track ==
=== Woman is the Nigger of the World ===
I love this anti sexism song, I think the title rings true when you think about it. I mean back in the seventies, there was a lot of sexism on the television and in the media. Yoko Ono had coined the phrase in an interview in 1969 and Lennon and Yoko eventually wrote this song around it. I like the line "Woman is the nigger of the world, if you don't believe me, take a look at the one your with", it is inviting the listener into the song. Then towards the end John screams "We make her paint her face and dance!" with reference to women wearing make up. The song caused a lot of controversy at the time for the use of the word "nigger", but I think John and Yoko use it in a great way, a nigger doesn't have to mean someone who is black, he was using it as a term to mean someone who is oppressed and this is what women were in a way, until recently. This song was released as the only single from the album and it charted at an abysmal number 57 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. The song wasn't released over here in the U.K., in fact this album didn't spawn any singles at all in the U.K. it was pretty much an American album in content, so perhaps the point would have been lost on the British audiences.
=== Sisters O Sisters ===
The song starts with a bit of studio banter with Yoko saying "male chauvinist engineer", and John replying with "Right on sister" in a put on voice. This song sounds a little like the songs Phil Spector was producing in the late 50's early 60's with his 'wall of sound'. It does have a Ronettes type feel to it, although apparently Lennon wanted this to be a reggae song, but the Elephants Memory Band didn't know how to play reggae. I actually quite like this song, even if you strip away that it is about women rising up and being counted. The song was released as the B-Side to 'Woman is the Nigger of the World'.
=== Attica State ===
This song was written a few weeks after the Attica Prison riot of 1971, when prisoners rioted after a black prisoner was shot dead whilst trying to escape from San Quentin prison. The prisoners were rioting for political rights and better living conditions. State police took back control of the prison after four days on the orders of the Governor of New York, at least 39 people were killed in the riots, including inmates, officers and employees of the prison. Lennon sings that it was Rockefeller (The Governor of New York) who pulled the trigger and calls for people to make a stand for human rights. I think this is a great song with a great chorus and I didn't know anything about the subject matter until I heard this song, but it made me want to read more about it.
=== Born in a Prison ===
This is Yoko's attack on the education system "We're born in a prison, raised in a prison, sent to a prison called school". I love the saxophone on this track, the whole album is pretty saxophone heavy but this track it really stands out and is the main instrument instead of just another part of the band. Aside from the saxophone, the song is pretty unmemorable for me, I just saw it as an interlude between 'Attica State' and the next track, and apart from the live material on this album this is the worst song in my opinion.
=== New York City ===
This is one of the highlights of the album, a rocking little number, what Lennon seems to do best in my opinion. To me, this song reminds me a little like the Chuck Berry song 'Promised Land', the way it name checks different places in New York City. The song is autobiographical, singing about Lennon and Ono's early days in New York; Playing the Apollo & Filmore benefit concerts "Played the Filmore and Apollo for freedom" (The Filmore concert can be heard at the end of this album), meeting street performer David Peel "Up comes a man with a guitar in his hand singing have a marijuana if you can!", Immigration issues "If the man wants to shove
us out, we gonna jump and shout, the Statue of Liberty said, "come!"" and the fact that nobody hounded the Lennon's like they were in Britain. This is just a great little rock n' roll song, a kind of sequel to The Beatles 'Ballad of John & Yoko'.
=== Sunday Bloody Sunday ===
This is the first of two songs protesting about the U.K.'s involvement in Northern Ireland. This one centres around Bloody Sunday in Derry, Northern Ireland, January 1972, when 26 unarmed protesters and bystanders were shot by the British Army, of the 26 who were shot, 13 died instantly and another 14th person died as a result of injuries sustained in the attack a few months later. Investigations were held very soon after, which largly cleared the soldiers of any blame, although this only served to heighten the recruitment drive of the Provisional IRA. Now, I don't know much about the troubles in Northern Ireland, some of it happened before my time, I have formed my own opinions on it and I keep them to myself. I do like this song, it is sung at a nice steady pace, even though the lyrics have a go at the Scots and the English, I sing along, and don't pay too much attention "You Anglo pigs and Scotties
sent to colonize the North, you wave your bloody Union Jack and you know what it's worth!". This is another saxophone heavy track, where it seems to be used as the main instrument.
=== The Luck of the Irish ===
Sticking with the troubles in Northern Ireland, although a less political call for arms and more of a nice gentle folk song, although still with political lyrics. The song is carried on by the nice flute in the background and the song is largely acoustic. If it weren't for the lyric you could be forgiven for thinking this was a nice Irish folk song. This is another song that you can't help but sing along to, although with the volume down low, so as not to offend the neighbours; "If you had the luck of the Irish
you'd be sorry and wish you were dead, you should have the luck of the Irish, and you'd wish you was English instead!"
=== John Sinclair ===
With its slide guitar and repetetive chorus this song is about John Sinclair (the clues in the title), he was a political activist who was jailed for ten years for giving an undercover woman police officer two marijuana joints in 1969. By the time this album was released in 1972, John Sinclair had been free from prison for seven months, after the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that the state's marijuana statutes were unconstitutional. My brother told me a funny story about this song. He was listening to it on a record player at our Auntie and Uncles house and when it got to the "Gotta, gotta, gotta, gotta, gotta, gotta, gotta, gotta, gotta, gotta, gotta, gotta, gotta, gotta, gotta set him free" part of the song, my auntie thought the needle was stuck and gave the record player a whack, causing it to scratch my brothers record, much to his annoyance. The tune its self is extremely catchy, I think I like it more because it is annoying to some people and it does evoke a reaction out of them, can't see my neighbours being too impressed with my musical choice for the last few days though.
=== Angela ===
In this song John & Yoko pay tribute to Angela Davis who was a political activist who was jailed for purchasing firearms which were used in an assault on a courtroom in which a judge, a prosecutor, one of the jurors, and three black assailants were killed. Angela was charged with aggravated kidnapping and first degree murder in the death of Judge Harold Haley, as according to California law, all persons involved even indirectly could be charged, as the assailants were all dead and as she purchased the firearms and wrote letters to the assailants, she was charged with it and was on the FBI's most wanted list. Apprehended, she protested her innocence and was jailed and eventually tried in front of an all white jury. This song is about her plight in jail, after this album was released, the all white jury found Angela Davis not guilty (not as a result of this album, although there were protests and societies set up to try and help with her cause). This is a nice little song, it is a slow tempo song with Yoko taking on lead vocal duties, and she does a pretty good job of it.
=== We're All Water ===
After the slow tempo of 'Angela' we have this up tempo song from Yoko. The lyrics to this song compare different famous people, such as Mao Tse Tung & Richard Nixon, Charles Manson and the Pope, Jerry Rubin and Raquel Welsh and it is just basically says that underneath all the exterior we are the same "We're all water from different rivers, that's why it's so easy to meet, we're all water in this vast, vast ocean, someday we'll evaporate together", true to a point. The song does descend into the obligatory screaming and wailing from Yoko, which kind of spoils it for me, just as the song was going so well. I think this is a great song to end the album on, yes folks we still have a few more songs to go, but this is where the studio part of the album actually ends and I would recommend that it is where your listening stops with regard to this album too. What follows, is the biggest abomination to music ever, in my own humble opinion. It makes me wonder what John was playing at letting Yoko join him on stage, she certainly didn't add anything constructive to his performances that John couldn't have achieved by simply strangling a cat (apologies to any cat lovers out there, I was just using it a a metaphor). This next section is a compilation of live performances from the bands UNICEF gigs and the Filmore East gigs of 1969 and 1971, and to be honest, the album would still have been a great album without them.
=== Cold Turkey ===
For the whole of this song about John Lennon's heroin rehabilitation Yoko is in a bag at Lennon's feet (Yes I think so too). This song is 8:35 and even the actual single version of the song got a bit too much for me to bear in the end. The song does actually end a couple of minutes before the 8:35 and we here a lot of feed back, guitar players tuning up etc.
=== Don't Worry Kyoko ===
Before the song starts Yoko climbs out of the bag and screams at the audience. This song (I use the word song very loosely) was written as a result of a custody battle for Yoko's daughter Kyoko and mainly consists of Yoko screaming "Don't worry Kyoko" to a backdrop of noise, call it experimental music? in my opinion I could have told you the experiment failed less than a minute into the song, 16:06 is far too long for this to have gone on.
=== Well (Baby Please Don't Go) ===
This is the first of four songs (can we call them that? Well this one is a song at least) recorded at the Filmore East 6 June 1971 with Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention. John announces this as a song he last played at The Cavern club to a roar of cheers, perhaps the audience were expecting an early Beatles number? Instead he plays this cover version, while Yoko does her best to try and ruin it with her background screaming, if she wern't in the background she would have succeeded, but John does manage to do a good version of this song.
=== Jamrag ===
Another experimental noise song, although there is a nice jam feel to it, again more screaming in the background from Yoko, while Lennon and the Mothers of Invention jam along. I think long instrumentals just bore me to tears, unless you're actually at the concert watching them, I don't think there is any place for them on an audio recording.
=== Scumbag ===
This starts off where 'Jamrag' left off with more of the same jam, and Lennon shouting "Scumbag", that is the only lyric in the song?? During the song, the audience are encouraged to join in with the lyric. I think this album could have had live versions of the band playing 'Attica State' 'Luck of the Irish' etc, some of these songs were actually recorded live before this album came out and eventually appeared on 'Lennon Anthology'.
=== Au ===
Next up we have 8:10 of more of the same jamming session, this starts at the tail end of 'Scumbag' and continues on some more dire experimental music. To be honest, I have never listened to this all the way through, I got bored, my ears were bleeding half way through, enough was enough.
== Track Listing ==
All songs written by John Lennon/Yoko Ono except;
1 - Woman is the Nigger of the World
2 - Sisters O' Sisters *
3 - Attica State
4 - Born in a Prison *
5 - New York City **
6 - Sunday Bloody Sunday
7 - The Luck of the Irish
8 - John Sinclair **
9 - Angela
10 - We're All Water *
11 - Cold Turkey **
12 - Don't Worry Kyoko *
13 - Well (Baby Please Don't Go) ****
14 - Jamrag
15 - Scumbag ***
16 - Au
== Price ==
You can purchase this album for £10.40 (even if you're only buying it for the studio section of the album it only works out to £1.04 per song) from amazon.co.uk and this also includes a free downloadable copy or if you prefer you can pay £6.99 for an MP3 version of the album.
== Verdict ==
Overall I actually prefer this album to 'Imagine', I guess that is because I love songs that tell a story and have a true meaning behind them (that's not to say Imagine didn't have that, there are a few songs on there that do, but every song on this album does). I tend not to listen to the live section of the album, I have heard it more than enough while writing this review, the studio part of the album is excellent. In my opinion this is the last great album John Lennon released before his final album, even though he released another three albums in between. I think the live section really lets this album down and might only be of some small benefit to Lennon purists who need to have everything he ever recorded no matter how bad, as much as I am a fan of Lennon's work, I would rather listen to the good stuff. I would give this album 4/5 stars and it only loses a star for the live recordings, this might not be for everyone, and would probably be better suited for a fan rather than someone who just whats to hear some of John Lennon's solo work, because of the lack of any big hits on this album. It does have some songs that you are either gonna love or hate and in my opinion there are some better songs on this album than are on the 'Imagine' album.
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Blood On The Tracks - Bob Dylan
All songs written and performed by Bob Dylan Back in January 1975 and after a short recording gap. Bob Dylan released his iconic album, Blood On The Tracks. This album reached no.4 in the UK in February of the same year, and has become an all-time classic. With this album, Bob sheds his 1960s folk/rebel style of ... singing/songwriting, delving deeply into the realms of relationships and lost love. Although Bob denies such, it is generally accepted that Blood On The Tracks is a catalogue of songs expressing his feelings about the breakup of his marriage to his former wife, Sarah.
Unlike many other rock/pop singer/songwriters are able to, Bob manages to convey some very deep feelings on this album, many of which are quite hard-hitting, yet in a softly poignant rather than an aggressive way. The skill in the writing of the songs on Blood On The Tracks for me, results in crystal clear cut, down to earth style of writing which tugs at the soul with an honesty that sometimes - especially if you are going through a similar experience - can be quite difficult to listen to, as an instant state of sharply and perhaps painfully identifying with the material is more than evident.
Amongst many other things, what I love about Blood On The Tracks is its barefaced honesty, regardless of whether it really does tell the story of Dylan's broken marriage, or whether, as he insists, the lyrics aren't intended to be of a personal nature. I must say though that if they aren't personal, then why does the female character in a couple of the songs have the name of Sarah, and why do the words of Lily, Rosemary And The Jack Of Hearts tell a story that so closely simulates the breakdown of their marriage? Maybe it isn't important though, when it comes to viewing the album entirely on its own merit and disregarding any overt or less obvious meanings in the songs.
The pain and passion on Blood On The Tracks is consistent throughout, expressed through some very pleasant tunes and deep, penetrating lyrics that are slightly surreal here and there, but not so far away from day to day reality that they are vague and difficult to understand. The tunes are very simple, having immediate impact....perhaps except for the rather acidic Idiot Wind, which does take some getting used to before it can be fully appreciated how it fits into the rest of the album.
As soon as I hear the opening bars of Tangled Up In Blue, I know that I'm going to be taken on a gently impassioned journey from the inception of a very important relationship, right through to its sad demise, which is heartrendingly conveyed through the final track, Buckets Of Rain. Buckets Of Rain really has such a simple tune with perhaps even more simple lyrics, but that's what makes it so clever.....the depths of human pain and longing are expressed openly, honestly and in a very down to earth fashion. I think that is one of Bob Dylan's very special skills, in that he is able to stir his listeners and draw them onto a deeper plane, regardless of whether it be through his more complex lyrical offerings, or something as basic as Buckets Of Rain - yet, not losing the essence of his message through that simplicity.
The whole of Blood On The Tracks is just Bob Dylan with his voice (that on this album is perhaps easier on the ear than can otherwise sometimes be), his guitar and harmonica. No backing or orchestration is needed, because the message is already there, loud, clear and poignant, expressed simply through one man quietly baring his soul.
I have been a lifelong fan of Bob Dylan, but for me the Blood On The Tracks album is his crowning glory....his best. I know quite a few people who in the normal way loathe Dylan, but find this particular album tuneful, meaningful, soul-stirring and very pleasant to listen to....with the only track that causes them any problems being Idiot Wind.
Would I recommend Blood On The Tracks? Absolutely and without a split second's hesitation, even to people who aren't Bob Dylan fans. The content is tuneful, sweet, poignant, sad, pleasant, gently passionate, clear, simple yet complex in its simplicity, intelligent, gentle and extremely easy to listen to. As far as I'm concerned it is a must for any respectable music collection and I would urge even those who don't particularly like Dylan's work, to give this a fair hearing, as you may be very pleasantly surprised....and, deeply moved. Back in the 1960s, he released his album Another Side Of Bob Dylan....Blood On The Tracks really, truly is another side of him.
For those whose idea of ploughing through a whole album of Bob Dylan is scarier than being thrust into the gates of hell by the 10,000 horsemen, why not rummage through YouTube to get a little taste of what this genius album has to offer?
At the time of writing, Blood On The Tracks (original recording re-mastered) can be purchased on CD from Amazon as follows:-
New: from £3.74 to £19.95
Used: from £1.84 to £14.29
Some CDs on Amazon are available for free delivery within the UK, but where this doesn't apply, a £1.26 charge should be added to the above figures.
Tangled Up In Blue
Simple Twist Of Fate
You're A Big Girl Now
You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go
Meet Me In The Morning
Lily, Rosemary And The Jack Of Hearts
Shelter From The Storm
Buckets Of Rain
Thanks for reading!
~~ Also published on Ciao under my CelticSoulSister user name ~~
Read the complete review
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