Classic Recordings: Bob Dylan – Blood On The Tracks

Bob Dylan – Blood On The Tracks

Columbia (Vinyl)

 By Paul Rigby

Blood on the Tracks will be the featured album for Classic Album Sunday’s NYC launch.

This was an album that reflected a period of torment for Dylan. In fact it was as close as the singer-songwriter would ever come to exposing his feelings, clearly and honestly, to the world. The trigger was the breakdown of his marriage to Sara Dylan which then moved towards a bitter custody battle over their children. Dylan even turned to psychics to find meaning for the chaos, “When the world falls on your head,” he said to Playboy, during an interview at the time, “you need someone who can tell you how to crawl out, which way to take.” This gives you some idea where Dylan’s head was at during the creation of the album.

Dylan’s work is famous for being multi-layered and complex and rife for interpretation. Despite this album, a stripped bare, basic work that took his style back to his early days in the 60s, it maintained his rather opaque approach to his art. As he explained, “Sometimes. You get a little spacey when you’ve been up all night, so you don’t really have the power to form it. But that’s the sound I’m trying to get across. I’m not just up there re-creating old blues tunes or trying to invent some surrealistic rhapsody. It’s the sound and the words. Words don’t interfere with it. They, they, punctuate it. You know, they give it purpose. And all the ideas for my songs, all the influences, all come out of that. I’m not doing it to see how good I can sound or how perfect the melody can be or how intricate the details can be woven or how perfectly written something can be. I don’t care about those things.”

‘Blood On the Tracks’ is notable for Dylan’s shift away from his buddy-like, backing band accompaniment. With this album, he is supported by professional studio musicians which lack that ‘the gang’s all here’ feeling but the subsequent creative gap actually helps during the delivery of the songs on this album as it manages to retain the intimacy, the sentimentality, the moving and emotional delivery of the subject matter. In this album, Dylan is the solitary man, singing to you.

Stand-out track: Tangled Up In Blue

Because the album and this track is an intimate, introverted, affair with a basic arrangement, the music and the vocal tends to live in the midrange. If your system experiences any sense of brightness then you may lose the confessional emotion of the Dylan presentation. A neutral system will enhance the clarity of the piece.

Blood On The Tracks – A Recorded History

1975 LP CBS 69097

1975 LP Columbia PC 33235

1985 CD CBS CDCBS 69097

1997 CD Columbia COL 467842 2

1998 LP  Simply Vinyl SVLP 192

1999 CD Columbia MILLEN16

2003 CD Columbia 512350 2

2003 SACD Columbia 512350 6

2007 LP Columbia 88697159481

1 Comment

  • herschel hatcher says:

    Dylan’s greatest album. I heard Joan Baez sing Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts and my college roommate had the album.

    Love it to this day. One of the must have albums.

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