The Essential Guide to Bob Dylan

Tags: 
  • Bob Dylan (1962) - ***
  • The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan (1963) - **** 1/2
  • The Times They Are A-Changin' (1964) - **** 1/2
  • Another Side of Bob Dylan (1964) - **** 1/2
  • Bringing It All Back Home (1965) - *****
  • Highway 61 Revisited (1965) - *****
  • Blonde on Blonde (1966) - *****
  • Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits (1967) - *****
  • John Wesley Harding (1967) - **** 1/2
  • Nashville Skyline (1969) - ****
  • Self Portrait (1970) - **
  • New Morning (1970) - ***
  • Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits, Vol. 2 (1971) - ** 1/2
  • Dylan (1973) - 1/2
  • Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid (1973) - **
  • Planet Waves (1974) - ****
  • Before the Flood (1974) - *** 1/2
  • Blood on the Tracks (1975) - *****
  • The Basement Tapes (1975) - **** 1/2
  • Desire (1976) - ****
  • Hard Rain (1976) - * 1/2
  • Street Legal (1978) - ** 1/2
  • Slow Train Coming (1979) - *** 1/2
  • At Budokan (1979) - **
  • Saved (1980) - *
  • Shot of Love (1981) - ** 1/2
  • Infidels (1983) - ****
  • Real Live (1984) - *
  • Biograph (1985) - ****
  • Empire Burlesque (1985) - **
  • Knocked Out Loaded (1986) - **
  • Down in the Groove (1988) - * 1/2
  • Dylan & the Dead (1989) - * 1/2
  • Oh Mercy (1989) - ****
  • Under the Red Sky (1990) - * 1/2
  • Bootleg Series, Vols. 1-3 (Rare & Unreleased) 1961-1991 (1991) - **** 1/2
  • Good as I Been to You (1992) - ** 1/2
  • World Gone Wrong (1993) - **
  • Greatest Hits, Vol. 3 (1994) - ***
  • MTV Unplugged (1995) - **
  • Time Out of Mind (1997) - **** 1/2
  • Bootleg Series, Vol. 4: Live 1966 - The "Royal Albert Hall" Concert (1998) - **** 1/2
  • Essential Bob Dylan (2000) - ****
  • Love and Theft (2001) - **** 1/2
  • Live: 1961-2000 (2001) - **
  • The Bootleg Series, Vol. 5: Live 1975 - The Rolling Thunder Revue (2002) - ****
  • Masked and Anonymous (2003) - *
Author Comments: 

This appears just like my CC series, but there is one crucial distinction. This list is the combined opinions of me and several of my critical friends. We have not attempted to reflect the mainstream of critical opinion. We did not even consult the critics. These are simply our gut reactions, our silly opinions, our thoughtful judgments...

Scale:

***** - Masterpiece
**** 1/2 - Classic
**** - Great
*** 1/2 - Good
*** - Above Average
** 1/2 - Average
** - Below Average
* 1/2 - Bad
* - Terrible
1/2 - One of the worst albums ever

My God, it's unbelievable that Dylan had 3 5 star studio albums in '65 through '66. That's without a doubt one of the most talented, high-profile eras of an artist ever. I have few comments.

I know this is your personal critical guide. It's very good to see the entire coverage of the man's career. I just don't know how you have heard all of these albums. I own about a fifth of them and have no desire to hear about ten of these in my life.
Also, I'm a little surprised these three albums didn't receive "masterpiece" status (I would say they are).
1. Desire
2. Nashville Skyline
3. Bootleg Series, Vol.4

Also, "Freewheelin'" would be mighty close. Anyway, good comprehensive list- keep pumping these things out.

Well, it is all probably my fault. I told the group to be tough, and boy, were they!

Personally, on my own, I would easily give Freewheelin' a five-star rating. I'd probably also bestow the same honor to Greatest Hits Vol. 2 and Love and Theft, at the least...

Desire was a hotly-contended one, with lovers and haters. Truth be told, though, Nashville Skyline just barely scrapped by with its four stars...

Thanks for the comments!

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

Fair enough. Dylan is absolutely an artist that attracts many lovers and haters on different levels.

Of the albums I've heard:

5 Stars
Highway 61 Revisited
Blonde on Blonde
Blood on the Tracks
Desire
Bringing It All Back Home
Nashville Skyline
Bootleg Series, Vol. 4: Live 1966
4 1/2 Stars
John Wesley Harding
The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan
4 Stars
Greatest Hits Vol. 1 and 2
The Times They Are-A Changin'
Another Side Of Bob Dylan
Bootleg Series, Vol. 5: Live 1975
3 Stars
Greatest Hits Vol. 3
Bob Dylan
Biograph

I've only heard bits and pieces of the new stuff (1990-present).

Honestly, I'm not a big fan of Dylan's voice on Nashville Skyline, though is songwriting is still good as always. I do agree that Freewheelin' deserves 5 stars, but I must confess that if I had to pick one of Dylan's five most acclaimed albums (Freewheelin', Bringing, Highway, Blonde, and Blood) to give a lower rating to, it would probably be Freewheelin'. Sorry, but still a great album.

P.S. to lbangs - Sorry for this unrelated post, but today I picked up a fairly obscure album that you like. I've listened to about half of it so far and really liked all I've heard. Care to guess before I update my 50 Albums list?

Fairly obscure, eh?

I'll take a blind stab and say Dig by Adam Again.

How far off am I?

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

Sorry. It's slightly less obscure, and you like it slightly less. If I ever saw Dig in a store, I would definitely buy it, but I don't think I've ever seen any Adam Again in a real store, and rarely in any online store. Would you like another guess?

I really probably shouldn't guess Trout Mask Replica, so I'll follow up on your recent musings and say Dummy.

After that, I think this dummy is going to give and wait anxiously for the update!

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs (who, yeah, is aware he basically cheated and snuck two guesses in there...)

Good guesses, but nope. I guess I wasn't really that clear, but what I really meant by "obscure" was "I probably wouldn't have ever heard of this album if not for you." Which I don't think I could say abou Trout Mask Replica or Dummy.

Well, I won't make you wait long...

I agree with most of your list, although I think Nashville skyline could deserve at least another half star. That unplugged album is so awful, I would have rated it lower.

Both albums drew incredibly mixed results. I avoid the unplugged disc, and I also really enjoy Nashville.

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs