Saturday, October 25, 2008

Album Of The Day #95: PLANET WAVES - Bob Dylan

Title: Planet Waves
Artist: Bob Dylan
Label: Asylum (Columbia got the rights in the mid-80’s)
Songs: On A Night Like This/Going, Going, Gone/Tough Mama/Hazel/Something There Is About You/Forever Young/Forever Young/Dirge/You Angel You/Never Say Goodbye/Wedding Song
Written by: Bob Dylan
(There is no production credit.)
I am very unfamiliar with the Band’s work, but I really like their musicianship on this album. Robbie Robertson’s lead guitar has some really cool moments, especially in my favorite song here, “Going, Going, Gone”. I love his ‘chocking’ guitar effect. It’s a pretty unique sound and just adds to the song. “Hazel”, “Though Mama” and “You Angel You” are the album’s weak points. Some of the songs sound like they developed from just jam sessions where Dylan went in with nothing.
The best songs here are the ones that sound like Dylan labored over for weeks. “Dirge” is so powerful, as is the acoustic “Wedding Song”, which is filled with all the beauty that you won’t find in your standard cliché wedding vow. There is also “Forever Young”, presented in two forms. The first version that closed side one is the one everyone should be familiar with. Here, Dylan reads his lyrics as a prayer, pleading with whomever he is talking to.
The second side opened with the second version, which makes the song sound more like the weak rock tracks on the album, like “You Angel You”. Dylan rushes through his words, rendering them meaningless.
As for the rest, “On A Night Like This” gives the album a really good kick off point and invites us to come in on the intimate recordings that follow. “Something There Is About You” and “Never Say Goodbye” are also pretty good, but with Dylan’s vast cannon of love songs, these two just fizzle as a side note.
Simply, this album would be a great one if it was made by anyone but Dylan. The trouble is, these songs, at least to me, feel just like sketches, as if he went headfirst into these sessions with The Band without any songs and needed some fast. As I said before, the best songs, “Going, Going, Gone”, “Forever Young”, “Dirge” and “Wedding Song”, are good because they are clearly fully developed and have all the power of a classic Dylan work.

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