Sunday, November 29, 2009

Listening Journal 1

Blue Oyster Cult - Blue Oyster Cult
-surprising instrumental capabilities, excellent guitar solo construction
-despite classification as proto-metal, everything is understated, and the mood is chilly
-"Cities on Flame With Rock and Roll" is out of place - a straightforward anthem, doesn't sit well with the subtle fantasies of the other songs
-vocals are the band's weak point - no menace, little expression
-a shame that classic rock radio ignores this album, much better than the band's later output

Bob Dylan - Bob Dylan
-this is not the Dylan voice - it's too earnest and too country
-the originals are very strong, esp. "Talkin' New York" which conveys a precise sense of bewilderment
-Bob whips up quite a frenzy on that acoustic
-had he recorded this, no one would remember him, but nevertheless a worthy listen for his fans, and a fine starting point

Bob Dylan - The Freewheeling Bob Dylan
-the lyrics on the originals still make sense
-the most famous songs on the album are also the best, "Girl From the North Country" being my favorite
-voice is developing that distinctive whine, but the delivery is still straightforward
-can already detect a sense of self-awareness on the sillier tunes, as if he anticipated his own legend
-a perfect album for a fall walk

Bob Dylan - The Times They Are A-Changin'
-the wordiest of these early albums, and the most consistently and overtly political
-melody sometimes less important than lyrics - verses exist for narrative with no new musical development
-and yet the melodies are indelible
-title track is, in my opinion, the most transcendent political song ever written, and "With God On Our Side" isn't as good, but absolutely timeless
-"The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll" is also among the best songs of this period
-overall, my favorite of Dylan's early period (first four albums)

Bob Dylan - Another Side of Bob Dylan
-less politics more humor, somewhat less melody
-but the funny stuff is truly funny
-less memorable songs than on previous two - I've never thought too much of this album
-the first Dylan album that seems to be a deliberate response to public perception of him - see "It Ain't Me, Babe" esp.

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