Dylan had already moved beyond this album by the time Columbia released it, performing more recent material at concerts and clubs, and growing in confidence about being a singer/songwriter rather than just a folk/blues performer.
On Bob Dylan
he demonstrates his skill with the harmonica and acoustic guitar. He also sings, going for an authentic sound so his voice sounds older than it actually was. That gets him into trouble here and there, but elsewhere he just has fun with his voice, as if he's almost embarrassed by it. So he was at odds with the smooth-sounding likes of Joan Baez right from the start, instead going for the Guthrie 'lived-in' sound.
There are only two Dylan originals here ... the talking blues of "Talkin' New York", which humorously yet somewhat bitterly tells the tale of Dylan first arriving in New York, and "Song to Woody", which is self explanatory - the young Dylan had visited the hospitalised and dying Woody Guthrie and played him the tune at his bedside.
was recorded live in two days, and Dylan picks some interesting material. "House of the Risin' Sun" was already circulating in folk circles, Baez having covered it on her debut LP in 1960. Dylan's reading of the same tune is really good, he captures the songs seriousness and gives it a fitting bluesy vocal. His introduction to "Baby, Let Me Follow You Down" reveals where he borrowed the tune from, but these traditional tunes and covers are always given a Dylan twist via his performance and arrangements.
"Freight Train Blues" is an entertaining tune, with Dylan sounding somewhat like a mountain goat, yet he does try to stretch the notes and yodel the words. It's needed, because the following final two songs end the album on a slightly down note, not that either song or performance is poor, just that the mood is serious and perhaps an upbeat closer would've worked better.
That's just me though ... ultimately, Bob Dylan
is a quietly impressive LP.Rated:
by Reviewer: Adrian Denning
(blogging at Adrian's Album Reviews