Bob Dylan by Bob Dylan

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Bob Dylan by Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan by Bob Dylan

Album Released: 1962

Bob Dylan ::: Artwork

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1.You're No Good1:37
2.Talkin' New York3:15
3.In My Time Of Dyin'2:37
4.Man Of Constant Sorrow3:06
5.Fixin' To Die Blues2:17
6.Pretty Peggy-O3:22
7.Highway 51 Blues2:49
8.Gospel Plow1:44
9.Baby, Let Me Follow You Down2:32
10.House Of The Risin' Sun5:15
11.Freight Train Blues2:16
12.Song To Woody2:39
13.See That My Grave Is Kept Clean2:40


In the beginning, Bob Dylan's only instruments were his voice, his acoustic guitar, and a harmonica. He didn't come fully armed with his own songs however - this is a covers-oriented folk album.

That might be surprising at first glance. I mean, what is Bob Dylan if he isn't the greatest singer-songwriter who ever lived? (if you don't agree with such a statement, then I would kindly ask you to devise a way of kicking your own ass, since I'm too lazy to track you down and do it myself). But if you look at other folk albums released in the early-60's, you'll quickly notice that covers-oriented albums were standard practice.

Folk revivalists in particular, seemed to believe that writing original songs went against their principles, they were most interested in performing and preserving would-be forgotten folk classics (I don't look down on that, by the way. They were doing a valuable service since many of these songs were well worth preserving). Dylan however, might not have been so much interested in this; many of these songs were already well-known at the time. Rather, it seemed like he was just biding his time to make a name for himself in the recording industry, to generate enough clout to start releasing his own material.

That said, he did manage to get by with two originals on this 13-track album, but they were hardly earth-shattering. Their melodies aren't great, but they're not bad. The most interesting thing about them are the lyrics, which appropriately enough, center around Dylan's own early history: “Talkin' New York” is an account of his arrival in the Big Apple, and “Song to Woody” is a fond tribute to his ailing hero.

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by Reviewer: Don Ignacio (blogging at Don Ignacio's Album Reviews)

Most of the web reviewers I've read damn this album with faint praise by saying it's 'surprisingly listenable', and yes, I will damn it with that very same faint praise. But seeing as it only includes two Dylan originals, this is hardly an essential release to anyone except fanatics or Folk archeologists.

However, if you're interested in Zimmerman's roots, this offers a compelling sampler of American folksong. Most of the tunes the Bobster covers are overlooked classics (at least, they were in 1962) and are well worth your aquaintance.

Dylan hasn't found his voice yet - no, I don't mean that figuratively (though I mean that too) - I mean literally. His vocals grate even worse here than on his later albums, and on "Freight Train Blues" he whines an amusing nails-on-chalkboard version of hoarse vocal feedback.

Of the two originals, "Talkin' New York" is kind of funny but kind of whiny too, and "Song To Woody" is a nice gesture but little more. Of the covers, "Highway 51" (guess where that road took him) and "House of the Rising Sun" are the most revelatory. I prefer The Animals' version of "House of the Rising Sun", but Dylan's isn't bad (and if he hadn't recorded it, The Animals would never have even heard the tune), and as he doesn't change the original lyrics it makes it pretty obvious the 'House' referred to is a cathouse.

Though he had plenty of original material at the time, true to his Folk roots Dylan felt obliged to record an album of other people's songs to prove his authenticity. O'course folkies are (were) obsessed with 'authenticity' precisely because most folkies have none ... callow middle-class kids pretending to be hobos, among them a nice middle-class Jewish kid from the not exactly mean dirt roads of Hibbing, MN. He changed his name from Zimmerman to Dylan, but hey that's showbiz.

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by Reviewer: Creative Noise (blogging at Creative Noise)

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.

Bob Dylan 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.

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by Reviewer: Adrian Denning (blogging at Adrian's Album Reviews)

I'd nominate this album - that's right, Dylan's debut - as 'My Favorite Ever Dylan Album'.

It's almost inexplicable, and I know this bunch of folk covers and hillbilly silliness is supposed to be disregarded from consideration for any rating above about 4½ stars, as it's badly and repetitively produced, Dylan's voice sounds like a 14-year-old hayseed, the guitar playing is rudimentary, the instrumentation is totally bare-ass, and the songs are a bunch of the same old noises over and over, about losing a love, or riding down the line, or burying one's bones when one bites the big bastard donut that awaits us all at the end of this here barn dance.

You're supposed to listen once, go 'hey, so that's where he came from before he was writing folk standards', and file the album away at the far back of your record collection.

But I'm always 100%-to-the-core entertained by this album. I listen to it at least as much as all of Dylan's 60's albums, and probably far more often than anything other than Bringing and Highway ... I jiggle along with "You're No Good", smile knowingly to "Talkin' New York", and chilled frost-hard by "In My Time of Dyin'" ... and that's just the first three of these American beauties.

Each track is super charming, and - unless you're a die-hard folk fanatic - you'll probably not have heard more than a few of these songs - the ones that may be quite familiar, albeit from some strange sources. There's The Animals' "House of the Rising Sun", and it's common knowledge that they were covering the version off this album and not the ancient original that Dylan drew from.

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by Reviewer: Capt Bonanza (blogging at Capn Marvel's Bonanza [Defunct])