Planet Waves by Bob Dylan

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Planet Waves by Bob Dylan
Planet Waves by Bob Dylan

Album Released: 1974

Planet Waves ::: Artwork

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1.On A Night Like This2:59
2.Going, Going, Gone3:28
3.Tough Mama4:16
5.Something There Is About You4:43
6.Forever Young4:57
7.Forever Young (continued)2:48
9.You Angel You2:54
10.Never Say Goodbye2:53
11.Wedding Song4:42


Oh man, I can imagine what Bob Dylan fans must've been thinking in the early-70's. Up until he released Planet Waves in 1974, there had only been one 'normal' Dylan album that entire decade. That was 1970's New Morning ... the other three albums were two weird covers albums, and a soundtrack album.

But those fans needn't have lost faith, a comeback was inevitable! And here it was in 1974, when Bob Dylan started being normal again. Moreover, he recruited The Band to play with him and - as I'm sure we all realize by now - The Band positively ruled. Granted, they were well past their peak by 1974, but as far as instrumental ability goes there were few better than these guys.

So why aren't these songs thrilling the pants off of me? As a Bob Dylan fanboy, shouldn't I be gushing over these things?

Yes, this album has a handful of gush-worthy bona fide classics on it, but unfortunately it's not loaded with them. The best song on the album is surely “Forever Young”, which is still widely-loved to this day, to the point that it's the theme song of a TV show that's currently in production called Parenthood. The lyrics are simplistic but they sort of hit me squarely in the chest. The melody is soaring and memorable, while Dylan's tattered vocals seem precisely suited for it. I'm not sure why he did this, but he recorded the song twice on this album and put them back-to-back. The first one is the best one - the atmospheric and contemplative ballad. However, the second one (still good!) is upbeat and dancey.

I also love the song that opens the album, “On a Night Like This”. Again, Dylan seemed to have long passed his days of putting complex poetry in his lyrics, but these are quite elegant (On a night like this, so glad you came around. Hold on to me so tight and heat up some coffee grounds. We got so much to talk about, and so much to reminisce. It sure is right, on a night like this.) But you don't have to pay attention to the lyrics if you don't want, because the instrumentation is snappy and the melody is catchy.

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

Will Robbie Robertson please shut up? His guitar is distractingly mixed up front, rudely inserting itself into parts of songs where it wasn't invited, and hogging the spotlight like a headache.

Planet Waves was recorded in three days and it sounds like it, with The Band honky-tonking the arrangements with their typical hillbillyness, but unusually sloppy too.

Dylan's songwriting muse continues to slide, as the album alternates between two basic styles - either bouncy throwaway hillbilly jigs, or dark dirge-like broodings about his failing marriage. The reputed classic is "Forever Young", which already forecasts bland VH1 territory, and the jigged-up hillbilly version that follows is totally useless.

"Dirge" and "Wedding Song" go on too long, with Dylan pouring his angst out in overly repetitive melodies, but "Going, Going, Gone" is close enough to a classic as Dylan could pen at this ebb in his career (though to truly hear its greatness, you'll have to seek out the Richard Hell cover - the vocal and performance here are too underproduced, practically of demo quality).

"Tough Mama" and "On a Night Like This" are spirited country waltzes, good to shag a rug with but hardly classics. "Something There is About You" boasts a solid performance, and decent lyrics about Dylan walking around Duluth in his youth with Danny Lopez (whoever that is, probably not even a real person).

Frustratingly, this could have been a good album, but The Band is under-rehearsed and Dylan is clearly arrogant and/or lazy enough to think he could get away with half-writing these half-assed throwaways.

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by Reviewer: Creative Noise (blogging at Creative Noise)

As always, Dylan takes on a challenge - in this case, how to make one of the tightest bands in history sound like some guys who'd just met on the street? Dylan's solution: don't let them rehearse.

So instead of getting to work out all their parts first, the way The Band always had, they're forced to play off-the-cuff. That results in both Robbie Robertson and Garth Hudson overblowing like crazy, even fighting for the same space in the mix. Meanwhile, Levon Helm and Rick Danko mostly play as unimaginatively as possible, although Danko lets loose with a few nice chromatic basslines. However, it's evident that just one more take would've done the trick with "You Angel You", where he flubs the bassline on the way out of the song (notice how the fade covers up The Band falling apart).

Surprisingly, Richard Manuel - whose piano playing was never really highlighted in The Band - turns in the best performance here. He provides lots of great moments ... "On a Night Like This", a counter-bassline doubles at the octave in the left hand, providing a momentum that the drums fail to deliver; "Going Going Gone" sees the ascending chords in the verse, the beautiful attack Manuel gives them perfectly matching the sense of resignation in the vocal. Then the intro of "Something There is About You" has up with the left hand, down with the right, and under the harmonica solo he plays a shimmering arpeggio, making the listener feel like they're out at sea.

On "Hazel", Manuel actually plays a stride piano part - in a ballad! What a cool thing to do! Then throughout "Never Say Goodbye", he plays lots of fills in Hudson's range, but with a more bluesy feel, actually outshining the organ.

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by Reviewer: Steve Knowlton (blogging at Steve's Record Reviews)

As the first new Dylan record proper for four years (beyond a soundtrack and an album of out-takes), there was a sense of expectation surrounding Planet Waves, especially as news filtered out that it would be a reunion between Bob Dylan and The Band.

But although the accompanying tour sold out in record time, the album was somewhat forgotten, even though it did debut at No.1, for compared to the majestic work Dylan had done with The Band in the past, something like "On A Night Like This" seems slight and half-developed.

"Going Going Gone" is a strong track however, enriched by classy guitar playing and a good Dylan vocal. And "Tough Mama" is great too, and would've made a better album opener.

The track sequencing could be better - there's no sense of a common sound or atmosphere across these eleven songs, and there's a lapse at the centre of the record, with two different versions of "Forever Young", plus the terminally dull "Something There Is About You".

Given the sleepwalk nature of many songs here, the desolate and lyrically spine-chilling "Dirge" stands out a mile, but the following "You Angel You" and "Never Say Goodbye" are entirely forgettable filler. The third truly worthwhile song on this set arrives with the closing "Wedding Song", almost an old-style Dylan folk song, but it's not quite enough to save Planet Waves.

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