And now for some decadent capitalist Bank Holiday fun. A list of the ten best Bob Dylan records as nominated by me:
1. Blood on the Tracks – Great angst turned into great songs, though you will probably feel like a voyeur shamefully gawping at something better left private after listening to this all the way through. Bob was trying to look moody for the sleeve shot but anyone who remembers the Bard of Salford – John Cooper Clarke – will remark on the striking similarity.
2. Desire – Theatre and magic in every song. In “Hurricane” contains one of the most incendiery protest songs ever written. Not a bad song on it.
3. Highway 61 Revisited – Kicks off with “Like a Rolling Stone” and continues in the same vein with other mid-60’s electric workouts.
4. Live 1975 – I’m not usually a fan of Dylan’s live albums despite appearing on “Real Live” (as part of the audience clapping politely) but this one is recommended. It contains excellent versions of the then newly-released Desire. The band are tight and Dylan not only remembers all the words but sings them as if he means them.
5. At Budokan – This is one of the few other good live recording. You can pretty much forget the rest apart from the 1966 Free Trade Hall bootleg which got an official release recently.
6. Street Legal – Often overlooked as it prefigured his mostly dire 1980’s records, but contains strong songs well played like “New Pony” and “Is Your Love in Vain ?”
7. Nashville Skyline – This is worth buying for the two standout tracks, the gorgeous “Lay Lady Lay” and the duet with Johnny Cash on “Girl from the North Country”. Spine tingling.
8. Bob Dylan – His first one. In which a 19 year old turns himself convincingly into the voice of death and despair on songs like “The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll” (actually that song might be on the next one The Times They are a-changin’ – buy them both just to make sure).
9. The Bootleg Series 1-3 – Released in 1991, this one contains a sackfull of minor gems overlooked for release by Dylan or his producers. Inexplicably contains “Blind Willie McTell” which I have to admit became my favourite Dylan song on first hearing and hasn’t been displaced since then.
10. Infidels – One of only two decent 1980’s releases (the other being Under a Red Sky). Strong songs and, unusually for Dylan, great production by if I remember correctly Mark Knopfler.
Please feel free to keep Gordon Brown in a job by topping up your collections with any of the above. It’s your patriotic duty…….