I’m guessing this isn’t one of Dylan’s favourites. Although – and maybe because – there’s only a few Dylan compositions on here, most of the album doesn’t really fit with his later albums. It’s almost as though he hadn’t worked out to be the enigmatic, mysterious folk singer that everybody knows now.
There’s a whole lot more fun on this album than on later ones – he spends a few moments whooping and hollering on some of the songs (especially Freight Train Blues), which sounds out of character with the serious personality he would become. The liner notes explain that one of his strongest influences is Charlie Chaplin, and that he would borrow some of the actor’s gestures on stage. That sounds pretty terrible – but I guess this influence manifests itself in something like the ‘music video’ that accompanied Subterranean Homesick Blues.
There’s not really a ‘hit’ on this album – but plenty of songs that are familiar in retrospect. Probably the most famous song on here – his cover of House Of The Risin’ Sun was made world-famous by The Animals two or three years later. Similarly, In My Time Of Dyin’ was popularised by Led Zeppelin on Physical Graffiti, and the song Highway 51 suggests that Dylan was listening to the same vein of blues that Jimmy Page would later base his supergroup around.
Hit: House Of The Risin’ Sun
Hidden Gem: In My Time Of Dyin’