Collection: 5. Bob Dylan - Blood On The Tracks

Plenty of critics and fans blame the relative lifelessness of Bob Dylan’s early ’70s work for the quasi-religious codification of 1966’s Blonde on Blonde, which, by 1975, was widely considered to be the last of Dylan’s “great records”—the massive and untouchable creative apex of a career presumably destined for prompt disintegration. It’s possible to argue that all of Dylan’s post-Blonde records had the exact same mystifying effect on Blood on the Tracks—namely, allowing Dylan to stage his next reinvention, and to glibly position himself as the much-anticipated “next Dylan.” Blood on the Tracks is arguably Bob Dylan’s most personal record: less surreal and more self-conscious than anything he’d ever done, emotionally charged, and impeccably sung.

Blood on the Tracks was famously re-recorded in two deviant sessions—first in New York, and then in Minneapolis. The New York sessions (widely available as the Blood on the Tapes bootleg) saw Dylan acting especially protective of his new material, refusing to explain his unusual open-tunings to Deliverance, his backing band. Deliverance guitarist/banjoist Eric Weissberg later noted that Dylan was not particularly concerned with “correcting obvious mistakes” (check Dylan’s fingernails and coat buttons scraping against his guitar strings on both New York versions of “Tangled Up in Blue”), and plainly admitted that “if it was anybody else,” he “would have walked out.” Unsurprisingly, Deliverance can only be heard, in their entirety, on “Meet Me in the Morning.”

Three months later, Dylan opted to re-record a handful of cuts at Studio 80 in Minneapolis. Deliberately thwarting the stark intimacy and sparser instrumentation of the New York versions, the Minneapolis sessions saw questionable lineup changes (an entirely new band, culled from local players) and considerable lyric revision, with Dylan seizing his last chance to retract, fudging the original lyrics to pad his songs with trademark detachment. The resulting record is stunning in its diversity: sentimental but clever, impressionistic but specific, confessional but confounding—and unbearably easy to love. –Amanda Petrusich / Pitchfork.com

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