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Printable Version
Reviewed by -
Grey Cavitt
Bob Dylan
Another Side of Bob Dylan
Released: September 16, 2003
Origination Year: 1964
Time: 50:45
Tracks: 11
Produced by: Tom Wilson
Style: Studio / Reissue
Format: SACD
Enhancement: DSD: Stereo/MC
Label: Columbia Records

Track Listing
  1. All I Really Want To Do
  2. Black Crow Blues
  3. Spanish Harlem Incident
  4. Chimes of Freedom
  5. I Shall Be Free - No. 10
  6. To Ramona
  7. Motorpsycho Nitemare
  8. My Back Pages
  9. I Don't Believe You
  10. Ballad in Plain D
  11. It Ain't Me Babe

Bob Dylan

At first, the folk community declared Another Side of Bob Dylan to be a bit of a disappointment. Where The Times They Are A-Changin' cemented Dylan's reputation as the leading light in the protest folk movement, the new album, excepting Chimes of Freedom, at best only hinted at the political. An occasional dig at the establishment poked out of a lyric here and there, but the album opened with "All I Really Want to Do", a light-hearted song centered on personal relationships, and ended with the single "It Ain't Me Babe", hardly a rallying cry for the disenfranchised. Even worse, "My Back Pages" certainly seemed to question and, ultimately, largely leave behind the entire arena of political protest.

They really must not have noticed the title, or at least they did not take it seriously enough, for mostly, this transitional album is another side of Dylan altogether. He had written personal songs before, but where Freewheelin' and Times were anchored by socially aware anthems such as "Blowin' in the Wind" and the latter’s title track, Another Side floated about from sheer playfulness to romantic tunes to songs of an apparently deep, personal nature. Even a song bearing the title of "I Shall Be Free, No. 10", was something of a rambling lark!

Additionally, the beloved musical format of one man facing the world with merely a lone guitar and harmonica for weapons was fading. Diverse influences always lurking beneath Dylan's style were seeping above ground. "Black Crow Blues" churned by on a barrel-housing piano and harmonica chords melded with the music rather than screaming like exclamation points. Previous albums always included a few freewheeling tunes, but many of these songs stretched out, slow and relaxed rather than burning with fury. Was Dylan slipping?

Certainly his songwriting wasn't. While "It Ain't Me Babe" may be the most recognized song here, The Byrds found many of their greatest hits on this disc. Most of the new avenues his music was turning into were inventive and alive; these songs not only sowed seeds for his future work, but they also stood strong as remarkable works in their own right. He may not have been stroking his fan base the right way, but unbiased listeners certainly would not mistake this for the lazy work of somebody losing the path.

Truthfully, what folkies confused as a lack of focus was really nothing else but the first trembles of a radical revamping of sound and purpose. Sure, no electric guitars yet cut through the album's textures, but these songs are often folk songs only in their acoustic instrumentations. Another Side's structures and concerns are already humming with the charging rush that soon would rocket Dylan full-throttle into Bringing It On Back Home, leaving the earthy protests of Times in its urban dust.

They were partly correct, though. This album is not nearly as invigorating or focused as the classic Freewheelin', but its explorations make for a more moving and exciting experience that Times, even if it does lack the previous album's rage. Another Side is the first major step after the fork in the road, and while Dylan's chosen path may have upset his scene, it also was soon to lead to the most concentrated, magical, and impressive creative burst in the history of rock music. The flood that unleashed his next three albums started trickling across the plains here.

The sonics on the CD layer of this disc improve over the previous release. While the clarity of the guitar and harmonica may not ring out with the revelations the Freewheelin' disc uncovered, the SACD layers add to the CD's resolution. The 5.1 channel layer was rather unexpected, given the album's often simple arrangements, but the rear speakers are largely used in an attempt to capture a live performance's echoes and reverberations, and while the album frankly still seems an odd choice for such treatment, it certainly isn't hurt by it.

While many reacted with displeasure and waited for the times to change back, those who were pleased were truly the ones who knew which way the wind was blowing. A terrific album on its own merits, Another Side was only the beginning of Dylan's wild, unparalleled ride.

Copyright © 2002-2003 Matthew Rowe. All rights reserved.
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212 Frech

"Even though most of the people I knew in my youth are gone, I still reach out to them..."
Norman Maclean - Paraphrase

"...we should enjoy every sandwich." -- Warren Zevon, 2003