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Pop/Rock - Released August 23, 2013 | Columbia

Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Reissue
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Pop/Rock - Released October 15, 2010 | Columbia - Legacy

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Folk/Americana - Released October 18, 2010 | Columbia - Legacy

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
It's hard to overestimate the importance of The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, the record that firmly established Dylan as an unparalleled songwriter, one of considerable skill, imagination, and vision. At the time, folk had been quite popular on college campuses and bohemian circles, making headway onto the pop charts in diluted form, and while there certainly were a number of gifted songwriters, nobody had transcended the scene as Dylan did with this record. There are a couple (very good) covers, with "Corrina Corrina" and "Honey Just Allow Me One More Chance," but they pale with the originals here. At the time, the social protests received the most attention, and deservedly so, since "Blowin' in the Wind," "Masters of War," and "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" weren't just specific in their targets; they were gracefully executed and even melodic. Although they've proven resilient throughout the years, if that's all Freewheelin' had to offer, it wouldn't have had its seismic impact, but this also revealed a songwriter who could turn out whimsy ("Don't Think Twice, It's All Right"), gorgeous love songs ("Girl From the North Country"), and cheerfully absurdist humor ("Bob Dylan's Blues," "Bob Dylan's Dream") with equal skill. This is rich, imaginative music, capturing the sound and spirit of America as much as that of Louis Armstrong, Hank Williams, or Elvis Presley. Dylan, in many ways, recorded music that equaled this, but he never topped it. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Rock - Released March 25, 2014 | Columbia

Rock - Released June 7, 2019 | Columbia - Legacy

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Pop/Rock - Released April 11, 1969 | Columbia

John Wesley Harding suggested country with its textures and structures, but Nashville Skyline was a full-fledged country album, complete with steel guitars and brief, direct songs. It's a warm, friendly album, particularly since Bob Dylan is singing in a previously unheard gentle croon -- the sound of his voice is so different it may be disarming upon first listen, but it suits the songs. While there are a handful of lightweight numbers on the record, at its core are several excellent songs -- "Lay Lady Lay," "To Be Alone With You," "I Threw It All Away," "Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With You," as well as a duet with Johnny Cash on "Girl From the North Country" -- that have become country-rock standards. And there's no discounting that Nashville Skyline, arriving in the spring of 1969, established country-rock as a vital force in pop music, as well as a commercially viable genre. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Pop/Rock - Released January 16, 1976 | Columbia

Rock - Released November 1, 2019 | Columbia - Legacy

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Pop/Rock - Released March 26, 1991 | Columbia

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Rock - Released July 13, 1973 | Columbia - Legacy

This album was unusual on several counts. For starters, it was a soundtrack (for Sam Peckinpah's movie of the same title), a first venture of its kind for Bob Dylan. For another, it was Dylan's first new LP in three years -- he hadn't been heard from in any form other than the single "George Jackson," his appearance at the Bangladesh benefit concert in 1971, in all of that time. Finally, it came out at an odd moment of juxtaposition in pop culture history, appearing in July 1973 on the same date as the release of Paul McCartney's own first prominent venture into film music, on the Live and Let Die soundtrack (the Beatles bassist had previously scored The Family Way, a British project overlooked amid the frenzy of the Beatles' success). Interestingly, each effort reunited the artist with a significant musician/collaborator from his respective past: McCartney with producer George Martin and Dylan with guitarist Bruce Langhorne, who'd played with him on his early albums up to Bringing It All Back Home, before being supplanted by Mike Bloomfield, et al. But that was where the similarities between the two projects ended -- apart from the title song, Live and Let Die was Martin's project rather than McCartney's, whereas Dylan was all over Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid as a composer, musician, etc. Additionally, whereas McCartney's work was a piece of pure pop-oriented rock in connection with a crowd-pleasing action-fantasy film, Dylan's work comprised an entire LP, and the resulting album was a beautifully simple, sometimes rough-at-the-edges and sometimes gently refined piece of country- and folk-influenced rock, devised to underscore a very serious historical film by one of the movies' great directorial stylists. It was also as strong as any of his recent albums, featuring not just Langhorne but also such luminaries as Booker T. Jones, Roger McGuinn, and Byron Berline. "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" was the obvious hit off the album, and helped drive the sales, but "Billy 1," "Billy 4," and "Billy 7" were good songs, too -- had any of them shown up on bootlegs, they'd have kept the Dylan semiologists and hagiographers busy for years working over them. The instrumentals surrounding them were also worth hearing as manifestations of Dylan's music-making; "Bunkhouse Theme" was downright gorgeous. It was the first time since New Morning, in 1970, that Dylan had released more than five minutes of new music at once, and it was a gift to fans as well as to Peckinpah -- little did anyone realize at the time that it heralded a period of new recording and a national tour (with the Band), along with a brief label switch, and Dylan's greatest period of sustained musical visibility since 1966. This record also proved that Dylan could shoehorn his music within the requirements of a movie score without compromising its content or quality, something that only the Beatles, unique among rock artists, had really managed to do up to that time, and that was in their own movie, A Hard Day's Night. "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" may have been the biggest hit to come out of a Western in at least 21 years, since Dimitri Tiomkin and Ned Washington had given "High Noon" to Tex Ritter to sing in Fred Zinnemann's High Noon in 1952 (and Katy Jurado was in both movies), and he'd also outdone Ritter on two counts, writing the music -- a full score, to boot -- and getting a cameo appearance in the film. The album was later kind of overlooked and neglected in the wake of the tour that followed and the imposing musical attributes of, say, Blood on the Tracks and Desire, but heard on its own terms it holds up 30-plus years later. ~ Bruce Eder
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Rock - Released February 3, 2015 | Columbia

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Rock - Released March 31, 2017 | Columbia

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It's possible to read the title of Triplicate in two ways. First, the 2017 collection is the third installment in Bob Dylan's exploration of the Great American Songbook, following quickly on the heels of 2015's Shadows in the Night and 2016's Fallen Angels. Secondly, Triplicate is indeed a triple-album, or perhaps more accurately, a set of three interlinked albums all running 32 minutes apiece. Each of the three discs are given titles -- the first is dubbed 'Til the Sun Goes Down, the second Devil Dolls, with Comin' Home Late rounding out the collection -- and they're presented in a manner not dissimilar to an old-fashioned album of 78 rpms, a nod to the dawn of popular recorded music. By now, Dylan's approach to this material is familiar -- he takes his touring band into the legendary Capitol Studios in Hollywood to record arrangements that feel lean yet full, rooted in pre-war pop but played for a barroom audience -- but it is by no means exhausted. Dylan is captivated by this music, reveling in the lyrics, restoring intros often left off of modern interpretations, bending his style to fit the songs instead of vice-versa. Like Fallen Angels before it, Triplicate is palpably lighter than the weary Shadows in the Night, and that's not just because there are livelier tempos here ("Day In, Day Out" positively glides along on its swift speed and horns). Much of this breeziness derives from Dylan's performance. Cherishing the turns of phrase as much as the intent of the song, he sings with a sly sensitivity that's alluring; when he elongates a phrase or has his voice crack, he reveals more about the song than any retro-swinger with showboating chops. This comparison stands on Triplicate more than its predecessors because it's filled with songs that often appear on modern collections of standards: "Stormy Weather," "As Time Goes By," "The Best Is Yet to Come," "Day In, Day Out," "Sentimental Journey," These Foolish Things," and "Stardust." Dylan treats these common classics with as much care as he does "There's a Flaw in My Flue," a Jimmy Van Heusen/Johnny Burke obscurity that appeared on Frank Sinatra's 1957 Close to You. Its appearance suggests how Triplicate, along with its cousins, is an ongoing exploration of Sinatra's body of work, but if Dylan learned anything from Sinatra, it's how to drill to the core of the song. Dylan does just that on Triplicate, finding the heart beating within some old warhorses and placing them within several great American musical traditions, and that's why this cements his place as one of the most distinctive interpreters of the Great American Songbook. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Pop/Rock - Released September 10, 2012 | Columbia

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Fifty years after Bob Dylan's debut album appeared, we get Tempest. Since he returned to recording original material on 1997's Time Out of Mind, he's been rambling through American musical styles -- blues, country, folk, rockabilly, swing -- that were popular before he was even on the scene. Tempest continues the exploration, but more urgently than on Modern Times and Together Through Life. It's a gritty, cantankerous record with abundant images of violence, lust, and humor, though the latter is often black. His protagonists settle scores with lovers, enemies, and power brokers; they're often self-aggrandizing and self-deprecating simultaneously. Most of these are story-songs, though none but "Tempest" tracks in a linear fashion. "Duquesne Whistle" opens nostalgically with steel and acoustic guitars playing a swing melody reminiscent of Bob Wills. When the band enters, it becomes a rockabilly shuffle with teeth. "Soon After Midnight" is a ballad with hazardous warnings ("...Two-Timing Slim/Who's every heard of him?/I'll drag his corpse through the mud"). "Narrow Way" is a blues wailer that faintly looks back at "Maggie's Farm." Dylan's lyric contradictions are in full force; the song asks unanswerable questions while expressing rage and vulnerability ("...Even death has washed its hands of you" and "Put your arms around me, where they belong"). "Pay in Blood" is a rocking venomous boast with one of his more memorable refrains: "I pay in blood, but not my own." "Early Roman Kings" is a basic rewrite of Muddy Waters' "Mannish Boy." David Hidalgo's old-world accordion plays the signature swaggering, razor-sharp guitar riff underscoring the notion that the blues are universal, timeless. Dylan's nasty rasp fueled by lust, vengeance, and power is balanced by his wicked humor: "I can strip you of life, strip you of breath/I can ship you down, to the house of death...I ain't dead yet, my bell still rings/I keep my fingers crossed like the early Roman kings." Musically, "Tin Angel" looks back to "Man in the Long Black Coat" for a frame. Lyrically, this is Dylan at his storytelling best; its twists and turns would be right at home on Blood on the Tracks and Desire -- and it would have made a great closer. Sadly, that's not the case. The nearly 14-minute, 45-verse title cut retells the story of the Titanic with references to history -- and the James Cameron film. Hearing it once is enough. "Roll on John," Dylan's elegy for friend John Lennon, closes the set. He uses a slew of Lennon's own lyrics as a tribute. The end result is moving but clumsy. These last two cuts aside, Tempest is still a damn fine album. Dylan is in mostly excellent form -- even when sloppy; it sounds like he's having the time of his life. ~ Thom Jurek
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Pop/Rock - Released August 20, 1979 | Columbia

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Perhaps it was inevitable that Bob Dylan would change direction at the end of the '70s, since he had dabbled in everything from full-on repudiation of his legacy to a quiet embrace of it, to dipping his toe into pure showmanship. Nobody really could have expected that he would turn to Christianity on Slow Train Coming, embracing a born-again philosophy with enthusiasm. He has no problem in believing in a vengeful god -- you gotta serve somebody, after all -- and this is pure brimstone and fire throughout the record, even on such lovely testimonials as "I Believe in You." The unexpected side effect of his conversion is that it gave Dylan a focus he hadn't had since Blood on the Tracks, and his concentration carries over to the music, which is lean and direct in a way that he hadn't been since, well, Blood on the Tracks. Focus isn't necessarily the same thing as consistency, and this does suffer from being a bit too dogmatic, not just in its religion, but in its musical approach. Still, it's hard to deny Dylan's revitalized sound here, and the result is a modest success that at least works on its own terms. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Pop/Rock - Released April 25, 1995 | Columbia

This show, taped for MTV, finds Dylan turning in an 11-song set, with eight of the songs dating from his 1963-1967 heyday, including such standards as "The Times They Are A-Changin'" and "Like a Rolling Stone." ("John Brown," a powerful antiwar song from 1963, had not been released on a Dylan album previously.) The '70s are represented by "Knockin' on Heaven's Door," and the '80s by "Shooting Star" and "Dignity" (a trunk song, the studio version of which had emerged only the previous November on Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits, Vol. 3). Dylan, accompanied by a competent five-piece band, approaches his material in a gentler fashion than on some of the originals -- "The Times They Are A-Changin'" and "With God on Our Side," for example, seem sadder and less defiant than they did back in 1964. Otherwise, unlike some other Unplugged performances, this one doesn't offer a noticeably different view of the artist's work. But then, Dylan has been unplugged for much of his career, anyway. ~ William Ruhlmann
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Rock - Released June 15, 1978 | Columbia - Legacy

Arriving after the twin peaks of Blood on the Tracks and Desire, Street Legal seemed like a disappointment upon its 1978 release, and it still seems a little subpar years after its release. Perhaps that's because Bob Dylan was uncertain himself, not just writing a set of songs with no connecting themes, but replacing the sprawl of the Rolling Thunder Revue with a slick, professional big band, featuring a horn section and several backing vocalists. The interesting thing about this is that the music and slick production don't jibe with the songs, which are as dense as anything Dylan had written since before his motorcycle accident. So, Street Legal becomes an interesting dichotomy, filled with songs that deserve close attention but recorded in arrangements that discourage such listening. As such, Street Legal is fascinating just for that reason -- in another setting, these are songs that would have been hailed as near-masterpieces, but covered in gloss, they seem strange. Consequently, it's not surprising that there are factions of Dylanphiles that find this worth the time, while just as many consider it a missed opportunity. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Pop/Rock - Released October 23, 1970 | Columbia - Legacy

Dylan rushed out New Morning in the wake of the commercial and critical disaster Self Portrait, and the difference between the two albums suggests that its legendary failed predecessor was intentionally flawed. New Morning expands on the laid-back country-rock of John Wesley Harding and Nashville Skyline by adding a more pronounced rock & roll edge. While there are only a couple of genuine classics on the record ("If Not for You," "One More Weekend"), the overall quality is quite high, and many of the songs explore idiosyncratic routes Dylan had previously left untouched, whether it's the jazzy experiments of "Sign on the Window" and "Winterlude," the rambling spoken word piece "If Dogs Run Free" or the Elvis parable "Went to See the Gypsy." Such offbeat songs make New Morning a charming, endearing record. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Pop/Rock - Released January 1, 1965 | Columbia - Legacy

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"I'll do this one more time and if I can't do it, we'll do another song. I'll do any song as good as I can do it the first time." Bob Dylan says these words once his first solo take of "Love Minus Zero/No Limit" breaks down after a minute. Dylan's definition of "good" is fluid, of course. Sometimes, a first take satisfied him -- "Maggie's Farm" and "Gates of Eden" are two prime examples -- but often he'd find he could do a song better or at least do it differently, swapping out words, speeding up the tempo, and changing the feel, occasionally radically transforming his song. Sometimes, these radical transformations are the versions that found their way to the finished record, so they're now seen as etched in stone but The Cutting Edge 1965-1966, the 12th volume of The Bootleg Series, shows Dylan didn't enter the studio with posterity in mind when he went to cut Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited, and Blonde on Blonde: he was making music of and for the moment. Familiarity hasn't necessarily dulled the impact of these three records, all written and recorded within a span of 14 months -- a period of time when Dylan also filmed Don't Look Back, electrified the Newport Folk Festival, and was declared a Judas at the Royal Albert Hall -- but they have made them seem inevitable, works carved out of granite whose fates were preordained. The gift of The Cutting Edge is that it makes this, the greatest run of creativity in Dylan's career and perhaps in rock & roll in general, once again seems wild, nervy, and quicksilver, upending expectations and undercutting conventions. Within one of the three sets of liner notes, Bill Flanagan calls these six discs of outtakes, alternates, and rehearsals "work tapes," which is technically true, but undersells how this music crackles as it shape-shifts, sometimes soaring, sometimes stumbling, but always feeling fiercely alive. If it's difficult to claim that a solo "Bob Dylan's 115th Dream" and a locomotive "Visions of Johanna" recorded with the Band are superior to the versions on Home and Blonde, they're nevertheless magnificent in their own right while also shedding light on how Dylan worked; with producer Tom Wilson, the singer/songwriter wasted no time, while Bob Johnston allowed Bob to twist and test his songs, letting him discover the soul that lay within. Along the way, Dylan was truly fearless -- he'd goose a tempo to see if it gave a ballad life, he'd let Mike Bloomfield and Robbie Robertson run wild; the fact that he abandoned a song as wonderful as "She's Your Lover Now," possibly because it never quite withstood such stress tests, speaks volumes -- and among the many gifts The Cutting Edge has to offer is that it illuminates these three great records while also illustrating that they were just mere snapshots in time. By breaking down the barriers that separated these three albums, The Cutting Edge shows how for Dylan during this blinding, brilliant peak his music was a living thing, evolving from song to song, take to take, where the quest itself was as transcendent as the final destination. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Pop/Rock - Released October 7, 2008 | Columbia

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Bob Dylan in the magazine
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