Bob Dylan - Highway 61 Revisited (1965), 6/10

Bob Dylan recorded another approachable, thematically focused blues rock album with Highway 61 Revisited. The massive hit “Like a Rolling Stone” appropriately opens this album intent on conveying a new round of thematic messages. The heavier electric sound of the record separates it from the rest of his existing catalogue, even the preceding Bringing It All Back Home for its commitment to this new evolved sound. The poetic approach to lyricism is practically Dylan’s signature and has reached its peak yet again, now supported by more entertaining music, despite its repeated simplicity and foundation in the blues. A step up in commitment and quality signals the songwriter reaching his musical peak to match his lyrical prowess. There is a clearly newfound focus on creating holistically interesting songs rather than simply using music as a vehicle for storytelling. These songs are dense and packed with meaning as always but remain engaging for their attention to detail in sound. The album has been analyzed enough but critics and scholars agree on its significance for a combination of its poetry and creativity in story; rarely for its remarkably interesting musical qualities, apart from a few instances of what amount to musical revelations for Bob Dylan such as “Tombstone Blues” or the substantially infectious “Ballad of a Thin Man”. Despite it being his most ambitious and interesting record to date, there is still a fundamentally indulgent quality to the music that sometimes creates a sense of grandiosity, and other times falls flat, extended for far too long, an example being the closing track “Desolation Row” that overstays its welcome. Things are moving forward in the right direction for Bob Dylan but his music is still limited by his theoretical and foundational approach to the medium.