Bob Dylan - Blonde on Blonde (1966), 6/10

Blonde on Blonde has a unique feeling and form compared to Dylan’s other albums yet its further exploration of the blues and rock music somehow fall flat when combined with his idiosyncratic folk sound. The songs that are less dependent on the band’s energy and lean on Dylan himself as an unhinged performer are the best moments on the record. As an album it sounds more epic than the preceding Highway 61 Revisited but has fewer quality songs, making it less consistent and less worth replaying. This extension of sound does not stop Dylan from being Dylan, however, and the lyrics are as strong as ever, or at least a debatably interesting comparison to his more interesting albums. Dylan’s vocal delivery and individual style is as extreme and unapologetic as it ever has been, this can be a strength or a serious detriment depending on one’s sensibilities but can clash with the band in several songs. A song like “I Want You”, for instance, sounds like a contrived attempt at reproducing Dylan’s songwriting style rather than a genuine or personal approach to composition. The blues influence can be an asset, as it clearly presents early on in the track list, but this becomes tiresome and at times simply draws attention towards what Dylan chooses not to accomplish as opposed to highlighting his strengths in songwriting and performance. The band sounds like a breathing organism separate from Dylan in contrast to an extension of his musical body making many of these performances sound unnatural and out of place. Some songs like the opener are immediately charming and some take time to reveal their infectiousness yet the mixture of blues, rock, folk, and loose jazz are slapped together and create a rift between the songwriter and his music.