The other side of Bob Dylan referred to in the title is presumably his romantic, absurdist, and whimsical one -- anything that wasn't featured on the staunchly folky, protest-heavy Times They Are a-Changin', really. Because of this, Another Side of Bob Dylan is a more varied record and it's more successful, too, since it captures Dylan expanding ...Read MoreThe other side of Bob Dylan referred to in the title is presumably his romantic, absurdist, and whimsical one -- anything that wasn't featured on the staunchly folky, protest-heavy Times They Are a-Changin', really. Because of this, Another Side of Bob Dylan is a more varied record and it's more successful, too, since it captures Dylan expanding his music, turning in imaginative, poetic performances on love songs and protest tunes alike. This has an equal number of classics to its predecessor, actually, with "All I Really Want to Do," "Chimes of Freedom," "My Back Pages," "I Don't' Believe You," and "It Ain't Me Babe" standing among his standards, but the key to the record's success is the album tracks, which are graceful, poetic, and layered. Both the lyrics and music have gotten deeper and Dylan's trying more things -- this, in its construction and attitude, is hardly strictly folk, as it encompasses far more than that. The result is one of his very best records, a lovely intimate affair. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, RoviRead Less
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So much about this album is terribly wrong. Another Side of Bob Dylan was recorded during one session on a night in late June 1964, with the accompaniment of two bottles of Beaujolais. It?s loose, sloppy, off key. It looks like career suicide in the face of the success Dylan was enjoying in the folk world by this time. With one foot in the traditions of folk music and the other in surrealist whimsy, he made this delightfully off-kilter record quickly, getting progressively more inebriated. And it shows. This impetuousness is both Another Side?s blessing and its curse. On the one hand, it contributes to the remarkably fresh and unique feeling of the album. Dylan seems to be literally in the room with you, slamming glasses of wine and letting songs spill from him in a moment of organic, unselfconscious creativity. But this album shows us that when Bob Dylan is this liberated, the technique of his musicianship (a debate in its own right) suffers. He misses chords, flubs rhythms, and does weird things on the harp. His voice is at its most brash and nasally (this album is where the Dylan parodies and imitations begin) ? though it rings out clear as a bell, heralding the lyrical brilliance of the songs and navigating the immense amount of space there seems to be in the sparse, airy instrumentation. It?s all technically wrong, but on some strange level it works. Although there?s no clear thread that ties the album together, this is where he really beings to write, penning the word-picture of a masterpiece that is ?Chimes of Freedom? (as effortlessly as if he can?t stop lines like ?the sky cracked its poems in naked wonder? from coming out of him). The absurdist humor that colors ?Motopsycho Nitemare? and ?I Shall Be Free No. 10? is comedic and clever, and his slurred, deadpan delivery is unparalleled. Another Side also has relationship songs we hadn?t really seen from Dylan yet, filled with teary-eyed lovers, gypsies, and girls who forget you in the morning. The misstep here is the bitter, seven-minute mostly-autobiographical ?Ballad in Plain D? that lashes out at an ex-love and her family (Dylan apologized decades later). Cohesive? Certainly not. Rather, it shows off the range of what Dylan can do. The downright eccentricity of Another Side has caused it to be celebrated, challenged, and debated by fans and critics. It has been written off as the weak, album of his 1960s genius. It?s been called just a transition album (No political references! No pointing fingers!). Yet it proves to be so slapdash and so organic that it screams for attention. It?s just as interesting as his other works, and it?s packed with some absolutely top-notch songs. It shows us an unaffected, intimate Bob Dylan who is deep in his cups and actually cracking himself up mid-song. This ?other side? we glimpse actually appears as many sides equally, set against the unsophisticated giddiness of a spacious, spontaneous recording. Ridiculously romantic, sufficiently tongue in cheek, and always charming, Another Side of Bob Dylan is begs for a place in Dylan?s masterwork canon ? if you can get past his voice.
Essential Tracks: Must-have classics ?Chimes of Freedom?, ?My Back Pages?, and ?It Ain?t Me, Babe?. Hidden Gems: ?To Ramona?, ?Spanish Harlem Incident?, and ?I Don?t Believe You (She Act Like We Never Have Met?). Weakest Track: The maudlin diary entry that is ?Ballad in Pain D.? Oh no, he didn?t.