Bob Dylan's First Entirely Rock-Backed Album Marks Sea Change in Sound of Popular Music: Highway 61 Revisited Includes "Ballad of a Thin Man," "Desolation Row," "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues"
#4 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time List:
Album-Opening "Like a Rolling Stone" Challenging, Bold, Revolutionary -
And Arguably the Best Rock Song Ever Recorded
references the road that spans North Minnesota to the Mississippi Delta,
and the formative blues, country, and roots sounds connected to its
existence. The highway also lays claim to towering musical myths and
deaths, many tied to the blues lexicon and narrative. All figure
prominently on the revolutionary beacon that is Highway 61 Revisited,
the 1965 set that overturned rules, upended preexisting limits, and
utterly changed everything in its path. Ranked the fourth-greatest album
ever made by Rolling Stone, its reach, power, and content boggle the
mind more than five decades after its release.
Mastered on Mobile
Fidelity's world-renowned mastering system, pressed at RTI, and
strictly limited to 3,000 copies, this restored analog mono version
presents the life-altering music in reference-quality sound – so much so
that the record's famous first lightning-strike note is now indeed the
"snare shot that sound[s] like somebody'd kicked open the door to your
mind," as once described by Bruce Springsteen.
organic energy, palpable voltage, and countless textures, Mobile
Fidelity's mono 2LP set faithfully recreates the instrumentation, moods,
and events associated with the six days Dylan and Co. spent at
Columbia's Studio A. While many people experienced Highway 61 Revisited
in stereo even at the time of its release, hearing it in mono reveals
even more definition, focus, and liveliness. In particular, Dylan's
voice is surrounded by more space and atmosphere, and its forefront
position makes the lyrics that much more powerful. This is the way
everyone would've been introduced to "Like a Rolling Stone" on AM radio.
There's no substitute for such authenticity.
Recorded amidst a
time of unfathomable turmoil and frustration that witnessed Dylan booed
by fans, labeled a traitor, and call into question his work, Highway 61 Revisited
roars and snarls, jabs and criticizes. Its bonfire of cynicism, fury,
indignation, and absurdity forever transformed rock, what it could mean,
and what it could do. Supported by a thundering, commanding band that
included guitarist Mike Bloomfield and organist Al Kooper, Dylan
hopscotches between tempos, moods, and melodies. The symmetry of the
songs references a scattered hybrid of R&B, blues, folk, soul,
gospel, vaudeville, and garage rock pieces that Dylan assembles in the
shape of the world's greatest aural puzzle.
Outside of "Like a
Rolling Stone" – the six-minute-plus anthem that both challenged and
chewed up all preconceived notions of an acceptable radio single by way
of its length, ambition, and vitriol – every tune was captured shortly
after Dylan's contentious performance at the Newport Folk Festival. The
lingering impact of the hostility comes through in both the searing
music and rich, literate, zinging poetry. Dylan's sneering tones,
raucous arrangements, and unmistakable resentment toward both the
establishment and counterculture that adopted him, and assume the form
of songs such as "Ballad of a Thin Man," "Queen Jane Approximately,"
"Tombstone Blues," and the stupefying "Desolation Row."
At its core, Highway 61 Revisited
is about experience, reality, and the cruelties and truths that lie
outside soporific safety nets and bourgeois ideals. These reasons – and
the bold musicianship, ace performances, inimitable sonics, and vast
lyrical expanses – are why the album means as much today as it did in
the mid-1960s. Akin to Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and Dark
Side of the Moon, this is an album that everyone needs to own and hear
in the best-possible fidelity. And in the mix the artist spent time
perfecting. Mobile Fidelity makes it happen.
Bob Dylan Highway 61 Revisited Track Listing
1. Like a Rolling Stone
2. Tombstone Blues
3. It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry
4. From a Buick 6
5. Ballad of a Thin Man
6. Queen Jane Approximately
7. Highway 61 Revisited
8. Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues
9. Desolation Row