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Fopp Selling Dylan Classics for the Same Price as a Pint

ELM is not just here for the nasty things in life. Well, not all the time. Sometimes we can also be counted upon to pass on important titbits, morsels of juicy information to you, our committed and devoted readers. And this is just such a time. When we visited Fopp the other day, we were surprised and delighted to see a range of classic Bob Dylan albums on sale for the princely sum of £3. Three quid. Come on.

Now, granted, you should own most of these albums already. We all should. But there is just so much of His Bobness stuff out there that it is sometimes difficult to know where to begin. Come on, we’ve all bought a few Best Of’s and maybe ‘Blonde on Blonde’ and that has done us. Like The Fall, when you get into it there’s just so much of it that it is daunting getting started. But there is other great stuff in there and, at £3, you just can’t knock it.

Of course, we can all download the stuff for next to nothing anyway, true. But these albums are exactly that – the way they look, the way they were sequenced, every nuance helps make up the package. If you don’t already own it, start with ‘Blood On The Tracks’, possibly the angriest album ever made by a man with a mop of curly hair. It kicks off with ‘Tangled Up In Blue’, a sprawling, visceral ripping-apart of a relationship which is as scabrous as it is superb.

It’s Sir Zimmerman’s divorce album, but it’s no pathetic lament. There is spite, grief, joy, pain and anger here. Utterly essential.

Accompany it with the delightful ‘Nashville Skyline’. This is post-crash Dylan, happily ensconced in his happy hobo phase, singing like Kermit the Frog and delivering a country-infused album of jaunty pop beauty. Everyone knows and loves ‘Lay Lady lay’ because, well, it’s just utterly brilliant and still, still doesn’t sound anything like anybody else even four decades later. It’s not even the best song on the album, that being ‘Tonight I’ll Be Staying here With You’, Bob getting fruity with a young lady of his acquaintance with a song which will immediately catapult you into a honky-tonk on a hot summers day.

But there are dangers here. Steer clear of ‘Self-Portrait’, a confused mess of an album filled top to bottom with horrendously dull crap. Rolling Stone’s review, famously, was succinct and to teh point – ‘What is this crap?’ they wrote. Even geniuses have off-periods. That is further proved by ‘Saved’, Dylan’s document of his short-lived adventure in Christianity, which does indeed prove that the devil has access to all the best tunes.

Still, absolute works of genius by probably the most important songwriter of the 20th Century for the same price of a decent pint of lager. Well worth investigating. Oh, and they are also selling lots of early Springsteen at that price too. Come on! There’s a party right there – bit of Bob, bit of ‘Badlands’ and some beer. That’s living all right.


4 Responses

  1. ‘Desire’ is also worth picking up……underrated album.

    Fopp, God bless it eh?

    I would heartily recommend to anyone ‘Lifted’ by Bright Eyes…available cheap, and astonishing. Has the intensity and drive of their often confusing earlier albums with the ambition that came to fruition later, but without the sheen and polish.

  2. I’d also recommend Conor Oberst’s eponomouys debut album. It’s heart-haltingly good.

  3. On the subject of his 70s albums, I also like Desire.

    Time Out of Mind from 1997 provides an interesting later-life perspective of the man.

  4. Time Out of Mind is decent but definitely for the hardcore!

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