Bob Dylan's debut self-title album was mainly comprised of traditional folk song's re-arranged by Dylan. But it also featured two originals; "Talking New York," and "Song To Woody" the later a tribute to one of Bob Dylan's main inspirations Woody Guthrie. Those two song's although not on par with any of Dylan's song's following his debut album gave a taste of what was to come.
This is not a good album to start a Bob Dylan collection on, because this album does not showcase Bob Dylan's best work. What it does showcase however is Dylan's root's, Dylan in raw form, the song's that Bob Dylan grew up on, and the song's that would inspire Dylan to become one of the best singer/songwriter's of all time.
Now on the with the review;
1.) You're No Good (J. Fuller) - 3.5/5
This song provides a raw vocal track, Dylan's singing is not too pretty, but that is what makes his voice what it is. This is a pretty raw and rowdy song, very up-tempo, Dylan is constantly strumming while singing about a woman that is "the kind of woman that makes a man lose his brain, the kind of women that makes a man insane" but still her loves her and he doesn't know why. There's also a very rowdy harmonica break in there. This song is only 1:40 seconds long, and keeps you interested the whole way through.
2.) Talkin' New York (B. Dylan) - 3.5/5
This is Dylan's first original song to appear on a CD. Dylan tell's the story of his life in New York over a basic folk rythym with plenty of harmonica breaks. The Story keeps you interested, as Dylan tells how he got started just playing the harmonica for a popular artist in town. Some of the line's are pretty good like "One man said they rob you with a fountain pen, it didn't take too long to find out what he was talking about."
3.) In My Time Of Dying (Traditional Song, Arranged by Dylan) - 4/5
Dylan delivers the vocals to this traditional song with alot of anger in his voice, over a pounding acoustic guitar rhythym. This is one of the highlights of the CD. Some Led Zeppelin fans may already be familiar with this song as they also covered this song, but it's alot longer and lot more bluesy than this raw version.
4.) Man Of Constant Sorrow (Traditional Song, Arranged by Dylan) - 4/5
Another very good performance. Great harmonica, some great Dylan vocals, and a solid acoustic guitar rhythym. This sound's like Dylan actually wrote the song, he really makes it his own.
5.) Fixin' To Die (B. White) - 3.5/5
Basic folk song, with some pretty good vocals by Dylan, at part's his voice is really gravely as he seems on the verge of screaming.
6.) Pretty Peggy-O (Traditional Song, Arranged by Dylan) - 3/5
Another basic folk song track, nothing really stand's out on this track.
7.) Highway 51 Blues (C. Jones) - 4/5
A classic folk/blues song, and one of Dylan's favourite's. He mentions the title in a few of his song's later, including one track on Blonde On Blonde "Mona Lisa must of had the Highway Blues you could tell by the way she smiled" I believe it was Visions of Johanna. Dylan delviers a solid performance here, really letting his voice rip into the song.
8.) Gospel Plow (Traditional arranged by Dylan) - 3.5/5
A real fast up-tempo song, Dylan's vocal delivery makes this song stand out, he never really sing's like he does on these song's at any other time in his career.
9.) Baby, Let Me Follow You Down (Rev. G. Davis, D. Van Ronk) - 5/5
This is my favourite track on this album, he starts out playing the rhythm guitar to the song while talking about how he first heard the song from Rick Von Schmidt then give's a little history about him. After he's done talking about the song he start's singing it, and it's a really great song. This song definetley has the strongest melody on the album, and it really stand's out becasue of it. This and the House of The Rising Sun are the only song's I was left singing after I was done listening. The vocals on this track are really great, and you can hear the sincerity in Dylan's voice.
10.) House Of The Risin' Sun (Traditional, Arranged by Dylan) - 4.5/5
What can I say about this song, this is probably the most well-known folk song not written by Bob Dylan. It tells the story of the House in New Orlean's called the Rising Sun. The acoustic guitar plays the same chord progression for the whole thing. But that's because the main part to this song is Bob Dylan's vocals and the story he is telling. And Bob does a very good job at telling that Story.
11.) Freight Train Blues (Traditional, Arranged by Dylan) - 2/5
Kicks right off with a harmonica blazing over a fast folk rhythm. The vocals and lyrics are everything you'd expect from a folk song. But there's one note that Dylan cannot hit, and hold's for far to long that bring's this song down, that one note makes me cringe. Anyone who's heard this song will know what Im talking about.
12.) Song To Woody (B. Dylan) - 4/5
The second Bob Dylan song to be featured on an album. This one is a tribute to one of Dylan's biggest inspirations, Woody Guthrie. "Hey Hey, Woody Guthrie I wrote you a song, about a funny old world that's coming along, it's sick and it's hungry and torn, it looks like it's dying but it's hardly been born." This song give's you a glimpse of the talent that Bob Dylan would go on to show he had.
13.) See That My Grave Is Kept Clean - 4/5
This song reminds of "In My Time of Dying," it has a similar topic. Dylan is again making wishes for people to do when he has died. He delivers the vocals quite nicely with alot of anger in his voice. Overall it is a solid performance.
Overall - 3.5/5
This album is mainly for hardcore Bob Dylan fans, or hardcore Folk fans. If your just starting out on Bob Dylan head over to his next album, The Free Wheelin' Bob Dylan, or The Other Side Of Bob Dylan, or The Times Are A Changin'" because this album will not make you see why everyone praises Dylan, this album will only give you some of Dylan's hardest and most raw folk recordings.