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PostPosted: Mon September 18th, 2017, 15:53 GMT 
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Some people don't seem to get this album - they complain of the strident harmonica, or the dry production, or the inclusion of a couple of upbeat songs that they feel don't fit the mood.

Others complain that they can't actually see the faces of the Beatles in the bark of the trees.

Most of the complainers, it seems to me, are moaning about the CD releases, and are seeing/hearing this album as a sort of 'hiccup' in a continuing life's work - and there have, arguably, been more than a few of those. I reckon, also, that most who denigrate the album weren't there when it came out - not their fault, but certainly a factor in their perspective.

I see it as one of the most remarkable, and wonderful, records by anyone, ever. In one respect it doesn't matter that it is a Bob Dylan record - it has something utterly unique and special about it. In another way - in the context of what came before it in Dylan's career, it does matter that he made it - it showed that there was far more to his art than dexterity and invention - there was a simplicity of soul which could be expressed in fables.

I've just listened to it again - frankly (Lee) I don't see how anyone can think of this wonderful record as anything but a masterpiece which stands alone and needs no context other than a pair of ears, a brain, and a soul, to appreciate its perfection.

Yeah, curiosity makes me wanna hear what was left off it, but there really is no need to meddle with perfection. It's one of those records that transcends time.

Thanks for making it, Blobbo - you done good.


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PostPosted: Mon September 18th, 2017, 16:11 GMT 
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Location: Chile, Concepción.
Image

John Wesley Harding
The eighth album, not counting greatest-hits compilations. This quiet masterpiece, which manages to sound both authoritative and tentative (a mix that gave it a highly contemporary feel), is neither a rock nor a folk album—and certainly isn’t folk-rock. It isn’t categorisable at all. The back-upmusicians are pared down to three: bass, drums and, on two tracks only, pedal steel. Plus Dylan on guitar, harmonica and piano. Economy, in fact, is the key to this huge change of direction. There could be no greater contrast between consecutive albums than that between Blonde on Blonde’s richness and the taut asceticism of John Wesley Harding. This album is no cheap thrill. It is, though, a most serious, darkly visionary exploration of the myths and extinct strengths of America; its Calvinist spirit gives it an eerie power in mixing the severely biblical with a surreal 19th century, American-pioneer ethos.
Dylan comes across like a man who has arisen from armageddon unscathed but sobered, to walk across an allegorical American landscape of small, poor communities working a dusty, fierce terrain. The masterpieces within themasterpiece are ‘I Dreamed
I Saw St. Augustine’, ‘All Along the Watchtower’ and ‘I Pity the Poor Immigrant’. Then there are the last two tracks of the album: the a` la JERRY LEE LEWIS ‘Down Along the Cove’ and the brilliant country-pastiche song ‘I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight’. With these, Dylan was serving notice of the next sharp shift in direction that was to come from him. John Wesley Harding was to be Dylan’s last
masterpiece of the 1960s—and in spirit it was most markedly not a part of the 1960s world at all.

It is the most underrated of Dylan’s great albums: a record that everyone puts in the pantheon but few embrace. Yet how especially pleasurable it is to revisit now that so many years have passed since it was new: to bathe in the relief of remembering
that Dylan is not just the flailing old bruiser of the Never-Ending Tour, whose patchy virtues must be snatched from rough, loud, swirling chaos and carelessness, his intermittent inspiration lobbing out of the aural fog as he stumbles down his road. It’s salutary to be pulled away from picking through concert bootlegs for these rare and shaky treats and re-directed towards the Bob Dylan who
gave us John Wesley Harding, throughout which he insists upon the virtues of calm and silence, of less-is-more, of exquisite precision and particularity, carved out with blade-sharp, unwavering certainty. Here, there is no floundering search for some
intangible juiced-up mystic rock’n’roll moment: there is instead the artist standing naked, with a very particular vision in his sights, and illuminating it with the intuitive alertness of his genius.

Michael Gray, The Bob Dylan Encyclopedia


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PostPosted: Mon September 18th, 2017, 16:38 GMT 

Joined: Mon June 27th, 2016, 21:50 GMT
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slimtimslide wrote:
frankly (Lee) I don't see how anyone can think of this wonderful record as anything but a masterpiece which stands alone and needs no context other than a pair of ears, a brain, and a soul, to appreciate its perfection.

word


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PostPosted: Mon September 18th, 2017, 17:38 GMT 
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Joined: Thu August 17th, 2017, 20:00 GMT
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Location: Manchester England
My second favourite Dylan album.
Great little sounding band lots of harmonica by bob
and some of his best songs.
Whats not to like?
I've never seen many people slating this one, its generally
well regarded, or so id thought, maybe i'm wrong.


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PostPosted: Mon September 18th, 2017, 18:21 GMT 

Joined: Fri January 5th, 2007, 23:38 GMT
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Location: Ireland
The original post leaves nothing for me to add.


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PostPosted: Mon September 18th, 2017, 18:27 GMT 
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Love it. When it came out, I was in college. Some kid visited us from Harvard, and started playing it along to his playing acoustic guitar. He was real good, and I was jealous to the max. This was Bob's first post-motorcycle accident - seclusion, record,
and he definitely went in a new direction. It's another facet to the diamond that is Dylan.


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PostPosted: Mon September 18th, 2017, 18:59 GMT 
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Outstanding album; probably the one I play the most. For sound, I'd say the UK mono record shades all other editions, although I haven't heard the recent MFSL vinyl issues.


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PostPosted: Mon September 18th, 2017, 19:29 GMT 

Joined: Thu July 5th, 2007, 08:12 GMT
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Location: Copenhagen.dk
Love it too - but which version has the least piercing harmonica?


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PostPosted: Mon September 18th, 2017, 19:35 GMT 
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^ I've got an late 60's old stereo Columbia 360 Sound (label) vinyl pressing that's rather rolled off in the top end. You're probably good there.

The original Columbia CD is probably more "accurate" - it's better tonally than the remaster. But that harmonica will still bother some. It's the way it was recorded.

JWH is one of Dylan's most focused, and I believe (will be) enduring efforts. Right there with BOTT.


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PostPosted: Mon September 18th, 2017, 19:56 GMT 

Joined: Mon September 18th, 2017, 19:52 GMT
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Definitely my favorite studio release. The aesthetic hits the lyrical material on the head.

I think its so great because the songs are profound in a casual way, and they never get old. I swear "Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest" are somehow connected to Hamlet, but I cannot put my finger on how.


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PostPosted: Mon September 18th, 2017, 20:27 GMT 

Joined: Fri January 5th, 2007, 23:38 GMT
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Location: Ireland
I like the piercing harmonica, at least to the degree that exists in the original cd version released in the British Isles. Part of the mystery for me.


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PostPosted: Mon September 18th, 2017, 20:56 GMT 
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I think the piercing harmonica is because the Harmonica is a different key than the rest of the song. https://dylanchords.info/harp/harpkeys.htm (correct me if I'm wrong)

In my opinion, John Wesley Harding is the greatest folk record ever recorded.


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PostPosted: Mon September 18th, 2017, 22:27 GMT 
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It was a brief, but great, phase.


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PostPosted: Tue September 19th, 2017, 00:36 GMT 
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John Wesley Harding is my favourite Dylan album... and I think it may be my favourite album by anyone. It's just so enigmatic and beautiful with an otherworldly quality. Also, the album just has great song after great song on it. I completely agree with the OP that "It's one of those records that transcends time." Even in 2017, it still sounds at once like the future and the past.


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PostPosted: Tue September 19th, 2017, 00:43 GMT 
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Totally agreed, Slim. Dylan is always so great at making a record about his life at any given moment. Some records are better than others at also being universal, like this one.


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PostPosted: Tue September 19th, 2017, 00:54 GMT 

Joined: Fri June 2nd, 2006, 16:33 GMT
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It strikes me as a unique artistic statement in the pantheon, but one that lacks the poetic or musical flourishes that draw me back to my favorite Dylan work. The images are less striking, the emotions calmer, without the highs and lows that mark Blonde on Blonde or Blood on the Tracks. It's as if Bi-Polar Bob is on his meds.


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PostPosted: Tue September 19th, 2017, 01:14 GMT 
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Speaking of bipolar, more chatter about JWH here:

viewtopic.php?f=6&t=14612&hilit=Wesley+Harding

And here:

viewtopic.php?f=6&t=90622&hilit=Wesley+Harding


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PostPosted: Tue September 19th, 2017, 05:52 GMT 

Joined: Tue September 22nd, 2015, 07:30 GMT
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Following hard on the heels of Sargent Pepper and a whole period of exploration by many bands JWH returned to basics in terms of instrumentation, however lyrically it is brilliant. The singing is remarkable throughout in my opinion, and practically every song is memorable. The vocals on 'Dear landlord', 'St.Augustine' and 'Pity the Poor Immigrant' are hard to top.


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PostPosted: Tue September 19th, 2017, 09:49 GMT 

Joined: Wed November 20th, 2013, 09:18 GMT
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A wee review i done about JWH for another site

https://www.ultimate-guitar.com/reviews ... ing/46551/


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PostPosted: Tue September 19th, 2017, 11:22 GMT 
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"Most underrated of his great albums" - Gray's quote is spot on for me.


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PostPosted: Tue September 19th, 2017, 11:26 GMT 
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JWH never clicked for me, I like but don´t love it, not sure why, other than it´s a pretty "dry" record, without the colorful arrangements of it´s predecessors and successors. But I can tell it´s a quality album.
I shall for sure persevere with it and hope one day I can join all the praise here!


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PostPosted: Tue September 19th, 2017, 12:56 GMT 
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Lately, I've been thinking this was Dylan's version of a Marty Robbins album.


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PostPosted: Tue September 19th, 2017, 13:55 GMT 

Joined: Sun April 17th, 2016, 14:09 GMT
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I can remember listening to Bringing it all back home, Highway 61 revisited and Blonde on blonde in a row, then I listened to John Wesley Harding and I tought that it sound very different compared to the other three but I loved it right from the start.

A classic album.


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PostPosted: Fri September 22nd, 2017, 03:01 GMT 
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On more days than not, this is my favourite Dylan album. Particularly after waking from a dewy tent in the woods on a crisp autumn morning, sitting on the fold-out chair with a black coffee and roll-your-own in hand. You see a fox trotting off in the distance upon the red and gold leaves scattered across the forest floor and you swear there's leprechauns living in the hollow of that trunk.


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PostPosted: Fri September 22nd, 2017, 03:50 GMT 

Joined: Mon April 6th, 2009, 20:28 GMT
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Location: I was there for a party once
corso wrote:
less-is-more
Michael Gray, The Bob Dylan Encyclopedia


. . . something I wish Michael took to heart in his own writing.


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