Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A contrarian

I celebrated Bobday by obsessively reading the user album reviews on Bob Dylan’s excellent website. Particularly compelling are the posts of one McRamahamasham, who has used the site to publish his theory that all the best Dylan records are actually the worst, and all the worst ones are actually the best.

For example, here he is on Highway 61 Revisited:

Other than the title track, it’s filled with somewhat tedious, mid-tempo, too long excuses for clever lyrics: “Queen Jane Approximately”, “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues” and “Desolation Row”.

And on Blonde on Blonde:

The tedious songs (“(Sooner Or Later) One Of Us Must Know”, “Visions Of Johanna”, “Temporary Like Achilles”) are growing greater both in number and in length. …Even the title of “Stuck Inside Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again” is too long….Not that I don’t like Blonde On Blonde but really, I put on the double-album Self-Portrait far more often.

But he has rare praise for infamous 1985 shocker Empire Burlesque:

Personally, I think the synthesizer-laden sound actually adds a lot to the album

And here’s another random quote:

It is one of the most musically complicated things Bob’s written since the jazz chords of “If Dogs Run Free”

If this means nothing to you because you don’t do Dylan, all you need to know is that McRamahamasham's claims are analogous to an argument that the only genuine musical talent in The Beatles was Ringo. (If Dogs Run Free from New Morning is surely the most toe-curlingly horrible thing that Dylan has ever committed to vinyl, and in a very long and strange career, that’s saying something.)

McRamahamasham is even contrary about being contrary, which is the mark of a truly top-notch contrarian:

I know it seems like I’m just disagreeing with the commonly held Dylan perceptions on just about everything. But I’m not doing it just to be contrary. Case in point: I, like most everybody else, actually like Blood On The Tracks.

I must therefore elect McRamahamasham to my personal pantheon of All-Time Great Contrarians, along with Christopher Hitchens, Peter Hitchens, Harry Eagar and, of course, Bob Dylan himself, who doubtless wholly approves of his unconventional reviews, if he has bothered to read them.


Nige said...

I rather like If Dogs Run Free - a certain deranged charm?... I'd nominate that ghastly My Hearts in the Highlands abomination off Time Out of Mind as a real toe-curler

Brit said...

Well, Highlands does last for approximately a year... but surely it trounces If Dogs Run Free simply by lacking scat?

Anonymous said...

Hey, i liked Highlands - though it may have been the humour value of Bob trying to order breakfast in some diner in the middle of nowhere.