Overlooked albums in the Bob Dylan catalog
This year has been a surprisingly good one for Bob Dylan fans.
First there was a package tour with Americana disciples like Wilco, Beck and My Morning Jacket. Then there was the release of “Another Self Portrait,” featuring unearthed tracks from 1969-71. The year ends with the release of the 43-CD “Complete Album Collection Vol. 1” box set and a star-studded Dylan Fest tribute concert, which raises money to help musicians dealing with health problems.
This year’s Fest takes place over two nights and features members of The Black Keys, Heartless Bastards, Mooney Suzuki and The Hold Steady, among many others.
To mark the occasion, we look at some overlooked Dylan albums and some songs we hope are broken out onstage.
"John Wesley Harding" (1967)
A quiet acoustic album that followed the three albums on which Dylan went electric, “John Wesley Harding” is short on hits, but long on storytelling. Its “All Along the Watchtower,” was famously covered by Jimi Hendrix.
Dylan Fest request: “I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine”
"New Morning" (1970)
New Morning was rushed out a few months after Dylan’s “Self Portrait” album was savaged by fans and critics. It has a relaxed, homespun feel, and even its more experimental tracks work well.
Dylan Fest request: “Sign on the Window”
"Street Legal" (1978)
“Street Legal” had the misfortune of following two of Dylan’s best albums, “Desire” and “Blood on the Tracks.” It may be a step down from those, but it would be among any other artist’s finest moments.
Dylan Fest request: “Senor (Tales of Yankee Power)”
"Oh Mercy" (1989)
A bright spot in a dark period in Dylan’s career, “Oh Mercy” features atmospheric production from Daniel Lanois, who had recently worked on U2’s “The Joshua Tree” (and would later work on “Time Out of Mind.”)
Dylan Fest request: “Shooting Star”
"Love and Theft" (2001)
“Love and Theft” didn’t get quite the attention of Dylan’s 1997 comeback “Time Out of Mind,” but many fans consider it the stronger record and the best of his late period work. It shows off Dylan’s sense of humor and includes elements of folk, rock, blues, country and Tin Pan Alley.
Dylan Fest request: “Po’ Boy”
If you go: Dylan Fest NYC is Monday and Tuesday at 9 p.m at Bowery Ballroom, 6 Delancey St., 212-533-2111, $25.