By Bill Spurge
A year ago, I decided to complete my collection of Bob Dylan albums. I was a few albums and some odds and ends short, but I purchased most and swapped items with a co-worker and fellow Dylan fanatic.
Then, in honor of the 50th anniversary of his first album, 1962’s Bob Dylan, I set out to rank every Dylan album and song. A monumental task, indeed. I listened to album after album, four or five times through. Even albums I knew in my sleep were placed under scrutiny. Then came the hardest part: making the list. The albums came easier. The songs, not so easy.
My song list is coming soon. In the meantime, here's my album-by-album ranking of Dylan's 33 studio albums (NOTE: Dylan has actually released 34 studio albums, but I've chosen not to include 2009's Christmas In the Heart. I have to have some ground rules.)
These 33 album-ranking stories will take us right up to the release of Tempest, Dylan's new album, which is scheduled to come out September 11. Enjoy!
No. 24 of 33: World Gone Wrong (1993)
Quite honestly, I had a tough time choosing an order among the next four or five albums, all of which are quite different from each other in sound and era.
I suppose I picked World Gone Wrong lowest of this batch because it contains only cover version of songs. This is Dylan revisiting his folk and blues roots, Part II. It followed 1992's Good As I Been To You, which, as you might recall, I wasn't overly fond of. And while this album ranks only a few notches higher, I feel it is a much better collection of songs and performances than the aforementioned LP of covers.
I like the title track, especially the way Dylan vocalizes the chorus. "Love Henry" and "Blood In My Eyes" (a strange, compelling name for a song) are very strong. Other reviewers seem to enjoy "Two Soldiers," but it's just so-so in my book. A wonderfully done track is "Delia," a song about a troubled black girl who is killed as a young teen around 1900. He also does Blind Willie McTell's "Broke Down Engine." It's just OK.
I think Dylan sounds much better on this album than he did on Good As I Been To You, and his guitar playing is good, too. The overall work, in several spots, is more reminiscent of the earliest of his '60s works. Dylan produced it, and he also provides informative, Dylanesque liner notes.
I could see this being a couple of spots higher, but I've slotted it a shade below a few others. This ain't easy! Either way, it's a solid collection of cover material.
Journalist Bill Spurge of New York City has been a Bob Dylan fan since 1974.