Sound — 10
This is the album that changed everything. That first blast of organ in the opening track "Like A Rolling Stone" seems to introduce what the rest of the album delivers: sheer brilliance. Sonically, this is an album that put to rest the question of whether or not Bob Dylan had really switched to an electric rock sound. The album has a bluesy feel on tracks like "It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry," pure raw rock on ones like "Tombstone Blues," and melodic rock on "Queen Jane Approximately." Soaring organs or banging pianos blast away on nearly every track and Bobby Gregg on drums keeps the songs tight and rollin'. Rolling basslines are produced from Harvey Goldstein and Russ Savakus, especially well on "From A Buick 6." The acoustic guitars are played furiously as if the strings are about to bust off and the electric guitar leads from Michael Bloomfield are masterful (most notably on "Tombstone Blues"). The last track "Desolation Row" is pure acoustic and seems to be both poignant and a slap in the face to all the folk artists who disapproved of his new sound. Even a toy siren is used, to kick off the title track. Recorded in only 6 days, Highway 61 Revisited has a banging, rough, driving, energetic sound that keeps your feet tapping and head bobbing.
Lyrics — 10
Bob Dylan is unquestionably the greatest lyricist of all time, and diplays his talent well in Highway 61 Revisited. However, the lyrics on this album are different than those of his earlier ones. They do not focus as much on politics or social commentaries, with the exception being "Like A Rolling Stone." Instead, they are surreal and very fitting for the times in which they were written (1965). His poetic words flow well, create images in your head, and give us all a much wider vocabulary. He references all kinds of historical icons and oddball characters from Cinderella to the Hunchback of Notre Dame. The lyrics can be compared nowadays to those of artists like Beck. Dylan is his usual self (sarcastic and snide) on "Like A Rolling Stone" which talks about a once rich person who finds himself amongst the people he had ridculed before (the poor). The lyrics on all tracks flow very well with the song and add to the atmosphere of each one. Lyrically, there is not another artist who compares with Bob Dylan. As for the singing, I personally love it. I think it is very expressive, raw, and real, but Dylan has had his critics.
Overall Impression — 10
Highway 61 Revisited is the best album by one of the most influential and talented solo acts, and it deserves to be ranked among the likes of Sgt. Peppers, Are You Experienced?, or anything else. The best songs on the album (hard to choose) are "Like A Rolling Stone," "Tombstone Blues," "Ballad Of A Thin Man," "Highway 61 Revisited" and "Desolation Row." In Highway 61 Revisited I love the raw rock sound, incomparable lyrics, and Dylan's singing. If lost or stolen there's no doubt that I would buy it again, and I recommend it to anyone and everyone that wants their mind to be opened and loves good music.