500 Greatest Albums
Here’s our list of seminal international albums including The Beatles, Bob Dylan and The Rolling Stones among others
9. Blonde on Blonde – Bob Dylan
Released on May 16th, 1966, rock’s first studio double LP by a major artist was, as Dylan declared in 1978, “the closest I ever got to the sound I hear in my head . . . that thin, that wild-mercury sound.” There is no better description of the album’s manic brilliance. After several false-start sessions in New York in the fall of 1965 and January 1966 with his killer road band the Hawks ”” “One of Us Must Know (Sooner or Later)” was the only keeper ”” Dylan blazed through the rest of Blonde on Blonde‘s fourteen tracks in two three-day runs at Columbia’s Nashville studios in February and March 1966.
The pace of recording echoed the amphetamine velocity of Dylan’s songwriting and touring schedule at the time. But the combined presence of trusted hands such as organist Al Kooper and Hawks guitarist Robbie Robertson with expert local sessionmen including drummer Kenneth Buttrey and pianist Hargus “Pig” Robbins created an almost contradictory magnificence: a tightly wound tension around Dylan’s quicksilver language and incisive singing in barrelhouse surrealism such as “Rainy Day Women #12 and 35” and “Stuck Inside of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again.” Amid the frenzy, Dylan delivered some of his finest, clearest songs of comfort and desire: the sidelong beauty “Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands,” recorded in just one take, and “I Want You,” the title of which Dylan almost used for the album.