50 Essential Albums of 1967

From the Doors' debut to Aretha Franklin's first smash

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Bob Dylan, 'John Wesley Harding'
Bob Dylan, 'John Wesley Harding'18/50

Bob Dylan, 'John Wesley Harding'

Recorded in Nashville in three sessions, Bob Dylan's first album after the electric warfare of his 1966 tour and subsequent retreat to Woodstock was shockingly austere: an almost crooning Dylan with just a soft-shoe rhythm section and a few sighs of steel guitar. But that calm was a perfect contrast to the sermonizing fire be unleashed in "All Along the Watchtower" and the crossroads parable "The Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest." The moral fiber and martyr's temper in these songs were fierce and immediate. Dylan wrote "Frankie Lee," "I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine" and "Drifter's Escape" en route to the first session, on the train from New York. But there was unembarrassed loving, too: "I'll Be Your Baby Tonight," recorded on the last day, pointed the way to the country comfort of his next album, 1969's Nashville Skyline.

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