Personnel: Bob Dylan (vocals, guitar, harmonica); Robbie Robertson (guitar); Richard Manuel (piano, drums); Garth Hudson (organ); Rick Danko (bass); Levon Helm (drums).
Recorded at the Village Recorder, West Los Angeles, California on November 5, 6 & 9, 1973. Includes liner notes by Bob Dylan.
The cover of PLANET WAVES bears the inscription "cast-iron songs and torch ballads," proving that Dylan was a skilled assessor of his own work. "There are those who worship loneliness/But I'm not one of them," he sings on "Dirge," a disclaimer for the ghostly, pensive atmosphere that pervades much of the album. Though Dylan is backed by members of the Band here, PLANET WAVES has little of the sprawling, tongue-in-cheek weirdness of Band collaborations like THE BASEMENT TAPES. Instead, the mood is serious, intimate, and introspective.
Dylan explores both sides of the romantic coin here. "You Angel You" and "On a Night Like This" (a tune that proved jubilant enough to be covered by Buckwheat Zydeco) are upbeat paeans to being in love. The aforementioned "Dirge" brings us into the belly of the beast, as Dylan faces up to his loneliness and pain with customary aplomb: "I paid the price of solitude/But at least I'm out of debt." Throughout, the Band supply verve and poignancy as required. Dusky gems like the solo acoustic ballad "Wedding Song," where the singer proudly opens his heart over a haunting minor-key melody, and the platitude-heavy "Forever Young" add to this fine, often-overlooked album from Dylan's early-'70s period.
Mojo (Publisher) (10/03, p.126) - 4 stars out of 5 - "...[The] digital resurrection shines new light on The Band's talent for making their music fizz with ideas, and thereby accords the album a rollicking, loose-ended kind of vigour..."