Comrades From The North
Bob Dylan has already done more than enough to earn his place amongst the handful of artistes who have truly changed music. These days plaudits are handed out so freely that almost anyone who has made some interesting music, however brief or mildly, is ripe for deification. Witness the hullabaloo surrounding The White Stripes. Yes, they do make excellent music - hell, we have the CDs too - but that's it. Enjoy it but don't pretend that they've saved the world. And there are dozens of others behind them, mostly not as good as the Stripes (Beck, Ryan Adams, The Coral and so on). The most overworked phrase of modern parlance is 'saviours of rock and roll'. Our advice is to move on and read something else if you hit that phrase in an article. Unless it's about Bob, of course!
What has all of this really to do with our man? Well, apart from the fact he deserves the accolades, it brings one back to the point of wondering about his motives for continuing to tour. Whilst there is generally something worthwhile to take from every tour, and some recent tours have been very good indeed, there is a gnawing feeling that a break from such activity just might be beneficial. Taking the recently completed tour of the Antipodes, this followed the very adventurous shows in North America - the piano-based shows with loads of variety and new performances - but somewhere along the way the sets became more rigid, more predictable, less interesting somehow. Charlie Sexton has gone and Billy Burnette is in so the band is still adjusting to that change but that's not the problem. Everything is well played, there are some inspiring moments but it all feels like taking care of business. Well, you many not agree with this at all - so let us know.
And while we are on the subject of musical legacy we could ask for the umpteenth time what in the wide world are Sony/Columbia is going to do with Dylan's recorded works. All of us must surely applaud the release of the various Bootleg Series discs, bringing sonically crisp concerts (mainly) into legitimacy. We all look forward to the Halloween Concert, I guess. It would be great to see a little more enterprise on this front. The long-delayed re-mastered albums-with-extra-tracks have not materialised and may never do so. Oddly enough the recent re-releases of the Stones back catalogue contained no extra material and the Beatles standard releases have never been expanded. Some argue that original releases are artefacts and should not be tampered with. There is some merit in this view as it can be irritating to suddenly find the album you know backwards now has three extra not-very-dissimilar takes stuck on the end. This need not be the case with Dylan. His unreleased work is so rich that any re-release would be enhanced. Or Columbia could try the latest Elvis Costello approach - release the album as a double-set, preserving the original on the first CD with the extras on the second CD. Rather like "Love and Theft" for example, but more extensive. Or better yet follow the Miles David model and release six disc sets to cover particular periods in his recording career. But then again Miles is dead now and can't argue. It's a certainty he would not have sanctioned such releases in his lifetime. Does that remind you of anyone?????
After that rant you probably need something a little different and we hope that you'll find it within these pages. We are particularly pleased to welcome back Michael Krogsgaard who presents yet another instalment in his on-going review of Dylan's recording sessions. Not to be missed.
We have to apologise for the lateness of this issue. This was due to our usual printer going out of business and an alternative having to be found.
This issue is the final one of the subscription year. We hope that you will stay on board for the next round. A subscription form is enclosed. Until then...
May you climb on every rung.
Mike and John
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