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Comrades From The North

Your intrepid two riders still manage to forge a path to the occasional concert and it is always instructive to compare such shows to the typical modern Dylan gig. Of course comparisons are flawed and any given performance depends upon many variables but engaging in them is a diverting pastime nevertheless. Regardless of whether there is a plethora of contrasting characteristics or not, there is always one common thread running through all such comparisons - Dylan barely speaks to the audience, everyone else does. Now there may be much merit in Dylan's approach, after all it's the music that matters so getting a full measure of that must be a bonus. And those on-stage anecdotes between every song can, and often do consume significant performance time. So it really boils down to how you like your performing artiste - as a singer/player delivering maximum music, a song and dance man or a singer/narrator/rapporteur. There's room for all approaches.

It is interesting to contrast Dylan's on-stage persona in previous years to the current uncommunicative organ-grinder who treads the boards incessantly. In his early acoustic years he came across as somewhat nervous but was a definite talker. Listen again to the self-conscious chatter at the first show in 1961 at the Carnegie Chapter Hall. Then wonder at the transformation evident at the Halloween Concert just three years later - perhaps the jewel in the crown of Dylan the-artist-as-storyteller. Then cut to the talk-is-cheap approach of the BBC TV shows of 1965 where he perfected the art of silence in the spaces between the songs. Roll forward then to the never-ending raps of the gospel tours - where he does not so much talk to the audience as talk at them. So it's not like Dylan doesn't have all of the means at his disposal to entertain and thrill the audience through the spoken word, it would seem that he has no interest in doing so. If that means we get more music for our money then so much the better.

One real mystery which remains is why the boxed set of Tell Tale Signs costs so much. The addition of one more disc, however desirable its contents, and an inessential book of record covers does not justify such a huge ticket price. Someone should be feeling bad about this but there's no chance of that, is there?

And that's it for another year. Don't they roll by real fast these days? We would like to thank you all most sincerely for your continued support - keep on keeping on. May we wish you and yours the very best for the festive season and a very happy New Year.

May you climb on every rung ..........

Mike & John

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