JOTTING DOWN NOTES
Forms of Psychic Explosion
I Will Love Him
Recently a DVD became available which features the 20 April 1980 concert from Toronto as well as the Dylan's 1979 Saturday Nite Live appearance. However, this is a bonus included, a track which had not previously circulated either as a soundboard or video. This is a performance of I Will Love Him from the previous evening's and it features some stunning close ups of Dylan. This is a wonderful addition to the video collection.
On Friday 14 November 2003, before to the shows in Ireland, RTE 2FM broadcast a ninety minute show with contibutors phoning in to share their experiences with a studio guest. The most interesting past of the show involved the re-broadcast, in various parts, of an intervied carried out in New York in 1984 prior to the Slane Castle show.
Is It Rolling Bob?
You Belong To Me
At last a version of this song has emerged without the 'Natural Born Killers' film dialogue, which makes it a much more pleasurable listening experience.
Another New Morning
Another interesting collection to appear recently is of the New Morning Acetate plus outtakes. There are 19 tracks in total which includes all of the album tracks plus some additional songs. There is not a great deal of variation but some have different mixes with longer instrumentation.
Dave Bromberg, June 1992
It has been some time since a 'new' studio session emerged. Recently, a four track sample has circulated from the well documented Dave Bromberg session recorded at the Acme Studios in June 1992. The tracks are Miss The Mississippi And You, Kaatskill Serenade, Sloppy Drunk and Polly Vaughn, the perormances are excellent with an especially good rendition of the final song, Polly Vaughn. This only whets the appetite for the remainder of the session. The details we have list twelve songs which are as follows:
GHey Joe/North East Texas Woman/Miss The Mississippi And You/Kaatskill Serenade/Sloppy Drunk/ Polly Vaughn/I'll Rise Again/Nobody's Fault But Mine/ Lady Came From Baltimore/Casey Jones/Duncan And Brady/World Of Fools
At Last The 1984 Soundboards!This collection of various soundboards from 1984 were first detailed in Michael Krogsgaard's 1991 book 'Positively Dylan' but it has taken until now for them to come into general circulation. The tracks are:
Verona 29 May 84 Blowin' In The Wind/Tombstone Blues BrusselsIncluded with these tracks were the four songs from Barcelona television along with Mr Tambourine Man (Grenoble 3 July 84) When You Gonna Wake Up? (Newcastle 5 July 84) which are claimed to be soundboards but they would appear to be audience recordings.
7 June 84 Girl Of The North Country/Love Minus Zero/No Limit Gothenburg
9 June 84 Love Minus Zero/No Limit/Times They Are A-Changin' Vienna
14 June 84 Blowin' In The Wind Cologne
16 June 84 Jokerman/Just Like A Woman/I And I/Tangled Up In Blue/Love Minus Zero/No Limit/Simple Twist Of Fate Rome
20 June 84 It Ain't Me, Babe/Times They Are A-Changin'/Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat/Tombstone Blues/ Blowin' In The Wind
16 November 1980 SoundboardWhen the soundboard of this show originally circulated it amounted to fourteen songs featuring Dylan singing. Recently four of the final five songs have emerged.
These tracks are:When You Gonna Wake Up?/Blowin' In The Wind/City Of Gold/It's All Over Now Baby Blue.As the 'girls'' songs are also available we are only four songs short of a full show so if anybody knows where they are we would love to hear them.
The missing songs are:Ain't Gonna Go To Hell/Girl Of The North Country/Slow Train/In The Garden
Down In The Groove
There is a new benefit CD entitled 'Where We Live - Stand For What You Stand On', released last October in the US on the Higher Octave label by Earthjustice, a nonprofit public interest law firm, as support to their ongoing campaign to promote the universal right to clean air and water. It includes a song donated by Bob Dylan, his original 1971 recording of Watching The River Flow, along with tracks by artists such as Pops Staples (with Ry Cooder), Los Lobos, Maria Muldaur & Bonnie Raitt, The Neville Brothers and John Hammond Jr.
The SACD Reissues:from Bringing It All Back Home to John Wesley Harding
by Roger Ford
Technicalities Part 1:
The Disc Formats Let me state first that I don't consider myself a hi-fi connoisseur, or even a great enthusiast - I discovered the law of diminishing returns (and geometrically increasing costs) about thirty years ago. So I really don't want to enthuse about the technology for its own sake. But there seems to be a lot of confusion about the technology involved in the new Dylan CDs and about what to expect from them, so it's worth explaining it as clearly but as briefly as possible.
The new editions are hybrid Super Audio CDs. This means that each disc contains two layers of digital information. One contains a conventional stereo version of the album which can be read by all CD players (though reportedly some computer DVD-ROM drives have trouble with these discs). This is known as the CD Audio layer, and is encoded with the usual PCM (Pulse Code Modulation) system.
The second layer contains the same stereo version encoded in a new format called DSD (Direct Stream Digital). This will only be accessible using a dedicated SACD player or a DVD player which is SACD-compatible. It is intended to reproduce more of the subtleties of the original analogue recordings. To get the best out of the extended frequency range offered by SACD you will need speakers which incorporate super-tweeters, though most people report significant improvements even without these. The SACD layer on six of the new Dylan albums also contains a second version of the album, specially remixed for 5.1 surround sound. This will only be playable on an SACD or DVD player which is capable of playing 5.1 SACD content. (The first generation of of SACD players could only play stereo discs; and while most DVD players will now handle 5.1 sound from DVDs, not many will play SACDs.) In addition you'll need a six-channel amplifier, together with three front speakers, two rear speakers and a sub-woofer for deep bass signals.
To get the optimal surround-sound effect the five front and rear speakers need to be identical and should be arranged in a circle around the listening position - these requirements are not met by the typical home theatre surround set-up. And of course the sound will only be as good as those five identical speakers are capable of delivering.
Technicalities Part 2:
Remixing and Remastering All of the reissued albums have been remastered; some have also been remixed, and it's important to understand the difference. When it comes to audible differences, it's much more important than the difference between CD and SACD. Remixing involves going back to the original studio multi-track tapes and mixing these into a new two-channel stereo or six-channel surround-sound mix. This can make a radical difference to the sound of the album, as the panning (lateral positioning) of instruments can be changed, equalisation (EQ) and other electronic effects can be added to particular instruments, relative volumes can be changed, and so on. All of the surround mixes in the new series have been produced in this way, but so have some of the stereo mixes. The packaging of the new editions doesn't always make it clear where the stereo version has been remixed.
Sony generally only seem to have had a new stereo mix made where the original stereo tape was no longer usable - generally because of wear and tear. Of the four albums I'm discussing here, this applies to Bringing It All Back Home and Blonde On Blonde. This is almost certainly the reason why both of these albums were also remixed back in 1987 for the first CD editions.
Remastering just involves producing a new stereo digital master (CD or SACD) from an existing stereo mix-down tape - in some cases an old mix, in others a new remix. There are a number of factors involved here, including:
a) The source tape used. If the album has not been remixed then ideally this will be the original mix-down tape from when the album was first made. Or it might be a safety copy of the original, which will be practically as good. What has happened too often in the past with albums from the pre-digital age is that record companies haven't bothered to seek out the original master, and have used instead a tape which has been compressed and equalised for the purpose of cutting vinyl. These always sound considerably worse - for example, the old CD version of Highway 61 Revisited. Just to confuse matters even more, up until the late 60s it was common practice for the compression and EQ for vinyl to be applied at the mixdown stage, so there is no original stereo master without these unwanted characteristics.
(b) Any manipulation of the signal which the engineer chooses to apply - noise reduction to minimise tape hiss, equalisation to boost or cut specific frequency ranges, and so on.
(c) The analogue-to-digital conversion process used, and the destination digital format. SACD (DSD encoding) should be capable of reproducing more subtle musical information than normal CD (PCM encoding). But even with regular CDs, many improvements have been made over the last twenty years to try and get the most out of the format, including 20-bit and 24-bit mastering.
And there will be other factors that apply to both remixing and remastering, including the type of equipment used to play the source tape - many engineers prefer to use valve-driven equipment for reproducing old recordings, so as to get as close as possible to the original sound.
The albums: Bringing It All Back Home (Stereo Hybrid, SACD, 5.1 Multi-channel Surround) The new edition contains the music three times: a new stereo mix (unacknowledged on the sleeve), mastered in both CD and SACD formats; and a 5.1 surround mix in SACD format. Both mixes are by Michael H. Brauer. The stereo mastering is by Greg Calbi and the 5.1 mastering by George Marino.
The new stereo mix is excellent, and probably delivers the biggest single improvement of the whole reissue series. The electric side benefits most, with a much more dynamic, integrated sound than on the stereo LP or the old CD, and a better bass end too.
The 5.1 mix doesn't do anything dramatic (except for the studio laughter intro to Bob Dylan's 115th Dream, which has a startling spatial dimension); it just makes the voice and instruments seem more present and real. Having a centre-front speaker makes the image of Dylan's voice absolutely rock-solid - more so than on any stereo system I've heard. This mix is really very good, if you've got the equipment to play it. My only gripe with the both of these remixes is that, like the original stereo LP, they cut short the harmonica solo at the end of Mr Tambourine Man. The original mono mix has an extra five seconds or so, which gives the song more of the balance of its live performances in that era.
Highway 61 Revisited (Stereo Hybrid, SACD) Because of Sony's policy of using original stereo masters wherever possible, this one hasn't been remixed. Although the Highway 61 Revisited master tape used is a good one in that (unusually) it wasn't compromised for cutting vinyl, it does sound now sound a little flat and two-dimensional compared with the new mixes of the other two albums. Greg Calbi presumably remastered this edition from the same original mix-down tape as Steve Hoffman used for his 1992 DCC gold CD edition; it has the same partial drop-out during the first verse of Like A Rolling Stone.
The overall sound, though, is very different from the DCC version. It's a much clearer, sharper, more aggressive sounding album, but to my ears it lacks the warmth and balance that have always made the DCC album such a pleasure. Desolation Row, though, does sound spectacular on the new album - Dylan's voice is astonishingly clear, and has lost the fluffy S's that were the DCC's one failing.
Overall, I think it'll be a matter of personal taste as to whether you like this better than the gold CD. If you like the caustic side of the album's character then you'll like the new version; but if you prefer the hints of vocal softness that were beginning to lead towards the voice of Blonde On Blonde then you'll probably prefer the DCC. At any rate, if you only have the old Sony/Columbia CD then this new edition will provide a very worthwhile upgrade.
Fans of surround sound will doubtless already be disappointed that this album has no 5.1 mix. Sony's choice of which albums would get surround mixes was apparently determined more by force of circumstance than by consideration of which would benefit most. Where the original stereo master was worn out they were forced to get out the multi-tracks and have a new stereo mix made; therefore it was relatively easy to have a 5.1 mix made from the multi-tracks while they were at it. The result of this expediency is that the one-man-and-his-guitar Another Side of got a surround mix while Highway 61 Revisited, with its full electric band, didn't. This is doubly irksome as it means that of the three great electric albums two have excellent new 5.1 and stereo mixes, while the one in the middle is only a remaster of the second-rate 1965 stereo mix.
Blonde On Blonde (Stereo Hybrid, SACD, 5.1 Multi-channel Surround) This album was remixed in stereo by Michael Brauer (with some input from Sony's Steve Berkowitz) back in 1999, and also mastered at that time by Greg Calbi for both SACD and CD formats. The SACD version was released that year as one of Sony's very first Super Audio discs, but could only be played in SACD machines. A few tracks of the CD format version appeared (unannounced) on compilations, but the rest of it stayed on the shelf until now. It's a terrific remix, far outshining all of the four previous stereo mixes of the album, and it's particularly welcome in the CD format which most listeners are equipped to play. The remix is already described in detail in this site's coverage of Blonde On Blonde. I'm assured by Michael Brauer that the stereo SACD version on the new release is identical to the old SACD, so there's no need to own both or to try to hear differences.
In addition, the new edition of the album has a 5.1 surround mix, again by Michael Brauer, but made earlier this year. Brauer actually takes some liberties with the extra channels on Rainy Day Women Nos. 12 & 35. In a recent interview in Billboard he says "That's the one where you feel like you're part of a parade, so you're hearing people laughing in the back, because it makes sense that you're walking along with them'. And it's not just the voices - at one point the trombone seems to lurch forward along side you. Well, Dylan did allegedly tell the session musicians that he wanted it to sound like an old-time Salvation Army band.
Apart from this track, though, it's the same story as with Bringing It All Back Home: there are no guitars coming at you from all directions, just a more tangible presence to the whole sound. Occasionally an instrument will sound just startlingly real, like the Spanish guitar which plays between the verses in "Just Like A Woman". A few tracks are very slightly longer than on the stereo mix.
A final point: it's nice to have Blonde On Blonde back as a double album again, though this was apparently not done for nostalgic purposes. Because of the album's length Sony's engineers weren't able to get both the stereo and 5.1 mixes onto the SACD layer without using
John Wesley Harding (Stereo Hybrid, SACD) There's been much debate and division of opinion about this particular reissue. There are two issues at stake: first, whether this is a new mix of the album, and second, whether it's good or bad.
The first question is difficult to ascertain. There's been no indication from Sony or any engineer involved with the project that the album has been remixed, and yet the resulting album does sound different from both the original stereo album and the 1986 CD release. I would say that the old CD does contain a different stereo mix - the separation is wider than on either the LP or the new CD, and the fade-outs are different lengths on four of the tracks, two of them being a few seconds longer. The vocal is more tightly focused in the centre, but with less presence.
The new CD is much closer to the stereo LP in most respects: the fade-outs are exactly the same length, and the sound of the vocal is much more akin. But there is one difference: the guitar is placed closer to the centre of the soundstage than on the LP. This is most clearly demonstrated on the title track, during the harmonica breaks: on the stereo LP you can clearly hear the guitar strumming away on the left hand side, whereas on the new CD you can barely hear it at all because it's hidden behind the harmonica. Now it may be possible for a remastering engineer to take an existing stereo mix-down tape and achieve this effect by some proportional blending of the channels (though I've tried this in Cool Edit and can't get the same effect). So the new album may not have been mixed afresh from the original multi-track tapes. But whatever the technical process, the audible difference is there and it certainly ends up sounding like a different mix.
The second question was: does the new CD sound good? Personally I don't much like it overall. While it does make more sense to have the guitar located closer to where Dylan is standing, this leaves just the drums out on the right hand side, so the balance is lost and the drums become distracting. Second, the upgraded sound quality shows up all the flaws in the recording: the harmonica and vocal are too frequently shrill and overloaded, especially on Drifter's Escape and The Wicked Messenger. On the up-side, the bass is much stronger than on the old CD mix, and the more mellow songs sound really good - Down Along The Cove in particular.
I'll be continuing to listen to my cleaned-up CD-R of the original UK mono album. This sounds just wonderful, with beautifully full, firm bass and a really crisp, solid sound. The drums provide the necessary support without distracting. I'd advise you to buy a copy of the new Sundazed vinyl reissue of the mono mix and forget this CD reissue.
SACD vs. CD Stereo You may have noticed that I've said nothing yet about the difference in sound between the CD and SACD presentations of the stereo mixes. As I said, I'm not a great hi-fi enthusiast, and my high-frequency hearing is probably past its peak, so others are probably better qualified to comment. But my listening tests on top quality equipment (not mine) indicated that the SACD technology did offer a small but noticeable improvement in smoothness and in the solidity of some instruments - Charlie McCoy's guitar in "Desolation Row", for example. Switching back to the CD layer made the music sound just a little bit more coarse, though perhaps with more 'bite'.
Whether this difference is enough to justify the cost of the equipment is going to depend on how well-trained your ears are and how wealthy you're feeling. Some people will say it's a huge difference and well worth the expense; others might listen and not notice any difference at all. If you've really got used to the characteristic sound of CDs over the last twenty years then you actually might not like the SACD sound as much.
All I can say is that you'll certainly notice the difference between the old CDs and the new on a standard CD player, especially where the album has been remixed; but you might find the additional benefit of SACD to be pretty marginal.
The Bottom Line The new versions of Bringing It All Back Home and Blonde On Blonde are absolutely essential purchases, and if you have the equipment for SACD surround sound then you'll be even happier with them.
If you already have the DCC version of Highway 61 Revisited then I suggest you try and hear the new edition before buying - you might not like it as much. Otherwise the new version is probably worth getting.
I also find it hard to recommend the new edition of John Wesley Harding. It may be better than the old CD in some respects, but in others it's worse, and I don't think it's a patch on the mono LP. Put your money into the Sundazed reissue and do your own digital transfer if you want it on CD.
From Greenwich Village to Nashville Skyline and the Hills of Old Duluth (SACD reissues The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan; Another Side of Bob Dylan; Nashville Skyline; Planet Waves)
By Terry Kelly
Ever fallen in love with a photograph? Open the new digipak SACD version of Nashville Skyline and the first thing you encounter is a simply stunning, previously unseen photograph of Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash and producer Bob Johnston taken during the Nashville Skyline sessions in 1969. Dylan, dressed in a classy, tailored jacket, smiles coyly into the camera. He's sporting his short-cropped, country hairstyle and stubble just turning into a beard. Opposite is a smiling Bob Johnston, while in the background, Johnny Cash buttons up a frilly, flamboyant shirt, his coal-black hair slicked back and a cigarette drooping moodily from his lips. Leaning just into the shot is an unidentified middle-aged man, wearing the kind of hat favoured by Colonel Tom Parker. The photograph is a wonderfully resonant time capsule, made all the more poignant by the recent death of the Man in Black. But it's just one of the many attractions of the new Dylan SACD reissue programme. For make no mistake: Dylan's greatest albums are about sound and vision. Those iconic cover images are part of the whole aesthetic Dylan experience. And forget the bootleg mountain: these new-look albums are where Dylan's reputation begins and ends. Quite apart from giving us access to Dylan in all his master tape glory, Sony's reissue series directs us back to albums representing the greatest body of work in rock music. The following are some random sense (and sound) impressions of the new-look, new-sounding versions of The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, Another Side Of Bob Dylan, Nashville Skyline and Planet Waves.
Bob walking arm in arm with Suze in the snow in New York. That great Freewheelin' image. Is there any better album cover in rock music? Or a more purely romantic one? Baez's "unwashed phenomenon" in a battered suede jacket, freezing hands pushed into his jeans, striding down the street with eyes typically avoiding the camera, made into a hobo giant by perspective against the wintry Big Apple backdrop. And Suze, wrapped up against the cold in a sensible green overcoat, her black boots crunching the snow. She looks like the happiest, most-in-love woman in the world. And that blue Volkswagen van, almost packed with meaning. Photographer Don Hunstein deserved an Oscar. The music inside is equally wonderful. As Peter Doggett noted in a recent piece in Record Collector, the remastered version allows us to hear Dylan moving in and out from the microphone on Blowin' in the Wind. For an already warm, tenderly emotional album, the reissue makes Freewheelin' even more so.
The wine was apparently flowing freely when Dylan recorded Another Side of in its entirety on June 9, 1964. All of Dylan's fired-up creativity is captured in the reissue. Apart from lending a richer, fuller sound to what was to be Dylan's last solo album for almost another 30 years, this latest edition includes fresh pictures, courtesy of Sandy Speiser, Daniel Kramer and Hank Parker. We see Dylan on the streets of New York with Victor Maymudes; at a newstand with who I take to be producer Tom Wilson; brooding in an amusement arcade; playing chess; or pretending to play the trumpet.
Fast forward to 1969 and Dylan smilingly tipping his hat to the American counter culture in Elliott Landy's famous Nashville Skyline cover photograph, taken against a brilliantly blue Woodstock sky. Apart from enshrining the image of Dylan as relaxed, backwoods family man, the album sounds as clean as a whistle, the musical sheen supplied by the renowned Nashville Cats never for a moment stifling the emotional weight of the simple lyrics or warmth of the vocals.
Fast forward again to late 1973. A new decade, with new pretenders threatening to grasp Dylan's songwriting crown. After his long, Garboesque sabbatical, Dylan has much to prove. The Band help Dylan work up an edgy, sentimental magic at West LA's Village Recorder. Past meets present as the mature Dylan confronts old demons down Suicide Road. The songs, risking lyrical self-imitation as they wrestle with both real sentiment and sentimentality, are about grown-up things, such as keeping the love between a man and wife alive, about wishing your children's ideals will remain Forever Young. On many days - make that most days - Planet Waves is my favourite Dylan album. Tenderly erotic, half-baked and heartfelt, infused with campfire sentimentality, the album sounds like a symphonic poem set to a country back-beat. Dylan's old and new songwriting selves are revealed in songs wrapped inside The Band's pin-sharp, wonderfully responsive ensemble playing. Planet Waves has never sounded better than in this new reissue, from the wintry welcome mat that is On a Night Like This to the album's parting shot, Wedding Song, a lyrically ornate marital plea borrowing Dylanesque imagery from circa 1965. "May God bless and keep you always" sings Dylan on the first version of Forever Young, which used to close side one of the original vinyl album. It's a song dedicated to Dylan's children, but is also arguably a larger hymn addressing the idealistic generation of the 1960s. Initially warm and expansive, the song's perkier twin brother is a jaunty, military band number. I almost want to salute. Dirge sounds even more desolately beautiful on the reissue, Dylan's stabbing piano chords perfectly complemented by Robbie Robertson's sharp, unrelenting acoustic guitar. And I haven't even mentioned Hazel - the greatest love song ever inspired by a girl with "dirty-blonde hair" - the scuffed, Beat verse of Tough Mama; the apocalyptic probing of creative drought that is Going, Going, Gone; the ice cream and cherries love poetry of You Angel You; and, most transcendently, the way Dylan welds childhood memories of "old Duluth" into an erotic poem about the mysteries of femininity in Something There Is About You. The album's spruced-up songs are further enhanced by new artwork, including pictures of Dylan during Tour '74 and the restoration of the album's original liner notes, which constitute a kind of hip-talking allegory of the singer's creative life.
Last summer, Columbia Sony released on their Legacy label the long awaited remastered and much expanded edition of the late (and perhaps a tad overrated) Jeff Buckley's 'Live at Sin-E'. The original 1993 EP has now become a two CD-set which features, besides Buckley's original tunes, some of the witty monologues that were part of his stage act, and many cover songs. Among these are several Dylan tracks, including a truly amazing rendition of Just Like A Woman on CD1, and decent versions of If You See Her, Say Hello and I Shall Be Released on CD2. Also of indirect Dylan interest is a very nice cover of Dink's Song.
The Dixie Chicks have just released a double live CD, 'Top Of The World Tour' (Sony), recorded during their controversial 2003 world tour, and featuring most of their hits culled from their three studio albums to date. These live performances are truly stunning, and the album would be highly recommendable on its own merits, if you care for alt country, that is, but it also includes a wonderful version of Dylan's Mississippi which not only does justice to the song, but proves why Dylan should never have given the song to Sheryl Crow in the first place.
Suzie Ungerlieder is a Canadian singer and songwriter who uses the stage name, 'Oh Susanna' which is also the title of her third album, and the first one on which she is accompanied by a full band, with great results. First released on the Hot label in the UK last Spring, it has now also been published in the US by Nettwerk Records. Besides her own songs, it includes a beautiful cover of I'll Keep It With Mine.
Following the phenomenal success of her 'Every Grain Of Sand' album of Dylan covers last year, rewieved in these pages at the time, Barb Jungr's new CD, 'Waterloo Sunset' (Linn Records), was released in November, coinciding with the artist's London residency at Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club. It features two more Dylan covers, highly personal versions of Like A Rolling Stone and High Water (For Charley Patton).
This album, 'Catch The Moon' (Artemis) is a collection of songs for children by Lisa Loeb and Elizabeth Mitchell, accompanied by an illustrated book written by Erin Courtney. The CD features folk songs from around the world, and a cover of Dylan's New Morning.
Greenwich folk-scene veteran Rod MacDonald not only pursues a career as a solo artist (his latest album, 'Recognition' is just out on the Wind River Records label), but in addition he fronts a Dylan cover band called 'Big Brass Bed' in Palm Beach County, Florida. They have just released their first album, 'A Few Dylan Songs' on the Solstice label. The album costs $15 plus p&p, and can be ordered on-line (payment via PayPal) at: www.rodmacdonald.net/big_brass_bed.htm or by mail from Rod MacDonald, Box 2152, Delray Beach, FL 33447. The album was recorded live at one of the band's shows at Lake Worth, and it features the following songs:
From A Buick 6/One More Cup Of Coffee/Subterranean Homesick Blues/Mississippi/Don't Think Twice, It's All Right/She Belongs To Me/Ballad Of A Thin Man/Shelter From The Storm/Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues/Lay, Lady, Lay/Oh, Sister/License To Kill
Luka Bloom is the name adopted by Irish songwriter and former folkie Kevin Barry Moore when he moved to the US and started a new, and more succesful, musical career there in 1987. His latest album, 'Amsterdam' (on Evolver) features a recording of a live show in this Dutch city, and includes a heartfelt performance of Make You Feel My Love.
Gecko Turner is a Portuguese guitarist and singer who has been working mainly in Spain as part of fusion band Perroflauta. His first solo album 'Guapapasea!' (on Lemonmonk), recorded with Brazilian musicians based in Madrid, is one of those dire latin fusion experiments so fashionable in some circles. It includes a truly awful version of Dylan's Subterranean Homesick Blues, with Spanish lyrics by Turner himself, a blend of literal translations and Spanish doggerel. For completists. Or rather, best avoided.
Finally, Joni Mitchell's new box set, 'The Complete Geffen Recordings' (on Geffen), is a remastered release of her four albums for that company, originally released in 1982-1991, with three bonus tracks, among them a previously unreleased demo version of It's All Over Now, Baby Blue, recorded during the 1991 'Night Ride Home' sessions.
Among The Poets: Dylan's Visions of Sin by Christopher Ricks by Terry Kelly
"I happen to be a library janitor, so could you please clarify things a little for me". Tarantula
In the end, or in the final end - to risk censure for indulging in the frankly addictive habit of reprocessing Dylan lines - does it really matter what Christopher Ricks, Michael Gray, Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot, Lionel Trilling, William Empson, George Steiner, Basil de Selincourt or Lord Macaulay say or don't say about the songs of Bob Dylan? Watching my shelves grow increasingly weary with the relentless tide of doorstop Dylan volumes, I'm tempted to echo Larkin's lyrical cry of anguish: "Keep it all off!" The apostate in me says this: Bob Dylan is the least prescriptive, most serendipitous and chaotically creative major artist imaginable - as Phil Ochs so memorably described him, "our greatest common poet" - so how can the apparatus of conventional literary criticism possibly be useful in analysing his work? The inappropriateness of this single approach, to quote Larkin again, "stands plain as a wardrobe." The anti-intellectual side of my nature periodically desires to look beyond all this Dylanesque fiddle and somehow reconnect with the songs in a pure, unadorned state, as once I did as a wide-eyed teenager - discovering his work album by vinyl album, week by wonderful week - sans annotations, sans the groaning critical bookshelf, sans gossipy websites, sans even - whisper it - fanzines like the one you're reading right now. Naively, I occasionally want to experience Dylan's work afresh in some kind of cultural vacuum, freed from the constant clatter of commentary and the embalming fluid of exegesis.
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