JOTTING DOWN NOTES
Stories In The Press
Q Dylan (Collectors Edition)
Q, the British music magazine recently published its second ever special edition publication, the first one being dedicated to the Beatles. Now that Dylan gets the same treatment, what do we have inside the shiny blue cover depicting Bob from circa 1965?
The first impression on flicking through the mag, is the usual high standard of presentation associated with Q, and it is stuffed full of pictures, many of them full page or spread over pages. Whilst this special edition does not attempt to present a full blown biography, it achieves a semi-biographical status by offering us a few snapshots of Bob in seminal periods of his history. One very welcome aspect is the warm and handsome tribute given to John Bauldie at the beginning of the magazine, giving a wonderful portrayal of the man who points to The Bridge from the past. Then, as a pointer to the present day, and the future, in an article in the magazine is a list of various Dylan websites.
After enduring the sycophantic ramblings of erstwhile Bob crony wannabe Bono in the foreword, the scope of Q Dylan is quite varied. Recent gossip also implies that Bob is not so enamoured with the remarks Bono makes, and the tone presented spoils the magazine's initial impact. The front cover does tell us "With a foreword by Bono", so the implication is that this may be a sop intended to ensnare the more casual Dylan follower. It's difficult to know why Bono has been chosen to write this foreword, though his reputation as a kind of 'Rent-a-Quote' Rock Star gives him the same sort of status that certain politicians here in the UK have, the ones that are regularly wheeled out on various TV and radio programs.
Getting to the meat of the matter, Q Dylan has amongst its contents musings upon the electric tour of 1966, the NET, Bob's relationship with Albert Grossman, the religious years, and a cherry picked series of full page reviews of some Dylan albums. There are also the collected thoughts of various fellow musicians on what their favourite Dylan albums are. Again, as with the choice of Bono as the foreword writer, it is difficult to see why these artists are the ones chosen to give us their judgements. Sheryl Crow, Mike Scott, David Gray and Tim Burgess are the gang of four. Why?
There is the inevitable Q review and rating given for every Dylan album (with very little in the way of surprises - Blood On The Tracks is essential, Self Portrait is not .). All in all, this Q Dylan, will not tell the avid Dylan collector anything they do not already know, but it is a nice package. So, in the best tradition of Q reviews *** (Good. Not for everyone, but fine within its field).
Mojo: November 2000
Mojo magazine is generally regarded as one of the best rock magazine in the UK, if not the best. Its full feature articles offer in-depth analysis of a wide and varied area of music, and Mojo is no stranger to articles about Dylan. As part of the November issue, it published a lengthy article by Andy Gill, which purported to cover the recent UK tour. Whilst it touches on the tour in some detail, diligent reading of the article uncovers some strange omissions, mistakes, and general misunderstandings. The article is stuffed full of hyperbole, and evocative language from Gill, at one time telling us how clever it is to drive at 120mph down the M74 .
The front cover of the mag has a pic of Bob circa 1969 in the top left hand corner, and tells us "every UK Bob show reviewed" which is not true, the article in question does not cover either of the Wembley shows. In general, Andy Gill liked what he experienced on the tour, telling us that Bob "rolls back the years with ease" and the band is "as good a unit as Dylan has had behind him in years". Whilst few readers of The Bridge who have seen Dylan recently would disagree with this, both statements are at once vague, and clichéd. It is later in the article that Gill seems to lose his own course, telling us that in the last 15 years, Dylan has "averaged an extraordinary 200 plus performances a year .". Well, some of us here are wondering how we have managed to miss up to 90 or so such performances for each year of The Never Ending Tour ..
Gill takes the opportunity to pass opinions on shows. Naturally these are personal observations but it is hard to invest much confidence in them when he views what many observers have rated a very good show, at Newcastle, as lacklustre! Overall, Andy Gill enjoyed the shows. He enjoyed Bob's vitality, and the mixture of tunes performed. In the main, any Dylan fan should be pleased that 'our man' is getting such a positive write up in a major publication, and I suppose, the odd nit-pick apart, the article succeeds in conveying the good overall feel of the tour. There are some great photographs embedded in the article, and this issue is enriched through the inclusion of an article about Dylan and The Band at Woodstock. Gill tells us that whilst he has seen Dylan live numerous times, he is not one of those who had ever previously considered seeing a number of Dylan shows from one tour; not wanting to be a 'Bobcat'. What can he mean?
Vanity Fair: October 2000
This issue of Vanity Fair features a pictorial celebrating the icons of popular music. Naturally, there is a Dylan section called "The Road Warrior". It is worth it for a clutch of unseen photographs, two back stage with Mick Jagger at the Madison Square Garden 1975 and a third from March 2000 in a full length leather coat!
Record Collector: September 2000
The September 2000 edition of the UK magazine Record Collector (issue 253) contains a feature on the Elliot Landy Bob-picture-fest, Dylan In Woodstock. The article reproduces six of the photographs in black-and-white and has a rather nifty commentary form the ever-reliable Peter Doggett.
Uncut: November 2000
Music and film magazine Uncut (issue 42) contains a top-notch review of Dylan's concert at The Point, Dublin (14 September). The ultra-positive reviewer finds worth in almost all that Dylan throws at him. Getting carried away at the end, he exclaims "Dylan has never been so alive as he is right now"!
Forms Of Psychic ExplosionOn Friday night, 6th October at 9-45pm, Michael Gray and CP Lee discussed Bob Dylan on BBC Radio 3's 'Night Waves', hosted by Sarah Dunnant.
A six week series commenced on Wednesday 8th November on BBC Radio 2 hosted by Tom Robinson called 'Rebel Yell'. This traces the development of the protest song and focuses on Dylan's involvement.
The 'Wonder Boys' DVD is to be released 9th January 2001 and it includes Dylan's Things Have Changed video plus what is called "a Bob Dylan Soundtrack Featurette".
Washington Civil Rights March 28th August 1963
This recently emerged video is both interesting and frustrating. Interesting as it is the full set that Dylan performed on this historic occasion. Frustrating in that you see Dylan start each song then for the bulk of the performance the camera scans the audience. Nevertheless this is essential for collectors.
Dylan/Santana Interview 1997
This is the raw news footage from the MTV interviews that were carried out on the joint tour. Santana attempts to answer the questions whereas Dylan appears distracted to say the least! At one point he is asked about his nephew who is in 'The Wallflowers' and he doesn't even bother to correct the mistake, giving a bland answer! Thirty years ago it would have been interesting!
Bob Brown Interview
Here we have the raw, longer version of the interview broadcast on the 20/20 programme in 1985. This was recorded around the time of Farm Aid.
Here we have the raw, longer version of the interview broadcast on the 20/20 programme in 1985. This was recorded around the time of Farm Aid.
Unplugged Rehearsal Video
Last issue we reported the PA tape and this is the video from which that tape was derived. Here we have Dylan and the group running through songs prior to the actual show. It is quite strange to see only one person sitting in the audience and even more disappointing that Hazel is incomplete!
Man of Mystery
There was a two-hour A&E Biography 'Bob Dylan, Man of Mystery' broadcast on Sunday 13th August in America. This adds little to the previous profiles but there are some interesting items including some additional music from the 'John Bucklen Tape' and the start of Dylan's appearance at the Washington Civil Rights March. There are comments from various people, amongst them Cesar Diaz, Dave Van Ronk and journalist Al Aronowitz. Quite entertaining to watch.
Down In The Groove
Martin Carthy Anthology
Seminal English folksinger Martin Carthy has a musical anthology coming out soon, and it is hoped that Dylan will make a contribution. Free Reed Records head Neil Wayne has asked him to play harmonica on Carthy's version of The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll which will appear on the boxed set, 'The Carthy Chronicles'. This will be released in May as part of Carthy's 60th birthday celebration. The Essential Bob Dylan was released in the US on 31 Ocober 2000 following the European and UK issues but the only new inclusion is Things Have Changed! z,
To coincide with the recent UK tour there were a couple of singles issued. One was a 4-track enhanced CD single which included an audio and a CD-ROM video of Things Have Changed plus the Desire version of Hurricane and a field recording of To Make You Feel My Love. The other was a numbered, limited edition 7" vinyl single of Things Have Changed plus Blind Willie McTell, another field recording.
One of the great treasure houses of American folk music was celebrated on 22nd August. The Smithsonian Folkways Recordings issued its boxed set 'The Best of Broadside 1962-1988', which is a five-CD, 89-track collection featuring two Dylan contributions, John Brown and Ballad Of Donald White.
Rockin' Rita May
The Dylan/Jacques Levy track, Rita May, is again available on a CD reissue of one of the finest albums of Jerry Lee Lewis' career. On 'Rockin' My Life Away' (Warner Bros) the man known as The Killer gives the Desire outtake the full honky-tonk treatment. The album, produced by Bones Howe, who had previously worked with Elvis Presley, also contains liner notes, extracted from 'Rockin' My Life Away: Listening to Jerry Lee Lewis' by Jimmy Guterman (Rutledge Hill Press, Nashville, Tennessee), including the following description of how The Killer came to record the obscure Dylan song: "Part of what made the Bones Howe sessions so successful was the idiosyncratic choice of material. Howe introduced Jerry Lee to a charming uptempo tune called Rita May and 'The Killer' burned his way through it in a few feverish takes. It was a fine, guileless rock & roll song, Jerry Lee thought, different from what he was used to hearing. "Who wrote that song?" Jerry Lee inquired. "Bob Dylan," Bones Howe said and smiled. He thought he had delivered a punch line, but Jerry Lee showed no recognition. "That boy's good," Jerry Lee said. "I'll do anything by him." The possibility that Jerry Lee was putting Howe on cannot be overestimated, but it was not much of a stretch to believe that The Killer's musical tastes were so insular, grounded in his Louisiana youth, that he had not heard of Bob Dylan.
Joan Osborne covers Make You Feel My Love on her latest CD 'Righteous Love' Uni/Interscope; ASIN: B00004WFQU)
The CD soundtrack of the film 'Steal This Movie' features various artists doing cover versions of songs with It's All Over Now, Baby Blue by Bonnie Raitt and My Back Pages by Joan Osborne and Jackson Browne included.
Norwegian group 'The Jetsurfers' have a cover version of Bob Dylan's One Too Many Mornings on their new CD released on Grammofon AS Electra, 00197, 2000
Idlewild, from east coast Scotland cover Bob's When The Ship Comes In in a piano version similar to that of Bob's demo on in the Bootleg Series from 1962. It's quite a nice refreshing version. The CD single is called 'These Wooden Ideas' CD1 of a 2 CD set on the Food label catalogue number: CDFOOD132
Elliot Murphy and Iain Matthews will release 'La Terre Commune' on February 19th, 2001 on Blue Rose Records. It includes at least one Dylan cover, Blind Willie McTell.
'Keeper of the Flame' by Luka Bloom released on Cog Communications in November 2000, features Make You Feel My Love.
'Rage Against the Machine' include some of covers the band has recorded over the last few months on an upcoming covers album entitled 'Renegades', due December 5th on Epic Records. This could be their final studio album and it includes their version of Maggie's Farm.
Is It Rolling Bob?
PA or not to be PA?
On the 28th April 1999 Dylan played Ljubljana, Slovenia. A recording of this full concert in stunning quality has emerged. This was thought to be either a soundboard or an excellent audience recording as there is little audience noise. But alas, not a PA!
Early Unreleased Recordings This new CD, features Bob playing harmonica on Rising Sun (recorded in 1981). This is not a bootleg, but a privately-produced CD - it isn't available in record stores but can be purchased on-line from the band's official web-site: http://www.thecruzados.com.
If You See Her, Say Hello
References to Dylan turn up in the most unlikely of literary places. In 'The Letters of Kingsley Amis', edited by Zachary Leader (Harper Collins, 2000), critic and Dylan fan Christopher Ricks, in a personal communication to Leader, recalls telling Amis in 1979 of a strange encounter in California. Ricks said: "I had told him of my meeting at a party in California a woman who, hearing that I was about to go to Hawaii, and knowing that I love Bob Dylan, had suggested that I look up Sara Dylan, Dylan's ex-wife; and when I feebly remonstrated ("Don't know her", that sort of thing), replied with level gaze "Live your dreams". Meanwhile, the latest edition of 'The Oxford Companion to English Literature', edited by Margaret Drabble (Oxford University Press, 2000), lavishes precisely one line on Dylan's career. The entry runs as follows: "Dylan, Bob (1941-), adopted name of American singer-songwriter Robert Allen Zimmerman, whose lyrics have been highly praised both by poets and by some academics." Is there an implied criticism in that "some critics"? On the evidence of this sparse coverage, Dylan's Nobel Prize for Literature could be a long time a-comin'.
It's All Been Written In The Book: Clinton Heylin's Dylan Revisited"He was some kind of man. What does it matter what you say about people?"
Marlene Dietrich - Touch of Evil (1958)
By Terry Kelly
Reviewing a book by Clinton Heylin in the context of a Dylan fanzine is a tricky business. Think baroque fallings-out and king-sized huffs. Think irreconcilable differences. Clinton Heylin v. the rest of the Dylan critical fraternity. Think of everybody on the block shouting, Which side are you on? To quote the title of a Seamus Heaney poem about 'The Troubles': "Whatever You Say, Say Nothing." Because Heylin has ruffled so many feathers in the sadly costive, cliquey world of Dylan studies, the slightest hint of appreciation or approbation will be viewed in some quarters as the critical equivalent of moral turpitude.
Feisty, spiky and a self-confessed ranter, Heylin is a scrapper par excellence, the critical 'Dirty Harry' of the Dylan world, possessing more opinions than Hydra had heads. We all fondly recall his infamous non-dedication to 'Recording Sessions' (St Martin's Press, 1995), or his casual putdowns of "lesser" or "intellectually challenged" Dylan authorities, et al. If falling out with fellow Dylan fans, collectors or writers were an art form, Clinton Heylin would be a regular Picasso. But I'll try and jettison the internecine bickering and state what I feel is obvious: 'Bob Dylan: Behind the Shades -Take Two' (Viking, £20) is the best and most comprehensive biographical study of Bob Dylan ever published. And its only real rival is the first edition of this book. This revised and considerably bigger text represents another decade's worth of plane-hopping, foot-slogging research, calling in of favours, plus late nights at a computer terminal, as Heylin tracks and traces the dramatis personae and often baffling trajectory of the Dylan story.
Apart from the prodigious additional homework which has gone into this updated version, Heylin also deserves praise for bringing the Dylan story up to date, with his exploration of the artistic highs and lows of his recent recording career and the Never Ending Tour (NET). For some fans, the NET signalled the beginning of the end of Dylan's true artistic greatness, and Heylin typically pulls no punches when describing the shambolic figure Dylan struck during the infamous 1991 shows. He even suggests Dylan harboured a death wish while under the influence. Controversy is meat and drink to Heylin, and it's bracing to witness him contradicting leading Dylan commentators Greil Marcus and Michael Gray as he turns his fire on the critically lauded Time Out Of Mind (1997), calling it "a work constructed by proxy, built on sand". He also concludes that Dylan does not possess another creative "quantum leap," believing Dylan's recent work indicates a man knowingly embracing the terminal decline of his songwriting genius. At the beginning of this review, I called Heylin's book a biographical study, rather than a biography. That may seem grudging, given the depth and quality of Heylin's new research, but it was more a recognition of the arguably impossible task of pulling together the often myth-laden and shadowy biographical strands of Dylan's life into a complete and wholly convincing portrait of the man and his work. But Clinton Heylin's revised life joins Michael Gray's masterly Song & Dance Man III (2000) as one of the handful of truly indispensable books about Bob Dylan.
Searching Bob Dylan's Copyright FilesBy A. J. Iriarte
I expect many readers may not be tempted into buying Tim Dunn's at long last published update to his groundbreaking archival investigation 'The Bob Dylan Copyright Files 1962-1995', and their reluctance is perhaps easily understood. Like the aforementioned volume it updates to December 31st, 1999, this 'Supplement 1' is best described as a tool, or a reference source, for the more dedicated Dylan scholars. With almost no narrative text, it is basically an annotated transcription of copyright records with some appendices, no illustrations barring a few legal documents, a spartan presentation (a spiral-bound softcover booklet), this clearly is not a book for the average fan. However, to use the author's own words, "this work will be mined by many other researchers" who no doubt will be able to present Dunn's findings in a more "user-friendly" environment, in a manner of speaking. Yet, even if that be their final destiny, these booklets must needs take pride of place in the bookshelves of the more scientifically-minded Dylan fans, next to the books of Krogsgaard, Dundas and Heylin.
The Bob Dylan Copyright Files 1962-1995' and 'The Bob Dylan Copyright Files: Supplement 1' [from Jan 1996 through December 1999], by Tim Dunn, are published by Rolling Tomes / Not-A-CES and may be ordered from Rolling Tomes (P.O. Box 1943, Grand Junction, CO 81502) for $26.95 plus p&p both volumes or $9.95 plus p&p for Supplement 1 only.
Don't Look Sideways (The Life & Times of Bob Wordsworth)
'Don't Look Sideways' is a different type of Dylan book! This was written by Paul Murphy and produced as an "affectionate spoof of the life of our particular hero". It is written in the form of a screen play and is quite humorous. If you want to obtain a copy the cost is £9.99, including p&p. You can be buy it direct from the author, Paul Murphy, 1 Southmead, West Camel, Yeovil, Somerset BA22 7QQ or email: LAZARUSPRODUCTS@paulmurphy.freeserve.co.uk.
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