Splendid review Ben.
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Well done. I must admit that I am not the biggest Bob Dylan fan in the world, but I have seen him live a number of times. "Blood On The Tracks" and "Desire" spend a lot of time on my turntable. Your review is going to have me looking further back and forward into his repetoire. Thanks for sharing those thoughts with everyone.
Dylan's new voice on "Nashville Skyline" is rumoured to be the result of injuries suffered in a near fatal bike crash. I use the term "rumoured" as I have never seen the incident reported in print even though I heard details of the accident @ the time.
My favortite Dylan record is "Bob Dylan, Melbourne Australia, The Enigmatic Story of a Boy and His Dog", which is of a live concert @ Festival on Hall April 19, 1966 (recorded from radio broadcast). This concert took place following the famous UK concert that later became a double live album.
His OZ musical character was not of the edgy know-it-all twit (the one portrayed in the earlier UK interviews), but instead was of a more relaxed nature, which really makes this performance stand out.
Dekay-the motorcycle accident happened shortly after his 66 World Tour.
He was injured although the details are sketchy but it's widely accepted his injuries were minor and to his back and neck.
It's covered in most Dylan biographies.
The theory doesn't hold up since he recorded John Wesley Harding before Nashville Skyline.
Thanks, Ben. I've always been a Dylan fan but came into the picture a little late in the game, age-wise (I'll be turning 41 next week), so your comments have been quite helpful. Like you, I preordered this 15 disc set and am told that they are now waiting for me in Florida. I'll be picking them up next weekend and will post my impressions as I smile my way through them!
Not certain which LP was the one following the accident though seem to recall it was Skyline (sounds like it per his voice). Do they have recording dates on JW Harding? It is possible that the tracks were in the can prior to the incident.
The first time this info supposedly came from an LA record company executive (per a local musician who happened to be my guitar instructor). The second time (approx. 10 years later) I heard pretty much the same story @ a 1979 party with some of his close friends and one ex-family member present. It's also possible that they were discussing rumor/legend and not fact as I was not paying close attention to the conversation, which was not new news to me.
splendid review Ben
maks me want to run out and buy an sacd player
and I have a dvd-a player already
my three faves
blonde on blonde, blood on tracks, oh mercy
have two thirds of his work on cd and most on vinyl
finally caught him on the TIme Out Of Mind tour
I just bought his box set on vinyl for $25!! pristine!
Dekay I appreciate your comments and the other kind words so far.
Everything I've written up to this point has been off the top of my head-I've (sadly)read more books about Dylan than I care to remember (probably about 40).
Now I'm checking the exact dates with some further personal comments.
Date of accident 29th July 1966-cracked vertebra is the minor injury.
It is widely reported that Dylan was suffering serious burn out after his World tour and it's excesses.
Apparently he used his accident as a lever with his record company to get an extended break.
1967 October to November sees Dylan record John Wesley Harding.
February and April 1969 sees Dylan record Nashville Skyline.
The vocal change on Nashville Skyline-I haven't bothered to check totally but apparently Dylan merely changed his tone to fit the music,it is a remarkable change from his grittier voice.
The whole period during both these albums reflected a major change in Dylan's life,domestic bliss and a refuge away from the crazy world of his fireball years.
He had also just lost his father just prior to recording NS.
Another theory I think I read about his NS voice was he had cut back on the smoking.
He also recorded The Basement Tapes in 1967 although these weren't official released to just prior to Blood On The Tracks.
Ben, I enjoyed the review. You touched on many of my favorite LPs. Many of the LPs you liked were for differnt songs, or reasons than my own, but it's fun to see others opinions.
I have recently bought some of the Simply Vinyl reissues and found them to be amazing. Now I have to start over with the SACD!?!
I still think LPs sound better, but it should be interesting to see what Columbia does with the old familiar tunes.
Of the later work, I think "Oh Mercy" is a masterpiece close in quality to the "Blood on the Tracks" but with a decidedly different focus. "Desire" is another great LP but it isn't helped by "Hurricane." I understand why the song is there, but it's no "Lonesome Death of Hattie Carrol!" The cause was just, but it doesn't make the song great. "Black Diamond Bay" is a real gem.
Dylans comments about his own songs almost always seem to be disengenuous. Kinda like he doesn't want to admit what they are about out of fear that someone might understand them. I refer to his comments about "Neigborhood Bully" and some of the others from Infidels.
All in all it's a good lot of music. I recently read a book about dylan, and played the LPs while reading about the particular portion of his life being mentioned. It added to the meaning of a lot of the tracks.
I guess I'll have to spend some more money and it's all your fault!!!
Nrchy of course you are right Dylan has most of his career been playing a game with the press.
From the early days where he denied his background until now he has given them the run around.
It's been misleading at times other times it's been hilarious particularly during the 60's.
We disagree about Hurricane but hey so what.
Infidels is a very interesting album where Dylan made some very "interesting" observations....linked very much from his short period as a Christain back into his Jewish faith.
Hang onto the music because that's what it's about despite your comments I agree with Dylan it's not about totally about what Dylan meant with the song but as much what the songs mean to you.
Such is the beauty of music.....
When you listen to NS you should notice a consistant crack in his voice on certain notes. This is part of what fed the rumor/fact, whatever it really is.
I have always been a fan of Dylan's music, but he also gets my respect for raising normal kids considering who he is, what he does for a living, plus the divorce. I have known a number of lesser musicians/actors/personalities who seemed to use their careers as an excuse for being lousy fathers/husbands. Even lost a few old friends by eventually telling them how F'd up I thought they were.
Dekay I need to listen again to NS but perhaps the "crack" is more down to Dylan struggling to maintain his tone,maybe not.
I wouldn't want to turn Dylan into a saint I think it's very probable he has made major mistakes along the way but I agree he's handled his fame (over all) pretty well especially as you point out with regards to his kids.
I think he understood very early on what the media was all about-he was probably way ahead of his time in that sense.
I consider him to be well below "sainthood" level, LOL, but yes I agree that he was sharp enough to sidestep the obvious problems/obstacles of his chosen work (which is a still quite a triumph, IMO).
Also, I was once told that the OZ recording I have is a boot, but upon digging it out it seems to have copywrite statements on it (in Italian I think).
Does anyone else have this recording and care to comment with additional info?
A quick word on the packaging-pretty good.
All the CD's come in a digi-pack,they recreate the original vinyl packaging-so where sleeeve notes were more extensive (usually the earlier ones)there are little booklets.
Some of the other discs are more basic.
They are finished to a good standard.
And there are some rare photographs also.
In the States the whole 15 CD's are available as a limited edition Box-set.
Being a skeptic of sorts when it comes to superior audio claims by manufacturers, I approached the Dylan reissues with "cautious optimism," as our politicians like to say. However, being one of the world's biggest Dylan fans (and Ben must number among them, too!), I couldn't help but pick up one title yesterday (Highway 61).
I have a redbook CDP (Arcam) and was wondering what improvement I might actually hear. When I got home, I played the original CD release, noting the now-famous drum thwack that opens LARS.... perhaps the shot heard round the rock world? It was great. Then, forwarded to "Desolation Row" for something acoustic. Also quite nice.
OK, so out with the new SACD. Pop it in the Arcam. That familiar drum thwack was now a crack, a rifle shot. Holy crap! I literally jumped! I could hear details that were either missing or obscured previously. Dylan's inhaling and exhaling, subtle noises in the background, the plectra clearly against guitar strings. In "Desolation Row" in particular, Dylan was there in my living room. Amazing. So many layers of grime have been washed away.
The 180gm vinyl version is a tad better, but if this is what SACD can do, even on a redbook player, then I'm going to be one happy camper!
So, now I have to pony up for the boxed set!!
But first, one question for Ben and others: does the SACD sound seem a tad bright, or should one expect more light to come in once the windows have been washed?
Cp you've got me a bit confused.
You are listening to CD right?
Your Arcam doesn't do SACD does it?
To clarify the SACD part of the disc is on a different layer you are listening to the CD layer I think.
You need a dedicated SACD player to hear the SACD layer-on which I've did a very quick A/B but the results are the same as usual my Ayre destoys the Sony as you would expect.
I haven't found the discs bright (possibly Street Legal,need to hear it again)but they are quite loud.
I'm a Dylan fan going back to the 60's and have seen him in concert approximately 10 times. I haven't been inclined to read much about him except what is included in books about other artists. Please don't get offended by my opinion. Most of the Dylan "mystique" was by his own design. Contrary to the traveling troubador, a la Woodie Guthrie, reputation that he invented while beginning his career in Greenich Village, he was simply Bobby Zimmerman, a South Dakota small town boy. Hey, I don't condemn what he did, but he isn't known for living the truth. Anything that could be said about the man that puts him in a negative light will NEVER detract from his uncanny ability to put into words and song what was/is wrong with this world.
My opinion regarding his vocal changes through the years is based on the experiences I've had listening to him live. I believe he changes his voice like some change their hair and has little to do with smoking, motorcycle accidents or such. I've seen the man twice within the last twelve months. One year ago almost every song he sang was as if the original albums were being played. It was the most wonderful concert of them all to my ears. This last summer he gave us his most gravel-ly voice ever and didn't even play the guitar, opting to play keyboards the entire concert. Even the keyboard playing was accompanied by the myth that he was suffering from Carpel Tunnel Syndrome.
I love the guy but believe he IS the goofball that so many claim he is. Certainly, with the staying power he has enjoyed and the status he so richly deserves, he no longer needs to add to the mystique. I wish he would allow an authorized biography to be written about him that is as revealing as Neil Young's "Shakey".
Patrick-Dylan allegedly is working on his autobiography although the release date gets ever further away-wether this is another part of his own smoke screen who can say?
I agree largely that Dylan has added to his own myth however that's been largely debunked since the real story of his life broke in the mid 60's.
I'm not sure you allude to this point Patrick but it does raise the point was he serious about the music he wrote?
I think undoubtly he was and the fact he realised early on that the protest angle or causes would quickly put him in a cage he couldn't get out of-in fact he took major flak from the folk fraternity when he returned to his first love -rock and roll.
I believe his career twists and turns are that of a genuine artist-in real terms his longevity is due to his reputation.
He hasn't always backed up his success with major sales that you would expect from a man who's been recording for 40 years.
What is interesting that unlike any other major pop/rock artist very little is written about his private life-this is mainly due to both the high esteem he is held in and the acedemic approach that most authors take.
Recently Howard Souness wrote a book revealing much more about Dylan's private life (he has been married again and has a 13 year old daughter),his wealth etc.
Dylan himself has the best quote (as usual)on the subject.
"I'm a mystery only to those who haven't felt the same things I have"
I'm certain that Dylan believed in his many messages. If he didn't, then I would think much less of him. I know I didn't address the "outing" of his real life as you mention but figured it was such common knowledge that it wasn't necessary. The criticism he received for going amplified was a joke, IMHO. The artist can do whatever suits his artisitic leanings. My hero, Neil Young, has always done it his way and I respect him more for it, as I do Dylan. Like Young, I respect Dylan for being a family man even with the broken marriage. I hold Bob Dylan in the highest regard even if I don't agree with some of his musical statements. He became the troubador he set out to be as well as a poet, social activist and whipping post. Who else has shoved a mirror in the face of society and made it look at the ugly side as successfully as him? While I don't believe the societal changes were a result of his efforts I do believe that he helped galvanize the youthful part and therefore brought about change sooner rather than later. I would like to know his IQ. I suspect he isn't just an artistic genius but rather a genius in the scientific sense as well. With the recent passing of Johnny Cash I reflect more on the good fortune I've had in experiencing, first hand, the gift of such talent. I only wish I could pass on what I've received.
I was once told by a guy from Minnesota that Dylan was from and grew up in his home town (I lived in Iowa @ the time). Said he was a quiet nerd who played the piano (not the guitar).
It would be interesting to read an accurate biography (if one ever comes out).
I stopped paying attention to anything other than his music during/following the "Jews for Jesus" period. Had quite a few friends who went through a similar "Jesus Freak" phase (they were not much fun to be around @ the time and most ended up being there via bad acid trips).
Dekay-there are several biographies which seem to be reasonably accurate especially about Dylan's early life-the real gaps come post '66.
I would still highly recommend Robert Shelton's No Direction Home biography probably the best book on Dylan up until 1966-it's weak post that era since Shelton was no longer close to Dylan.
It's well documented Dylan started off mainly on piano and as a harp player.
As regards Dylan's Christain period I'll avoid a flame war and say you could have chosen your words better.....
Sorry about the error. Yes, his home town is Hibbing, Minnesota. It might as well be South Dakota since it's a pretty bleak place. I drove past the exit, turned around for a peek and wished I would have just kept going the first time. I saw one of his concerts during his religous period. It too was pretty bleak.
Those are the words and/or exactly what the movement was named here in the US (I know "Jews for Jesus" to this day and that's what they call themselves), so I don't know what it is about my post that concerns you. My wife is Jewish and I am a Templer/Christian of sorts, for lack of a better name (though raised Methodist/Christian Science -w- a little Catholicism thrown in for good measure:-). I also get along fine with our J4J friends as long as they do not attempt to ram their beliefs down my throat (not that this came easy I suspect).
The "Jesus Freak" movement was just that (freaked out freaks who wanted their own title/shelter to call their own). I never considered it to be much of a religious movement for most, though some (a very small percentage from my experience) maintained their beliefs long enough to eventually join some of the more mainstream/similar religions.
Never even heard of Hibbing, though I have had the pleasure of traveling through the Dakotas. Once they finished the I-35 I rarely wandered off the track when traveling north through Minnesota.
Dekay my misunderstanding,I apologise for thinking you were being derogatory.
As for the Christian music Dylan produced,well it's not all bad-Slow Train Coming is a decent album,Saved is a donkey, an album which did him a lot of harm,Shot Of Love was partly Christian and again is worthwhile in parts.
However the belief in "god" and indeed Biblical influence has always been apparent in Dylan's songwriting.
Personally I think much of the hostility shown towards Dylan's conversion is pretty small minded.
If it's for the quality of the music fine but there's little doubt that such a "conservative" step by Dylan left his fans pretty confused.
Again I think that's partly down to the perception of what Dylan was about rather than the reality.
Hibbing is in northern Minnesots on the south west edge of the Mesabi iron range. If you have ever used U.S. steel, it came from the Hibbing area. Back during World War II the steel companies built huge ice arenas in every iron range town (about thirty) so the wives of the men who went off to war would enjoy High School hockey games while the men were fighting. Thus the beginning of the powerful norhtern Minnestota hockey talent (most of which made up the 1960 and 1980 gold medal Olympic teams)
Hibbing is the largest of these "range" towns. Today most of the mines are closed, the massive open pits have grown in with trees and lakes. It's rather like a small Grand Canyon in the forest. Most of the surrounding area is state and national forest leading north to the Boundry Waters National Park.
The people of Hibbing are far prouder of the hockey than Dylan. For years he would not acknowledge his northern Minnestota roots. It was as if he apeared from space at the Dinkytown pubs on the U of M's campus, no past was spoken by Bob.
I did not dislike his music during this period (though I also do not feel that it was his best effort), and instead I tended to just ignore the religious aspect and simply listened to some of the music. At this point in my life I was tired of these sorts of fanatical happenings (and hey, I did not even mention, bring up, the "Born Agains" in my above posts:-).
I , until recently, thought that my personal religion was based on the concept of "anything that more than 80 people in the world believe in is BS", but my wife being more learned than myself pointed out that my beliefs are not that disimilar from those of the Templers in regard to Mary, Jesus and the much declined role of women in religion since the Catholic church became such a powerful entity in our world.
Guess I'm not much of an original thinker afterall.
She has ordered books (both fact and fiction) on the subject for me to read. Should be interesting as I'm burning out on crime/gator books. We will be picking one up today as the library called to say that it is in.
Ben, I would be surprised if Dylan ever finished his autobiography ("Chronicles"). It started out as a series of liner notes for the reissues that inspired this thread of yours. However, there are neither new liner notes nor a book!
My suspicion is that his movie, "Masked and Anonymous" is about all he's going to say about who he is.
It is a pity if Dylan doesn't write something serious soon.
There's been a big change in his attitude to interviews since about 1998 and he seems much more honest and still has an amazing ability to analyse society and the world in general.
His liner notes to World Gone Wrong gave an indication of his writing skill-like some of his mid-sixties songs they seem abstract,true and unique.
Tarantula of course is pretty much unreadable and a project he tried best to leave in the can.
Time will tell perhaps he'll just leave us with the songs