Monday, May 26, 2008

Dylan & The Dead: energising, engaging

We celebrated Zimday, 24 May, by travelling to see tribute band Back Pages in a Norfolk pub. Enjoyable gig, Mr Bamford, thanks again. To help pass a tedious five hour return drive through the agro-industrial badlands, we played some of the official live releases.

As always, Hard Rain blew my socks off. Never fails. Punk before punk.

Before The Flood was a thoroughly engaging shout-athon. No change there, then.

But the albums which draw most flak were just as enjoyable. Real Live, with its quaint stadium rock aesthetic, inspired a gutsy community sing-along in the BMW as it cruised effortlessly back through the North Norfolk night, disturbing the sleep only of the 2008 sugar beet crop.

The highlight, though, was Dylan & The Dead. The critical consensus chalked it as a failure. Wrong call: as driving music, Dylan & The Dead is a blast.

The shuffling Dead-beats energise the vocal performances. The hypnotic version of Queen Jane Approximately has to be one of the highlights of all Dylan’s live recordings. The rest is pretty engaging, too, with the ill-advised Joey the only weakness. If only Dylan & The Dead were twice as long.

Rave on that 67–year old. Welcome, once again, to Europe.

Gerry Smith