Friday, October 31, 2008

Iconic free Schatzberg photos of mid-60s Dylan

Friday’s Independent, the London-based liberal/left daily paper, has a marvellous collection of 13 iconic Jerry Schatzberg photos of mid-‘60s Dylan.

They illustrate an interview with the photographer who’s about to exhibit at Proud Central, a London photographic gallery: watch this space.

Gerry Smith

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Forever Young: delightful - Dylan Bookshelf #139

Forever Young is a new children’s book in which illustrator Paul Rogers visualises scenes from the lyrics of the classic song from Planet Waves, with other references from across the Dylan catalogue.

It’s a delight – children of all ages will love it.

In case you miss the Dylan references hidden in the pictures, Rogers kindly spells most of them out at the back, with the help of a couple of pages of thumbnails. If you spot more than half without cheating, count yourself a remarkably alert Dylan guru.

Forever Young by Bob Dylan, illustrated by Paul Rogers (Simon & Schuster Oct 2008, large format hardback, 36pp, £12.99 – discounted at

Forever Young is the 139th book added to my groaning Dylan bookshelf.

Gerry Smith

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Tell Tale Signs… and Neil Young Night on TV

Thanks to Martin Cowan:

“Pitchfork has a cracking review of Dylan’s new release, Tell Tale Signs:

“And just a reminder that this Friday 31 October sees BBC4 indulging in Neil Young Night, with the following line up:

9.30pm - In Concert: Neil Young - a 1971 gig by the singer/songwriter, showcasing songs from Harvest

10.00pm - Neil Young - Don't Be Denied. Tracing the musical journey of the legendary sing/songwriter through interviews and unseen performance footage.

11.00pm - CSNY/Deja Vu. A record of the 2006 Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young "Freedom of Speech" tour that was built largely around Young's "Living with War" album.

“Also of interest on the same evening on the same channel at half past midnight is a repeat of Hotel California: from the Byrds to the Eagles.”

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tell Tale Signs - still doing it here

Well, several weeks down the line, Tell Tale Signs is still doing it here. I find myself listening to the ten or so tracks I didn’t previously know on repeat play for hours on end.

Magnificent - just like welcoming a new Dylan LP way back when…

I also enjoyed the copious sleeve notes. Except for the error about the Blood In My Eyes video: Ratso describes a “simple stroll from a pub through an English town”. The liner notes have three stills from that photo session.

The “town” is, in fact Camden Town - a district of London two miles north of the West End shopping/office district.

Sloman’s error is more forgiveable than that of native author Brian Hinton who, in his generally praiseworthy discography, names said London suburb as Crouch End, a very different sort of place a couple of miles from Camden. Tut, tut!

End of smartass whine-athon: Tell Tale Signs is a peach.

Gerry Smith

Monday, October 27, 2008

New Dylan cover for free magazine

Keen collectors will be searching out a new Dylan cover – albeit a back cover – on the latest (ie Sept/Oct) issue of HMV Choice, the retailer’s in-store magazine.

The Dylan cover uses a mid-‘60s (polka dot shirt) portrait by Dale Smith, with the overprinted extract from A Red, Red Rose, the Robert Burns poem used by HMV in their My Inspiration promo campaign.

The inside back cover has a portrait of, er, Joan Baez, from the same promo campaign.

Gerry Smith

Friday, October 24, 2008

Drawn Blank exhibition set for UK tour

Drawn Blank, the magical exhibition of Dylan paintings, is set to tour UK galleries, starting late November.

The tour starts with a show at The Lightbox gallery in Woking, Surrey, in the heart of the “stockbroker belt”, on 25 November.

Organisers Halcyon Gallery promise a roll-out of additional dates for 2009 - watch this space.

And if you missed the London and Chemnitz shows, try to get to Woking – you won’t be disappointed.

Gerry Smith


Dylan’s new art show: magnificent

Dylan’s new art show was unveiled to the world’s press (and the Editor of The Dylan Daily) yesterday morning.

I spent a couple of hours marvelling at the inspiring art on display. Four floors. Almost a hundred original canvases, many finished in several different versions. Twenty-nine Limited Edition signed prints. Lovely art. And so much of it – an entire building devoted to Dylan! And his signature on every piece.

I don’t know much about art, blah, blah … . But I adored this collection. Women, men, portraits, life studies, places - odd places, on the margins, everyday objects. Drawn, printed, then painted in vivid colours. Echoes of German Abstract Expressionism, I’m told. Dylan’s draughtsmanship might be stylistically na├»ve, but all the pieces evoke emotion. And his use of colour is remarkable.

As you’d expect, the collection displays a distinctive artistic vision. And yes, there are reminders of the Dylan worldview familiar from the songbook.

Would we be making so much of this show if the artist wasn’t Dylan? Who knows? Who cares? It’s Dylan’s art. And it’s inspiring.

Dylan Daily readers who can make it the Halcyon Gallery in London by 13 July owe it to themselves to see this magnificent show: it’s a big Dylan event, and it’s worth a long trip.

Drawn Blank opens Saturday and runs for a month. Be warned, though: they’ll probably be queueing round the block – so you’re strongly advised to book a timed visit, online (see below).

And if you were thinking of buying one of the originals, you’ll need big bucks – for the few original paintings not already sold.

TOMORROW ON THE DYLAN DAILY: Preview of the Drawn Blank Limited Edition exhibition and sale.

Gerry Smith


Here are the two Halcyon Gallery press releases:

Halcyon Gallery holds first gallery exhibition of Bob Dylan art

The Drawn Blank Series launches in London on 14 June 2008

Location: Halcyon Gallery, 24 Bruton Street, London, W1J 6QQ
Exhibition opens: 14th June 2008
Exhibition closes: 13th July 2008
Opening hours: Monday - Sunday: 10am - 6pm. Last admission: 5pm
Nearest tube: Bond Street or Green Park
Visitor information: 020 7659 7640
Booking information: For details on how to book free timed tickets to the exhibition, visit - booking fees will apply

Mayfair's Halcyon Gallery presents the first ever gallery exhibition of Bob Dylan's artwork, The Drawn Blank Series. This new exhibition of paintings is the most comprehensive and authoritative collection of Bob Dylan's art ever assembled. While Dylan has been a committed visual artist for more than four decades, The Drawn Blank Series casts a vibrant new light on the creativity of one of the world's most important and influential cultural figures.

The paintings in The Drawn Blank Series visually echo the stylistic hallmarks of Dylan's prose, poetry and music. Just as Dylan's songs are constantly reinvigorated and rediscovered through his live performances, so these paintings revisit images and scenes which were captured in all their immediacy by the artist.


Halcyon Gallery to hold first gallery exhibition of Bob Dylan art
The Drawn Blank Series launches in London on 14 June 2008

One of London's most prestigious galleries, Halcyon Gallery in Mayfair, will present the first ever gallery exhibition of Bob Dylan's artwork, beginning 14 June 2008. The Drawn Blank Series exhibition is the most comprehensive and authoritative collection of Bob Dylan's art ever assembled. While Dylan has been a committed visual artist for more than four decades, The Drawn Blank Series will cast a vibrant new light on the singular creativity of one of the world's most important and influential cultural figures.

Based on drawings and sketches made by Dylan while on the road during the period of 1989 through 1992, the paintings in The Drawn Blank Series visually echo the stylistic hallmarks of Dylan's prose, poetry and music. Just as Dylan's songs are constantly reinvigorated and rediscovered through his live performances, so these paintings revisit images and scenes which were captured in all their immediacy by the artist.

The Drawn Blank Series has resulted in a collection which is at once a significant independent achievement and a fascinating extrapolation of themes and images which haunt his music.

Accompanying the originals exhibition at Halcyon Gallery, a unique and impressive collection of limited edition graphics, signed by the artist, will be available through selected galleries throughout the UK from 14 June 2008.

Paul Green, President of the Halcyon Gallery, commented, "This is an incredible opportunity for viewing this powerful body of work which gives an insight into the artists' soul; and which have already been the subject of widespread critical acclaim. Halcyon Gallery is privileged to be hosting this unique exhibition."

Bob Dylan is one of the world's most popular and acclaimed songwriters, musicians and performers, having sold more than 110 million albums and performed literally thousands of shows around the world in a career spanning five decades. His most recent album, Modern Times - lauded by critics around the world and selling more than 2.5 million copies to date -- entered the Billboard Top 200 Albums chart at #1, as well as debuting within the Top Five in 21 other countries.

Bob Dylan was recently awarded a special Pulitzer Prize for "his profound impact on popular music and American culture, marked by lyrical compositions of extraordinary poetic power." In 2001, he received a Golden Globe and an Academy Award for best song from a motion picture for "Things Have Changed" from the movie Wonder Boys. Dylan's Chronicles - Volume I, his recent memoirs released in October, 2004, was a world-wide best seller, spending 19 weeks on The New York Times Bestseller List. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988 and the Songwriters Hall Of Fame in 1982.

Situated in the heart of Mayfair, London, Halcyon Gallery is one of Europe's leading art galleries, representing some of the finest contemporary painters and sculptors working today. Halcyon Gallery is committed to supporting and nurturing outstanding living artists, as well as specialising in fine art and masters original paintings, drawings and sculpture.

2008 marks the 25th anniversary of Halcyon Gallery and the opening of a magnificent new flagship gallery at 24 Bruton Street. This elegant Georgian building has been renovated to create a stunning exhibition space suitable for the finest art and joins Halcyon Gallery's existing space at 29 New Bond Street.

For further information about the exhibition of the original Dylan works at Halcyon Gallery please visit

Thursday, October 23, 2008

DylanTube & The Disgruntled Dylanologist: BOBMANIA #33/34

There’s no let-up in new websites devoted to Dylan. Here are another two new sites worth investigating:

* DylanTube

“DylanTube is a collection of hand-picked Bob Dylan videos run by hardcore fan Josh Lobley.

“DylanTube regularly posts Bob Dylan videos and for each one Josh's thoughts and opinions are there with it. Josh encourages visitors to share their thoughts also by posting comments to the videos.”

* The Disgruntled Dylanologist

"There are two things in this world that get (Los Angles) author Tom Grasty worked up. The first is what's going on in this country. The second is Bob Dylan. This blog brings the two together. Every week Tom uses a Bob Dylan lyric as a starting off point for his thoughts on what's going on in America.

“So who will Tom write about this week? It may be the devil, it may be the Lord... but it's gonna be somebody."

(Tom Grasty is author of the Dylan-inspired murder-mystery, BLOOD ON THE TRACKS.)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Dylan on Dylan and I'm Not There – heavily discounted

Thanks to Martin Cowan:

“I thought Dylan Daily readers would like to know that branches of HMV are currently offering Jonathan Cott's book, Dylan on Dylan, for £3 (RRP £8.99) and the DVD of I'm Not There as part of their 3 for £20 promotion.”

(And Fopp, HMV’s recently acquired subsidiary, is also discounting the single DVD version of I'm Not There – to £8 the last time I visited a Fopp store. Gerry Smith)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Jakob Dylan on TV tonight – a reminder

A reminder that Jakob Dylan’s on BBC TV tonight – at 2200 on Later… With Jools Holland – BBC2; a longer version is repeated at 2320. And again on Friday (24 Oct) at 0035.

Online access: archived BBC TV programmes are accessible online for a short period via:

Gerry Smith

Monday, October 20, 2008

Dylan-related Woodstock films now on YouTube

David McDonald, maker of the short film, Bob Dylan in Woodstock, has combined all his Woodstock-themed material onto one YouTube Channel.

It features not just the Dylan clip, but The Band in Woodstock and The Woodstock Soundouts:

Warmly recommended – McDonald’s footage has a lovely texture.

Gerry Smith

Friday, October 17, 2008

New Desolation Row tableau

Desolation Row, the peak period Dylan classic, is celebrated in a new tableau by Theo Cobb, and now on sale from Shane Balkowitsch. It includes “all elements of the lyrics and… some additional elements from some of his other songs”, according to the publisher:

Gerry Smith

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Dylan – celeb Burns fan

Did you see the recent PR by a music retailer inviting artists to reveal the lyric that has inspired them?

Dylan reportedly selected verse from Robert Burns' 'A Red, Red Rose':

"O my luve is like a red, red rose
That's newly sprung in June;
O my luve's like the melodie
That's sweetly play'd in tune.
As fair art thou, my bonny lass.
So deep in luve am I;
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
Till a' the seas gang dry."

Puzzling. Very. You puzzled, too?

Gerry Smith

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Bob and Jakob Dylan to dominate BBC TV and radio

Dylan and son Jakob are set to dominate BBC TV and radio in the next ten days:

Thurs 16 Oct
2300 Bob Dylan, Theme Time Radio Hour (rpt) – BBC Radio 2

Sun 19 Oct
2400 Bob Dylan, Theme Time Radio Hour (series 2) – BBC 6 Music

Tues 21 Oct
2320 Jakob Dylan, Later… With Jools Holland – BBC2

Thurs 23 Oct
2300 Bob Dylan, Theme Time Radio Hour (rpt) – BBC Radio 2

Fri 24 Oct
0035 Jakob Dylan, Later… With Jools Holland – BBC2 (rpt)

Online access: many BBC radio programmes are broadcast online, streamed. Please see the channels’ web sites for details. Archived BBC radio and TV programmes are accessible online for a short period via:

Gerry Smith

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Paperback edition of The Bob Dylan Encyclopedia

Updating his Bob Dylan Encyclopedia for the new paperback edition, Michael Gray took the opportunity to add new entries covering major recent events and product in the Dylan world.

Gray’s new edition reflects the widening array of Dylan-related activity, assessing product as varied as a CD - Modern Times, an art show - Drawn Blank, and two major DVD releases – I’m Not There and the Other Side Of The Mirror.

For the new material, Gray employs his well-established technique of mixing straight reporting with tough critical assessment. You might not always agree with him, but his combative tone consistently challenges you to think through your own opinions.

Apart from its intrinsic value, the new edition – which should be on any Dylan fan’s bookshelves - serves as a reminder of Gray’s pre-eminence as a Zim commentator.

Long before it became fashionable, Gray demonstrated, single-handedly, why Dylan is a great writer, to be considered alongside the giants of serious literature.

Song and Dance Man, Gray’s ground-breaking study from 1972, demonstrated to the first wave of Bobfans just why Dylan was special – why he was marching well in front of the trailing line of rock musos with whom he’d hitherto been associated.

Countless Dylan fans are indebted to Michael Gray.

Gerry Smith



NEW: paperback Bob Dylan Encyclopedia, with updates, out tomorrow

Continuum publishes the paperback edition of Michael Gray's Bob Dylan Encyclopedia tomorrow, in both London and New York. The text has been updated by new entries and amendments to many of the entries in the hardback. To keep the price down, the new edition doesn’t include a CD-ROM.

Here’s how The Dylan Daily greeted the hardback edition:

"The Encylopedia majors on its author's unparalleled expertise, his critical judgment and a ready intelligence and authorial finesse…in three quarters of a million words, he paints a massive canvas. Over 730 pages, its daunting breadth of coverage and sheer level of detail is deeply impressive… destined to be the most important Bob Dylan book, bar none."

* New entries:

Blues [2006]
Bob Dylan: The Collection [2006]
Bob Dylan: The Drawn Blank Series [2007]
Carthy, Martin
Dennis-Dylan, Desiree [1986 - ]
Dylan [2007]
Dylan, last solo concert by [1965]
Haynes, Todd [1961 - ]
I'm Not There [film, 2007]
Lerner, Murray [192? - ]
Man Without Papers, The [TV drama, 1965]
Modern Times [2006]
Other Side Of The Mirror, The [film, 2007]
Paradise Cove [film, 1999]
Ronson, Mark
65 Revisited [film, 2006]
21st Century Dylan songs written for films
White, Jack

* Updated entries:

Alk, Howard
Alvin, Dave
'Am I Your Stepchild?'
American Civil War in World Gone Wrong, the
Animals, the
Aufray, Hugues
Ball, Gordon
Barker, Derek & Tracy
Berry, Chuck
Betts, Dickey
Blowin' In the Wind
blues, external signals of Dylan's interest in
Bob Dylan Greatest Hits
Bob Dylan Greatest Hits Vol. II
Bootleg Series Vol.5
Bridge, The
Bringing It All Back Home
Brown, Richard Rabbit
'Brownsville Girl'
Bruce, Jack
Bruton, Stephen
Campbell, Larry
Campbell, Mike
Carmichael, Hoagy
Charles, Larry
Chronicles Volume One
Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem
Clapton, Eric
Cohen, John
co-option of real music by advertising, the
Cross, Billy
Dennis, Carolyn
Diaz, Cesar
Domino, Fats
Don't Look Back
Drawn Blank [1994]
Dunn, Tim
Dylan [1973]
earliest extant recordings, Dylan's
Elliott, Ramblin' Jack
Epstein, Howie
Estes, Sleepy John
folk music, American, black
Freeman, Denny
Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, The: withdrawn early version
Fremerman, Elana
Fuller, Blind Boy
Garnier, Tony
Gleason, Ralph J.
Goldberg, Barry
Goldstein, Harvey
Grateful Dead, the
'The Groom's Still Waiting at the Altar'
guitars, Bob Dylan's acoustic
Guthrie, Woody
Haggard, Merle
Hammond, John
Hammond, John Jr.
Harrison, George
Helm, Levon
Hendrix, Jimi
Herdman, John
Herron, Donnie
Hibbing rock'n'rollers
Highway 61 Revisited
Hinton, Nigel
Horowitz, David
Howlin' Wolf
Humphries, Patrick
Hunter, Robert
Ian & Sylvia
'In Search of Little Sadie'/'Little Sadie'
Jackson, John
James, Elana
Jean, Wyclef
Johnnie & Jack
Jones, Mickey
Jones, Norah
Kalb, Danny
Kegan, Larry
Kershaw, Doug
Kimball, Stuary
King, Clydie
Kooper, Al
Kramer, Daniel
Kweskin, Jim
LaFarge, Pete
Lesh, Phil
Levy, Dan
Lightfoot, Gordon
Lightnin' Hopkins
Like A Rolling Stone
Lomax, Alan
'Love Henry'
McTell, Blind Willie
Madhouse On Castle Street, the
Marcus, Greil
Marsalis, Wynton
Mayall, John
Maymudes, Victor [1935 - 2001]
Memphis Minnie
Meyers, Augie
Mitchell, Joni
Muddy Waters
Muir, Andrew
Muldaur, Maria
Murphy, Elliott
musical accompanists to Dylan, other
Nelson, Paul
Neville, Aaron
nursery rhyme on Under the Red Sky
Pagel, Bill
Pennebaker, D.A.
'People Get Ready'
Petty, Tom
Presley, Elvis
Poe, Edgar Allan
Quintana, Charlie
Raney, Wayne
Ray, Dave
Receli, George
Richards, Keith
Ricks, Christopher
Rimbaud, Arthur
Rinzler, Ralph
Rivera, Scarlet
Rosen, Jeff
Rotolo, Suze
Sahm, Doug
Savakus, Russ
Scaduto, Anthony
Schatzberg, Jerry
Scheff, Jerry
Sedgwick, Edie
Self Portrait
Sexton, Charlie
Sinatra, Frank
Smith, Warren
Spoelstra, Mark
Springs, Helena
Stanley Brothers, the
Stanley, Ralph
Stewart, Dave
'Tangled Up In Blue'
Taylor, Mick
Tedeschi, David
Tench, Benmont
Time Out Of Mind
Thompson, Toby

Monday, October 13, 2008

Tell Tale Signs Deluxe: another price, and a reaction

Fopp, the rump of the small failed UK music retail chain bought up by HMV, are selling the Tell Tale Signs Deluxe box for £84; the London branch had half a dozen well-secured copies on display on Friday evening. It looks (and feels) most impressive.

I’m not a great Dylan CD collector but if I was, I think I’d prefer the Deluxe box to be even more expensive – say £199 or £299. For that price, though, it would need to be supplied in a numbered, signed, limited edition (of 5-10,000 worldwide).

The present version seems to me to fall between two stools – too pricey for the mass market, but not pricey enough for a true collectable.

Meanwhile, el cheapo 2CD £12.99 version is giving immense pleasure in these parts – I’m not too sure about the sleeve notes, though.

Gerry Smith
Fopp, the rump of the small failed UK music retail chain bought up by HMV, are selling the Tell Tale Signs Deluxe box for £84; the London branch had half a dozen well-secured copies on display on Friday evening. It looks (and feels) most impressive.

I’m not a great Dylan CD collector but if I was, I think I’d prefer the Deluxe box to be even more expensive – say £199 or £299. For that price, though, it would need to be supplied in a numbered, signed, limited edition (of 5-10,000 worldwide).

The present version seems to me to fall between two stools – too pricey for the mass market, but not pricey enough for a true collectable.

Meanwhile, el cheapo 2CD £12.99 version is giving immense pleasure in these parts – I’m not too sure about the sleeve notes, though.

Gerry Smith

Friday, October 10, 2008

BOBMANIA #32: new Dyl-Time Theme Radio Hour

Thanks to Mel Prussack:

“Happy to let you know that Season 3 of Dyl-Time Theme Radio Hour premiered on Wednesday October 8. The theme for the show is Love. We will be running another contest with some great prizes.

“Check out my podcasts at:

and see my videos at:

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Tell Tale Signs: an important release/best prices/3CD rip-off?

#1: Tell Tale Signs: an important release

Thanks to Martin Cowan:

My 2 disc copy arrived from Amazon yesterday. It is barely out of its wrapper, but I wanted to quickly jot you some thoughts.

I have only had a brief dip into disc 1 but on the strength of what I have heard so far this is an important release and re-ignites my interest in Dylan, which has dipped since "Modern Times".

* "Mississippi" (track 1 disc 1): what a fantastic version. Gone is the intrusive backing from L And T, just Dylan's bluesy strum, Lanois's subtle fills and an upfront and committed vocal - just great.

* "Dignity"(piano demo): again, superbly committed vocal and the track benefits again from losing its chugging boogie woogie band backing - Dylan's vocal is so up front, he sounds like he's in the room. A really committed performance.

* "Someday Baby": why was this version not on "Modern Times"? More contemporary sounding, so sounds more original and less of a Muddy Waters steal - interesting to hear the same or similar words in a completely different musical setting.

* "High Water" (live): this starts unpromisingly, with Dylan seemingly groping round for the words but then we hit the second verse, he suddenly focuses, snarls out the lyrics and the band fall into step. Wow! Nice to hear a live performance properly recorded, too (rather than the official and unofficial "field recordings" we have had to make do with for the last few years.)

A few comments on the packaging: nice to see lots of recent pix of Dylan, and Ratso's liner notes are excellent. However, while there are detailed photo credits, there are no songwriter credits or publishing details anywhere in the package, surely an oversight.”

#2 Tell Tale Signs: best prices

Thanks to Renaud Depierreux in Brussels:

“Just to let you know, the best price I have seen for Tell Tale Signs 2CD is euro16 in Media Markt in Brussels!

“As far as I am concerned, I ordered my 3CD copy directly from at $ 99.99 ($ 107.47 with S&H) which, thanks to the advantageous EUR/USD exchange rate (but for how much longer?) is quite interesting, I think.”

#3 Tell Tale Signs: rip-off 3CD?

Thanks to Gordon Macniven:

“Ref Liam Mogan's piece - the 3CD set "a rip off"!? Surely not! For goodness sake, don't let Sony know he thinks they could have got a 5CD set out of this - they'll rush out just such a set at - well who knows - £399?

“I’m a very contented owner of £12's worth of the 2CD set.”

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Tell Tale Signs DeLuxe Edition – exclusive review of CD3

Thanks to Liam Mogan:

Just a few notes on the Exclusive Deluxe Edition:


I paid £84.99 for it, which is considerably cheaper than the price (although the package doesn't include the 7" single). The main question I suppose is it worth the money? The answer is no - £70.00 for an extra disc of material and a bit of packaging is daylight robbery. Sony must know they are only ripping off the diehards on this one. But, hey, I suppose was always going to buy it and I could have just bought the 2 disc edition and downloaded the extra disc. It still rankles though.


The packaging is ok - nothing spectacular. The cds come in a small book format and the cd single artwork come in a exact replica. They both fit into a stiff cardboard case (it seems pretty heavy duty). It's basically quite similar to the Bob Dylan Scrapbook that was released a couple of years ago (but not as imaginative). The cd book has a few pictures and Rats Sloman's liner notes (expanded for this edition, obviously). It also has an attempt at listing the musicians who play on each track, but for some (especially the TOM sessions) it seems to just list every musician who played on those sessions as a whole! The cd single artwork is something of missed opportunity. I've looked through it once and probably never will again. Surely Sony could have come up with something more interesting? Maybe an overview of Bob's career during the period Tell Tale Signs covers, interviews with producers, players etc, more essays, historic reviews for the original albums etc.


Obviously it's what is on the third cd that really matters and suffice to say there are some awe-inspiring tracks on here. What amazes me about the alternate takes, especially, is the legitimacy of each version. There is virtually no re-treading of musical ideas anywhere. I'm sure that there could have been twice as many alternative versions included and this expanded edition could have run to 5 discs easily, (even more with live tracks). These are my feelings on them

Duncan & Brady - This is not a good start. A traditional track ruined by a completely incongruous backing track. All manner of instruments clutter up the tune which whizzes along without purpose or direction. Bob sounds disinterested and slightly embarrassed. At worst it sounds like something from Knocked Out Loaded, at best an out take from Under the Red Sky. No wonder Good As I Been To You/World Gone Wrong followed.

Cold Irons Bound (live) - Bob and his band fire up the stage with a truly incendiary, power-charged version of a track which always sounds better live. The guitar interplay is dynamic and Bob's voice is focussed and elemental. Truly jaw-dropping.

Mississippi - The third(!) version on the set of this song has a slight reggae feel and whilst it has a certain charm seems a bit too calculated - as if Lanois (possibly) has instigated an attempt at a different style to shake things up.

Most of The Time - A more subtle version of the OM track. Less-obviously produced with a more rootsy feel (the acoustic guitars are more pronounced). I like this track a lot, Dylan leans into each word as if he means it. A gem.

Ring Them Bells - A great solo version. Piano and voice sound in perfect harmony. Its clearly the basis for later versions and rightly so. Without the shimmering guitars and intrusive echo it sounds just like it should.

Things Have Changed (live) - The band are in a tight groove and the overall feel is more relaxed that the studio version. Bob obviously likes this track and takes care over his delivery. A superb version.

Red River Shore - This take is slightly different from the one on Cd1 in that the band come in at the beginning as opposed to dropping in with each verse. After only a handful of listens its hard to say which one I favour. Safe to say both are beautiful works of art which only add to Bob Dylan's status as THE musical genius of the 20th century. (I can see why it was left off of TOM though - it just wouldn't have fitted in)

Born In Time - Similar to the version on Cd1. I prefer this version as, once again, it sounds less over-produced with Bob's voice in the foreground.

Tryin' to Get To Heaven (live) - Dylan as Sinatra! This is astonishing and as good an example of Bob's skill as a shape-shifter as anything he's ever done. From the simple guitar figure to the beautiful phrasing this lifts the doom-laden TOM version onto a different level altogether. The song is changed into a life-affirming tribute to a life well lived. Somebody shouts 'F**kin' Beautiful' at the end, which while apposite, completely breaks the spell Dylan and the band have just created! Someone should have Pro-Tooled it out.

Marchin' To The City - A definite 'filler'. It adds very little to the previous version and sounds slightly generic. The organ is very annoying indeed. One to skip.

Can't Wait - This is the best version of this song bar none. It starts spookily and mysterious and the slow pace adds depth to the lyrics and the performance. As the band comes in, their accompaniment is totally sympathetic. Great Vocals too. I could listen to this over and over.

Mary & The Soldier - I couldn't think of a better place to end than this spot-on cover. As good as anything on the 90s acoustic albums. Dylan sounds completely at home with just voice and lone guitar. The disparity between this and the first track on this disc, Duncan & Brady, is staggering.

I can only agree with most reviewers (the general reaction appears to be one of mass-adulation) that this collection re-affirms the sheer immensity and ever-changing nature of the genius that is Bob Dylan. Personally I can't wait until the next one....

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Tell Tale Signs – 3CD version

Thanks to Liam Mogan in West Yorkshire, England:

“My deluxe copy of Tell Tale Signs was delivered this morning thanks to the miracle of shopping via online record store Badlands.

“Priced at £84.99 (considerably cheaper than most online retailers), their service can't be beaten. Listened to Disc 1 and can only agree with your NPR review from last week.

“I hope to submit a more detailed review soon.”

Friday, October 03, 2008

Key Dylan product at bargain prices

UK readers who intend to buy Tell Tale Signs next week from a Fopp store should check out their Dylan bargains.

When I was in the Cambridge branch a couple of weeks ago, Fopp had some tempting prices:

* DYLAN 3CD - £10

* Biograph (long box version) - £10

* Bootleg Series v1-3 - £14

* Greatest Hits (UK version) - £5

* Suze’s new book - £10

Bargains every one!

Gerry Smith

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Tell Tale Signs – where the tracks come from

The 2CD version of Tell Tale Signs has 27 tracks. I should have better things to do with my time, but I couldn’t resist working out where in the 1989-2006 time frame each song came from.

To save you wasting your time too, here’s the breakdown:

Oh Mercy 8 tracks
“L&T” 4
OSTs 3
Mod T 2

New (to me) 5

(I’m counting Mississippi as from “Love And Theft”, even though it was left over from the TOOM sessions.)

A rich mix, I’d say.

Gerry Smith

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Tell Tale Signs – reaction and best price

A couple of hours in the company of Tell Tale Signs last night, courtesy of NPR Music’s streaming of the 2CD version, served as a reminder – as if it were needed! – that its author is an immense, unmatched talent.

The 27-track compilation is eloquent testimony to Dylan’s abundant creativity over the last 20 years. It underlines the continuity in his art and enriches your appreciation of the work, particularly the two strongest albums of the period, Oh Mercy and TOOM, as well as introducing many of us to almost a dozen new recordings demanding careful scrutiny.

Yes, it could have been done very differently, but I, for one, consider that Sony’s Bootleg Series programme is – still - a wonder to behold.

As for the main purchase options – one, two or three compact discs: I just don’t understand why anyone would buy the single CD version; the 2CD is the standard version, which 90% of Dylan Daily readers are likely to buy; and the 3CD version is clearly aimed at collectors (the extra disc is destined to be massively bootlegged, but the packaging extras and artwork can’t be).

The target (UK) price for the 2CD version is £12.99 delivered –,, cd-wow and hmv are all discounting to that price, from the list £16.99. I contemplated asking my son to get me one in Paris next week, to get the French packaging, but with the FNAC online price at euro27, I plumped for instead.

Roll on Monday: rapture in store! Thanks, Bob… Columbia – just keep ‘em coming!

Gerry Smith