Friday, October 09, 2009

Bob Dylan explorations

Thanks to Martin Cowan and Andrew Robertson (from Adelaide):

* Martin:

“I am envious of someone who has only just got into Bob Dylan and has that wealth of music to discover! A few recommendations:

“Best compilations: Biograph/Bootleg Series 1-3/Tell Tale Signs: 8 cds worth of famous greats and unreleased gems, from 1962 to 2006.

“Best album - Street Legal: a pivotal album, mixing poetic lyrics and great tunes with a hard rocking sound.

“Best book - Heylin's "Behind The Shades" and Nigel Williamson’s "Rough Guide" are both highly recommended.”

* Andrew:

“To which I would add two important bookends from Dylan’s (official) discography: Live 1964 and Tell Tale Signs.

“Live 1964 because it is Bob Dylan live as you’ve never heard him. He is young and vibrant, ebullient and irrepressible, confident and so, so commanding.

“Singing solo acoustic, other than a few songs beautifully accompanied by Joan Baez, his vocals have a power and clarity that I think is unmatched. Any debate about his voice and his ability to sing ends instantly upon listening to this concert – he is nothing less than masterful.

“Perhaps it’s because the songs are still relatively new that he imbues them with such power and passion. Indeed, some of them were being performed for the first or second time – songs that were to become legend, like Gates of Eden and It’s Alright Ma.

“You almost get the sense that Dylan was hearing them for the first or second time too, there was a real sense of newness and discovery – as if he was being as delighted as the audiences by his lyrical wizardry!

“But even more than the performance power, was the power of the person – Dylan was more engaged with the audience than I’ve ever heard him, talking and laughing, joking and teasing. Spellbinding stuff!

“And between the deeper meanings of his masterpieces like Hard Rain, was the playfulness and irreverence of If You Gotta Go, Go Now, surely one of the wittiest songs of its time.

“Live 1964 is a fantastic – no, essential – introduction to Dylan, both lyrically and as a performance artist.

“Tell Tale Signs is my second recommendation, because it is the other side of the gold coin that is Bob Dylan – more recent works that showcase the mature artist that the young Dylan of 1964 evolved into.

“The voice has changed, the instrumentation has become more sophisticated, and the lyrics reflect the wisdom of his years. They are no less powerful and if anything, perhaps they carry greater meaning through being more nuanced, but they still portray the same unique talent. It is a more personal view than the worldview of the one-time “voice of a generation” but no less relevant for that.

“Again, in terms of an introduction to Dylan, Tell Tale Signs is essential listening.

“Then, depending which of the two resonated more, our friend could explore the canon from the start moving forward, or from the present moving back – either would be a journey to be savoured!”