Monday, November 30, 2009

Collectable new Dylan cover - The Big Issue magazine

There’s a new, very desirable Dylan cover on The Big Issue magazine, issue no 874, 23-29 Nov. It was still on sale in London on Saturday, but you’ll have to hurry.

The Dylan portrait (looks like the William Claxton shoot for Modern Times) flags the main article in the issue, a transcript of the Bill Flanagan interview promoting the Xmas album.

The Big Issue is the best possible UK mag for the interview as it’s sold by homeless street vendors, in line with the charitable destination for Dylan’s royalties from the new CD.

Gerry Smith

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Utterly original: Bob Dylan Revisited - lyrics interpreted as grown-up graphics

There seems no end to the formats in which Dylan’s artistry is now celebrated.

The latest medium to catch my attention is the new hardback book, Bob Dylan Revisited: 13 Graphic Interpretations of Bob Dylan’s Songs.

It’s a fine addition to the Zim bookshelf, presenting lyrics of a selection of classic songs as graphics for grown-ups.

So, for example, Girl From The North Country is covered in five large-format glossy colour pages, with the lyrics running alongside graphic artist Francois Avril’s telling visual interpretation of the song, in strip cartoon form.

Graphic books for grown-ups are exotic in the Anglo-Saxon world, but they’re an important, massively popular, artform in Francophone countries. Unsurprisingly, this delightful book was originally published in French, last year.

Utterly original: recommended.

Achetez ce livre, mes amis!

(Details: Bob Dylan Revisited: 13 Graphic Interpretations of Bob Dylan’s Songs, WW Norton, New York/London, 98pp, large format hardback, Oct 2009, £15 approx.)

Gerry Smith

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

All along the watchtower: Dylan’s everywhere… (continued)

On my way to a gig at the Barbican, with half an hour to spare, I called in at the fabulous Museum of London.

At the end of the Roman London gallery, in a section dealing with defensive fortifications, the information panel was headed: “All Along The Watchtower”.

Dylan’s everywhere these days – he’s now firmly embedded in the English language – a Shakespeare for the 21st Century, just as some of us were expecting, way back when…

Gerry Smith

Friday, November 13, 2009

Bob Dylan and Miles Davis: Sony’s big box sets compared

As far as Bob Dylan and Miles Davis, its major assets, are concerned, Sony does a creditable job managing the treasures locked away in its priceless vaults.

However much hardcore fans might moan about the slow drip-feed of the unreleased Dylan legacy, Columbia Legacy is to be commended on its Bootleg Series.

Columbia Legacy also manages its Miles Davis assets pretty astutely, though some Miles aficionados whinge that Sony has released too much inconsequential blathering by the Prince Of Darkness!

But the imminent release of the Complete Miles Davis Columbia Album Collection will leave Bobfans drawing unfavourable comparisons with the Zim equivalent, 2003’s Bob Dylan Revisited: The Reissues Series.

The two reissue projects are similar in key respects – all the albums in both collections have remarkable upgraded sound and both boxes reintroduce the original album artwork, in seductive digipak format.

But, in other ways, the new Miles box is more compelling:

* it pulls together all of the label’s Miles albums – Bob Dylan Revisited: The Reissues Series was selective, with only 15 titles, against the Miles box’s whopping 52, many of them double albums!

* many of the Miles albums carry worthwhile bonus tracks – the Dylan reissues eschewed any.

* even if you already own most of the original recordings, the incentives to buy the Miles box are persuasive – a newly released live DVD, a couple of previously unreleased CDs-worth of music, a substantial 250 page book by two leading Miles experts, and striking packaging.

* value: the “street” launch prices of the two boxes are similar, but the Miles box gives you far more bang for your buck.

Bottom line: I already had virtually all releases by both musicians. I passed on the Dylan box; I’ve ordered the Miles box.

Gerry Smith

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Hugues Aufray: more than just a “cover artist”

Thanks to Miche Duthoit:

“Good to see you reporting on Hugues Aufray again. But I think you underestimate Hugues’ importance: in France at least, he’s rather more than a ‘cover artist’.

“Aufray’s translations (as well as recordings) of the early catalogue converted a whole generation of 1960s French-speaking pop fans to Dylan.

“Keep up your coverage of Dylan from a European perspective; it’s refreshing.”


Hugues Aufray a Paris: non, merci - trop cher

Having only recently discovered Hugues Aufray’s French-language translations/cover versions of the early Dylan catalogue, I was thrilled at the weekend to stumble across a live performance by the Gallic baritone.

I was strolling around les Grands Boulevards in Paris last Saturday evening, wondering what to do, when, lo and behold, at the legendary Rex theatre, there it was - Aufray’s name, up in lights. He was due to take the stage an hour later.

Shall I, shan’t I… ? Hmmmm.

After a moment of indecision, I checked my Pariscope ents guide for ticket prices: “euros 30-55.”

The clincher: trop cher.

So I walked away. I simply don’t value any Dylan cover artist enough to justify paying over £10.

Pity. I’ll continue to enjoy the singer’s best compilation CD, Aufray Chante Dylan - it’s a lovely change from Hardy, Brel or Piaf (and even Malcolm McLaren) when in Paris/Paris mood.

And recommended.

Gerry Smith

Thursday, November 05, 2009

New Age Dylan: Oh Lord, please give me strength…

Thanks to Sarah Hunt:

“New Age Dylan? Oh Lord, please give me strength…

“This is certainly not ‘appropriate’. If people want to listen to this stuff, fine by me. Same with the Xmas album. But you couldn’t pay me to listen to either.

“Am I the only Dylan Daily reader who feels that a great body of art is being undermined here?”

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

New Age Dylan – soothing furrowed brows?

The record label have sent me details of a new album “which transforms popular rock bands [sic] like Bob Dylan, The Beatles and U2 into relaxing meditation music.”

But is this appropriate?

Having been surprised by some positive fan reaction to the Xmas album, I’m not sure any more…

Gerry Smith


Information and song samples:


Slated for release November 17, the ³Modern Meditations² series¹ ³Rock Classics² and ³Modern Classics² 12-track collections feature meditative renditions of some of rock music¹s best-known
and most beloved songs. Also available on November 17 is an album dedicated to the songs of The Beatles. Aimed at introducing a brand new, modern rock perspective on ³new age² music fare, the ³Modern Meditations² series will be available for purchase at all traditional music retail outlets and online services, as well as distributed to many high-end lifestyle retailers.

Featuring the work of renowned producers from across the globe, ³Modern Meditations² has transformed contemporary rock favorites into meditation music for the rock & roll generation. Shimmering rock guitars and warm percussion create lush instrumental soundscapes. While yoga, Pilates, and meditation have all entered the mainstream, the music has not. The ³Modern Meditations² series aims to introduce an alternative to traditional new age fare to the growing modern rock audience.

The first of two compilation releases, ³Rock Classics,² features serene instrumental versions of songs from classic rock¹s most revered artists including Bob Dylan, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Police, Led Zeppelin and many others. ³Modern Classics² dives into the contemporary rock catalog with tranquil renditions of songs by The Verve, U2, The Cure, Oasis, R.E.M., Nirvana and more.