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Comrades From The North

The world has been buzzing in recent months with a veritable avalanche of Dylan activity. A good deal of the impetus for this is the fact that Dylan himself appears to be relatively keen to re-visit and re-assess his career in a serious way. In this issue you will read in-depth critiques of some of that work. For the record, the superb No Direction Home played out to universal acclaim enhancing Dylan's already legendary status. The accompanying CD-set was equally well-received as was the DVD of No Direction Home which rapidly followed the TV broadcast. Not unexpectedly, collectors were a tad disappointed at the provision of extras and would have preferred a larger and more creative selection. Well, isn't it always that way? The mouth-watering selection of video snippets used in No Direction Home was sometimes jaw-dropping. Perhaps the best amongst them was an extra cut on the DVD, namely Like A Rolling Stone, from Newcastle 1966. Not the least because one of these Two Riders was there at the show and, boy, did this clip re-energise the memory cells. On a slightly critical note, it seemed to us that, for the less fanatical fan, the DVD struggled to make it clear why Dylan's "conversion" to electric music had such a divisive effect amongst critics and fans.

Co-incident with all of this sound and vision came a rack-full of books to add to the very overcrowded bookshelves. Probably the best of these and certainly the one to draw in the curious was The Bob Dylan Scrapbook 1956-1966. This lovingly-produced volume is strong on presentation containing facsimiles of hand-bills, Dylan's hand-written lyrics on hotel paper, ticket-stubs, advertising material and lots of other memorabilia. These are housed within the book in creatively inventive ways. The whole volume comes bound in a stout card jacket. As if that were not enough it also contains a CD of interviews from across Dylan's early career. It's not cheap, of course, so it looks like with this volume and all of the others there are plenty of potential entries for the Christmas present list.

Dylan has continued touring and made it to Europe recently. In the UK, the shows made a shaky start in Nottingham but improved as the tour continued. There are still some question-marks over the quality of this current band and there are times when the sound-mix is crucial. On the louder numbers a poor mix can result in a muddy sound ensuring that the twin guitars come across as a cacophony. This is essentially how it came over at Nottingham. However, in his cocoon, Dylan was as good as ever in recent years, as this swirled all around him.

Next year is calling and at this rate we'll all need a truck to carry away the product if we are to keep up with it. Well, you never know!! Whatever happens we wish you a very peaceful time over the Christmas and New Year period.

And to each of you, may you climb on every rung ..........

Mike and John

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