Powers founded on the supergroups of the now are pale comparisons to what the late 1980s had in store for audiences. McBusted are a strong contender, surely, but not close to the might and influence Traveling Wilburys had in their two short years together. Artists who have crafted some of the all-time greats, not just once, but consistently so. Traveling Wilburys that is, not McBusted. Generations of influence, and decades of musical experience, all siphoned off into a ten-track album that spawned from a light joke of a single turning into something far, far more powerful than could ever have been expected. Handle With Care indeed. It didn’t get much better for this supergroup than Traveling Wilburys, Vol 1.
Bob Dylan fans were left disappointed after a promised “remake” of the classic track Subterranean Homesick Blues.
The iconic original shows Dylan holding placards in a London alleyway, timing the drop of the card with the lyrics throughout.
Commenters eagerly awaited the launch of the remake, which premiered on YouTube today on the official Bob Dylan YouTube account.
But fans who were hoping for the Mr. Tambourine Man singer to look back on his own work were sorely disappointed by an updated video that removed the classic placard protest.
Too weird for ABC, too rare to bury it deep in their archives. Eat the Document gives a quick glimpse into the lifestyle and touring antics of Bob Dylan. Not as well as Don’t Look Back did a few years before the wider circulation of this short Dylan documentary, but certainly with a new angle of interest. Directed, edited and starring the man himself, Eat the Document is one of the closest images audiences will ever receive of the electric innovator at his 1960s peak. Intimate and as close as mega-fans may ever get to experiencing Dylan in an unguarded environment. Even then, the unguarded character may be a little more perplexing and upfront about fame and talent than first expected.
Contemporary minds have thankfully come to love Blood on the Tracks. It is mad to consider the release of this Bob Dylan masterclass was anything but loved, but its early reviews were not filled with the love it deserves. Erratic productions removing verses and bars and adding new lines on a whim, it is an expendable period for Dylan who still changes the words and meanings of the tracks found here. They are irresistibly strong. Potent tracks that have that universal appeal. Holding within them a deep and unifying status but also a broader and accessible style. It is the best of both worlds for Zimmerman, who offers some of his finest tracks here.
An explosive collection of tracks is found on Bringing it All Back Home. Bob Dylan’s desire to incorporate electric music, move away from protest movements and spur on some new sounds marks his fifth studio album, a grand crashing together of so many details and discoveries. Dylan does not shed all of his old tricks though. His compatibility with the blues is still a keen and awakened feature, but not as pressing as it was in his previous four albums. Still, no artist can truly remove themselves from their roots. As hard as Dylan may try to do so with Bringing it All Back Home, he is not convincing anyone. Those blues roots are here to stay, and thankfully he doesn’t batter them away too much.
Pooling the resources of five years of documentation, No Direction Home: Bob Dylan marks one of a handful of Martin Scorsese’s profiles of Bob Dylan. Vision and ambition are the two words Scorsese hopes to associate with Dylan in his three-and-a-half-hour documentary on the man. He does that well with a bulky feature detailing a few years in the life of Dylan. Scorsese and his subject have the benefit of hindsight. The dust has settled on a varied and lengthy career, especially on the pocket of influence Scorsese wishes to analyse. He combs through these five years finely, stretching the details out and picking them apart as much as he can. Scorsese knows what his audience will want from this feature, an out and out washing of Dylan, who is happy to oblige the questions and commentaries.
That harmonica-wielding hero of the 1960s does show another side to himself on Another Side of Bob Dylan, but it is so close to the persona of the time that the other side is more or less the same. Great tracks, ballad-like folk songs that run the mill of Willie Nelson. That is by no means a problem for Dylan here, who pulls together a great collection of tracks that feel more akin to high-scale crooning than world-beating narratives. Another Side of Bob Dylan is not a step down to the quality of Dylan’s other 1964 offering, The Times They Are A-Changin’, but it does feel a bit left of field considering where his music was going, and how it was to be consumed by the societal changes of the 1960s.
With a title track so strong, right at the peak of Bob Dylan’s heights, listeners can once more expect a perfect ensemble of songs. The Times They Are A-Changin’ benefits greatly from that acoustic guitar and harmonica blend. A stripped-back simplicity that would hold within it the old folk tones of country and Willie Nelson. To release this and Another Side of Bob Dylan in the same year is just showing off. But Dylan does that well. He is never a showboat, but he is surely aware of this talent for great, consistent art. A collection of ballads and meaningful odes to a generation on the cusp of change.
Although Bob Dylan would admit to the biographical structure of great albums like Blonde on Blonde or Highway 61 Revisited, it is his genuine attempt to capture his own structure and mind that falls hardest of all. Self Portrait is the defiant “joke” of the Dylan catalogue. A well-meaning intention behind it, the Voice of a Generation looks to end that very label that sallied his career for a decade. Critics are frequent to use that title for Zimmerman, primarily because it is a synonym for Dylan’s stage name, and the analytics will tire of the word Dylan cropping up in the word processor time and time again. But it is Self Portrait that, while sounding shaky and unrefined as an album concept, reminds audiences and critics that the man at the centre of this music is just that, a man.
Early works and unreleased tracks are the bread and butter of any hardcore fan. Just take a look at your favourite artist, get to grips with what they did not release and why. Pulp has acres of demo recordings that are fit for public consumption but never made it past the studio booth. For Bob Dylan, The Bootleg Series provides hours and hours of unreleased demos, live tapes and little oddities from a decade-spanning, inspired career. The first volume presents 22 tracks of demos, outtakes and live performances. They will spin the head of the hardcore Zimmerman fan, and rightly so. A collection this large is nothing to turn your nose up at.