Friday, 10 July 2009



T' old 'un said...

Right from the outset it sounds like gibberish.
It is certainly a New Labour genre.

call me ishmael said...

Well, venerable one, you are absolutely right from your side, I am right from mine. It is a porridge of mixed-up confusion from a mind mangled by the rollers of pharmacology and fame but it is also phenomenal, juddering, cataclysmic, train-crash rock and roll; allegory, metaphor and allusion rear-ending each other in a raucous, condescending tumult of bitterness and deadly, sniperscope rage; an artist willingly almost out of control, chaos inventing from itself a new form, the performers touring the world to a nightly barrage of both catcall and stunned applause, the mania of the little man in the middle unswerving.

The studio recording, from Highway 61 Revisited, is sharper and more measured, better organised than this performance; the piano, organ, bass, drums, guitar and harmonica more adroit, distinguishable, the vocal crisper, fresher, the parts, now hardwired into popular culture, often improvised, soaring on Creativity's amphetamine wing.

But this, the Bob Dylan UK tour of 1966, with part of the ensemble which would become The Band, was the rock 'n' roll word, made flesh. Each nightly first-half was Dylan alone with guitar and harp, his earlier works punctuated by trademark hammering-on and blowing more notes than there are; the second half, the curtains drawn back to reveal electric voodoo machines and apostate players was all, jubilantly, like this. Junkyard blues meets Chuck Berry and James Joyce.

This historic, much valued clip is by contemporary standards, dated and amateur, grainy, sub-standard but the live performances had a chaotic dignity and a grandeur never matched. Trust me, old one; a young, young man, starry-eyed and laughing, I was at that very concert.