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The Band live at The Academy of Music, 1971: The ‘Rock of Ages’ concerts
04:00 pm


Bob Dylan
The Band

If I am to judge the product purely on the quality of the music and how much I enjoyed it, I would be obliged to give the new box set Live at the Academy Of Music 1971 by The Band a 5/5. It sounds really good. The performances are nothing short of incredible. It blew my doors off.

The four CDs and one DVD are encased in a nice glossy hardback cover with slick embossed lettering, short essays and color photos. It’s a nice thing to hold in your hands and it got me listening to The Band again. Box sets are good that way and I reacted in the expected Pavlovian slobbering fanboy manner.

Oh children, believe me when I tell you that I can rhapsodize about The Band and this is them at the height of their powers, playing their hearts out over the course of a four-night stint at the old Academy of Music on 14th Street in New York, the cavernous venue that would later become the Palladium nightclub, the set of Club MTV and is now… NYU dorms! They were accompanied by a crack horn section arranged by Allen Toussaint that gave their Civil War folk rock a Stax/Volt swing. Bob Dylan even showed up for the encore of their New Year’s Eve set and performed four numbers with them.

The recordings of these shows are what became the Rock of Ages album, a 2 LP release from the summer of 1972. That album went to #6 in the album charts and is considered by many to be one of the greatest live albums ever recorded.

I haven’t had a chance to listen to all of the box yet, but the 5.1 surround, mixed by Bob Clearmountain is quite good and discs 3 and 4 with the raw “you were there” soundboard mixes from New Year’s Eve are also pretty cool. But why anyone would require seven of the same songs from the first two discs to be repeated—well same performance, with a different, more immediate, less hi-fi mix—on discs 3 and 4 is beyond me. The 5.1 mix is the same songs (minus the Dylan numbers) from the first two discs. There are only seventeen unreleased tracks here. Most people who would want this already have Rock of Ages and in fact may have purchased it in multiple formats. There have already been several CD versions.

The problem with reviewing this box is that I like the music, I like it a lot, but it’s so repetitive that the idea of asking fans of The Band to plunk down $109 (Amazon discounts it to $73) and expecting that they’ll do it seems frankly insane to me.

What gives?

The initial Amazon reviews of Live at the Academy Of Music 1971 have been nothing short of brutal, slamming Robbie Robertson for ripping off his biggest fans and decrying the repetitive nature of the box set. They’ve got a point!

What I can’t believe is that the 5.1 mix is just a (lossy) Dolby file on a DVD and not an HD DTS version on a Blu-ray disc. There’s no high-res stereo file, either, just one encoded at 448 kbps/48kHz. For audiophiles, this is a massive turn-off and although this seems to be news to the major labels, they’re the ones who are still buying those round shiny silver things that you can hold in your hand. Don’t get me wrong, I like Bob Clearmountain’s mix, but I’d sure like it a lot more on a Blu-ray disc! It sounds great, but it could sound a lot better. Me, I’d rather have that superior version, especially at this price point.

It stands to reason that the majors would want to appeal to the people—cater to them, kiss their asses—who would *actually buy* what basically amounts to three versions of Rock of Ages by giving them some value for the money. Even those intelligence-insulting Pink Floyd box sets with the drink coasters and Pink Floyd marbles had the surround audio portion on Blu-ray discs. They overlap in the material here, too, is simply so shameless, that you just have to laugh. At either $109 or $73, it’s not a good value for the money.

By comparison, the upcoming Van Morrison Moondance box set has 4 CDs and a high-resolution 48K 24 bit PCM stereo and DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround sound mix on a Blu-ray and this will sell for $56. I reckon that this is still too high of a price to ask when everyone knows that each and every song on those 4 CDs would fit onto the Blu-ray. I think a $35 list price for an expanded catalog classic that’s been plundered for profits over and over again is where the multi-generational sweet spot is.

Fact is, if I was given the option of buying classic albums on Blu-ray, with either a 176/24 version of some album I love or a 5.1 surround mix (or preferably both) and the list was $35, I’d still be buying the same amount of music that I bought back in 2004. But I’m not offered that option or if I am, it’s not at that price point and I get stuck with a bunch of stuff I don’t want, like a “Dark Side of the Moon” scarf… Go much over $35 and you lose me as a customer.

But this is hypothetical, because seldom does what the accountants at the labels think will sell and what the fans want overlap, it’s just that obvious. Many people have excellent audio-visual equipment in their homes and a desire for quality software products to enjoy on their electronics, but the labels never even attempt to engage these consumers. It’s so completely ass-backwards that it’s… annoying.

There are some rays of hope. For instance Panegyric’s upcoming XTC and Yes reissues done by Porcupine Tree’s Steve Wilson—who has previously worked his magic on the King Crimson catalog—feature a CD and a Blu-ray disc combo with high-res audio, 5.1 surround mix and music videos. There’s also a CD/DVD version that will sell for about $25; the Blu-ray/CD pairing goes for around $30.

DING-DONG, this is the perfect formula. I can’t see why the big labels don’t get that. The majors need to look at what Steve Wilson is doing—and no one else but Steve Wilson—and get him to advise them so they stop falling on their faces so hard each and every time they put out these sorts of releases! DO WHAT HE DOES. HE GETS IT. COPY HIM. When they let bean counters and marketers make these decisions they make them based on faulty assumptions of what record buyers and fans want. Steve Wilson? He knows what I want!

In the case of The Band box, the blame for the list price should probably be laid at the feet (or the ego) of the producer, Robbie Robertson. As one Amazon wag put it, there’s only so much ore in that mine. I expect Robertson understands what he means by that. Anyone paying full retail for this box would. The Band’s vault has simply been plundered too many times. The high list price of Live at the Academy Of Music 1971 turns off the most ardent fans and insures that no new ones will be coming aboard. That’s a shame.

Don’t get me wrong, what’s on the discs, well, it’s fine. It’s magic. It’s like having gold poured into your ears. It’s The Band at their very best.

But it’s overpriced like crazy and I gotta call it like I see it. If this was a Blu-ray disc with the Clearmountain 5.1 mix in HD DTS and a high-res stereo mix, plus the soundboard mix as an extra, at a $35 or under price point, I’d be raving like a lunatic telling all of you to run out and buy it. Now.

Not to be a buzzkill(!) here are four songs (“Time to Kill,” “The Weight,” “This Wheel’s on Fire,” “Up on Cripple Creek”) from The Band performing live at The Syria Mosque in Pittsburgh on November 1st, 1970.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Who are these apocalyptic ‘Twelve Tribes’ Jesus freaks following Bob Dylan around?
12:25 pm


Bob Dylan

Have you heard about the Twelve Tribes group of “Amish-style” hippies—the men have beards, headbands, and ponytails and the women dress like Old West extras on Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman—who have been following Bob Dylan’s tour around in a bus handing out a freaky 24-page ‘zine (“Dylan: What Are You Thinking?”) about how Dylan’s some kind of religious prophet?

The sect’s fascination with Dylan can be traced back to an incredibly strange interview he gave to SPIN magazine in 1985:

All that exists is spirit, before, now and forever more. The messianic thing has to do with this world, the flesh world, and you got to pass through this to get to that. The messianic thing has to do with the world of mankind, like it is. This world is scheduled to go for 7,000 years. Six thousand years of this, where man has his way, and 1,000 years when God has His way. Just like a week. Six days work, one day rest. The last thousand years is called the Messianic Age. Messiah will rule. He is, was, and will be about God, doing God’s business. Drought, famine, war, murder, theft, earthquake, and all other evil things will be no more. No more disease. That’s all of this world.

What’s gonna happen is this: you know when things change, people usually know, like in a revolution, people know before it happens who’s coming in and who’s going out. All the Somozas and Batistas will be on their way out, grabbing their stuff and whatever, but you can forget about them. They won’t be going anywhere. It’s the people who live under tyranny and oppression, the plain, simple people, that count, like the multitude of sheep. They’ll see that God is coming. Somebody representing Him will be on the scene. Not some crackpot lawyer or politician with the mark of the beast, but somebody who makes them feel holy. People don’t know how to feel holy. They don’t know what it’s about or what’s right. They don’t know what God wants of them. They’ll want to know what to do and how to act. Just like you want to know how to please any ruler. They don’t teach that stuff like they do math, medicine, and carpentry, but now there will be a tremendous calling for it. There will be a run on godliness, just like now there’s a run on refrigerators, headphones, and fishing gear. It’s going to be a matter of survival.

People are going to be running to find out about God, and who are they going to run to? They’re gonna run to the Jews, ‘cause the Jews wrote the book, and you know what? The Jews ain’t gonna know. They’re too busy in the fur business and in the pawnshops and in sending their kids to some atheist school. They’re too busy doing all that stuff to know. People who believe in the coming of the Messiah live their lives right now as if he was here. That’s my idea of it, anyway. I know people are going to say to themselves, “What the fuck is this guy talking about?” But it’s all there in black and white, the written and unwritten word. I don’t have to defend this. The scriptures back me up. I didn’t ask to know this stuff. It just came to me at different times from experiences throughout my life. Other than that, I’m just a rock ‘n’ roller, folk poet, gospel-blues-protestest guitar player. Did I say that right?

Uncle Bob’s yer prophet!

The New Yorker’s John Clarke noticed the Twelve Tribers (full name “The Twelve Tribes of the Commonwealth of Israel” ) at the Dylan show he attended and contacted the group. Clarke was told that joining the Twelve Tribes sect requires forsaking all material possessions, communal living, and working without monetary compensation in one of “the group’s cafés, stores, farms, or construction companies scattered across the United States.”

Writing about the “Dylan: What Are You Thinking?” publication, which alternately describes Dylan as a religious prophet before chiding him to make a return to the The Twelve Tribes/Commonwealth of Israel fold, Clarke says:

The most entertaining, and perhaps the most depressing, parts are the testimonials from members. “Bob” joined up because, as Dylan sings, “everybody has to serve somebody.” Another follower named “Thomas” discovered Dylan as a confused, pot-smoking teen-ager “going downhill fast.” He quotes from Dylan’s “My Life in a Stolen Moment” and “Masters of War,” and urges others to join: “You can come for a day or to stay. This is the answer that Dylan saw dimly. This is what he has wanted. Please come.”

Then there’s “Rose,” a lost teen who wandered around the country until she met and married a man who loved Dylan as much as she did. It was 1976, a year after “Blood on the Tracks” was released. “We clung to every word,” she writes. “The deep passion of our romance was radiated through every word Dylan uttered. It says in scripture that a cord of three strands is not easily broken. [Dylan] was our third strand.” At her first Dylan show, in Gainesville, Florida, she took LSD. “He had us in the palm of his hands,” she writes. “We were his.” Since that time, she has written to Dylan about the Twelve Tribes. At a show in Massachusetts, Rose managed to slip a note addressed to Dylan to someone in his entourage. That was in the late nineteen-eighties. She has yet to hear back. “We haven’t given up,” she writes.

The original mission of the Twelve Tribes dates back to 1987, when the group started following the Grateful Dead with a band of musicians, singers, and dancers, offering emergency medical care in venue parking lots. They also provided a place for lost friends to meet, and helped people coming down from bad acid trips. The author James McCallister ran into Twelve Tribes at a Grateful Dead show in 1990. “I viewed their seemingly predatory behavior as a vile cancer on the scene,” he said. “The operation seemed like a bear trap set in otherwise peaceful woods, a trap designed to ensnare those in vulnerable psychological states.”

In addition to following around Dylan’s endless tour, the Twelve Tribe “Peacemaker” bus has also dogged Phish, as well as Grateful Dead spin-off bands RatDog and Furthur.

Via Christian Nightmares

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
George Harrison and Bob Dylan enjoy a game of tennis, 1969
08:12 am


Bob Dylan
George Harrison

George Harrison playing tennis
Bob Dylan playing tennis
Here we find a couple of shaggy hippies playing a bit of tennis. They are not dressed for the occasion, to say the least. Dylan’s form on his serve (possibly a smash—he’s positioned in front of the baseline) looks quite all right, while Harrison’s forehand looks a bit desperate. Both men are playing right-handed.

In The Mammoth Book of Bob Dylan, edited by Sean Egan, we find the following remarks:

Rikki Farr (co-promoter): “One moment I shall treasure for the rest of my life was at the 1969 Isle of Wight Festival. We had been trying to convince The Beatles to get back together and play, but it never quite came together. What did happen, though, was a kind of spontaneous superstar jam session in the afternoon at a mock Tudor house where Bob Dylan was staying.

The Beatles came down to watch the show, but in the afternoon they all got together in the house and I saw on stage the most incredible supergroup you could imagine. Dylan, The Beatles, Eric Clapton, Jackie Lomax, all just jamming. Ginger Baker would get off the drum stool and Ringo would step in. Eric Clapton would take a solo, and then George Harrison would take the next one. It was amazing.

Al Aronowitz (journalist in Dylan entourage): Dylan then invited The Beatles to a game of tennis on the Forelands Farm courts. “I’ll play on condition that nobody really knows how,” quipped John and, as Bob and John teamed up against Ringo and George, Pattie Harrison giggled, “This is the most exclusive game of doubles in the world.

And how!

Via Retronaut

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Famous People on Drugs: Bob Dylan and John Lennon high on heroin together?
12:56 pm


John Lennon
Bob Dylan
D.A. Pennebaker

If TMZ (and the Internet) had been around in the 1960s, you can bet that D.A. Pennebaker’s infamous film of John Lennon and Bob Dylan “both on fucking junk” (Lennon’s words) in the back of Dylan’s limo would have made it to their blog, Gawker and Huffington Post within a New York minute. But it wasn’t until the mid-1980s, when the VHS tape trading underground really took off, that copies of this insane, historically important for all the wrong reasons meeting started making their way into collectors eager hands (I had a copy). Now it’s easy to see, of course, on YouTube.

I’d always just assumed that Dylan and Lennon were both just extremely hungover, but maybe they were on something stronger. Lennon himself would know, right? It would certainly explain Dylan’s odd behavior and all that vomit talk, wouldn’t it?

This momentous event occurred on May 27, 1966 at the time of Dylan’s first “electric” tour of Great Britain, during a year that he admittedly had a $25 a day heroin addiction. The encounter was captured by filmmaker D.A. Pennebaker—it’s an outtake from Eat The Document—and shows how nervous these two rock gods were around each other. In his famous 1971 interview with Rolling Stone, Lennon remarked about the awkward limo ride:

“I just remember we were both in shades and both on fucking junk. ... I was nervous as shit. I was on his territory, that’s why I was so nervous.”

Whatever surreal flights of rock god verbal fantasy they had planned for this filming, the results were something rather less than coherent after Dylan shared his stash! Lennon told Jann Wenner that he was “frightened as hell” and “paranoid” that Dylan had just invited him to be in the film to put him down.

Without stating the obvious, (or perhaps he didn’t know) D.A. Pennebaker told Gadfly magazine:

It was not exactly a conversation by any means. Dylan was so beside himself and in such a terrible state that after a while I don’t think he knew what he was saying. He hauled him up the stairs of the hotel, and when he got to his room he was really sick.

Dylan is clearly out of his flipping mind on something and makes little, if any sense. From the way that he starts off fairly jovial in the first part to the slurred-voiced, nodding-off, face-scratching torpor and talk of vomiting that begins part three, Dylan’s behavior is consistent with a junk user and the viewer practically gets to witness the drug’s effect on him IN REAL TIME! The transformation is something to see. Lennon seems a little embarrassed, and yes, fucked up, but is still willing to play along until their failed attempts at witty wordplay dissolve into nonsense and Dylan seeming to wonder if they’ll make it all the way back to the hotel in time before he pukes his guts out. If John Lennon’s own word is to be trusted, they were both on junk in this footage. This is two of the world’s most famous people, ever, in the entire history of the world, and this is (most probably) them fucked up on heroin together!

How crazy, right?

This is history, baby. Not like great history or anything, but history nonetheless. It’s assumed by most people that they only spent a few minutes in the limo together because that’s what you see in the film and that’s normally what gets posted on YouTube, but they spent more than 20 minutes being shot in that limo. Although it’s fairly excruciating to watch, it is worth it to sit through all of it, once.

Dylan’s slow descent, after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Happy Birthday Bob: Dylan serenades beatnik lumberjacks in 1964
12:00 am


Bob Dylan

In recognition of Bob Dylan’s 72nd year on this planet here’s some exceptionally cool vintage footage of the troubadour on Canadian TV show Quest. It aired in February 1964 and features the baby-faced singer sporting a rockabilly quiff and performing in front of what appears to be a hunting lodge filled with beatnik lumberjacks. The mood is whimsical and slightly surreal.

The songs:
1.The Times They Are A-Changin’
2.Talking World War III Blues
3.The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll
4.Girl From The North Country
5.A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall
6.Restless Farewell

Happy birthday Bob!

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Amazing hand-carved phonebook portraits of Marty Feldman, George Carlin, James Brown and others

George Carlin

When I blogged about Alex Queral‘s hand-carved phonebook sculptures back in 2009, I only featured his ace George Carlin piece as a prime example of Queral’s work.

I still like George the best, but Alex has added a lot more work since then. Check these out:

Marty Feldman

Sammy Davis Jr.
More after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Karen Dalton, Bob Dylan’s favorite folk singer
07:37 am


Bob Dylan
Karen Dalton

Karen Dalton (AKA “Sweet Mother K.D.”) was a folk-blues singer and a part of the early 1960s scene in New York’s Greenwich Village. She played a 12-string guitar and banjo. Her idiosyncratic voice (and missing tooth) saw her called “the hillbilly Billie Holiday” and sadly, the comparison was apt in more ways than just one.

In his Chronicles: Volume One, Bob Dylan, describing the folk scene at the Cafe Wha? said of Dalton:

“My favorite singer in the place was Karen Dalton. Karen had a voice like Billie Holiday’s and played the guitar like Jimmy Reed.”

Dylan would sing with Dalton several times.

“All I can say is that she sure can sing the shit out of the blues” was Fred Neil’s appraisal. She was also admired by (and performed with) the Holy Modal Rounders. Rounder Peter Stampfel later wrote of Dalton: “She was the only folk singer I ever met with an authentic ‘folk’ background. She came to the folk music scene under her own steam, as opposed to being ‘discovered’ and introduced to it by people already involved in it.”
Bob Dylan, Karen Dalton and Fred Neil sometime in the early 1960s.
A reluctant performer who had to be tricked, initially, to enter a recording studio, Dalton only released two albums in her lifetime, It’s So Hard To Tell Who’s Going To Love You The Best (1969) and In My Own Time (1971). Both were flops. Severe heroin addiction and alcohol problems saw her career slip away from her. “Katie’s Been Gone” a number on The Basement Tapes, by Bob Dylan and The Band was written about Dalton.

Sadly, Karen Dalton would eventually lose her two children, become a street person and contract AIDS. She died in the upstate New York home of guitarist Peter Walker in 1993 at the age of 55. In recent years her albums have been reissued with liner notes by Nick Cave and her music is revered by the likes of Devendra Banhart, Joanna Newsom and Cat Power.

When the rarities collection Cotton Eyed Joe came out in 2006 on the French label Megaphone-Music, the package contained a DVD with a handful of seldom seen performance clips, of which some have unsurprisingly turned up on YouTube, like this black and white performance of “It Hurts Me, Too.”

More seldom-seen footage of Karen Dalton after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
The Record Books: If best-selling albums had been books instead…

Blood on the Tracks’ - Robert A. Zimmerman

Fast-paced 1958 thriller: a jilted train driver hi-jacks his New York subway train to exact revenge upon his love rival, only to threaten the life of his ex-lover. The last 30 pages are missing. Don’t know if she survives.

Christophe Gowans is a Graphic Designer and Art Director, who once designed for the music industry (with Peter Saville Associates, Assorted Images, amongst others) and has since produced some stunning work for Blitz, Esquire, Modern Painters, Stella and The Sunday Telegraph.

Christophe is also the talent of a series of fun, collectible and original art works that re-imagine classic albums as book covers.

These fabulous Record Books are on display at his site and are also available to buy at The Rockpot.
Abbey Road’ - The Beatles

Classic paperback. The story of two catholic sisters growing up in a swiftly changing post-war Britain. Guess what? It doesn’t end well.

The Dark Side of the Moon’ - Pink Floyd

Alternative scientific textbook from the 60s. Californian professor Floyd achieved enormous success with this study of the moon’s influence on the menstrual cycle. Indeed, he was able to found his own college, specialising in the study of women’s fertility. The college no longer exists. It was shut down in 1972, having been razed to the ground by a mob of angry husbands.

More of Christophe’s ‘Record Books’, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Bob Dylan’s Super Bowl half time show, details leaked
03:59 pm


Bob Dylan
Tim Heidecker

I don’t want to spoil any of the fun here, so I’ll just say “Tim Heidecker writes”:

Here it is. My 4th Annual Super Bowl Half Time Show song leak. This one is from none other than Bob Dylan, who is replacing Beyonce who dropped out after her inauguration lip synching scandal.

“Running Out The Clock” is a previously unreleased song from Dylan’s 1983 “Infidels” album. I guess it makes sense… the football metaphors and references.

I hope you enjoy and know I’ll be back next year with another leak.


If you’re going to fake a Dylan song, to model yours after an Infidels outtake is so ridiculous and obtuse that I just can’t stop laughing about it.

And speaking of Tim Heidecker, have you seen the Tim and Eric film, Tim & Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie? I watched it recently and it’s fucking hilarious. I’d even go so far to say it’s the Penn & Teller Get Killed of our time (and I mean that in a good way, I LOVED Penn & Teller Get Killed, honest I did!). It’s on Netflix, so get stoned and watch it pronto. Forget about those snooty Sundance audiences and the haters on Rotten Tomatoes, what do they know?

Heidecker also has a movie review podcast called “On Cinema, At The Cinema” where he muses about new films with friends. In a recent episode, with guest host Gregg Turkington (you may know him as Neil Hamburger), the two discussed Zero Dark Thirty, a “documentary” about the death of “one of the original bad guys in cinema and in… the world,” Osama bin Laden. Genius funny stuff.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Allen Ginsberg declares his admiration for Bob Dylan on TV in 1965

In this brief clip broadcast on KRON TV in San Francisco, Allen Ginsberg pays loving tribute to the young Bob Dylan. December 3rd,1965.

“He is a lovable genius and I hope he lives to be 100.”

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Riffing on Bob Dylan’s ‘Blonde on Blonde’: Rainy day women, Leonard Cohen and the Old Testament?
05:46 am


Bob Dylan
Leonard Cohen
Al Kooper

I recently found myself wondering–as you do–what, exactly, “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35” was all about. Precluding, that is, getting high (Dylan: “I never have and never will write a drug song”). My curiosity led me to the following observation by Dylan scholar Clinton Heylin, who observed that the title seems to allude to the following beauty from the Book of Proverbs (chapter 27, verse 15): “A continual dropping in a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike.” (Well if that ain’t the Old Testament’s lightest moment!?) Heylin suggests the title was meant to throw off the censors. Better yet, though: a continual dropping: stoning! “Everybody must get stoned”: Every man (the ones that shack up with women anyhow) must get nagged. The “They” being none other than (Rainy Day) “women.”

Well, they’ll stone you and say that it’s the end
Then they’ll stone you and then they’ll come back again
They’ll stone you when you’re riding in your car
and they’ll stone when you’re playing your guitar

It all comes into focus when you picture a henpecked hubby– even, I fancy, “sent down in your grave,” which suggests the dirt dropped on hubby’s coffin lid by the surviving widow.

While Heylin’s sourcing of the title in Proverbs arguably seals the deal, it turns out plenty of sharper-eared listeners have long held this interpretation of the song (fair enough: it’s hidden in plain sight), and I found it suggested online that the “#12 & 35” element coincides with a woman’s peak fertility. “A continual dropping in a rainy day…” The song’s about PMT!

Having finally sussed “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35” (it’ll do me!), I moved on to the similarly enigmatic Blonde on Blonde classic “Just Like Woman.” Immediately, of course, we find ourselves assailed by a further “continual dropping” (Bob’s standing “inside the rain,” no less), but – as I chewed again on the song’s famous words – light was shed in an unexpected and entirely different direction…

Does the following verse of “Just Like a Woman” remind you of another famous song at all?

Ev’rybody knows
That Baby’s got new clothes
But lately I see her ribbons and her bows
Have fallen from her curls.

How about Leonard Cohen’s “Everybody Knows”?

Everybody knows that you love me baby
Everybody knows that you really do
Everybody knows that you’ve been faithful
Ah give or take a night or two
Everybody knows you’ve been discreet
But there were so many people you just had to meet
Without your clothes
And everybody knows

And if you’re still not convinced that Cohen is here (Dylan’s “new clothes” suggesting “no clothes,” after all) paying subtle tribute to the source of his song’s indelible refrain, remind yourself of the following verse also…

And everybody knows that it’s now or never
Everybody knows that it’s me or you
And everybody knows that you live forever
Ah when you’ve done a line or two
Everybody knows the deal is rotten
Old Black Joe’s still pickin’ cotton
For your ribbons and bows
And everybody knows

Which is a stunningly imaginative way to recycle Dylan’s rhyme. Those guys eh!

Finally, here’s Al “right place/time/riff” Kooper specifically reminiscing about recording Blonde on Blonde in Nashville, describing his role as a “human tape recorder” who would go learn Bob’s emerging songs and then go prepare the musicians (sketching the odd arrangement too, by the sound of it).

Posted by Thomas McGrath | Leave a comment
Wendy James: Exclusive interview and new tracks with James Williamson & James Sclavunos

Wendy James has been busy. Since the release of her superb album I Came Here to Blow Minds last year, Wendy has been traveling the world, writing, performing and recording across New York, London, Paris, and Los Angeles. She has also been working on her next album and single with the legendary James Williamson and James Sclavunos.

In an exclusive interview, Wendy James tells Dangerous Minds about working with Williamson and Sclavunos on her latest Double A-side single, which we premiere below.

DM: What are you working on just now?

Wendy James: ‘I’m getting this single out, which really is a Double A side speciality to be released on beautiful Vinyl and Download.

‘It’s a speciality as I don’t usually do cover versions and of course, because of the line up of the players. It’s the first and only time James Williamson from The Stooges has recorded anything other than a Stooges or Iggy record. And I got ‘Big’ Jim Sclavunos from the Bad Seeds and Grinderman on drums. Steve Mackay, the famed Baritone Sax player from the Stooges, does a great part too. Between us we hand in a pretty powerful sound I think!! We started off thinking ‘Why not go into the studio and make a Single?’ Well the Bob Dylan track “It’s Alright Ma” is 7 minutes long so instead of it being a 45” single we have put it onto 10”. Literally there are not enough grooves on a 45” to allow for that length of song!

‘The other song “You’re So Great” is a cover of Fred ‘Sonic’ Smith’s number from his band Sonic’s Rendezvous Band. The more space the better on a 12” or 10” vinyl so you can make great artwork, read the credits etc… It’s all very tactile once you’re on Vinyl. You master differently, you mix differently, you actually strip away a lot of the artifice of an overly-compressed digital sound, you really get bass end, you really get depth of field. It’s very, very exciting in the studio to as you literally the hear the compositions coming together.’

DM: How did you decide to cover Dylan’s ‘I’m Alright Ma’?

Wendy James: ‘I have a whole new album of original numbers, plus my choice of one cover: “You’re So Great” by Sonic’s Rendezvous Band. I was talking through the whole thing with James and he looked at his Stooges touring diary at that time (June) and he figured he could carve out a number of days for us to work, not enough time to make a whole album then, but enough to make a single. It seemed obvious to me that James should play “You’re So Great” which is tailor made Detroit attitude from Fred Smith and even to the point that Scott Asheton from The Stooges played in that line-up, so, we agreed to do that song and then just through conversation, James asked me what my favorite Bob Dylan number was, and I said “It’s Alright Ma, I’m Only Bleeding”. You know the clarity and purpose of those lyrics have never been bettered and never will be. They are finite. They are IT. So… just like that, we decided to do both these covers and make it a special, and of course put the numbers onto my album later, and to deal with recording the whole album a few weeks later.

‘So that is how it came together, in a series of babbling enthusiastic sentences propelled by both of us that resulted in us then blocking time in a recording studio and saying ‘Ok, see you in 3 weeks.’ Believe me we took on more than seemed apparent at first! To tongue twist your voice around all Dylans’ words and then at the speed at which James plays guitar, and for 7 minutes, and make it flow naturally and mean it! In the end, I understood every breath, every intention of Dylans’ phrasing and choice of words, but for a good week or so, I was the crazy lady in Washington Square Park walking around the periphery of the park muttering lyrics to myself, learning them!! (But… it’s not unusual in Washington Square Park to see muttering bums! So I generally went un-noticed!)’

And Fred ‘Sonic’ Smiths You’re So Great’ - why’d you choose that?

Wendy James: “You’re So Great” is just perfect pop. Three minutes of power and attitude. I love it, it’s always been a favorite of mine. I love Sonic’s Rendezvous Band, largely un-championed, except for us musicians and fans that revel in all things Detroit and Ann Arbor! They never recorded this in a studio so I had to rely on myriad live recordings and it was impossible to understand all the lyrics, so… James asked Scott Asheton and Patti Smith if Fred ever wrote them down, but he didn’t, and Patti said ‘Go ahead and fill in the blanks’. I think we got pretty damn close! And James just plays it so good! It’s his kind of thing, and mine too… So, it worked out very well, you know jumping around the studio saying ‘This is it, This is it’.

‘My friend in NYC has DJ’d it out in New York now to 1000 + people and he said the dance floor was slamming… I got texts through the night saying ‘Your Track Rules’! Very encouraging!’
DM: How did you become involved with Williamson and Sclavunous?

Wendy James: ‘James Sclavunos and I know each other socially from NYC and West London. James Williamson and I met around December last year. My friendships with both men just naturally evolved based on music and the tentative early discussions of doing something together. I share with both of them, and especially with James W, a very similar kind of look at things and taste in music, even humor, literature, you know, those typical conversations about ‘What’s your favorite movie?’ What book are you reading?’ etc etc… so. There was plenty of friendship there between all three of us when we finally walked into Fantasy Studios in Berkeley, California.’

DM: Tell me about working with them on ‘It’s Alright Ma’ and ‘You’re So Great’?

Wendy James: Well, we’re all pretty fluid musicians, so… it’s literally what it sounds like. Jim played Drums and Percussion, James played Guitar and Bass, I sang and played keyboards… and between the three of us, playing live together and Jesse Nichols at the helm behind the mixing desk moving as quickly and as frenetically as we did! Keeping tabs on all the stuff that was going down, we really did just play both songs live until we reached a peak. Then you know, go back in the control room, listen back, identify any improvements and overdubs, and… yeah… musicians working. That’s what you do, That’s how you do it.

DM: What are you working on with them?

Wendy James: ‘Now it’s my whole album. The songs are nearly complete, I definitely have two left to write. Then it comes down to scheduling: Whether we have to grab time in pieces, or block book for a period of weeks, I expect to be underway in a matter of weeks and delivered by beginning 2013. Released Spring 2013. In the meantime this single will come out.’

DM: When will ‘I’m Alright Ma’ / ‘You’re So Great’ be released?

Wendy James:  ‘October/November. The company people are debating the best time for them now, it’s got little to do with me, but it’s coming up quick! So, in preparation, I’m doing a couple of photo sessions, finishing up my song writing, and finalizing artwork choices. You know six weeks go by very quickly when you’re planning an album or a single release, and so, with something like this, there hasn’t been any let-up since James Williamson and I decided to do it!’

We look forward to hearing more from the always welcome Wendy James.

Thanks to Ricardo Gomes for the fab photograph of Wendy James.


Previously on Dangerous Minds

Wendy James wants to blow your mind


Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
‘Pistols shots ring out in a barroom night’: Riveting Bob Dylan performance of ‘Hurricane’ 1975
12:00 pm


Bob Dylan

Amazing, seldom-seen debut performance of one of Bob Dylan’s greatest protest songs. This full rendition of “Hurricane,” Dylan’s impassioned defense of wrongfully imprisoned middle-weight boxer Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, was taped on September 10, 1975 (over two months before the single was released in November).

According to the song’s co-writer, Jacques Levy:

“Bob wasn’t sure that he could write a song [about Carter].... He was just filled with all these feelings about Hurricane. He couldn’t make the first step. I think the first step was putting the song in a total storytelling mode. I don’t remember whose idea it was to do that. But really, the beginning of the song is like stage directions, like what you would read in a script: ‘Pistol shots ring out in a barroom night…. Here comes the story of the Hurricane.’ Boom! Titles. You know, Bob loves movies, and he can write these movies that take place in eight to ten minutes, yet seem as full or fuller than regular movies.”

Dylan, along with Rob Stoner on bass, Howie Wyeth on drums and Scarlet Rivera on violin, also performs “Oh, Sister” and “Simple Twist of Fate.”

Part of The World Of John Hammond, a PBS Soundstage tribute to the great record producer and Civil Rights activist, taped at WTTW-TV Studios Chicago, Illinois. Originally broadcast on December 13, 1975.

Via Exile on Moan Street

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Steve Martin reading a book on Bob Dylan circa 1970
11:38 am

Pop Culture

Bob Dylan
Steve Martin

Just thought I’d share this great photo of Steve Martin—long before his hair turned gray—circa 1970. Martin had been a staff writer for The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour which had been canceled by CBS the year before.

Source: Mr. Garcia at Flickr.

Previously on Dangerous Minds:

Steve Martin promo video for ‘A Wild And Crazy Guy,’ 1978

Steve Martin’s funny response to fan mail

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Tangled Up in Dylan: The twisted tale of AJ Weberman
07:45 am


Bob Dylan

If you appreciate whimsical documentaries about eccentric or marginal types—much of Louis Theroux’s work, the Wild Man Fischer doc dErailRoaDed and Keith Allen’s deliriously insane Little Lady Fauntleroy would fall into this category—or if you are a Bob Dylan completest, then you might be interested in Tangled Up in Dylan: The Ballad of AJ Weberman directed by James Bluemel and Oliver Ralfe.

AJ Weberman is infamous, if he is known at all, among Dylan aficionados for being the obsessed stalker who Bob Dylan physically assaulted in 1971 because he had been harassing his family. Weberman picked through their trash (he calls his stinky style of sleuthing the science of “Garbology”) and staged demonstrations (with the “Dylan Liberation Front,” the students of his “Dylanology” classes) outside of Dylan’s MacDougal Street brownstone, apparently with the aim of convincing Dylan to, uh, join the revolution, man… but having the result of really pissing him off.

Bob Dylan vs. A.J. Weberman is the title of a much-sought after Dylan curio, a bootleg LP made from recordings of Weberman and Dylan talking on the telephone. It’s a fascinating conversation—indeed it’s what got the filmmakers interested in such an odd character in the first place—but it’s baffling why a superstar like Bob Dylan would have given such a freak his phone number in the first place (Weberman taught a class in “Dylanology” and had interviewed Dylan for the underground press before he got weird on him).

Here’s what Weberman told Rolling Stone’s Marc Jacobson, years later, about the time Dylan beat him up:

“I’d agreed not to hassle Dylan anymore, but I was a publicity-hungry motherfucker. . . . I went to MacDougal Street, and Dylan’s wife comes out and starts screaming about me going through the garbage. Dylan said if I ever fucked with his wife, he’d beat the shit out of me. A couple of days later, I’m on Elizabeth Street and someone jumps me, starts punching me.

“I turn around and it’s like—Dylan. I’m thinking, ‘Can you believe this? I’m getting the crap beat out of me by Bob Dylan!’ I said, ‘Hey, man, how you doin’?’ But he keeps knocking my head against the sidewalk. He’s little, but he’s strong. He works out. I wouldn’t fight back, you know, because I knew I was wrong. He gets up, rips off my ‘Free Bob Dylan’ button and walks away. Never says a word.

“The Bowery bums were coming over, asking, ‘How much he get?’ Like I got rolled. . . . I guess you got to hand it to Dylan, coming over himself, not sending some fucking lawyer. That was the last time I ever saw him, except once with one of his kids, maybe Jakob, and he said, ‘A.J. is so ashamed of his Jewishness, he got a nose job,’ which was true—at least in the fact that I got a nose job. . . .”


Weberman has written several books about Dylan (RightWing Bob: What the Liberal Media Doesn’t Want You To Know About Bob Dylan being one of them) and other subjects (such as HOMOTHUG: The Secret Life of Rudy Guiliani) and maintains to this day that Dylan sends him secret messages in song lyrics.

I’ve had my own (one-sided) run-ins with the notoriously prickly Weberman: In April of 1997, only a matter of a few months after Disinformation was launched on the Internet, I posted an innocuous enough item there about Aron Kay AKA “Pie Man,” another aging Yippie holdover like Weberman who was known for his habit of “pieing” people he thought deserved ridiculing like Anita Bryant, William F. Buckley, Phyllis Schlafly, G. Gordon Liddy, E. Howard Hunt and Andy Warhol.

Kay and Weberman are old cronies and I guess what happened is that he told Weberman about this counterculture website that had written about him and Weberman took a look, noticed a collection of links to various JFK assassination sites that I’d prepared, saw that his JFK assassination site wasn’t listed there and promptly started leaving long, hateful, spiteful messages (three in all) on my answering machine. Someone I’d never met was fucking furious at me, over something that I didn’t do. My sin was one of omission—I didn’t know about his website—but it seemed to leave the guy utterly unhinged.

I didn’t hear from him again for ten years until my wife signed me up for Facebook. One day soon afterwards she asked me: “Do you know some dude named AJ Weberman? He’s saying shitty things about you and trolling you on your Facebook wall.”

“Oh that guy. No, I don’t know him, but he’s done this before to me, just ban him, will you?”

That’s the end of my AJ Weberman story, although I suspect he’ll read this post and have something to say in the comments.

Via email, I asked the filmmakers, James Bluemel and Oliver Ralfeabout getting tangled up with Weberman:

I know that both of you are big Dylan fans. How did you stumble across AJ Weberman and decide to make a film about him?

We first came across Weberman in various biographies of Dylan. He was and probably always will be portrayed as a persistent nuisance in the extreme. The way people wrote about him was purely hateful which stuck out. We then heard the bootlegged phone call him made to Dylan which made for fascinating listening and we thought, ‘I wonder what this guy is doing now?’

What do you make of his “Dylanology”?

Weberman has an incredible analytical brain. His conclusions maybe off kilter but the ride is entertaining and sometimes illuminating. While many scholars interpret Dylan’s work within the vernacular of the blues or folk music traditions, it’s interesting to read Dylan from a street slang, streetwise level, which is where Weberman places him. And some of his insights, the way he sees those songs are fascinating. However, I feel Weberman has an agenda which often shapes his interpretations and distorts them. Some of his conclusions I disagree with, some anger me, some amuse me. It’s important to note for those that haven’t seen the film, that it’s not just a mouth piece for Weberman’s insights and wild fantasies about Dylan – there’s plenty of that you can read for yourselves on the web if you want to.

In the infamous recording of his phone conversation with Dylan, I couldn’t for the life of me understand Dylan’s own motivation in bothering to accommodate an asshole like Weberman. Most people, let alone someone as famous as Bob Dylan, would have told Weberman to go fuck himself or let the police deal with him, but Dylan, even after insulting him, continues to speak with him—albeit warily—and even agrees to a future call. Do you think Dylan was thinking “Well this guys a kook, but he’s a fan, so I owe him politeness” and just trying to deal with him on that level or WHAT? (My wife remarked during that part of your film “Why does Bob Dylan stay on the phone with this creep?” as well. It bothered her!)

I think perhaps Dylan was trying to work out how much of a nut Weberman was. This is a good few years before Lennon was shot but I bet part of Dylan’s receptiveness to Weberman was to try to work out if he was dangerous. By the time of the phone call however, Dylan had met Weberman a number of times and probably worked out that he wasn’t a psycho, so I think there was something else going on. I think in some way Dylan enjoyed the banter. Weberman does not kowtow to Dylan, he doesn’t let him get away with anything on that call, he challenges Dylan and when Dylan counter attacks these challenges, Weberman comes back at him with more. Perhaps Dylan found this refreshing to the hordes of people that fell over themselves to agree with him and praise him.

I’ve never had any personal interaction with Weberman, but he’s called my apartment in NYC and left abusive messages for me and some nasty posts on my Facebook wall. However, I must say, he doesn’t seem nearly as crazy in your film as I imagined he’d be in real life. Do you reckon he was on his best behavior because there was a camera on him?

Not really. Weberman has a nasty streak in him which I think you see in our film but it’s not the only aspect of his personality.

Near the start of the film he admits to getting physical with his wife resulting in a retraining order and also of spending some time in jail. How long was he actually incarcerated for dealing pot?

I forget now – I think the sentence was two years.

How does Weberman make a living these days?

It’s a good question. I believe he does a bit of work gathering information for the Jewish Defense League. He also writes books – the Dylan to Englishdictionary, his book on who really killed JFK and Homo Thug which was about Giuliani. I don’t know how much money he makes from these however.

How did he react to your film? Did he throw a tantrum and call your voice mail repeatedly? Nasty emails?

He never really commented on the film. In fact, he has never really asked us any personal questions about our lives at all. When we meet up with him these days, it’s just straight into whatever is on his mind. So no, he’s never let on what he thought about it. He probably would have preferred it if we used more of his Dylanology rants and kept in some of the more outrageous conclusions he comes up with. There was one point while shooting he said he would prefer it if we stopped filming, then he immediately changed his mind and said fuck it, lets keep it in the style of cinéma vérité. I liked that.

Have you ever heard if Bob Dylan saw your doc? I’d imagine that he’d get a real kick out of it.

I really hope he has seen it. I gave a copy to the producer of No Direction Home who promised he’d pass it on to Dylan. Who knows if that happened? If he has seen it, I hope he liked it.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
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