Dylan in the 80s – worth more than a second glimpse… and his thoughts on music and film.

A little over a year ago I wrote an article about Bob Dylan’s “Saved” album which received a wide readership and was generally positively received:

https://twilightdawning.com/2016/02/15/bob-dylan-saved-reassessed/

My intention had been to write a similar article about the 1981 album “Shot of Love” and then to go on and write a series of articles or a book about the albums and tours since then looking particularly at Mr Dylan’s use of Old Testament and New Testament imagery but also other imagery he used commonly across many years which helps us to understand and appreciate his work.

Unfortunately, I got bogged down in the article on “Shot of Love” which is still not finished although I keep returning to it and tinkering with it. I hope it will be completed as I think I might have some important things to say but who knows when.

This week, as has become his habit when a new album is due. Dylan’s staff published on his website a new interview he has given to Bill Flanagan:

http://www.bobdylan.com/news/qa-with-bill-flanagan/

Mr Flanagan seems to be a writer that Bob particularly trusts and he has given him several important interviews over the past decade. This new one is intended to herald his latest album of standards, the 3-disc set “Triplicate”.

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Evidence of …….Disappointment

What: Evidence of Time Travel

Who: John Foxx & Steve D’Agostino

Where: BFI, Southbank, London

When: 21st November 2014

Over the last few weeks a staple on my cd player has been “Evidence of Time Travel” by John Foxx & Steve D’Agostino. It is an eclectic, tight, set of instrumentals which creates a mysterious air. It has echoes of Foxx’s early instrumentals like “Film One” but also traces of John’s more recent albums like “Tiny Colour Movies” and “My Lost City”. It also brings some new things to the table that are not present in any of those recordings. It is a very good release in a sequence of top drawer releases that Foxx and his cohorts have made in recent years. It is not his best but it stands up very well amongst his recent body of work.

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Comic Cuts

I have always add an interest in graphic novels, comics and related art. This dates back to a childhood spent reading Batman in DC comics. One of my current favourite writers and artists in the field is Paul Grist. Paul has had several titles published, first by his own independent imprint, Dancing Elephant and now by the good folk at Image.

I commissioned Paul to do a piece for me featuring the 3 principals of his comics: Burglar Bill, Jack Staff and Kane. Here it is:

I think it’s rather good!!

Ch-Ch-Changes

It’s been a grim few weeks. But there have been some glittering things in the dross.

 

First highlight was the Bob Dylan “Drawn Blank” exhibition at Halcyon Art Gallery near Green Park in London. A few years ago, Dylan was a writer and his “Chronicles” book was well-worth the investment. A few months ago, he was given a Pulitzer but I’m not exactly sure what for. This isn’t to imply he doesn’t deserve one. I’m just not sure why then. Now he’s an artist. And somehow he still manages to always be on tour and make the occasional album.

 

“Drawn Blank” however is a little unusual even by Dylan’s standards. First published in book form in 1994, these drawings were hardly noticed. Then his critical rating was low and nobody cared what he was drawing. Now painted, the “Drawn Blank” exhibition comes at a time when his star is in the ascendancy. Consequently, it is all over the broadsheets (The London Times, no less) and is worthy of an art gallery exhibition on the continent and two here in the London and no doubt some others I’m missing. Then, no-one cared, now the £1250 signed prints are all sold out and the first book is selling for £400 a copy. Strange. Of course, with Dylan, we’ve encountered this before. When he went electric, he was a Judas, until we decided he was a genius. His “Jesus” shows were dire for many, but are now spoken of as amazing feats where an artist like Dylan chose to perform only new songs in a show of passion, energy and commitment. Then few could see past the evangelism and booed his accompanying girl vocalists. I’m waiting for the “Empire Burlesque” reassessment.

 

I purchased the 1994 book of “Drawn Blank”. I purchased the 2008 book of the same drawings painted. I thought they were okay. Some good, a few very good. However, seeing them extremely well presented at the Halcyon, moved them up a notch in my estimation. Well worth seeing.

 

Second highlight. John Foxx’s “Tiny Colour Movies” at the Apple Store, Regent Street, London. Musical artist again but this time not paintings but films. Now I’m not much for the world of contemporary commercial films and I hate most cinemas. I do mean hate. So that I have now gone to see “Tiny Colour Movies” three or four times must mean that this set of films has something more going on than simply being the work of one of my favourite musicians and the fact that I have to keep going beacuse despite my persistent requests Mr Foxx will not put it on DVD.

Tiny Colour Movies is a collection of 14 concept pieces assembled from the home movies of a bygone generation. It is moving, thought-provoking, vivid and imaginative. It has a tremendous ambient soundtrack which the artist accompanies his films with, standing alongside, like the pianist adding sound to a silent movie. It is quite, quite wonderful and if it comes to a town near you, I might just follow it there.

 

Finally, on this smorgasbord of updates, a little baseball. Surprise, surprise. As the trade deadline approaches the Bronx is seeing new faces. First in was Richie Sexson. Now in 2007, Sexson, then at Seattle, hit .205 BA with 21 home runs. Fortunately, he turned this all around by storming to .218 with 11 homers by the first week of July. Not surprisingly, the Mariners released Richmond Lockwood Sexson. I’m not quite so sure why the Yankees decided to sign him later in the month. Perhaps it had something to do with that florid name. At least they didn’t invest in Bonds. I’m not holding my breath for this acquisition to be a great success. Indeed, I’m praying that by the time of my return to the Bronx in September, he will have headed toward waivers. We’ll see.

More significant (hopefully) was the trade made yesterday which has brought Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte over from the Pittsburgh Pirates. Marte, who actually spent a little while in the Yankees system a few years ago but never made it to 161 St. and River Avenue, is that crucial item a left-handed relief pitcher. Occasional promotions for Billy Traber and Kei Igawa have not added such a thing to the roster for very long. Marte with his 3.47 ERA, 4 Wins (no losses), and 5 saves seems a much better prospect.

Nady is a good addition at least because Matsui and Damon are not likely to see much time in the outfield for the remainder of the season. However, there may be more. His contract has another year beyond 2008 and he is 5 years younger than Damon. He is batting .330 with 13 home runs. There might be quite a lot in this for the Bombers.

A slight downside to this came in the final detail of the trade. The original detail suggested that the Yankees were giving up Ross Ohlendorf and three minors who were barely on my radar. Now Ohlendorf  looked good earlier in the year but then his mechanics fell apart and he might not be a huge loss but I was a little more disappointed with today’s update. The news is that the Pirates final list for the trade sees Jeff Karstens heading over to Pittsburgh. Now I’m not sure quite where Karstens’ career was headed (he’s been rather injury prone) but I’ve followed his career since seeing his early appearances for the Staten Island Yankees some years ago. I’m disappointed that he will never be established in the Bronx. It was an interesting journey.

The final footnote to this was that the very disappointing LaTroy Hawkins was designated for assignment and that Kei Igawa was removed from the 40-man roster and outrighted to Scranton (AAA). The Yankees are paying him in excess of $5 million – and they finally seem to have given up on him. Now that’s an amazing story.