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:


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:


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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On the Jersey Shore

What: Jersey Boys

When: 20th June 2014

Where: Cineworld, Hammersmith, London

I’ve been a big fan of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons since the 1970s. I live in London. The musical of “Jersey Boys” opened in the West End of London in 2008. It has never occurred to me to go and see the musical. But here I was on the opening day of the “Jersey Boys” film release with my large bag of popcorn (and I mean large!) waiting for the film to start. Life is full of curious choices.

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A Quiet Man and his Tiny Colour Movies

Thursday 29th of October
Leeds College of Music
John Foxx

Reviewing John Foxx, I have to declare a bias. There are very few musicians I would travel from London to Leeds to see whether I was writing a review or not. With Mr Foxx, I would comfortably travel twice that distance just for my own enjoyment.

Thursday night was not a concert but rather a film show with music. A few years ago, John began to develop a movie called "Tiny Colour Movies" from a selection of old Super8 films that he had gathered together from markets and attics. He added an evocative soundtrack and it became an hours fascinating experience. He has been playing it occasionally around the UK whilst tweaking it slightly before each showing to make it closer to the artistic vision that he had in mind.

Film of skyscrapers in New York, old Hollywood actors using keys to open doors, a naked 19 year old swimming around a car dumped at the bottom of a lake, members of families waving to their relatives…… it’s all here. It is not the stuff of today’s Hollywood Blockbusters and it is all the better for it. I suspect that the back story that Foxx has created of the various film makers and collectors is a lot of hokum but it creates a modern fiction from old inconsequential factual footage which is quite, quite charming.

After a twenty minute break, we return to the audiotorium to hear a section of the recent spoken word album "The Quiet Man". Foxx plays piano whilst the voice of an actor pre-recorded for radio is heard reading Foxx’s short story. We’re told a story of London gone wild for unknown reasons where the buildings are empty but intact except for the trees and flowers growing up the walls and through the carpets. The music is thoughtful and sparse, the accompanying film is provocative and interesting and the RP reading of the story keeps your attention.

Finally, VJ Karborn is invited to the stage to mix and sample images whilst John Foxx improvises a piano piece full of echo and resonance. The music is interesting but needs to be developed. It is difficult to see the theme in the images and no real narrative is established and this is the least satisfying of tonight’s performance.

The affable Mr Foxx then fields questions for twenty minutes talking about his inspirations, his plans for the future, slightly nerdy questions about synthesisers used 30 years ago and the sci-fi film Robot Monster.

A relaxed and thoughtful and quite beautiful evening’s activities. I’d travel to Leeds again for more of the same.

Soon, the horse will take us to Durango

Today, I woke up in a hotel in Leeds. Back in the day, I used to come to comic fairs here. Buying up back issues of Batman and the Flash. Then it was called the Griffin Hotel. Now it is called the Discovery. Last night, I lay in my bed reading a back number of the Justice League of America fron the 1960s. Nothing much has changed. I’m in town for the John Foxx performance of the Quiet Man which happened last night at the Leeds Town Hall. Ate at Wagamamas and then went on to the show.
So what is the Quiet Man? In 1978, when he was lead singer in a band called Ultravox!, John wrote a song called "The Quiet Men" around the concept of shadowy individuals in grey suits who drift through cities unseen and unnoticed – the ordinary man on the street , if you like. He then began work on a book of short pieces of prose about the Quiet Man which he has been working on to this day and which remains unpublished. Last night was the debut performance of a film designed and developed around the concept of some of these short "stories" which John accompanied on acoustic piano (albeit accompanied by synthesised strings) whilst a pre-recording of a reading of one of the prose pieces was played. It was a privilege to be there.
In total, three pieces were performed and portrayed. The first was simply acoustic piano, film and pre-recorded reading and I found it the best of the three. The Quiet Man is seemly alone in a broken down culture, exploring and re-ordering its pieces as nature takes back the land. Fascinating.
The second had Foxx on Synth, whilst John ‘Karborn’ Leigh remixed and overlaid video clips live from the stage as the reading progressed.
The third was read ‘live’ by Foxx from the stage as the video played in a linear fashion.
The performance lasted under an hour but seemed much longer. Rich, fruitful, thoughtful.
Questions and answers followed and I took a full part.
I’ll try to post some pictures later.

They don’t make them like that anymore……..

I was involved with "An Evening with Roger Moore" at the British Film Institute yesterday. The evening was split into two sessions and looked at Sir Roger’s work in television, for the most part. So in the first section we looked at some of Mr Moore’s classic TV perfomances and in the second Roger chatted about that period of his life. Well, Roger is a good interview and, unlike on Mr Ross’s television show last week, when allowed to talk he has some fascinating stories to tell. His memory for detail at 81 (today! Happy Birthday, Sir Roger) is quite astounding. But for me the highlight by a country mile was watching episodes of The Saint and The Persuaders on the large cinema screen. Great, great, television, tremendous scripts and larger than life performances fron Roger Moore and his cohort in the latter, Tony Curtis. These programmes are so evocative of watching them in my youth so I find it hard to be critical but I just don’t think you can make television like this anymore.

There was talk a little while ago of reviving The Saint for a 4th (?) attempt on television, if they do then they must do it well. It is a shame that Leslie Charteris’ books are out of print and that haloed stick man is seen so little these days but "The Saint" is more than just a brand and a logo. If they remake it they must do so with an eye on Charteris unlike the Val Kilmer film of a few years ago which took the name and the image but none of the content. As I personally own all of the Charteris’ books and helped administrate his charity "The Saint Club" for a couple of years, I have a vested interest in this. Similarly, with The Persuaders but with that title there is no guide book as it was created for the televison and didn’t run long and it is perhaps permanently left alone. There was talk a heartbeat ago of a revival with Steve Coogan which sounded wretched and hopefully this has been forgotten.

So, thank you brave Sir Roger for your derring-do. It still has a place in our hearts.

Roger Moore, yesterday

and some years ago………..