I’ve never been one to pay too much attention to birthdays, anniversaries etc, so I only learned that Bob Dylan turned 80 yesterday when I read some on-line tributes.

Given that I’ve been trying, without success, to get my good mate Aldo to contribute to this blog, I’ve decided to, in effect, hijack him, by stealing the words he put up on Facebook. As such, it’s really a guest posting, although I chose the song at the end.

Over to Aldo……

“Happy Birthday to Robert Allen Zimmerman, born this day in 1941 in Duluth, Minnesotta.

I can’t necessarily recall when I would have first seen or heard Bob Dylan, my dad did have a couple of his albums in among his vinyl, Nashville Skyline and John Wesley Harding. Though they rarely, if ever, got played which probably added to my intrigue.
Like the majority of folk, particularly those coming to him latterly, the first Dylan song I would have had some familiarity with was Like A Rolling Stone. I suspect having heard it on one of those Bank Holiday radio programmes along the lines of the “100 Greatest Songs Ever” as voted by Radio 2 listeners.

Therefore my first purchase of one of his records was Highway 61 Revisited because it contained the aforementioned track. The whole album was a revelation, but the closing track, the 11-minute Desolation Row, absolutely captivated me, ending up on repeat until I could practically recite every line.

The purchase of Blonde On Blonde with its ‘Thin, wild mercury sound’, and Bringing It All Back Home followed as I fell deeper under his spell. And eventually those Nashville Skyline and John Wesley Harding LPs were pulled from the rack for a spin.

Going back to discover the early output was initially a bit of a shock to the system, having been used to the more fully produced, mainly band backed records. With The Times They Are A Changin’ and Another Side of Bob Dylan, the stark simplicity of only that sandpaper voice and acoustic guitar took some getting used to.

My growing infatuation coincided with the official release of the much bootlegged 1966 ‘Royal Albert Hall’ show in 1998. Surely the most important live recording in the evolution of rock music?

The next thing of course was for me to try and catch the godlike genius in a live setting. The first was a visit with a work colleague to the Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle, back in May 2002. Being sat at the back of the vast barn I didn’t come away with the best of impressions. I decided then that I would avoid the arena tours and keep and eye out for slightly more intimate shows. Therefore my next show was a solo trip to London to catch him at the legendary Hammersmith Odeon (by then named the Apollo), this time standing in the stalls, and in much closer proximity it was a far more enjoyable experience.

If Hammersmith was good, I still can scarcely believe the next time I’d catch him in person only a few months later. His tour was stopping at the SECC in June 2004, about a week before the show an announcement came out that he’d follow the arena show with a gig at the Barrowland the next day. I had to be there. Fortunately I managed to secure tickets and it was an evening that will live with me forever. It even elicited the only time I’ve seen him addressing the audience, remarking after a massed sing along by the Barras crowd to Like A Rolling Stone that “I must’ve played that song a few thousand times, and no one’s ever kept up like that”.

The following year I was back in London at another of that city’s great venues, Brixton Academy. I’ve only caught him twice since then, Edinburgh Playhouse in 2009, and most recently the Armadillo (Glasgow) in 2017, where I got to hear him play Desolation Row, the track that so enraptured me early on in my discovery of his catalogue.

Who knows if he’ll ever return to these shores on that never ending tour, but I’m grateful to have seen him the times I have.
We should feel fortunate to have lived in the same time period as Bob Dylan, there’ll never be another like him.”

mp3: Bob Dylan – Subterranean Homesick Blues



It was a few years back that I picked up a copy of the album with the catalogue number CBS – PBG 62572. It’s the original Mono recording of Highway 61 Revisited, released on 30 August 1965 to this sort of acclaim:-

In the British music press, initial reviews of Highway 61 expressed both bafflement and admiration for the record. New Musical Express critic Allen Evans wrote: “Another set of message songs and story songs sung in that monotonous and tuneless way by Dylan which becomes quite arresting as you listen.” The Melody Maker LP review section, by an anonymous critic, commented: “Bob Dylan’s sixth LP, like all others, is fairly incomprehensible but nevertheless an absolute knock-out.”The English poet Philip Larkin, reviewing the album for The Daily Telegraph, wrote that he found himself “well rewarded” by the record: “Dylan’s cawing, derisive voice is probably well suited to his material … and his guitar adapts itself to rock (‘Highway 61’) and ballad (‘Queen Jane’). There is a marathon ‘Desolation Row’ which has an enchanting tune and mysterious, possibly half-baked words.”

It would go on reach #4 in the UK charts. His previous album, Bringing It All Back Home, released some six months previously, had reached #1. Is it fair to say that Highway 61 Revisited is now considered to have a greater legacy, notwithstanding that the former album included Subterranean Homesick Blues, Maggie’s Farm, Mr. Tambourine Man and It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)??   Over to those of you within the TVV community who are better qualified to articulate relevant views and opinions……..

The reason I’m posing a question rather than offering an opinion is that I’m not a huge Bob Dylan fan, but there’s an awful lot about this slightly crackly album that I like. And let’s face it, for a piece of plastic that is now almost 56 years old, it’s in decent condition:-

mp3: Bob Dylan – Like A Rolling Stone
mp3: Bob Dylan – Tombstone Blues
mp3: Bob Dylan – It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Lot To Cry
mp3: Bob Dylan – From A Buick Six
mp3: Bob Dylan – Ballad Of A Thin Man

mp3: Bob Dylan – Queen Jane Approximately
mp3: Bob Dylan – Highway 61 Revisited
mp3: Bob Dylan – Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues
mp3: Bob Dylan – Desolation Row

Side 1 of Highway 61 Revisited (mono)
Side 2 of Highway 61 Revisited (mono)

If you’d said to the 18-year-old me that, some 40 years on I’d be writing a few words in praise of Bob Dylan, I’d have laughed out very loud in your face and with a great deal of contempt.  I’m glad my tastes have matured to some degree.


THE 500th POST On T(n)VV


With thanks to everyone, whether you’ve submitted a guest post, left a comment, sent me an e-mail or simply dropped in for a look.

It’s sometimes been a bit of a struggle keeping the new blog going – I’m not sure it will ever give me the same sense of excitement and satisfaction as the old blog – but every now and again there’s something drops into the inbox or comments section that makes me realise that it is still all worthwhile.

I thought I’d celebrate by featuring some songs ripped from the vinyl collection that I don’t think have ever appeared previously on this or the old blog.

mp3 : The Jam – Happy Together
(From the LP The Gift (which I still I have in its pink and white gift wrapping))

mp3 : Meursault – Settling
(from the LP Something for The Weakened (in recognition of one of the best bands to have come and gone in the few short years I’ve been doing this nonsense – good luck with the new venture Neil)

mp3 : The Cramps – Jailhouse Rock
(from the NME compilation LP The Last Temptation of Elvis (in acknowledgement of my first ever gig more than 35 years ago))

mp3 : Bob Dylan – Like A Rolling Stone
(from the LP Highway 61 Revisited (the original 1965 mono version – gifted to me by someone a few weeks ago when they learned I had a passion for vinyl))

mp3 : Randolph’s Leap – I Can’t Dance To This Music Anymore
(from the LP Clumsy Knot (just a way of sneaking in a track from my favourite album of 2014))

Here’s a live ‘unplugged’ version of the Randolph’s Leap song which was filmed in a pub very very close to my place of work in the east end of Glasgow and which was the venue for some of my most magical musical memories this past 12 months.


And here’s to the next 500 bits of nonsense.