Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Looking back at Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan - Don't Look Back (1965 Tour Deluxe Edition): Viewing Bob Dylan's "Don't Look Back" now one has to wonder how it ever got made? Dylan lived in a world of his own. So how filmmaker D.A. Pennebaker managed to get full access is a miracle.
The real miracle, however, is viewing "Don't Look Back," a vivid chronicle of the singer's 1965 British tour and one of the most stunning rock documentaries ever and now available in a deluxe expanded two-disc set.
Dylan's music is, of course, the focus, but the camera's eye also focuses in on Dylan's world. Especially riveting are his encounters with the media and the Establishment. Both are clearly nervous about approaching Dylan, clearly not knowing what to expect and the singer plays on their apprehension.
In one memorable scene, Dylan takes a Time magazine interviewer named Horace Judson (and the media as a whole) to task.

"'Cause you know I've never been in Time magazine and yet this hall's filled twice, you know, and I've never been in Time Magazine. I don't need Time Magazine ... and I don't think I'm a folk singer. You'll probably call me a folk singer, but, you know, the other people know better 'cause the people, you know, that buy my records, listen to me, don't necessarily buy Time Magazine. You know the audience that subscribe to Time Magazine? The people that work during the day and read it small, right? And it's concise and there's pictures in it."

Interestingly enough, Pennebacker, in an interview with Time this year, says Dylan isn't being as mean-spirited with Judson as it appeared.
In the interview, Pennebacker says,
"I have the story [Judson] wrote. He wrote a very good piece on Dylan. I thought Dylan was kind of nice in the end. He made jokes out of it. When I show the film, especially to kids, they want to see that as someone thrashing TIME. But it isn't that. He's thrashing a whole system of media that people had been thrashing for a long time. I never thought of it as mean-spirited.

This new release includes a newly remastered version of the original DVD from the original single-disc release that contains the film, commentary by Pennebacker and Dylan tour manager Bob Neuwirth, additional audio tracks, an alternate version of the "Subterranean Homesick Blues" video and the theatrical trailer and adds a second disc called "Bob Dylan '65 Revisited," that features roughly an hour of outtakes (mostly music) from the original film with commentary from Pennebacker and Neuwirth. In addition, the set includes a 168 page companion book, that was originally released in the late '60s, of pictures and dialogue from the film , plus a engaging flip book of the "Subterranean Homesick Blues" video sequence.
It's a trip back in time worth taking.
Short takes: While we're on the subject of reissued rock films, we'll mention Don't Knock the Rock / Rock Around the Clock and Don't Knock the Twist / Twist Around the Clock, two two-fer film reissues of four vintage rock films that Sony has just released. The films are the standard rock films of the era with the usual plots about the music being persecuted and the usual remedy of "Let's put on a show!" They're basically just excuses for the music they contain, as good as some of that music is.
But Sony gets major demerits for their sloppy treatment of the DVDs. Neither set contains chapter links from the main menu and the chapter links contained in the films don't link up with all the music performances. To find Little Richard's performances in "Don't Knock the Rock," for example, you'll have to manually scan through the film.
As much as we're glad to have these again and give them our recommendation, we have to say they deserved a lot better treatment in putting them to disc than what they received.
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