Archive for October, 2008

Leonard Cohen celebrated in new MOJO

October 31, 2008
As Leonard Cohen prepares for the next leg of his triumphant world tour, the new (“December”) issue of MOJO, the London-based heritage rock monthly, has an impressive 11-page feature on the great poet-musician. Recommended.

Most of it’s taken up by a probing new interview and a buyer’s guide to the Cohen discography, both by Sylvie Simmons.

MOJO also has a Lenny cover – a recent portrait complete with grey goatee beard and rakish peaked cap – and a free CD of new covers of Cohen songs.

(The US edition apparently has a Metallica cover, lending support to the line peddled here that the US doesn’t really get Laughing Len as much as Europe – or Canada.)

Gerry Smith

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RELATED RECENT ARTICLE, (18 July 2008)

Leonard Cohen in London: Hallelujah!

Death-bed scene: “Well, Dad, that’s the money sorted out: you seem to have blown most of it on live music. As a matter of interest, what were your top five gigs?”

I think I’d have to include last night’s London leg of the Leonard Cohen tour at the O2 (aka Millennium Dome).

The septuagenarian charmer delivered almost three hours of intense beauty, deep joy and not a little glee.

For the assembled 20,000, it was a predictably reverential (if unexpectedly intimate), celebration of a major, rarely seen, talent.

The setlist (below) was remarkable, Zeitgeist-marking signature songs succeeding each other, relentlessly. Cohen’s performance was energetic, engaged, generous. His singing made you suspect that maybe he really does have the gift of a golden voice after all. His spoken renditions, particularly of A Thousand Kisses Deep, were deeply moving.

Hallelujah! What a writer! What a performer! What a charismatic, inspirational man.

Band – 6 plus 3 vocalists – were accomplished accomplices. Horn-man Dino Soldo was particularly impressive. Sound quality was the best I’ve heard at an amplified gig. Staging, lighting, vision/mixing on big screens were all benchmark quality.

I’d waited many years to see Leonard, the second best writer/performer of the rock era. It was well worth the wait.

SETLIST (approximate):

1. Dance Me to the End of Love
2. The Future
3. Ain’t No Cure for Love
4. Bird on a Wire
5. Everybody Knows
6. In My Secret Life
7. Who by Fire
8. Hey, That’s No Way to Say Goodbye
9. Anthem
10. Tower of Song
11. Suzanne
12. The Gypsy’s Wife
13. Boogie Street
14. Hallelujah
15. Democracy
16. I’m Your Man
17. Take This Waltz
18. First We Take Manhattan
19. Sisters of Mercy
20. If It Be Your Will
21. A Thousand Kisses Deep
22. So Long, Marianne
23. Closing Time
24. I Tried to Leave You
25. Whither Thou Goest

A perfect 10, then?

Not quite. A churl could point to the slight unevenness of the setlist: it flagged a bit towards the end of the second half. The finales were underwhelming – the welcome Webb Sisters duet was wrongly positioned; Closing Time is dramatically and melodically too weak to close a show.

And there was an ever-present threat that the show might tip over into mainstream showbiz hoopla – Leonard’s frequent name-checking of the band palled early; he was far too nice to the assembled hordes; and you suspected that the “spontaneous” jokes had been the same at most gigs on the tour.

For most performers, all this would have been a turn-off. For Leonard, we can make an exception.

Gerry Smith

Tell Tale Signs… and Neil Young Night on TV

October 29, 2008
Thanks to Martin Cowan:

“Pitchfork has a cracking review of Dylan’s new release, Tell Tale Signs:

http://www.pitchforkmedia.com

“And just a reminder that this Friday, 31 October, sees BBC4 indulging in Neil Young Night, with the following line up:

9.30pm – In Concert: Neil Young – a 1971 gig by the singer/songwriter, showcasing songs from Harvest

10.00pm – Neil Young – Don’t Be Denied. Tracing the musical journey of the legendary sing/songwriter through interviews and unseen performance footage.

11.00pm – CSNY/Deja Vu. A record of the 2006 Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young “Freedom of Speech” tour that was built largely around Young’s “Living with War” album.

“Also of interest on the same evening on the same channel at half past midnight is a repeat of Hotel California: from the Byrds to the Eagles.”

Fela Kuti to Neil Young, John McLaughlin to Mahler, Mozart to Ryan Adams

October 28, 2008
FREE! Music for grown-ups on the BBC in the next 10 days:

Hidden among its vast output, BBC TV and radio has some magnificent music for grown-ups – every week of the year. And it’s all free (well, sort of… ).

The next ten days sees an unusually rich feast of great musicians:

Wed 29 Oct
1200 & 2200 Mahler, Composer Of The Week – BBC Radio 3
(3/5, continues Thurs-Fri)

Thurs 30 Oct
2300 Bob Dylan, Theme Time Radio Hour (rpt) – BBC Radio 2
2355, David Byrne, BBC Four Sessions (rpt) – BBC Four
0055, Ryan Adams, BBC Four Sessions (rpt) – BBC Four

Fri 31 Oct
2130 Neil Young, In Concert (1971) – BBC Four
2200 Neil Young – Don’t Be Denied – BBC Four
2300 CSNY/Déjà Vu – BBC Four

Sat 1 Nov
1600 John McLaughlin, Jazz Library – BBC Radio 3
1800 Cosi Fan Tutte, from Vienna – BBC Radio 3
1900 The Fourth, the Fifth, the Minor Fall (Leonard Cohen’s masterpiece, Hallelujah) – BBC Radio 2
2400 Bud Powell, Jazz Library – BBC Radio 3

Sun 2 Nov
2315/0240 Neil Young – Don’t Be Denied – BBC Four
2400 Bob Dylan, Theme Time Radio Hour (new) – BBC 6 Music

Mon 3 Nov
1200 & 2200 Dvorak, Composer Of The Week – BBC Radio 3
(1/5, continues Tues-Fri)

Tues 4 Nov
2230 Fela Kuti, the Afrobeat Revolutionary – BBC Radio 2

Thurs 6 Nov
2300 Bob Dylan, Theme Time Radio Hour (rpt) – BBC Radio 2
2355 Beck, BBC Four Sessions (rpt) – BBC Four

Fri 7 Nov
2355, Randy Newman, BBC Four Sessions – BBC Four

Online access: many BBC radio programmes are broadcast online, streamed. Please see the channels’ web sites for details. Archived BBC radio and TV programmes are accessible online for a short period via:

www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer

Gerry Smith

Richard Thompson – inspiring… spectacular…

October 27, 2008
Thanks to Larry Kosofsky in New Paltz, NY:

“Caught Richard Thompson at the 1859 Bardavon Opera House in Poughkeepsie, NY last night. He delivered two solid hours of inspired singing and spectacular guitar playing.

“No-one out there does what Richard does, and if you have a chance to see him, don’t let it slip by. He gave us wonderful versions of old favorites like “I Feel So Good”, “Valerie”, “Beeswing”, “Dimming of the Day”, “’52 Vincent”, and some newer tunes as well.

“His mordant humor was well evident, of course, and he richly deserved the standing ovations he received.”

Drawn Blank exhibition set for UK tour

October 24, 2008
Drawn Blank, the magical exhibition of Dylan paintings, is set to tour UK galleries, starting late November.

The tour starts with a show at The Lightbox gallery in Woking, Surrey, in the heart of the “stockbroker belt”, on 25 November.

Organisers Halcyon Gallery promise a roll-out of additional dates for 2009 – watch this space.

And if you missed the London and Chemnitz shows, try to get to Woking – you won’t be disappointed.

Gerry Smith

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EARLIER RELATED ARTICLE:

Dylan’s new art show: magnificent

Dylan’s new art show was unveiled to the world’s press (and the Editor of The Dylan Daily) yesterday morning.

I spent a couple of hours marvelling at the inspiring art on display. Four floors. Almost a hundred original canvases, many finished in several different versions. Twenty-nine Limited Edition signed prints. Lovely art. And so much of it – an entire building devoted to Dylan! And his signature on every piece.

I don’t know much about art, blah, blah … . But I adored this collection. Women, men, portraits, life studies, places – odd places, on the margins, everyday objects. Drawn, printed, then painted in vivid colours. Echoes of German Abstract Expressionism, I’m told. Dylan’s draughtsmanship might be stylistically naïve, but all the pieces evoke emotion. And his use of colour is remarkable.

As you’d expect, the collection displays a distinctive artistic vision. And yes, there are reminders of the Dylan worldview familiar from the songbook.

Would we be making so much of this show if the artist wasn’t Dylan? Who knows? Who cares? It’s Dylan’s art. And it’s inspiring.

Dylan Daily readers who can make it the Halcyon Gallery in London by 13 July owe it to themselves to see this magnificent show: it’s a big Dylan event, and it’s worth a long trip.

Drawn Blank opens Saturday and runs for a month. Be warned, though: they’ll probably be queueing round the block – so you’re strongly advised to book a timed visit, online (see below).

And if you were thinking of buying one of the originals, you’ll need big bucks – for the few original paintings not already sold.

TOMORROW ON THE DYLAN DAILY: Preview of the Drawn Blank Limited Edition exhibition and sale.

Gerry Smith

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Here are the two Halcyon Gallery press releases:

Halcyon Gallery holds first gallery exhibition of Bob Dylan art

The Drawn Blank Series launches in London on 14 June 2008

Location: Halcyon Gallery, 24 Bruton Street, London, W1J 6QQ
Exhibition opens: 14th June 2008
Exhibition closes: 13th July 2008
Opening hours: Monday – Sunday: 10am – 6pm. Last admission: 5pm
Nearest tube: Bond Street or Green Park
Visitor information: 020 7659 7640
Website: http://www.halcyongallery.com
Booking information: For details on how to book free timed tickets to the exhibition, visit http://www.halcyongallery.com – booking fees will apply

Mayfair’s Halcyon Gallery presents the first ever gallery exhibition of Bob Dylan’s artwork, The Drawn Blank Series. This new exhibition of paintings is the most comprehensive and authoritative collection of Bob Dylan’s art ever assembled. While Dylan has been a committed visual artist for more than four decades, The Drawn Blank Series casts a vibrant new light on the creativity of one of the world’s most important and influential cultural figures.

The paintings in The Drawn Blank Series visually echo the stylistic hallmarks of Dylan’s prose, poetry and music. Just as Dylan’s songs are constantly reinvigorated and rediscovered through his live performances, so these paintings revisit images and scenes which were captured in all their immediacy by the artist.

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Halcyon Gallery to hold first gallery exhibition of Bob Dylan art
The Drawn Blank Series launches in London on 14 June 2008

One of London’s most prestigious galleries, Halcyon Gallery in Mayfair, will present the first ever gallery exhibition of Bob Dylan’s artwork, beginning 14 June 2008. The Drawn Blank Series exhibition is the most comprehensive and authoritative collection of Bob Dylan’s art ever assembled. While Dylan has been a committed visual artist for more than four decades, The Drawn Blank Series will cast a vibrant new light on the singular creativity of one of the world’s most important and influential cultural figures.

Based on drawings and sketches made by Dylan while on the road during the period of 1989 through 1992, the paintings in The Drawn Blank Series visually echo the stylistic hallmarks of Dylan’s prose, poetry and music. Just as Dylan’s songs are constantly reinvigorated and rediscovered through his live performances, so these paintings revisit images and scenes which were captured in all their immediacy by the artist.

The Drawn Blank Series has resulted in a collection which is at once a significant independent achievement and a fascinating extrapolation of themes and images which haunt his music.

Accompanying the originals exhibition at Halcyon Gallery, a unique and impressive collection of limited edition graphics, signed by the artist, will be available through selected galleries throughout the UK from 14 June 2008.

Paul Green, President of the Halcyon Gallery, commented, “This is an incredible opportunity for viewing this powerful body of work which gives an insight into the artists’ soul; and which have already been the subject of widespread critical acclaim. Halcyon Gallery is privileged to be hosting this unique exhibition.”

Bob Dylan is one of the world’s most popular and acclaimed songwriters, musicians and performers, having sold more than 110 million albums and performed literally thousands of shows around the world in a career spanning five decades. His most recent album, Modern Times – lauded by critics around the world and selling more than 2.5 million copies to date — entered the Billboard Top 200 Albums chart at #1, as well as debuting within the Top Five in 21 other countries.

Bob Dylan was recently awarded a special Pulitzer Prize for “his profound impact on popular music and American culture, marked by lyrical compositions of extraordinary poetic power.” In 2001, he received a Golden Globe and an Academy Award for best song from a motion picture for “Things Have Changed” from the movie Wonder Boys. Dylan’s Chronicles – Volume I, his recent memoirs released in October, 2004, was a world-wide best seller, spending 19 weeks on The New York Times Bestseller List. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988 and the Songwriters Hall Of Fame in 1982.

Situated in the heart of Mayfair, London, Halcyon Gallery is one of Europe’s leading art galleries, representing some of the finest contemporary painters and sculptors working today. Halcyon Gallery is committed to supporting and nurturing outstanding living artists, as well as specialising in fine art and masters original paintings, drawings and sculpture.

2008 marks the 25th anniversary of Halcyon Gallery and the opening of a magnificent new flagship gallery at 24 Bruton Street. This elegant Georgian building has been renovated to create a stunning exhibition space suitable for the finest art and joins Halcyon Gallery’s existing space at 29 New Bond Street.

For further information about the exhibition of the original Dylan works at Halcyon Gallery please visit http://www.halcyongallery.com

Compelling Miles Davis cover on current issue of JAZZIZ

October 23, 2008
The current (September) issue of JAZZIZ has a compelling, beautiful Miles Davis cover, announcing a feature article questioning the primacy of Kind Of Blue among the jazz classics.

Cover and feature – a total of seven pages – were more than enough to persuade me to pay £7.95 for an imported copy of the mag at my local Borders.

The article, by Marc Myers, is a challenging piece – “the album’s impact on jazz has become somewhat inflated over time… the tracks all suffer from a dull similarity…”. It’s published to coincide with the release of the Kind Of Blue 50th Anniversary Collectors Edition.

The Miles cover is only the second issue of JAZZIZ I’ve ever bought. The first was in the early ‘90s when I was getting into jazz; I decided that its approach wasn’t for me.

Credit to its Boca Raton, Florida publishers, though – it’s beautifully designed and it was well ahead of the jazz-lite curve. Its success indicates that it supplies its market with the easy jazz/lifestyle content they want.

www.jazziz.com

Marc Myers blogs at:

www.jazzwax.com

Gerry Smith

HMV has bargains, too

October 22, 2008
Just as Music for Grown-Ups was bemoaning the price of new Miles and Dylan boxes at HMV, sister site Dylan Daily carried a report of HMV bargains:

Dylan on Dylan and I’m Not There – heavily discounted

Thanks to Martin Cowan:

“I thought Dylan Daily readers would like to know that branches of HMV are currently offering Jonathan Cott’s book, Dylan on Dylan, for £3 (RRP £8.99) and the DVD of I’m Not There as part of their 3 for £20 promotion.”

(And Fopp, HMV’s recently acquired subsidiary, is also discounting the single DVD version of I’m Not There – to £8 the last time I visited a Fopp store. Gerry Smith)

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EARLIER RELATED ARTICLE

New Dylan and Miles box sets – big price differences

The new Dylan and Miles box sets – Tell Tale Signs Deluxe and Kind Of Blue 50th Anniversary Collectors Edition – are big Sony launches destined to fill many grown-up Xmas stockings.

There’s a marked variation in prices from the different retailers, though. The best prices I’ve seen are from Zavvi online – £79 (Dylan) and £50 (Miles).

When I called in on Saturday, HMV Oxford Circus had a couple of eye-watering price tags: £95 (Dylan) and £85 (Miles), though the HMV combined web price is much lower – only £10 above Zavvi’s.

With every passing week, I find myself less and less inclined to buy from the big bricks-and-mortar London megastores; I used to be a big customer.

And their small branches seem to have given up on music. My local HMV now focuses on DVD and games, with music taking only a small proportion of floor space; I probably won’t bother going in there again.

Gerry Smith

Neil Young to Billie Holiday, Mahler to Goldfrapp, Jay Z to David Byrne

October 21, 2008
FREE! Music for grown-ups on the BBC in the next 10 days:

Hidden among its vast output, BBC TV and radio has some magnificent music for grown-ups – every week of the year. And it’s all free (well, sort of… ).

In the next ten days, for example:

Thurs 23 Oct
2300 Bob Dylan, Theme Time Radio Hour (rpt) – BBC Radio 2
2320 Mike Skinner, BBC Electric Proms – BBC2

Fri 24 Oct
2200 Goldfrapp, BBC Electric Proms – BBC4
0035 Jakob Dylan, Later… With Jools Holland – BBC2 (rpt)

Sat 25 Oct
2400 Billie Holiday, Jazz Library – BBC Radio 3

Sun 26 Oct
2400 Bob Dylan, Theme Time Radio Hour (new) – BBC 6 Music
2400 Goldfrapp, BBC Electric Proms – BBC4 (rpt)

Mon 27 Oct
1200 & 2200 Mahler, Composer Of The Week – BBC Radio 3
(1/5, continues Tues-Fri)
2330 Choo Choo Ch’Boogie: the Louis Jordan Story – BBC Radio 2 (4/4)

Tues 28 Oct
2235 Jay Z, Imagine… – BBC1

Thurs 30 Oct
2355, David Byrne, BBC Four Sessions (rpt) – BBC Four
0055, Ryan Adams, BBC Four Sessions (rpt) – BBC Four

Fri 31 Oct
2130 Neil Young, In Concert (1971) – BBC Four
2200 Neil Young – Don’t Be Denied – BBC Four
2300 CSNY/Déjà Vu – BBC Four

Online access: many BBC radio programmes are broadcast online, streamed. Please see the channels’ web sites for details. Archived BBC radio and TV programmes are accessible online for a short period via:

www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer

Gerry Smith

New Dylan and Miles box sets – big price differences

October 20, 2008
The new Dylan and Miles box sets – Tell Tale Signs Deluxe and Kind Of Blue 50th Anniversary Collectors Edition – are big Sony launches destined to fill many grown-up Xmas stockings.

There’s a marked variation in prices from the different retailers, though. The best prices I’ve seen are from Zavvi online – £79 (Dylan) and £50 (Miles).

When I called in on Saturday, HMV Oxford Circus had a couple of eye-watering price tags: £95 (Dylan) and £85 (Miles), though the HMV combined web price is much lower – only £10 above Zavvi’s.

With every passing week, I find myself less and less inclined to buy from the big bricks-and-mortar London megastores; I used to be a big customer.

And their small branches seem to have given up on music. My local HMV now focuses on DVD and games, with music taking only a small proportion of floor space; I probably won’t bother going in there again.

Gerry Smith

Favourite ‘50s Rock Artist: Roy Orbison – Reader Survey #2

October 17, 2008
The favourite ‘50s rock artist of readers of Music for Grown-Ups is Roy Orbison.

When we surveyed readers over a period of a couple of months the results were:

Roy Orbison 26%
Elvis Presley 24.6%
Chuck Berry 21.9%
Buddy Holly 17.8%
Everly Brothers 9.5%
Little Richard 0%

Gerry Smith