Bob Dylan: Odds and Ends

“What is this shit?” to quote Greil Marcus.

I was excited when I heard about the new video of Dylan material, Odds and Ends. I’m always interested in hearing something new about my favorite artist. Sounded good to me.

That doesn’t mean I wasn’t a bit skeptical. The early Bootleg Series releases were phenomenal, full of material so good it seemed impossible it was never released. After the first few though, I pretty much stopped paying attention. Not to say there’s nothing of value in, say, More Basement Tapes. But really, how much of that is really worth listening to? Not a lot.

If it were 1975 and I had laid down $15 or my hard-earned paper route money for Odds and Ends, I’d be furious. For the most part, it’s a long commercial for the Bootleg Series. But in my old age, with a relatively fat wallet and some time on my hands, I guess I’d say I enjoyed it all right. I mean, it is about Bob Dylan, so had bad can it be?

Well, pretty bad really. I figured it would at least have some stuff I hadn’t heard before. Sadly, not the case. Ok interviews with his early manager, Roy Silverman. Another with Artie Mogul, with Witmark Publishing. There’s an interview with Bob Johnston that I hadn’t seen, but he didn’t really say anything new. And another with Al Kooper, also not especially earth-shattering. The interview with David Bromberg about Self-Portrait is pretty good I guess. They interview talking heads Clinton Heylin and Sid Griffin about the Basement Tapes era. There’s a pretty cool music video made for Visions of Johanna that I’ll probably watch again, but they included no background information on it. There’s a funny commercial that describes the evils of stereo music. They include the earliest known footage of a young Bob Dylan in NYC (he’s doing his Chaplin impression).

Anyway. I guess it’s good they put it out. At least the stuff – however random and non-essential – is out there in the world. But I’d say I might have gotten more bang for my buck from a meal at MacDonald’s.

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