on 30 October 2004
Although the entire Dylan fandom is reeling from the rightly placed hurrahs emanating from a universally favourable reading of 'Chronicles. Volume 1', we shouldn't let Dylan's book be the only craft in the harbour. There have been some other excellent Dylan books published recently and whilst all eyes will naturally be on Dylan's own creation, it is well worth taking a sideways glance at what other books are currently available. One such book is the new, improved, refurbished, updated and revised publication by C.P. Lee which chronicles the events leading up to, during and otherwise having anything to do with Dylan's legendary concert at The Free Trade Hall, Manchester on the 17th May 1966. You may think that you have read it all before but 'Like The Night (Revisted)' has so much more and, this time around, C.P.'s bells don't just chime: they ring-a-ding-ding Dylan and '66.
If you want to see exactly how much more there is to the new, improved, refurbished, updated and revised 'Like The Night', then it is best to start at the end - with the index. There are at least an additional 50 textual references in this new index and the same includes some important new entries. Probably the most important 'new' name in the index is Pam Lee who, in both editions, C.P. describes as 'the woman without whom all this would have been impossible'. Pam has thus earned her rightful place in the index for, without Pam there wouldn't have been an index at all let alone a book to go with it! Other less worthy new entrants include Tony Blair, John Prescott and Frank Zappa but there are two new names in particular that you should look out for both in the index and in the book itself and they are Keith Butler and John Cordwell.
In a brand new Chapter to the book - chapter 8 - 'Dining With Judas' - C.P. explains how these two characters, Butler and Cordwell, both hold themselves out to be the infamous shouter of 'Judas' at the concert. It is an intriguing and spell binding tale of transatlantic e-mails, late night curries, Boomtown Rats and a telephone call on Christmas morning. The new book is worth having for this chapter alone as it contains a myriad of superbly described circumstances yet leaves perfectly, and somehow enticingly, unresolved the question of really: 'Who dunnit?.
So, what else is new? Well, the compact size for a start, and also the cover photograph. This time Dylan has his back to us but the spotlight which has clearly hit Dylan full in the face, works to make a ragged halo around his '66 unkept bouffant. And, if it's photographs that you are after, there are plenty more here, including one of the author standing next to a Dylan statue and many of the Manchester Free Trade Hall which bring the story to life and add a new perspective to the history of the subject. One of the appendices which details internet resources, has been expertly revised and no doubt greatly improved by the appearance of Freewheelin-on-line 'The World's first Bob Dylan internet fanzine'!
Of course, since the first edition of 'Like The Night' was published, Sony Columbia have released the Free Trade Hall concert as 'The Bootleg Series Volume 4 - Bob Dylan Live 1966 - The 'Royal Albert Hall' Concert'. In 'Revisited' C.P. not only reports on the responses to the official release of the soundboard from the concert, but also provides some mouth watering details of other products, official and otherwise, which have their source in Dylan's frantic '66 activities.
There is nothing quiet or tricky about 'Like The Night (Revisited)'. It is a brilliant read full of anecdotes, observations and battlegrounds. It is a history book; as Geil Marcus declares on the new cover 'C.P.Lee was there but the point is that he can put you there too.' Whist, with 'Chronicles Volume 1' Dylan may be seen sitting stranded away from his art, C.P. takes you to the dead centre of the art form and brings us all into harmony with the cosmic sea that drenched Manchester on that night in May 1966. If you want a companion to Chronicles that will bring the music to your ears, this is it!
on 2 October 2004
With Dylan choosing to wreathe himself in mystery down the decades, Lee's book is a real treat: it's human and illuminating, and conjures up the times and the place. It's far easier to appreciate just how seismic Electric Dylan was when it's put into context, and thankfully this does so with charm and a great line in detail. The narrative tangents and detours all add to the sense of a whole world of events and lives spinning in orbit about Bob and his retinue.
Thankfully it steers clear of the hushed, reverential tones most Dylan tomes are written in. It's no less in awe of the man's talent: it simply has a more rewarding sense of perspective. Certainly, it's thoroughly researched and highly readable. (Lee was, in fact, one of the first to identify the Manchester Free Trade Hall show as the source of the legendary 'Judas' heckle.) Much writing about music misses the mark: this is so evocative you'll enjoy the live albums that much more the next time round, and in this respect, the verite photos are spot on. As insights into Dylan go, this is a real winner, and it's terrific to see it spruced up and available again.
on 10 April 2001
I found this book to be a slightly uneasy mix of analysis of Dylan's output of the time and the events leading up to the legendary concert. It is undoubtedly illuminating and well researched but seems poorly edited - there are mistakes of grammar throughout. To argue that the 'Judas' cry was anti-semitic also seems a little extreme; the connotations seem more likely to be unintentional. It is a commendably unpretentious read; look for it on the shelves and you will find a million weighty Dylan tomes which ultimately do not cut to the facts in as lucid a manner as this book. Ultimately, however, I would see this book as a readable companion to the live 1966 album rather than a classic in itself. The pictures, meanwhile, certainly give some evidence of the atmosphere of the 1966 shows but aren't particularly good photos in themselves if one looks beyond the mere fact they are pictures of the great man.