on 24 November 2014
This is the best book I have read about Bob Dylan in forty years. It is certainly the most entertaining.
Larry followed Bob and his cohorts on the famed Rolling Thunder Tour in 1975. In this book he follows the ups and downs and sees Bob and his fellow performers, painting touching human portraits of all of them. His role was not 'official' so he himself frequently suffers the kinds of mishaps and mistreatment one would expect when having to deal with managers, security and crazed fans whilst following a world famous artist. Despite this he gets really close to Bob, maybe the closest any writer has got to the sphinx-like singer-songwriter. I also found out about artistes I was unaware of - for example Kinky Friedman the Jewish country singer who I find is both excellent and hilarious.
I can only recommend this book to anyone who loves rock and folk music.
on 31 May 2014
Reading Larry Sloman’s account of Bob Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Review some forty years after the event is a strange experience. We are taken back to a world that seems almost primitive when compared to the modern day - ease of access to information, the internet and (God help us) the paparazzi. But this was 1975, and Sloman’s book that describes this world is totally fascinating from start to finish.
Ratso, as Sloman refers to himself throughout the bulk of the book had amazingly close access to Dylan, but it was not gained easily. Constant battles with minder Lou Kemp and his employers Rolling Stone magazine are examined in hilarious detail, and Ratso was for most of the tour considered to be an outcast. The word he uses to describe his situation cannot be repeated in the politically correct world of today.
By sheer tenacity, resolve and single-mindedness, he achieved his goal, and “On the Road with Bob Dylan” is the result - an insightful, informative, amusing and sometimes surprising snapshot of a time gone by. Using his inimitable powers of persuasion, Ratso managed significant interviews with all the major players, including Joan Baez, Ronee Blakley, Joni Mitchell, Roger McGuinn, Robbie Robertson and even Dylan himself. He also includes a long telephone conversation with Michael Bloomfield, not a member of the tour, but someone who had history with Dylan. We are treated to some wonderful vignettes, including the filming of some of the scenes from what became “Renaldo and Clara,” and while in Montreal, a trip to Leonard Cohen’s house in the company of Joni Mitchell.
This is all quite heady stuff, and throughout the narrative we meet the various hangers-on, groupies, wannabees and other oddball characters who inhabit this strange netherworld. But through it all is the music, this was a magical time for Dylan, who was writing and performing some of his best and strongest material – a fact that is not lost on Ratso. He describes every concert that he witnessed with a glee and enthusiasm that is almost childlike in its intensity, and seems to want everyone to enjoy them to the same degree. He knows and loves Dylan’s music and is immensely proud of the fact that Dylan has never let him down on stage, “…making music is in my blood.”
This is a truly compelling account of a moment in time that no fan of Dylan’s mid seventies period should miss. Beautifully told and utterly fascinating, and for the romantics, Ratso even makes up with Lou Kemp in the end (sort of!)