Saturday, May 26, 2007

Out On Highway 61

Although I've been aware of the '33-1/3' series since it started, I'd never picked any editions up until I spotted a bunch of them at a Chapters store the other day. Faced with a dozen or so choices I gravitated to the album I probably know better than any other: Highway 61 Revisited. While it wasn't the first record I bought for myself in the mid-'60s, it was the first to truly capture my imagination. Everything from the cover of Dylan in the garish silk shirt and Triumph motorcycle T-shirt to the surrealistic liner notes fascinated me, and the music still thrills. Author Mark Polizzotti's attraction to the album runs parallel, so I'm digging his detailed analysis and background.

Coincidentally, my local library just delivered a mint copy of Gary Marmorstein's new book, The Label: The Story of Columbia Records (Avalon), of which Dylan plays a small part. The book got a middling review in The New York Times, and I'm already wary because the jacket copy misspells Janis Joplin's name. Not a good sign, but the subject matter is fascinating, if only from the perspective of the calibre of artists – spanning the full range of music – who once worked for the label.

I skipped the Victoriaville festival last weekend, so my festival season doesn't start in earnest until next Friday when I head west to Toronto for Jane Bunnett's Art Of Jazz festival. Needless to say, there will be live reports. Stay tuned. We'll be back to more frequent postings.

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