For Dylan fans who thought they'd seen it all.
The Bob Dylan World Tour of 1966 marked the first time Dylan played electric music. Accustomed primarily to acoustic folk, audiences didn't respond very well to the change. Many booed and stomped their feet. Confused critics branded Dylan a "sellout."
The reappraisal of the music that resulted from that tour began in the '80s. First, a series of bootlegs culled from a Manchester, England show recorded by Columbia Records in hope of a live LP, have been a best seller. In 1996, Columbia released an official two-disc CD of that concert as part of their ongoing " Dylan Bootleg Series." In 2002, Mickey Jones, Dylan's drummer on the 1966 tour, shared his recollections as well as never before seen footage in Bob Dylan World Tour 1966: The Home Movies."
Mickey Jones is recognizable to fans of the popular sitcom Home Improvement, where he played Pete from the K&B Construction Company. He also appeared in a popular Breath Savers commercial. Few today know that he is an accomplished musician. Jones began as the drummer for Trini Lopez (The Dirty Dozen ) for several years, then toured with Johnny Rivers ("Secret Agent Man") for three years. He also was a member of Kenny Rogers and the First Edition for a decade. He still plays periodically with Highway 61 Revisited, a Dylan tribute band (unlike many tribute bands, this one has the talent and ability to satisfy all music fans; Joel Gilbert, the leader of the band, is this disc's co-director).
Anyway, back to the disc. In 1966, Bob Dylan invited Jones to join his backing band, The Hawks (The Band, without Levon Helm). Jones brought his 8mm home movie camera along and captured some incredible images. Not only concert footage, but also footage of Dylan and The Band horsing around during their leisure time, plus backstage footage.
I liked the structure Jones and Gilbert gave the documentary. The first 22 minutes or so show Jones discussing his musical background. This is wholly appropriate, since it helps us understand why Bob Dylan wanted him to join him on tour. The next 50 minutes involve Dylan and the tour. The final 20 minutes have Jones discussing what happened afterward, and how he made the transition from musician to actor. Structure is very important to a documentary, and by using the timeline approach, Jones and Gilbert organize the material into a coherent whole that people unfamiliar with the story can follow very easily.
The full frame transfer looks excellent. Ventura did a great job restoring Jones' 8mm home movies for the disc. The colors are surprisingly rich and images are beautifully clear, considering the age and format of the film. There are some artifacts, such as scratches, specks and dirt, but given that this is 8mm film that is over thirty-five (at the time of production) years old, it looks fantastic. The transition between the old footage and new interviews with Jones is flawless.
Sound is Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround stereo. I'm not sure that mix was truly necessary for this disc, considering the music exists mostly in the background. However, I was happy to have the separation—the audio production is clear and even throughout the feature. Since no vintage tapes were used, the sound is devoid of hiss, humming and other problems that plague analog recordings.
Extras are limited to a photo gallery. But what a photo gallery! Twenty photos taken by Barry Feinstein during the World Tour are included, along with snapshots from Jones' personal collection, including a picture of him with the Beatles (who appear in 8mm footage shot by Jones during one of his tours with Trini Lopez). This is the way photo galleries should be done, not like the anemic ones, consisting of five or six photos, often prepared by major studios.
I wholeheartedly recommend this disc. Dylan fans will love owning this missing piece of history. Non-fans and casual viewers coming fresh into Dylan will want to seek out some of his albums and material. Plus, the $14.95 price tag is too irresistible to pass up.
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