1. MUSIC   BOB DYLAN
  2. MUSIC   CURRENT SPINS
  3. JESUS MUSIC REVIEWED
  4. THEATRE  It Happened 0ne Friday
  5. THEATRE  Beckett
  6. THEATRE  New Competition
  7. NEWS including Cliff Richard
  8. Books
  9. Appeal time
  10. Joke of the month.

MUSIC 1
No stopping
Mr Zimmerman

Bob Dylan -  50 years Celebration!

Who knows what Jim Morrison, John Lennon and Janis Joplin might have achieved? arguably they might have dried up by now! We do know that one great from their era marches on and refuses to die, even though over the years  there have been a few lurches and the critics have sharpened their knives and been ready to write a career obit.

This March saw the fiftieth anniversary of the very first album from Mr Zimmerman, known better of course as Bob Dylan. The guy keeps creating, the songs continue to arrest and charm. Age introduces its effect for  the voice is a-changin’, much more deep, less abrasive.
It’s always fascinating to see how some major stars found early rejection before acceptance elsewhere. The Beatles, Stones and Bob found early antipathy. Amazingly Dylan was rejected by such pure and innovative labels as Vanguard, Folkways and Elektra. Remember that Joan Baez, an early love for the man, recorded for Vanguard, a label
issued on Fontana.

That firat album was deceptive, in so far, it contained just two Dylan compositions, Talkin’ New York and Song to Woody. I suggest many of us though would only pick up on him when he enunciated the fear of World War Three and  shouted out his anti-war urgency. Dylan is Jewish, and his grasp of Jewish biblical interpretation is wonderfully displayed on John Wesley Harding. Then came his Jewish-Christian Messianic phase that irritated some critics, but thankfully not all, and who still saw him writing such superb songs as In The Garden. Slow Train Coming would give the lovely melody of Precious Angel and the rock-gospel par - excellence of  Gotta Serve Somebody.  interestingly Sinead 0’Connor would say  Slow Train Coming made her want to be a singer because it is “sexy and funky as well as being religious.”

in much more recent  there has been his quirky Christmas carol set. Unfortunately for our man he had to put up some of those right wing religious nutters. The Dylan catalogue is ‘out there’ – well, almost. Try and find Dylan & The Dead from February 1989!  When you do, and it’s almost a miracle in so doing, let the volume rip! There have been the thumbs down for this, but sorry, it has some great moments and if you get it, then take in Queen Jane Approximately! Well, for starters!

The Top  21 Dylan Choice.

Rob Murdoch is a  Dylan fan and he gives us his favourite 15 songs and six albums that make-up his best ‘21 of Dylan.’ Doubtless you have your favourite Dylan record outings! Thanks to Rob from Queen’s Park in London.

  • To Ramona
  • It Ain't Me Babe
  • She Belongs To Me
  • Watching The River Flow
  • Brownsville Girl
  • Visions of Johanna
  • Like a Rolling Stone
  • Desolation Row
  • Mississippi (from Tell Tale Signs Bootleg V, not Love and Theft)
  • Red River Shore
  • When The Deal Goes Down
  • Highway 61
  • Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues
  • It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry
  • Buckets of Rain

And 5 albums :

  • Another Side of Bob Dylan
  • Blood On The Tracks
  • Highway 61 Revisited
  • Time Out Of Mind
  • John Wesley Harding
  • Modern Times

JASPER  CURRENT SPINS
(Chasing the  *oldies and ** newish  ***newies)

Johanna Graham – Jazz  (own label: 2012) ***
Judy Collins Sings Dylan (Geffen:1993) *
Kate and Anna McGarrigle – Self titled (!076) *
Alexander Stewart – All or Nothing At All (Alexander Stewart Music)  **
Gillian Welch – Hell Among the Yearlings (Acony)*

 

MUSIC 3

JESUS MUSIC

This material by Tony Jasper was carried in the Methodist Recorder, UK,  on April 12.

There is  joy in JM record land. Bursting into the national  UK Singles Chart  as listed in  the industry trade paper Music Week there is  Matt Redman and L27.with Twenty Seven Million. Less happy is the indifference from many of  the radio stations when it comes to airplay statistics. While it was in the top 20 singles it failed to make the Top 40 Airplay. This chart gathers together how many times a record is played on the airwaves, and obviously the more it is, the greater is sales potential..  Alan Jones, the industry’s big-time expert on all things in chartland  did say in his weekly chart analysis that Redman was a Christian songwriter and that may harm possibilities since there is an undoubted antipathy toward Christian things. hitting the airwaves. Some call it religious propaganda.  Others in response might call it another version of bigotry from free thinkers. Single sales, other than in a few cases, are not high and when the Redman-L27 was first listed on the chart week ending March 9, it had shifted only  27.000.  It ‘s a well produced record and  a good as anything around.

Redman and L27 rap it out so well, but even their record pales in the face  of The Dreamer/The Believer from Common (Warner)/ The man spells it out” “I am to hop-hop what 0bama is to politics.” The man preaches, sets a religious rap, takes us into the presence of Maya Angelou. It traces black struggles and racism  It talks about growing up. It has a shout for faith.
It has a swagger, but this one comes with a warning, for this is belief occasionally dressed occasionally with words the kids in the street know, but might send a perfect pristine youth leader to turn down the sound!  It is beautifully arranged,  the blending and sampling class  stuff -   So much atmosphere.

Rock legend Bruce Springsteen cannot keep religion out of his thoughts. Wrecking Ball (Columbia) is pretty terrific. Springsteen continues his par-excellence love for telling the story as he see it between the American dream and reality.  Hope and redemption are to be found in a song such as ‘Rocky Ground’ and there’s his famed ‘Land Of Hope and Dreams’ that became some time back his tour encore and sounded more akin to a hymn to bring things to some kind of close  While I’ve sorted that track from the rest because you find  there the gospel narrative is more obvious,  the actual is more the case that you never know when religion is going to have an entry. Saints and sinners have always been part of his lyrical output. For the past spiritual input  try elsewhere from this great album to his epic  song ‘Born to Run’ or his looking at the Garden of Eden drama in ‘Written on My Soul’ , or ‘ Wish I Were Blind’ and  ‘Living Proof’ for  what he calls a “little bit of God’s mercy.’ Again, I am throwing up a few songs, for there’s much more. The man is back on form. Makes me happy.

There is less overt religion on another fine release out there in music-land. This one comes from blues man Eric Bibb. Deeper in the Well ( Dixiefrog) has some beautiful moments, as when he gives a new reading to the song ’Sinner Man.’  This is a gentle record and comes with the flavour of the American South. The music arrangements are quite beautiful as we can hear a mix of accordion, harmonica, banjo and Creole fiddle. By now Lana Del Ray has possibly sold a few million of her album Born to Die (Sony) and deservedly so. The whole thing needs to be played very loud on good equipment and is pretty exceptional and sensational.  The title song leads into a lyric that immediately brings into my consciousness a Charles Wesley hymn that has been ostracised in the last three Methodist hymn books ‘And Am I  Born to Die’ that was set to one of the most evocative and moving tunes I’ve ever heard in our Methodist heritage, namely Sarah. but  like I said you have to dig deep to find it. This new artist out there in pop-land takes her listener to the grave, in running with the fragility of life that can give strong love one day but which in worst moments seems to be so fragile, battle. And I know that. She explores the burning nature of love that can sometimes come with so much ferocity that paradoxically it can simply disappear. She searches for an anchor to the swirling dangerous waters of life, especially in relationships and how society can eat you up, just take in ‘National Anthem.’

I actually went and bought The Tampa Experience – Gospel Music Workshop of America’ (Centric Records). Perhaps I thought ‘Tampa’ would take me somewhere that I had not been previously, alas not. It could come from anywhere where Gospel singing and worship has excitable preachers, and song leaders and where  the choir chants familiar religious words with preciseness and conviction – at least for the moment while everyone is whooped up.  Here you get a mix of a men’s choir, a women’s and youth choir. It’s powerful in its way, but in terms of the songs there were elements in some lyrics of what is known as prosperity religion but the faith expressed sounded strong.