Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Bob Dylan Remixed and Retrospectived

There is a first for everything and Mark Ronson's 'Re-Version' of Bob Dylan is not only a first for Dylan remixes but in my mind it's also a first for decent remixes of music from the 60's.

After years of rejecting all offers to remix his catalogue, Dylan, 66, has decided that a dancefloor makeover is the best way to introduce his upcoming 51 track retrospective coined "DYLAN" to a younger generation. You will be able to get your hands on a copy (legally) in October.

The 're-version of Dylan's not so famous "Most Likely You Go Your Way" had it's debut on BBC earlier this month and Radio 1 DJ Zane Lowe played the track twice within an hour. The track is that good that even DJ St. Andrew played a sample of the track more than twice!


Anonymous said...

As far as the sample on Ronsons myspace page will allow me to tell, there's absolutely no difference between the 'remix' and the original...how does adding a slightly faster drum beat make the music more accessible to a younger audience? (in fact, the 'sample' of this song sounds quite savage when compared with the original...like playing it from a tape I bought in the 60s while driving at high speed through the cross-city tunnel).

why wouldnt i just go purchase Blonde on blonde, instead of being schystered into buying a version - no different from the Blonde on blonde version than any of Dylan's live takes of that song - made by some second rate DJ?

thats right...cause old men aren't cool unless they're being remixed by slightly younger men, playing a glorified stereo in front of thousands of mindless, slobbering fans - playing other people's music rather than, like dylan himself, making my own.

Peter said...

Well, personally I think one ought to keep an open-mind about this sort of thing (which would preclude making a judgment on the song's quality before having heard the thing in it's entirety).

As for accessibility, I agree partly with your comments, however I would go so far as to say that Bob Dylan's music is of such high quality, most especially Blonde on Blonde, that ANY attempt to make it more widely heard is a good thing.

Yes, young people ought to investigate Dylan for themselves, rather than being shunted into it, or even coaxed into it by someone they may regard as more accessible. However - whatever this Mark Ronson character's intentions may be, the fact that Dylan has sanctioned the mix would suggest that he (Ronson) has some musical and artistic merit. Dylan is not known to work with people who you are so pleased to call 'second-rate'.

Blonde on Blonde is, for me, Dylan's crowning achievement, a beautiful and poignant (now as ever) reflection of a man, not much older than myself, at the peak of his creative talent - a peak that has lasted (waning and waxing itself) for a very long time.

After Blonde on Blonde, Dylan's heroic songwriting (and speed taking) efforts came to a hilt. Not long after it's release he suffered a motorcycle accident that, as history would have it, did not kill him, but kept him figuratively and very literally off his feet for some time afterwards. His next album was Nashville Skyline, brilliant in it's own way, but very different to Blonde on Blonde, marking both an end and a new beginning in terms of Dylan's musical style, a reinvention that has been itself repeated many times throughout the man's lengthy career.

But not to get so far off topic:

I think that yes, the sample on the myspace page entitled 'Most Likely Reversion', is really not strikingly different to the track 'Most Likely You Go Your Way (And I'll Go Mine', from Blonde on Blonde. That track is well regarded not lyrically but musically, because it is reflective (as Wikipedia says well) of the album's sound as a whole.

This leads me to believe that Ronson was not altogether very inclined to potentially butcher a brilliant track - rather he seems to have added, as you said, a slightly different drum track and increased the tempo in parts just a bit. But what would you rather hear, a slightly different version of a great song, or a radically different (and likely sounding radically worse) version, butchering a great song?

Obviously you might say you'd rather hear the original. So would I. But I'll reserve judgment until I hear the full track.

Between then and now, I'll just say that, yes, young people ought to investigate Dylan for themselves before hearing his greatest album remixed. Just as they ought to investigate Mozart's Requiem Lacrimosa before hearing it remixed.

But if they have not had the chance to hear either, perhaps a remix of a song they may not have heard otherwise, will lead to them investigating the original version of that song. So young people might hear the Mark Ronson version, and be inclined to listen to the Dylan version, and thereby perhaps be introduced to the entire Dylan discography.

Even if it only happens once, that cannot be a bad thing.

Anonymous said...

If you don't know who Mark Ronson is your old and moronic