Review: 'Bob Dylan Revisited'
Review: 'Bob Dylan Revisited'
Graphic interpretations of Bob Dylan songs: it's one of those concepts that seems so obvious, so on-point, that the most shocking aspect of it is that it's taken this long for someone to actually go ahead and do it.
After all, similar volumes have already been released for acts such as the Beatles and Tori Amos, so it was only a matter of time before the work of the man often referred to as "the poet laureate of rock 'n' roll'' got the pen and ink treatment.
Well, wait and wonder no longer -- this week sees the release of "Bob Dylan Revisited,'' which features the work of 13 different artists from around the world assigned with the task of setting images to Dylan's words.
As a storyteller, Dylan's gifts lend themselves to both the vividly real and the sublimely surreal, and in "Revisited'' both of these sides of the writer's style are explored to mixed but generally favorable results.
For many readers, the centerpiece of this collection will be English artist Dave McKean's epic rendering of the Dylan classic "Desolation Row,'' a song which first appeared on Dylan's 1965 album "Highway 61 Revisited.''
McKean, known to some readers for his spellbinding work on the covers for Neil Gaiman's "Sandman'' series, draws on his full bag of stylistic tricks for "Desolation Row,'' creating something that, like the original song, is both nightmarish and heartbreaking on a nearly subconscious level.
Great pleasure can also be found in a pair of the more intimate works in "Revisited'' -- Francois Avril's take on the 1963 gem "Girl from the North Country'' and Jean-Claude Gotting's interpretation of 1969's "Lay, Lady Lay.'' Neither of these works last very long ("Lay, Lady, Lay'' clocks in at just two drawn pages) but both capture the timeless romanticism inherent in so much of Dylan's work.
It should be noted, however, that there are a few creative misfires contained in "Revisited.'' For his take on 1965's "Tombstone Blues,'' Bezian takes a song that is packed to the gills with lyrical imagery and discards all of it in favor of his own impenetrable narrative. Jean-Philippe Bramanti's rendering of "Knockin' on Heaven's Door'' is fine on its own, but the song, unfortunately, already has the perfect images for its haunting words: the sequence in Sam Peckinpah's 1973 film "Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid'' that it was written for.
However, the fact that Dylan himself and Sony Records have authorized this collection gives the impression that there is at least an air of emotional truth to each of the works in this collection, a volume which barely scratches the surface of what Dylan's songbook has to offer.
With hundreds of songs to Dylan's name, a second volume of "Revisited'' seems logical. Here's hoping the wait isn't too long.
"Bob Dylan Revisited," by Alfred, Francois Avril, Bezian, Jean-Philippe Bramanti, Christopher, Benjamin Flao, Jean-Claude Gotting, Mael Le Mae, Raphaelle Le Rio, Lorenzo Mattotti, Dave McKean, Henri Meunier, Thierry Murat, Nicolas Nemiri, Gradimir Smudja and Zep, published by W.W. Norton and Company, $24.95.