Fun in the
Basement with the

by Paula Radice




Had a lovely time in Northampton last weekend, meeting up with old friends and especially meeting Freewheelers I hadn't met in person before. It was great to be reminded again how nice a bunch of people Dylan fans are. I was talking to someone, I think it was Ged Keilty, about the way that Dylan people rarely let you down. In the nearly twenty years that I have been collecting Dylan stuff, I can count the people who have not delivered what they said they were going to on the fingers of one hand, but the acts of unexpected generosity and friendship are too numerous to count. I expect that's what comes from spending the first ten years with the folks in Newcastle, who were unerringly wonderful, and now becoming a Freewheeler!

I did learn some very important facts. Firstly, that the "C" in C.P. Lee obviously stands for "Certifiable". Anyone who missed C.P.'s talk, and especially the hippy dancing that went along with it, missed a treat. It was extremely entertaining, and I am contemplating booking you for one of our school assemblies, C.P. (not sure what the topic would be, though). And as if to reinforce what we already knew - i.e. that Dylan fans must have a pronounced sense of humour - Keith Agar's compèring of the day was just brilliant. It was all a lot of fun. The bands were great, too. John and Chris worked ceaselessly to make sure the day went smoothly and everyone enjoyed themselves. It was an excellent event, guys.

I also came away from Northampton, or rather staggered away, with some new purchases, far and away the best of which was Ray Stavrou's mammoth work A Vinyl Headstone Almost in Place, and it was lovely to meet Ray and get to talk about the book (actually, a massive ring binder with loose-leaf A4 sheets, along the lines of Galileo's Math Book).

I haven't bought many bootleg vinyls for several years now - I very rarely see them, and when I do come across them the prices have just become silly - but when I was living in Durham I went to the record fairs religiously and bought as many as my postgraduate grant would allow (and often more than it would...) and built up a small collection, and have always loved them for the artefacts they are in their own right. I never play them now; there's no need now that everything's available on CD, but they're worth having just for the covers and the artwork and the sense of history that goes with the very earliest ones.

Vinyl Headstone is an incredible piece of work. For a start it's beautiful to look at, with colour pictures on every page (something no other book on vinyl bootlegs has ever managed) and a fantastic attention to detail in the listing and differentiating of the various editions of different titles. It's a real labour of love, and Ray has my deepest respect and admiration for the amount of dedicated work he has put into it.

Moreover, as we talked about its production, it became apparent to me that Ray is only just about covering his costs in putting it out, as he's printing each copy out from his computer at home: there's a vast amount of paper involved (there are over 500 pages), and he says it takes two colour print cartridges to print each copy. He's putting it out so that others can have the reference details, and can feed back to him any anomalies they find in their own collections, with the ultimate aim of producing as definitive piece of research as possible. With nearly 100 copies already sent out, he has put a prodigious amount of time and energy into the project. Another very generous Dylan guy. If you have any interest in vinyl bootlegs at all, I can't recommend Vinyl Headstone enough. Ray's email address is

There seems to be a deluge of new books about to descend on us, if's information is correct. I know of at least eight new books (in English that is: non-English editions are also coming out all the time at the moment) due in the next couple of months. I've also come across two new books that haven't been listed by any of the major internet booksellers: Bob Dylan: Gypsy Troubadour by Robert Anstey seems to be a privately published affair, which has cropped up on an auction site, and "Do You Mr. Jones?" Bob Dylan with the Poets and the Professors, due for publication soon, seems to be a compilation of writings, as it has an editor, N. Corcoran, rather than an author. Copies of both are on their way to me, and I'll let you know more in future reviews. I think it would be wise to advise family members now not to expect much in the way of Christmas presents this year, especially if Chronicles Vol. 1 does appear in December.

Well, term starts tomorrow. Hope, Richard, that your school got its building work finished in time to let the children in, although believe me, the place will be quieter and easier to work in if you keep them out. The scaffolding has just come down from around ours, after months of disruption having a new roof put on, so the school's looking good, all set for the little darlings to come in and wreck the place. I've got a really "challenging" class (I've talked about that word before) this year, so wish me luck!