Dylan cartoon Chris's Top Ten

by Chris Cooper

Another year over. Another Christmas turkey consumed in the name of  excess. I dunno why we have to do these things, I always regret them afterwards. But then a wise man once told me that it was not the things you do that you regret, but the things that you do not do! Oh well. One thing for sure, Christmas also means another Top Ten for all those in Freewheelin'’  land. So without further ado, here it is.. 

Of course I am not silly enough to list 1-10 as you can be sure that we could rearrange this by the time you get it, so this time let me divide things into subcategories first. I think I can shuffle my top ten into three main areas 


So lets start from the top 


I listen to a lot of things these days, far more than just good ol’ Bob, but of course we have to keep this with some sort of Bob link, don’t we?  We don’t?  OK then.

I continue to listen to lots of jazz and lately jazz piano features more and more. I would choose two of these items for my top ten 

ESBJORN SVENSSON TRIO    -    Strange Place For Snow
A modern trio from Sweden, I had heard them on the radio a few times but nothing prepared me for their set at the Cheltenham Jazz Festival this year. They were mesmerizing. And this, their latest album is a stunner that I play a lot. Great in the car as I drive across the quite Fens. They are playing Cambridge Corn Exchange in February and I am really looking forward to seeing them again.

I have listened to Keith for a lot of years now but this live set recorded with his usual trio is a real gem. He sound completely involved and the interplay with the band is astonishing. I haven’t seen Keith in many years live, sure wish he’d get around more, but till he does, this is a good substitute. 

MILES DAVIS           The Complete Jack Johnson Set  (5 CDS)
I am a long time Miles nut. This material, featuring Miles with an electric band has been long anticipated as the original Jack Johnson album was a killer in it’s day. This contains all the sessions complete, and is really an interesting set.  In the copious notes Teo Macero (long time Miles producer) refers to the sessions as “the greatest rock record of all time” that’s a helluva statement, but amazingly may not be that far from target. This is joyous, enervating music that you really should hear. 

I was gonna stop at three, even thou there no Bob here. I feel I should list the 15 SACD reissues here as a favourite. Is it Ok if I list them all as one choice? If I had to pick a personal favourite I would say that Another Side Of is the most impressive, but if you are a real Bobophile you will get them all. 

But there is even one more choice. One album that I only got at the start of December actually that has had an extra-ordinary effect on me. A record that has me reappraising  my interests, which I like to think is a healthy thing. 

The album folks is:


I had heard a few live tapes of this lady before, but must have been only half listening. I bought this in a sale, there were three cds of hers in the sale, I tried this one. Took it home and put it on, and impressed is not doing this justice. This woman has one of the most sincere, hard voices I have ever heard. Some of the songs on here with gorgeous acoustic accompaniment from David Rawlings quite literally took my breath away.  From the desolation of “The Devil had a Hold of me”. To the earnest lust of “Honey Now” and the staggering emotion of “I’m not afraid to die”. This whole album is just amazing. The most honest record I have heard this year I think. Of course I rushed back to get the other two albums but could only find one more “Time (The Revalator)”  and yes it is also very impressive, but little could approach the impact that this album made on me. 

So talking of impact on me, lets move on to...


This year this is really easy isn’t it?  It’s so refreshing, so rewarding when you can hold your head up and say “It’s the Bob shows” because lately , if we are all honest this may not have been the case. But this time it is true. He was amazing wasn’t he. The best shows I  have seen since 1990 for certain.  I went  to all the UK shows and they all had their moments, I came out of each one  glad I was a Bobfan. But here we are being selective so lets pick a few then. 

I guess if I am going to narrow the field I would choose, Wembley  Nov 15th

Because he seemed so full of life and so energetic. I was so shocked to hear he was unwell after this. It was a strong spirited performance. Then of course there was Brixton Nov 25th. My personal favourite for a whole variety of reasons  but to name at least two Hard Rain and Mr Tambourine Man. These were terrific performances as Dylan was celebrating what we all could see was a return to form.  I would list  Hammersmith also, (who would forget Romance in Durango) but the real standout has to be Shepherds Bush Nov 23rd. We were not expecting all those amazingly unusual songs, the air of anticipation was so strong I could touch it, and if you were there then you will know what I mean, I will certainly never forget that one. 

OK, with eight gone we reach the last section...


Well certainly I have to mention (yet again)  the arrival of Broadband Internet status for me. Suddenly there are lots of shows available to download easily, the resources that we now have access to are quite outstanding. Yes there are risks involved, viruses and such like. But as in all things when you start running for the first time you inevitably fall over, and there lots of races to run here yet. But its worth the odd fall for the things that you gain. Give it a try. 

And the last one? Well that FW world reaches a natural climax each year at JOHN GREEN DAY. We had JG3 last year, and after some problems and a little hesitation we are heading into JG4 in March. It goes on, relentlessly some may say, but that was the way my old mate the kidda would have wanted it. It’s good to know that we are still doing this, it’s a lot of work and new blood is required at times, but on the day it’s always an amazing experience. I guess John and I will have a few disagreements, I guess we will both be ready to quit a few times. But this year we have a new team leader in Keith Agar, I think it’s healthy that this is happening, and I would sincerely hope that I see you all there. For a song, a laugh and drink to the greatest Dylan collector of them all. 

Till next time…