Item description for ISIS: A Bob Dylan Anthology by Derek Barker...
ISIS is the best-selling, longest lasting, most highly acclaimed Dylan fanzine. This ultimate Dylan anthology draws on unpublished interviews and research by the ISIS team together with the best articles culled from the pages of the definitive Bob magazine. New updated edition.
"Astounding . . . Fascinating . . . If you're more than mildly interested in Bob Dylan, then this is an essential purchase."-Record Collector
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 1" Width: 5" Height: 7.5" Weight: 0.85 lbs.
Release Date Sep 1, 2004
Publisher Helter Skelter Publishing
ISBN 190092482X ISBN13 9781900924825
Availability 0 units.
More About Derek Barker
Derek Barker is the editor of ISIS magazine, the bestselling Bob Dylan fanzine. He is a world renown Dylan expert and author of many sleevenotes and articles.
Reviews - What do customers think about ISIS: A Bob Dylan Anthology?
Buyer Be Wary Apr 29, 2003
The review above sounds a LOT like a review of the book by Isis magazine reviewer Jim Gillian, which is posted on the Isis site... maybe should be signed "brown nose"...?
ISIS: A Bob Dylan Anthology Sep 3, 2002
This is a CRACKERJACK book. Hugely enjoyable and one that I hope is on everyone's wish list.
Excluding the appendices (which include an opinion on "historic" live shows and on "essential" bootlegs), the anthology comprises thirty-three pieces, of which, twelve are either written by Derek alone, or in collaboration with others. And whilst most of the content has of course been drawn from past issues of ISIS Magazine, there are five entirely new essays. Of those that have appeared before, the earliest comes from ISIS #22 and the most recent from ISIS #96.
The structure of the anthology broadly follows Bob's progress through the years, which gives it something of a biographical feel, albeit a particularly selective one. The text is interspersed with photographs of Bob in concert and elsewhere, as well as being liberally sprinkled with "passport" sized photos of others; poster/ticket reproductions; cartoons; band signatures and so on. Collectively these give a good overall impression of Dylan and some of his world.
Derek also writes the introduction, which moves pretty briskly from what the book is about to Derek's own reasons for being "completely captivated" by Dylan. So although he states that "it is (about) a best of selection...arranged in chronological order...(which) can be read as a potted biography... or ...as individual essays," it gets its flavour from Derek's own enthusiasm for and perspective on Dylan. The result is that "ISIS A Bob Dylan Anthology" has a particular coherence that somehow accommodates the inevitably different styles of the other contributors, who, equally inevitably, have their own take on Bob. What emerges is a book drawn from a very rich mix indeed. A bit like Grandma's secret recipe fruitcake, which is stuffed full of goodies, yet is wonderfully digestible. And you always want more...
It helps enormously that Derek writes well. His style is accessible, engaging and inclusive of others. He brings rigour and considerable expertise to bear. This produces pieces that are informed, accurate (or as accurate as anything about Bob Dylan ever can be) and stimulating. At the same time, there is a total absence of malice about his writing, as well as an utter lack of arrogance. This is in marked contrast to some of the recent(ish) works by one or two "world authorities" on Dylan, where what they said was much diminished by how they said it.
Somehow (though I guess careful editing on Derek's part has a lot to do with it), the essays from the other contributors are pretty consistent with Derek's approach. Hence the general coherence of it all. By way of an analogy to illustrate this, it's a bit like listening to a "various artist's" CD, one where the tracks are based on a distinctive theme, rather than one intended to reflect the broad company catalogue.
Turning now to some of the pieces themselves. The opener, "Interview With Abe and Beatty Zimmerman" is prefaced with an introductory note by Ian Woodward. Even for people pretty familiar with the background to the interview and to Shelton's relationship with Dylan, this provides a really helpful context, one that encourages the reader to look at it as though present in the room all those years ago, rather than with the benefit(?) of over thirty years hindsight.
Shelton opens with some questions about the family background and how Abe and Beatty met. They talk about Bob's early years, his childhood ambitions and behaviour and, later, his growing success. To me at least, both Bob's parents, though especially Beatty, come across as pretty open. Oh sure, we know that some things were held back and that others had some sort of "spin" on them, but in general it feels very natural. Perhaps the most poignant, most eloquent moment comes towards the end, when Shelton asks if they think Bob will come back to Hibbing. Abe, who seems to have been looking at pictures of Bob in camp in the summer of 1954, does not answer and, even when prompted, remains silent. Maybe he was reflecting on what had been lost, rather than what had been gained. But who really knows? Three weeks later he died.
It's a fascinating piece that sets the stage for those following, which variously look at (amongst other things) Bob's background and early forays into music making; where the name "Dylan" might have come from; Dave Whittaker's recollections and observations; and early days in London. Then there is "A Chat With Martin Carthy," the other party being Matthew Zuckerman, and a fine job it is too. Carthy seems to enjoy talking about Dylan. He does so without any hint of envy but with a considerable body of knowledge about musical tradition, a real feel for the culture, environment and tensions of the whole early sixties "folk" thing and a lot of affection for a fellow performer, who happens to be Bob Dylan. I could go on but space dictates. The only piece that I did have a bit of difficulty with was, "Robert Johnson and Street Legal," though that was entirely of my own making.
Of past anthologies, many might feel that John Bauldie's 1987 effort "All Across The Telegraph" sets a pretty formidable benchmark. Yes it does, but even allowing for the fact that most comparisons are odious and usually irrelevant, I think that "ISIS A Bob Dylan Anthology" meets and in some ways surpasses it. "All Across The Telegraph" was followed in 1990 by "Wanted Man: In Search of Bob Dylan," so if that is a precedent, maybe we won't have too long to wait for an ISIS Anthology 2.