World Tour 1966: The Home MoviesReviewed By Ryan Arthur
Posted 01/29/04 06:21:37
I saw Bob Dylan in concert almost eleven years ago. The opening act? Arrested Development. That was quite the double bill. Arrested Development had the crowd rollicking in the aisles. Dylan was stoic and restrained, and the audience sat on their hands. It was a far cry from the crowds that greeted Dylan and The Hawks (later The Band) during the 1966 tour.First a caveat: do not watch this expecting a concert film of Dylan's turbulent 1966 tour, when he first went electric (that would be Eat The Document, and I'm not sure that footage'll ever see the light of day). There's a reason the subtitle is "The Home Movies." This is footage of the '66 tour from drummer/Dylan fan Mickey Jones, who carried an 8mm camera with him for the duration of the tour. It's not so much a look backstage as it is a travelogue, with Jones as guide. The soundtrack is all Dylan tunes...performed by Highway 61 Revisited, a Dylan tribute band. That's a little disappointing. It's a bit like seeing A Hard Day's Night performed by The Britles. So while there are Dylan standards playing, it's not the man himself.
The video opens with 20 minutes of backstory on Jones, currently a bit-part actor (60+ film and televison roles to his credit) who's biggest claim to fame was as a recurring character on Home Improvement and a role as a mechanic in National Lampoon's Vacation. He explains his history working as a drummer for Trini Lopez and then Johnny Rivers, before being asked by Dylan to work as the drummer for Dylan's first electric tour...a tour that was met with boos, catcalls and footstomping (not to mention the cry of "Judas!") from angry crowds that were expecting a folk concert.
Jones talks about how the tour takes off from Hawaii, then hits Australia, Sweden and Denmark before reaching London, where word of Dylan playing a plugged-in set has already reached the masses, and they are not happy. Dylan always opened with an acoustic set, followed by a plugged-in set. Crowds sat and clapped politely for the opening, but when Dylan and his band started to tune up for the electric portion of the show, they'd get rowdy. It's at the May 17, 1966 show at Manchester Free Trade Hall where the "Judas!" comment rings out, and someone on stage responds with "play fucking LOUD!" It's only after the group goes back to listen to recordings of the shows that they realize they're being booed. They don't seem to care.
World Tour 1966 isn't really for everybody. It consists of Jones sitting in a control room discussing the movies as they play which can be informative and interesting to watch (there's footage of a Beatles show at the Olympia Theater in Paris in 1964, as well as footage from a Melbourne concert which is extremely rare), and sometimes it's just "there's so-and-so, with his famous hat," which, amazingly, Jones mentions repeatedly, as though it were a point of interest. It's a single-camera setup, focusing on Jones from just a straight-on and a single side angle. The quality of the home movies is fair; it was 8mm with no sound (thus the Jones narration and background music), and there really wasn't much herky-jerky movement considering it was hand-held, save for when Jones handed the camera to Dylan. The interviewer is also the director...and he just happens to be the lead for the Highway 61 Revisited band. How convenient.
It helps that Jones is a decent (if dry) storyteller, and more than anything you get more from the film about Jones than the tour itself, which might upset people looking for more of a nuts-and-bolts affair regarding the shows or Dylan himself. Outside of the home movies, he's nowhere to be found. I found it interesting that it was after the tour that Jones started to get into acting and chose not to go back on tour with Dylan, saying he wanted to get his foot in the door in Hollywood. That wouldn't come until later: Jones ended up being the drummer for Kenny Rogers and The First Edition for close to ten years before he moved onto acting full-time.Hardcore Dylan fans might want to pick up World Tour 1966: The Home Movies if only for footage of the shows. The Royal Albert Hall concert that is mentioned in the film was released a few years ago as "Live 1966: The Royal Albert Hall Concert," but this is, to my knowledge, the only released footage of the tour, so there's definitely some historical value for music fans, and Dylan fans in particular. Itís definitely an interesting watch.
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