Dylan dissected but not essential ...
'Down The Tracks' is an earnest but somewhat laboured trawl through the music, artists and cultural strands that helped shape Bob Dylan's career. Ostensibly anchored by the knowledgeable former Long Riders front man turned author Sid Griffin and with a mix of talking heads interviews with both Dylan contemporaries and old footage of both the man himself and the people that influenced him, 'Down the Tracks' pretty much does what it says on the tin. But in truth you are purchasing old wine in new bottles with the emphasis being on the passable rather than the exceptional.
None of the interviews bring anything remotely new to the drawing board as regards their subject, and given Martin Scorcese's 2005 'No Direction Home' with his Dylan direct to camera approach, its hard to see this DVD as anything but a hastily made cash-in.
Even the fact that the talking heads tend to be people with varying degrees of relevance to Dylan's musical influence doesn't help, as they bring very little new to what we already know. Dylan's influences and his subsequent development as an artist is hardly the stuff of revelation and 'Down the Track's re-states old truisms.
So while record producer Lawrence Cohen tells us correctly that Dylan essentially 'reinvented himself', and Sid Griffin makes the point that Dylan was the 'crossroads of American literature, music and culture' you end up thinking, so tell us something we don't already know? And in many respects the Dylan tale has been told better elsewhere.
Certainly the research is accurate the guests are relevant and in the case of the Handsome Family the project comes up with an interesting left field contemporary combo who make the connection between the influences that Dylan drew on and the music they play now. But overall, there's very little here that Dylan heads haven't already got or would wish to have, so really not the most essential purchase.
Review by Pete Feenstra