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'Bob Dylan: The Golden Years 1962-1978'
(Bob Dylan / 2-Disc DVD / E / 2007 / Chrome Dreams)

Overview: This DVD Set is a 2-disc documentary covering Dylans life and music from his schooldays to his conversion in the late 1970s to fundamental Christianity. With contributions from colleagues as diverse as his high school English teacher, his school friends and other members from his first bands, to folk musician Martin Carthy, Dylans only ever songwriting partner, the late Jacques Levy, author Clinton Heylin and many, many others. The disc set features rare film footage; unseen photographs and numerous other features. This program is the finest film from this section of Bob Dylans life and career yet to emerge.

DVD Verdict: This two DVD set produced in 2004 - and just now being made available in the US - packs two different documentaries - one on Dylan's early years in Minnesota and moving to NYC through the "going electric at Newport" period; the other from 1968 through 1978 period (at which time he found God - into one "boxed set). The packaging is deceivingly simple as this loks like another of those "unauthorized biographies" out there on DVD. But this is a real class act!

The producers sought out some of the major players in Dylan's career - like bassist Rob Stoner, folk musician Martin Carthy, and the owners of the major Greenwich Village folk clubs and did extensive interviews. Then there are the Dylan "experts": British music writers and biographers who, not only know the details, but can speak with passion and enthusiasm. (and then there are the "footnotes" to Dylan's career like AJ Weberman, who collected Dylan's trash (really) and comes across as quite weird in the recent interviews.

I'm only a fringe Dylan fan but he's part of our musical heritage so the more I know the better. I learned a lot as this 3-1/2 story unfolded in chronological order and I know I'll be seeking out some of the lesser-known Dylan albums based on what I learned. There are no "official" Dylan recordings on either disc (though there are brief clips from "The Last Waltz"). The soundtrack is by a Dylan cover band. And there's little archival footage. It's mostly the interviews. But the interviewees are SO interesting, and the editing so well done, that I never felt I was watching just "talking heads".

So if you are a true Dylan fan, you'll find this set fascinating. If, like me, you know just the big "hits" (or his forays into film - which are also discussed) then you'll learn a lot from this release. This is a Full Screen Presentation (4:3), but comes with no Special Features.