bob dylan - The I-94 Bar

2020 Barfly Top Ten: Donat Tahiraj

donat 2020DONAT TAHIRAJ
Owner of Phase 4 Records and Cassettes store and the LCMR Records label
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia 

There’s no need to explain what a slightly weird year 2020 was. Sadly and for my back pocket’s sake, Phase 4 Records had to close for most of Autumn which meant I wasn’t as often held captive by some stinky guy banging on about the greatness of some rockist act they read about in "The Wire" at the top of their voice scaring our innocent customers away while I desperately needed to go to the toilet.

Our record label LCMR managed to squeeze out only three 7” EPs for the year – one by a hopelessly obscure Toowoomba punk group, Brian, and two by Xiro, the Brisbane band of the early post-punk era who should’ve gone on to have a great international career but decided not to for the sake of art; or something.

It was a great pleasure putting them all together for those who were all too familiar and the ones who were brave enough to try some music that was completely unknown to them.

Bob Dylan in Sydney

dylanI often put forward the argument about his Bobness that if any new artist produced a run of albums with the depth and quality of "Time Out Of Mind" in 1997 until "The Tempest" in 2013, we would hail them as a lyrical genius, the likes of which we'd not heard since Leonard Cohen.

We would be in wonder of this songwriter who draws Americano from his depth of styles, whether it be through darkened Southern blues, Western swing, folk ballads, rockabilly or Irish balladering.

We'd note the remarkable gravel in the vocals akin to Tom Waits and Shane Mc Gowan, and the way they descend to a whisper, the aural equivalent of the oldest oak tree, all weathered and timbered.

But it's Dylan. No singer/songwriter compares, and there is no other career like his.

More Blood, More Tracks - Bob Dylan (CBS)

more blood on the tracksThis may be Dylan's best album ever. It might also be his most unnecessary. He recorded these songs. Sent out promos. Then he changed his mind.

Was it right to dump this version and re-record it? Absolutely.

In the early ’70s, this album would have had its fans. It would have sold. But it would have disappeared into the back catalogue. Too much more of the same.

The second go at the songs that become the Blood on the Tracks album are a force of nature that captured the zeitgeist. They buried the copyists and pretenders. That album was a lion amongst cattle. It turned Dylan's career around.

Patti raises Cain while living on Tulsa time

patti in oklahoma

Patti Smith and her Band 
Cain's Ballroom
Tulsa, OK  U.S.A.
Friday 6 May 2022

Patti Smith and her band were booked to play Cain's Ballroom as part of the Bob Dylan Center Grand Opening Celebration here in Tulsa, Oklahoma. 

After visiting the Bob Dylan Center earlier in the day, she posted on Instagram that she'd be "Raising Cain at Cain's".

I saw The Patti Smith Group at Cain's back in 1978. It remains one of the greatest concerts that I've ever experienced.

Shark Infested Waters – Various Artists (Easy Action)

sharkinfestedSometimes I think I’m a bastard instead of being just somewhat scatterbrained. See, I put this order in to Easy Action and they sent a couple of other CDs as well. Generous of them. And I never thanked them.

Alright, I’d had a couple of man-flu health ishoos, and there were other inconveniences. But I never fucking thanked them. And they’re a generous, intelligent company. I feel like a small limp dick confessing this. But you should know some of the circumstances.

Sydney just another step in Patti's spiritual, rock and roll journey

patti horses slSteve Lorkin photo

More than a decade ago, I was sitting in a Sydney pub with a beer after a Bob Dylan concert. I was amidst Dylan fans, including Jenny Kee, the ’60s fashion icon, “OZ” magazine figure and Buddhist. Jenny is a deep thinker and was peeling back layers on the Dylan show we had both witnessed. She turned to me in mid-conversation and asked a question I won’t forget.


“Do you think Dylan is deeply spiritual and has soul consciousness on stage?”

My answer after much thought was: “I can’t answer that, as I believe Bob lived many lifetimes and always felt he was guarded on that level, except in his born-again phase. That said, his songs are from the heart and mostly from his mind.” 

Jenny responded. “I saw Lou Reed last year. I believe he does, as he is on that journey.”

“I can’t say that about Bob or even Lou Reed. But after seeing Patti Smith live, I believe she does and that it comes from a very deep realm, in fact one could call it soul consciousness.”  

That was my answer all those years ago that night in Haymarket. I've always believed Patti is indeed a special performer.

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