Review: Bob Dylan Performing Artists 1986 – 1990 and Beyond

Paul Williams “Mind Out Of Time” the 3rd in his series of Bob Dylan rock appreciate tomes is a goldmine for Dylan fans

Paul Williams – Mind out of Time Bob Dylan Performing Artist

5 / 5 stars      

Rock critics are a dime a dozen and none so sublime as Paul Williams who wrote three volumes of his series Bob Dylan Performing Artist.

In “Bob Dylan: Performing Artist Volume 3: Mind Out Of Time 1986 And Beyond”, Williams, the founder of Crawdaddy magazine, takes the reader on a musical journey through most of Bob Dylan’s concerts from his low in 1986 with The Grateful Dead to the Never Ending Tour rebound.

You can read this book quickly although I think the commentary runs together after a while. This is not a book to be read in a sitting. It’s best to follow his expert and entertaining critique by listening to the concerts. 

Casual Dylan fans will roll their eyes at the thorough read but for diehard Dylanologists and fans, Williams hits the right note.

I have to admit I bought the book and lost it. My wife dug it out of her closet and put it on my desk. Oh yeah, another Dylan book to read I thought. But something encouraged me to start and now I can’t put the book down. It quickly dawned on me ”Mind out of Time” could be as interesting as Christopher Ricks’ Dylan’s Visions of Sin Review: Bob Dylan Performing Artists 1986   1990 and Beyond photo


Paul Williams just died on March 27, 2013 from brain injuries and from Alzheimer’s disease. He and his family were devastated by the medical bills. So if you feel generous buy the book, read and enjoy it. You will be helping them cope with 15 years of punishing medical expenses. In Canada, the medical bill crisis would not have happened. Yeah for universal Medicare.

If you just want to find out how Dylan got out the dumps in 1986, you can speed read it. Fans read on.

Dylan fans only read and listen

To follow the book, you need the complete set of Bob Dylan studio, concert and bootleg releases from 1986 on. That’s the easy part.

Bob Dylan and Tom Petty Temples in Flames Tour 1986 (Rolling Stone photo)

Most of the concerts were never released and the book is about Dylan as a performing artist. A bit of detective work and a Bit torrent client on your computer is needed here. Most of the concerts are only available as bootlegs.

That Bob Dylan fans have collected his bootlegs for 5 decades is a fact. The honest collector follows the Dylan bootleggers pledge to never copy or share commercially available discs.

Where to find the concerts takes a little ingenuity since Bob Dylan’s record company tries to shut down bootlegs. Expecting Rain, which does not post bootlegs, is a good place to start. Tip: only registered members get the insider angle. You can also Google the concert / year and see what you find.

If you follow the book with real listening you will be able to appreciate what Williams writes and add your own opinion on whether Dylan is a brilliant performer, William’s claim, or not on a song by song basis. Williams is no fawning admiring. He knows a good Dylan performance from the bad one’s and says so, but always with respect for the artist.

I find it annoying when a no-talent writer decides he knows more about Dylan and his work than Dylan. Williams is critical but gives homage to one of the greatest songwriters and performers of our time.

Does that sound like a lot of work? No, it’s fun and will while away many a dark hour before the dawn.

Each chapter is rich in audio, video and print resources. The first chapter lists the following audio and video resources.

“Performing Artist” Video sources

  1. Hearts of Fire – movie
  2. “Getting to Dylan” (BBC documentary)

“Performing Artist” Audio sources

  1. “Knocked Out Loaded” (Sony)
  2. “Down in the Groove” (Sony)
  3. “Genuine Bootleg Series Take 2&Prime (Sony)

“Performing Artist” Audio sources

  1. Esquire Magazine – True Dylan by Sam Shepherd

You’re lucky in Chapter 1 since there are no concerts. By the time Chapter 3 is underway, you will be searching  for “Dylan and the Dead” and the rehearsal tapes. In Chapter 4, the search will be on for those great “Temple in Flames” appearances backed by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.

It will be a fun journey made easier by all the fans who have gone the road before and made these concerts available. Avoid at all costs those who package the concerts into CDs sold online. They are not in the true spirit of Dylan fan bootlegs.

Hint – skip the Kindle versions of this book and get a bookmark or two.

Paul Williams was the founder of “Crawdaddy” magazine, the first of its kind dedicated to rock music. Crawdaddy was eclipsed by “Rolling Stone Magazine” and Williams wrote for it as well.

Williams was a big fan of science fiction writer Philip K. Dick wrote about him and managed the Philip K. Dick society. Dick of course was one of the greatest science fiction writers. Most people haven’t read his books but have seen Dick’s movies like “Blade Runner”, “Total Recall, “Minority Report” and “Screamers.”

Paul Williams’s other books on Bob Dylan include Bob Dylan Watching the River Flow Review: Bob Dylan Performing Artists 1986   1990 and Beyond photo, Bob Dylan, Performing Artist: The Early Years, 1960-1973 Review: Bob Dylan Performing Artists 1986   1990 and Beyond photo, and Bob Dylan: Performing Artist, Vol 2: The Middle Years 1974-1986 Review: Bob Dylan Performing Artists 1986   1990 and Beyond photo.

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