The 9-year period of 1966 to 1974 is significant for any Bob Dylan fan. During that time, Dylan managed to alienate his fans to the greatest degree—most notably, he plugged in his electric guitar and crashed his motorcycle, the latter causing him to stop touring for several years. He later managed to jumpstart his career with a little bit of help from The Band and, as you may know, is still doing his thing today.
Bob Dylan World Tours 1966-1974 is a huge project for director Joel Gilbert. Most of the DVD focuses on photographer Barry Feinstein, who was Dylan’s chief photographer during the focused timeframe. Gilbert, who looks a lot like Dylan with his sullen presence and ratty hair, uses Feinstein’s knowledge wonderfully throughout the film; Feinstein graciously talks about many of his finest photos he took of Dylan, some revealed for the first time, and gives the viewer a rare inside glimpse of Dylan’s life on and off the stage. Smartly, Gilbert gets Feinstein to delve deep into the stories behind the photos, and even if you are already familiar with the tales, Feinstein does a good job of bringing them back to life, possibly telling them from a more interesting angle.
Aside from his time with Feinstein, we are given inside access with Gilbert on his trips to Woodstock and Greenwich Village. He also pays a visit to Big Pink, where Dylan and The Band had legendary jams and recording sessions, and even goes as far as to recreate Dylan’s mysterious 1966 motorcycle accident, thought by some to be a hoax. The latter comes off as a bit cheesy, but you have to applaud Gilbert for actually giving it a try.
Although it may be a film only suited for the hardcore Dylan fan - the production of the film isn’t the greatest, the interviews sometimes turn boring, and the information that is crammed into two hours might overwhelm the average music lover - one must applaud Gilbert’s efforts and his love for music history. His passion for music in general is displayed in every scene. And I’m sure Bob Dylan would like that just fine.