NIGEL WILLIAMSON The Rough Guide To Bob Dylan (Rough Guides)

Uncut’s contributing editor Williamson is almost too modest in titling his (large) pocket-sized paperback thusly. Over nearly 400 frequently fascinating pages he dissects Dylan’s lives and musics in breadth, if not in depth, ambling amiably down such fascinating side roads as bootlegs, film appearances and locations. Magnanimous to a fault, he even provides a recommended reading list for those wishing to pursue their obsession further. An album-by-album critical review provides an even-handed reassessment of “Dylan & The Dead”, but “Nashville Skyline” doesn’t quite deserve the savage gumming it receives here. Either way, you’ll be rifling your shelves for the albums to confirm or deny Williamson’s observations. Just about all “The Rough Guide” omits is the astonishing smoke-and-mirrors confessional of “Chronicles Volume One”, which post-dated this book’s October 2004 publication (although a new edition, due on the shelves by the time you read this, should correct that). Fibrous with fact and informed opinion, it’s a page-turning delight, where many other books on the subject soon become a wearisome slog.