Friday, November 07, 2008

Album Of The Day #106: LIVE 1975: THE ROLLING THUNDER REVUE - Bob Dylan

Title: The Bootleg Series Vol. 5: Live 1975: The Rolling Thunder Revue
Artist: Bob Dylan
Label: Columbia
Released: 2002
Recorded: November, 1975 to December 1975
Songs: Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You/It Ain’t Me, Babe/A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall/The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll/Romance In Durango/Isis/Mr. Tambourine Man/Simple Twist Of Fate/Blowin’ In The Wind/Mama, You Been On My Mind/I Shall Be Released/It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue/Love Minus Zero/No Limit/Tangled Up In Blue/The Water Is Wide/It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry/Oh, Sister/Hurricane/One More Cup Of Coffee (Valley Bellow)/Sara/Just Like A Woman/Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door
Written by: Bob Dylan, except “Romance In Durango, “Isis”, “Oh, Sister” and “Hurricane”, by Bob Dylan & Jacques Levy. “The Water Is Wide”: traditional
Produced by: Jeff Rosen & Steve Berkowitz (Original recordings supervised by Don DeVito)
Thoughts: The Rolling Thunder Revue had to be the most insane idea in all of rock history. I mean, really…traveling with a bunch of musicians as a circus/vaudevillian act? Sure, it’s a fun idea, but when the guy who comes up with it is Bob Dylan, you have to wonder how soon it will be until it breaks down into a disaster…or until he gets bored with it.
Live 1975 presents the beginning of the tour, in November and December, 1975. Dylan kicked things off in New England and south-eastern Canada. Now, the 2 disc set doesn’t give a sense of what a full show was like, unlike the other bootleg sets (which I don’t have), which present a full show. What we do get, though, is a highlight reel of just Dylan’s songs.
I think listening to these recordings is not enough to get a full sense of the pure adrenaline that ran through Dylan and those performing with him on stage, though. You need to see some of the footage from these concerts. They’re all over YouTube and most of them are impressive. Dylan really goes berserk, taking these songs and running wild on stage with them. Hearing just the audio is not enough, although you do sort of feel it, especially with the amazing mastering job. These two discs sound better than any live album you’ll hear.
To me, the treasures of this set are not the live versions of the Desire tracks, which are presented in a way very similar to the yet-to-be-released album versions. (Desire wasn’t issued until January 1976, two to three months after these shows were recorded.) The great stuff is the versions of Dylan’s older songs. “It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry” is amazing. My favorite track is the version of “The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll”, where Bob takes this delicate acoustic track from The Times They Are A-Changinand makes it a stomping rocker, but a somehow touching track that retains the power of the original song. Also worth mentioning are the wonderful versions of “Simple Twist Of Fate” and “Tangled Up In Blue”, both from Blood On The Tracks, which was released in early 1975.
“Isis”, by the way, has to be the only Desire track here that is better than the studio version. He just takes the song and runs with it, lighting it on fire. There’s that video of him performing the song on YouTube is just amazing. His fists are clenched throughout the entire song, only being lifted when he blasts through the harmonica. He leaves the microphone to walk around the stage as his band explodes and then runs back after the solo or sequence is over. It’s really just amazing. Overall, this is just an amazing set that I would highly recommend to anyone who not just likes Desire, who not just likes Bob Dylan but to anyone who just loves listening to a good concert.

Now, unfortunately, this is the end of my Dylan coverage! I have now reviewed every Dylan product I own, except the useless compilations that I have. There won't be anything Dylan related until the November 21st concert. I will have a write-up on it, you can bet on that.
Also, Dylan fans who have found this site over the past month, don't stop coming here! I'll still do reviews on music that most of us enjoy anyway. There's no reason to stop coming here. It's a shame that I won't get coverage on anymore, (a link to this blog was posted on the day of my reviews of Bob Dylan and Infidels) but don't forget about this blog!

No comments: