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Monday, December 13, 2004


A while back I blogged a list of great live albums, and like my double album post, I left off the Dylan. Jason claims that the definitive version of "Idiot Wind" resides on this record, and I would say the same of "Maggie's Farm". You gotta give Bob props for the guitar players he gets. On this record he's got T-Bone Burnett, and a guest appearance by Mick Ronson on 'Maggie's Farm'. Tres cool. I must admit that I bought this record, the first Dylan record I owned, because U2 had done 'Maggie's Farm' on the Amnesty International Conspiracy of Hope Tour back in '85. I quickly went out and bought 'Highway 61 Revisited', and haven't looked back (har har har).

Ronson was the odd ball glam ringer on the entire Rolling Thunder Review tour from it's glory days as a gypsy band of ex hippies playing small new england theaters (imperfectly represented on Live 1976--what happened to When I Paint My Masterpiece? And Where Did Vincent Van Gogh?) through to the extremely bitter end, the sloshed, final days of touring after all the other "stars" had gone home, cranking out the hits for frat boys throughout the south (the era represented on Hard Rain when the final nail had been driven into Dylan's first marriage).

Ronson was great and graceful throughout bringing both musicality and flash. Especially tough circa Hard Rain when Dylan insisted on playing lead. Ouch! Ronson was an underrated musician because he did what a sideman is supposed to do, subjugated himself to the song.

I love the Blood on the Tracks stuff on Hard Rain. I play it more often than I do the original studio versions (Idiot Wind, You're A Big Girl Now) but for my money, I'll take the original Maggie's Farm from Bringin' It All Back Home.
I like Hard Rain, and Maggie's Farm and Idiot wind are two good reasons to listen to it. Before the Flood was released two years earlier with "The Band" as his band, this is a great album, Dylan is in rare form and his band is hot, it also has some good Band stuff on it, my favorite Dylan live album.
Well, Live 1966, the legendary manchester free trade hall show w/ the Hawks is Dylan's best live album.

Hell, it's the best rock concert ever recorded in part because the music is unimaginably great, in part because the hostility of the audience in the face of this great music is unbelievable (w/ the famous shout of "Judas" from the audience), and in part because Dylan and the Hawks were inventing an entirely new way to play live rock--surging, loud, full of sustain. Remember the state of the art for sound reinforcement in '66 was primative. This was the era when the Beatles played Shea stadium w/ a coupla Vox AC-30s! Dylan and the Band were charting new territory with their monstrously loud sound. Truely awesome. Not an overstatement. I've listened to the music for years on a succession of bootlegs before it was finally officially released and it still inspires awe. The acoustic set too with songs that would have been new to the audience like Visions of Johanna and Just Like A Woman

The first Dylan album I'd grab if I were rescuing albums from a burning building.
It seems there's a whole world of Live Dylan that I haven't heard.
Lordy be, if you don't know that one all I can say is run, don't walk.

Here's the amazon link:


It's probably the most famous rock concert off all time, certainly the most written about.

Dylan's first electric tour. Like A Rolling Stone was riding high on the charts but the US audiences were split between folkies hostile to the rock, and rockers who only knew Dylan from the recent radio airplay.

Boos and chanting were the order of the day, most of all in the UK where communist groups actually organized rhythmic clapping, booing, chantng, walkouts and other disruptions (the communist party was very involved with the folk music scene in England). Greil Marcus' Mystery Train chapter on The Band has lots of great stuff about the tour, and a guy named C.P. Lee wrote a memoir about this gig and this gig alone. Legendary. At one point towards the end of the electric set someone in the crowd yells "Judas" to which a ridiculously stoned Dylan returns "I don't believe you, you're a liar, a fucking liar" before crashing into the titanic set closer "Like a Rolling Stone."

One of three shows Columbia recorded on that tour but never officially released until a few years back, tho the Manchester show (mistakenly credited to Royal Albert Hall) was probably the most bootlegged concert recording of all time.
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