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Bob Dylan: The Rolling Thunder Revue: The 1975 Live Recordings

Doug Collette By

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In contrast to most of the massive archival projects exhumed from Bob Dylan's vault, The Rolling Thunder Revue: The 1975 Live Recordings is not accompanied by a smaller, condensed package of similar content. But that only makes sense: the third installment of The Bootleg Series was issued in 2002 in the form of a two-cd set devoted to a cross-section of such content. Preserving the rarity of that now discontinued release, every one of those very same recordings reappears in this fourteen-disc companion piece to the film Rolling Thunder Revue—A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese, as do three of the 1978 promo-only EP Four Songs From Renaldo and Clara, along with many more audio selections from the film Dylan himself created during the course of the fabled tour.

This box set includes (in order of occurrence) all five of Dylan's full sets from the autumn of 1975 that were professionally recorded, a blessing to those enamored of his playing with the ensemble known as Guam, the core of which unit appeared on the contemporaneous (and hardly so celebratory) "Rolling Thunder" live release Hard Rain (Columbia, 1976). Comprising the first three CD's here, in astute sequencing of the one-hundred and forty-eight total tracks, the collection also provides recently unearthed recordings of rehearsals at New York's S.I.R. studios and the Seacrest Motel in Falmouth, MA.

The chronological unfolding of the project provides detailed insight into Bob Dylan's working methods, reaffirming the emphasis he places on the spontaneity of the moments on stage, but also depicting a meticulous approach to arrangement of his song choices. The impromptu nature of the musicianship, however, still held sway more often than not, as on "Hurricane," from the Worcester Massachusetts Centrum concert. The one-time folk music icon's ostensible return to social commentary, in the form of a narrative devoted to unseemly circumstances surrounding the arrest of boxer Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, was a regular insertion in the sets, alongside staples of Bob Dylan's discography at large.

Accordingly, while Dylan featured plenty of familiar material during The Rolling Thunder Revue, like "It's Alright Ma, I"m Only Bleeding" and "Knockin On Heaven's Door," the set lists were not nearly so rigid as those of the reunion tour with the Band just the year prior. It's an approach that serves serve to reinforce Dylan's prolific nature during this period and, by extension, throughout his career: culls such as "Simple Twist of Fate," from Blood On The Tracks (Columbia, 1975), released earlier that same year, appear alongside songs like "Isis," from Desire (Columbia, 1976), the album that would not be out until the following January. And curios abound, in a variety of settings, as do some outright oddities, the multiplicity of which comprise the 'bonus disc' of The 1975 Live Recordings.

A total of eleven performances (one track a radio spot) include "The Ballad of Ira Hayes," performed on a native American reservation, "Fourth Time Around," a staple of Dylan's solo segments of the tumultuous 1966 tour with the Hawks (nee The Band), and eclectic covers in the form of Hank Williams' "Your Cheatin Heart" juxtaposed with Smokey Robinson' "Tracks of My Tears;" the broad range of material foreshadowed the regular roadwork Bob Dylan continues to this day, but qualifies as much more important in this context as a cross-section of the evolution of The Rolling Thunder Revue,' begun in October at Gerde's Folk City, one of Dylan's regular haunts during his early club days in New York.

The fall leg of the tour, most but not all of which shows took place in relatively small venues, came to dramatic climax of six weeks later at Madison Square Garden, with "Night of the Hurricane," a benefit for the aforementioned Carter, whose cause Dylan had been championing during the tour. The Band's guitarist and chief composer Robbie Robertson appears on a dedication to Dylan's one-time manager Albert Grossman, "It Takes A Lot to Laugh, it Takes A Train to Cry," concluding an approximate forty-four minutes that, under certain circumstances, might represent a logical choice for a standalone release.

But there are no transcendent moments within that running time comparable to so many otherwise populating The Rolling Thunder Revue: The 1975 Live Recordings. Thus, the finite offering benefits by remaining within the larger compendium and, as such, it functions much like the borderline amateurish cover art that belies the stylish photography and overall design of the individual disc inserts, along with the extensive liner notes, Wesley Stace's alternately edifying and entertaining essay plus scrupulous credits. The sum effect is fully in line with so much of what Bob Dylan has created over the years, deceptively superficial evidence of just how much more there is here than initially meets the eye (and ear).

Track Listing: CD 1: Rake and Ramblin' Boy; Romance in Durango; Rita May; I Want You; Love Minus Zero/No Limit; She Belongs to Me; Joey; Isis; Hollywood Angel; People Get Ready; What Will You Do When Jesus Comes?; Spanish Is the Loving Tongue; The Ballad of Ira Hayes; One More Cup of Coffee (Valley Below); Tonight I'll Be Staying Here with You; This Land Is Your Land; Dark as a Dungeon. CD 2: She Belongs to Me; A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall; Isis; This Wheel's on Fire/Hurricane/All Along the Watchtower; One More Cup of Coffee (Valley Below); If You See Her, Say Hello; One Too Many Mornings; Gwenevere; Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts; Patty's Gone to Laredo; It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding). CD 3: Tears of Rage; I Shall Be Released; Easy and Slow; Ballad of a Thin Man; Hurricane; One More Cup of Coffee (Valley Below); Just Like a Woman; Knockin' on Heaven's Door. CD 4: When I Paint My Masterpiece; It Ain't Me, Babe; The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll; It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry; Romance in Durango; Isis; Blowin' in the Wind; Wild Mountain Thyme; Mama, You Been on My Mind; Dark as a Dungeon; I Shall Be Released. CD 5: Tangled Up in Blue; Oh, Sister; Hurricane; One More Cup of Coffee (Valley Below); Sara; Just Like a Woman; Knockin' on Heaven's Door; This Land Is Your Land. CD 6 :When I Paint My Masterpiece; It Ain't Me, Babe; The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll; It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry; Romance in Durango; Isis; Blowin' in the Wind; Wild Mountain Thyme; Mama, You Been on My Mind; Dark as a Dungeon; I Shall Be Released. CD 7: Simple Twist of Fate; Oh, Sister; Hurricane; One More Cup of Coffee (Valley Below); Sara; Just Like a Woman; Knockin' on Heaven's Door; This Land Is Your Land. CD 8 : When I Paint My Masterpiece; It Ain't Me, Babe; The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll; A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall; Romance in Durango; Isis; The Times They Are a-Changin'; I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine; Mama, You Been on My Mind; Never Let Me Go; I Shall Be Released. CD 9: Mr. Tambourine Man; Oh, Sister; Hurricane; One More Cup of Coffee (Valley Below); Sara; Just Like a Woman; Knockin' on Heaven's Door; This Land Is Your Land. CD 10: When I Paint My Masterpiece; It Ain't Me, Babe; The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll; It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry; Romance in Durango; Isis; Blowin' in the Wind; The Water Is Wide; Mama, You Been on My Mind; Dark as a Dungeon; I Shall Be Released. CD 11: I Don't Believe You (She Acts Like We Never Have Met); Tangled Up in Blue; Oh, Sister; Hurricane; One More Cup of Coffee (Valley Below); Sara; Just Like a Woman; Knockin' on Heaven's Door; This Land Is Your Land. CD 12: When I Paint My Masterpiece; It Ain't Me, Babe; The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll; Tonight I'll Be Staying Here with You; A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall; Romance in Durango; Isis; Blowin' in the Wind; Dark as a Dungeon; Mama, You Been on My Mind; Never Let Me Go; I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine; I Shall Be Released. CD 13: It's All Over Now, Baby Blue; Love Minus Zero/No Limit; Tangled Up in Blue; Oh, Sister; Hurricane; One More Cup of Coffee (Valley Below); Sara; Just Like a Woman; Knockin' on Heaven's Door; This Land Is Your Land. CD 14 : One Too Many Mornings; Simple Twist of Fate; Isis; With God on Our Side; It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding) ; Radio advertisement for Niagara Falls shows; The Ballad of Ira Hayes; Your Cheatin' Heart; Fourth Time Around; The Tracks of My Tears; Jesse James: It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry.

Personnel: Bob Dylan: vocals, guitar, piano, harmonica; Joan Baez: vocals. Guitar; Roger McGuinn; guitar, vocals; Bobby Neuwirth: guitar, vocals; Ronee Blakley: vocals; Ramblin' Jack Elliott : vocals, guitar; Allen Ginsberg : vocals, finger cymbals; Joni Mitchell: vocals ; Larry Keegan: vocals; Eric Andersen: guitar; , Arlen Roth: guitar; Robbie Robertson: guitar; Scarlet Rivera: violin; J. Henry “ T Bone” Burnett: guitar, vocals; Steven Soles: guitar, vocals; Mick Ronson: guitar; David Mansfield: steel guitar, mandolin, violin, dobro; Rob Stoner: bass, vocals; Howie Wyeth: drums, piano; Luther Rix: drums, percussion, congas.

Title: The Rolling Thunder Revue: The 1975 Live Recordings | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: Legacy Recordings

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