Before the Flood (1974)


 
Disc One 1. Most Likely You Go Your Way (And I'll Go Mine) 2. Lay Lady Lay 3. Rainy Day Women #12 & 35 4. Knockin' On Heaven's Door 5. It Ain't Me, Babe 6. Ballad of a Thin Man 7. Up On Cripple Creek 8. I Shall Be Released 9. Endless Highway 10.The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down 11.Stage Fright Disc Two 1. Don't Think Twice, It's All Right 2. Just Like a Woman 3. It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding) 4. The Shape I'm In 5. When You Awake 6. The Weight 7. All Along the Watchtower 8. Highway 61 Revisited 9. Like a Rolling Stone 10.Blowin' in the Wind

 

Upon release, many regarded this record as a classic in the category of "live" albums. Time, however, has shown cracks in the overall product. First, we must remember what people's expectations were when the term "live album" presented itself back in the early 1970's. There was never really that much care, at least by today's standards, when an artist would construct a live concert and go out on tour. There really wasn't any need. These were the days when the only time you could get a visual of an artist was to spend about $6 or $7 bucks to go to a show, and what you saw was definitely no frills. No light shows, no explosions, no careful production. Of course in Dylan's case, he was probably also stoned out of his mind, but then again, so was the audience. So everyone was happy at the time.

Then, Dylan devotes about 35% of this album to letting his backup band (The Band) take center stage and seven of these songs are The Band without Dylan. Not a bad thing since their music, at least at this stage, had a lot of similarities. Odds are if you liked one of these artists, you probably liked the other. Plus, this album is "double billed" with both artist's names on the front cover. It just seems a bit strange listening all these years later since this type of a "double artist" piece of product isn't ever really done much anymore.

The performance that Dylan gives is definitely inspired, it's just that he reworks most of the arrangements to match his "current style" (something he tended to always do), so many of the songs sound radically different. Some of these experiments work, such as It's Alright Ma, I'm Only Bleeding and, strangely It Ain't Me Babe. Others don't. Lay Lady Lay and Don't Think Twice It's Alright sound too inferior to their original counterparts and the new "styles" don't really do them justice.

We must remember that Dylan sounded so different throughout his whole career. The 1973 Dylan didn't sound anything like the 1969 Dylan....who didn't sound anything like the 1966 Dylan.....etc.etc. The whole album works the way that it's supposed to, it's just that many modern listeners may be scratching their heads throughout the experience wondering exactly what all of the fuss was about around this particular record.


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