The Bootleg Series, Vol. 5: Bob Dylan Live 1975 - The Rolling Thunder Review (2002)

Disc One 1. Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With You 2. It Ain't Me Babe 3. A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall 4. The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll 5. Romance in Durango 6. Isis 7. Mr. Tambourine Man 8. Simple Twist of Fate 9. Blowin' in the Wind 10.Mama, You Been On My Mind 11.I Shall Be Released Disc Two 1. It's All Over Now, Baby Blue 2. Love Minus Zero/No Limit 3. Tangled Up in Blue 4. The Water is Wide 5. It Takes a Lot To Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry 6. Oh, Sister 7. Hurricane 8. One More Cup of Coffee (Valley Below) 9. Sara 10.Just Like a Woman 11.Knockin' On Heaven's Door


Of all of the live Bob Dylan albums out there, both "legitimate" and from the Bootleg series, this one has to be my favorite. I was a bit shocked when I saw it, simply because he had already released a live compilation (Hard Rain) around this time that was billed as the same tour. Apparently, though, it was a bit different of a band and a bit different of a performance since this recording took place about six months earlier (I was in the dark since I was only 8 years old at the time of these shows). Whereas I really liked Hard Rain (many were indifferent), this release simply blows that one out of the water.

This recording was taken from a couple of performances in Boston and in Montreal during the last couple of months in 1975, with his big, sprawling band - the legendary Rolling Thunder Review. The band had a reputation of being quite large, and quite spontaneous - as was necessary when you backed Bob Dylan. Some of Dylan's shows during this time were quite messy. Although no one really cared at the time, such performances haven't really stood the test of time. Fortunately, this album is pristine. The show is meticulous in its performance, sounds crystal clear, yet at the same time captures all of the wild energy and raucous atmosphere of one of his performances. It's really the combination of these effects that makes this recording stand out so much. Yes, A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall, like all of the other older material, does sound incredibly different in its new version here, it does sound much more off the cuff, but it sounds like it was truly performed the way it was intended to be performed when they set out to do the show.

A huge chunk of this show features his material from the seventies, including six of the nine tracks from the current album Desire. He only features one song from the Hard Rain album, so you never feel you're being cheated financially. It always helps when you have the beautiful and incredibly talented Joan Baez on stage for a few numbers, and her appearance is warmly welcomed on the last three tracks of the first disc (for about the first decade of Dylan's career, you almost couldn't help but think of one of these two artists when you thought of the other).

All 22 songs are excellent and since I was so young at the time, I don't know what, nor how the original "bootleg" compared. It couldn't have sounded this good, though. It simply couldn't have.

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