The Bootleg Series, Vol. 6: Bob Dylan Live 1964 - Concert at Philharmonic Hall (2004)


 
Disc One 1. The Times They Are A-Changin' 2. Spanish Harlem Incident 3. Talkin' John Birch Paranoid Blues 4. To Ramona 5. Who Killed Davey Moore? 6. Gates of Eden 7. If You Gotta Go, Go Now 8. It's Alright Ma, (I'm Only Bleeding) 9. I Don't Believe You (She Acts Like We Never Have Met) 10.Mr. Tambourine Man 11.A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall Disc Two 1. Talin' World War III Blues 2. Don't Think Twice, It's All Right 3. The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll 4. Mama, You Been on My Mind 5. Silver Dagger 6. With God on Our Side 7. With God on Our Side 8. It Ain't Me Baby 9. All I Really Want to Do

 

With all of the Bob Dylan live material that had been released during the past thirty-plus years, I was always a bit perplexed that there was never anything out there from the early days, when he was still a folk crooner with just a guitar and a harmonica. No, I never cared that he changed styles and decided to pickup an electric guitar and use a backup band in the mid sixties as many did, but it still didn't change the fact that there was something uniquely special about his earliest days when the entire world was just beginning to hear of him. This record, the third live "bootleg" release, fills this hole beautifully.

Taken from one show on Halloween night in New York City in 1964, listening to this concert makes you really wish you could have been there. If you did live in New York at the time, you would probably kick yourself for missing such a spectacle. This is a very raw recording. Dylan sounds great, of course, back before his voice changed due to heavy cigarette smoke and cheap wine. His guitar is well tuned and the production of the album is incredible for a recording from the mid sixties. Perhaps he did have too much of that cheap wine before and/or during the show because you hear him giggle an awful lot between songs, and there are quite few times when he gets lost during the songs - even having to have the faithful audience help him find his way. No one seems to care, though, least of all, Dylan himself. He made a name for himself by being human, by being regular, and he never had a lot of polish, so it actually somewhat helped his persona when he would make a few goofs during a performance.

Musicwise, he's all over his early (then current) catalog, with subjects going from the soberly serious to the downright hilarious. The audience laughs heartily to such tracks as Talkin' John Birch Paranoid Blues and the very appropriately titled Talkin' World War III Blues, but there's plenty of the politically driven serious stuff as well, such as A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall and With God on Our Side. Plus, there were several "new" songs that he hadn't yet released, and some that were never released "commercially" such as the now famous Who Killed Davey Moore. Like his last Bootleg release, Joan Baez makes an appearance for a few songs near the end of the set, and as always, she tends to make a great show even more special. It's obvious, though, that the two didn't practice before they went on stage. They completely mess up the track Mama, You Been On My Mind, not knowing the words and having to fake it all the way through. Yes, it is funny, but it is a tad of a distraction. You can't fault the show for not being authentic. Baez even gets in a "solo" number with the then folk classic Silver Dagger.

This evening is so special, that you don't even notice, nor even really care, that for some reason, his best known song Blowin' in the Wind isn't even featured on the album. I'm guessing this is the complete show, but again, I wasn't there. Although no one knew it at the time, Dylan was about to radically change his persona by becoming more "mainstream" with an electric guitar - one of his hardest challenges of his career, although it now seems pretty laughable. This was a great time in his history to have a recording such as this.

Back To Main Page
Go To Next Review