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Culture & Criticism From the Far Distant Realms

The Rolling Thunder Revue Spotlights Dylan’s Many Faces

THE ROLLING THUNDER REVUE: THE 1975 LIVE RECORDINGS. Bob Dylan. Columbia/Legacy.

Cover courtesy of Sony Legacy.

In 1975, Bob Dylan took to the road with his famed “Rolling Thunder Revue.” The tour was designed to take Dylan’s music to small towns and small venues – almost an extension of the Beat Generation literary movement, these concerts were meant to bring the music back to the people. Along the way, Dylan assembled a band made up of friends and contemporaries (Joan Baez, Jack Elliot, Allen Ginsberg, Roger McGuinn, Sam Shepard), setting out to return his stage persona to the acoustic-first sets that marked his 1965 tour. In turn, Martin Scorsese’s’ Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story that premieres June 12 on Netflix, tells the story of the tour on film, capturing the feel of these classic shows some 4 decades after the fact. Going further, The Rolling Thunder Revue: The 1975 Live Recordings offers us a deep glimpse into the fundamental designs of the tour from Dylan’s sharp-eyed point-of-view. Specifically, this 14-CD box showcases an amazing 148 tracks, with three full discs dedicated to the rehearsals that preceded the tour. The box also includes five complete shows taken from the first leg of the tour. The shows that comprise these discs are of superior sound quality, the high-fidelity mix outdistancing the myriad bootleg versions of the Revue that remain in circulation. Aside from the transcendence of individual tracks, the thing to focus on with these records is the artistic process: Finally, after all these years, Dylan has consented to allowing us to see how he teaches his players his approach to live performance. As such, we get to see just how he fine tunes what we ultimately see on stage, coming to compare the rehearsed version to the stage face of a song. The other thing that stands out here is the passion of Dylan’s voice – obviously, he wanted to do this tour and he was creating a new sound for himself as he retooled some of his classics on stage (something Scorsese is able to expertly document in his movie). The result is a vibrant and fresh record that offers a full-formed picture of the many faces of Dylan. In the end, the Rolling Thunder Revue wasn’t so much about rock-and-roll as much as it was about musical theater and poetry (as evinced by the Jacques Levy collaborations featured here). I imagine some of what we saw in 1975 was actually what Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg had envisioned for the Beats – the music a vehicle to bring words and passion to the people in a format that eschewed big business and big dollars. One pass through The Rolling Thunder Revue: The 1975 Live Recordings and you’re lauding Dylan all over again: At a time when other bands were getting bigger and doing mega-tours, he downsized and became a traveling minstrel, happening into town to do a quick show in the middle of nowhere before gathering up his guitars and moving on. No advance notice. No press conference. No fan-fare. Just the words and music splattering ghostly reflections across an invisible mirror at dawn. Curious as to why Kerouac wrote On the Road? Still curious as to why it resonated with the world? Then listen to this record; note the rumbling rolling echo of Bob Dylan’s vocal. The answer is suddenly as clear as the wind.

Song Highlights

Not a mundane cut in the box. But certain pieces are riveting, others darkly chilling. See: “Isis” from Disc Four. “Sara” from Disc Nine. “Hurricane” and “Oh Sister” from Disc Eleven. “Jesse James” from Disc Fourteen. And “Dark As A Dungeon” from Disc Six.

Bob Dylan & Rolling Thunder Revue: The 1975 Live Recordings

Disc 1

October 19, 1975; S.I.R. Rehearsals, New York, NY

1. Rake & Ramblin’ Boy* [incomplete]

2. Romance in Durango* [incomplete]

3. Rita May*

4. I Want You# [incomplete]

5. Love Minus Zero/No Limit* [incomplete]

6. She Belongs to Me* [incomplete]

7. Joey [incomplete]

8. Isis

9. Hollywood Angel [incomplete]

10. People Get Ready#~

11. What Will You Do When Jesus Comes?#

12. Spanish Is the Loving Tongue

13. The Ballad of Ira Hayes

14. One More Cup of Coffee (Valley Below)*

15. Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here with You

16. This Land Is Your Land

17. Dark As A Dungeon*

Disc 2

October 21, 1975; S.I.R. Rehearsals, New York, NY

1. She Belongs To Me#

2. A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall

3. Isis

4. This Wheel’s on Fire/Hurricane/All Along the Watchtower

5. One More Cup of Coffee (Valley Below)

6. If You See Her, Say Hello

7. One Too Many Mornings#

8. Gwenevere [incomplete]

9. Lily, Rosemary & the Jack of Hearts [incomplete]

10. Patty’s Gone To Laredo#

11. It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)

Disc 3

October 29, 1975; Seacrest Motel Rehearsals, Falmouth, MA

1. Tears of Rage

2. I Shall Be Released

3. Easy and Slow

4. Ballad of A Thin Man

5. Hurricane

6. One More Cup of Coffee (Valley Below)

7. Just Like a Woman

8. Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door

Disc 4

November 19, 1975; Memorial Auditorium, Worcester, MA

1. When I Paint My Masterpiece

2. It Ain’t Me, Babe

3. The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll

4. It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train to Cry

5. Romance In Durango

6. Isis

7. Blowin’ in the Wind

8. Wild Mountain Thyme

9. Mama, You Been On My Mind

10. Dark As A Dungeon

11. I Shall Be Released

Disc 5

November 19, 1975; Memorial Auditorium, Worcester, MA

1. Tangled Up In Blue

2. Oh, Sister

3. Hurricane^*

4. One More Cup of Coffee (Valley Below)

5. Sara

6. Just Like A Woman

7. Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door

8. This Land Is Your Land

Disc 6

November 20, 1975; Harvard Square Theater, Cambridge, MA

1. When I Paint My Masterpiece

2. It Ain’t Me, Babe#~^

3. The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll

4. It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry*

5. Romance In Durango^*

6. Isis

7. Blowin’ In the Wind*

8. Wild Mountain Thyme

9. Mama, You Been On My Mind^

10. Dark As A Dungeon

11. I Shall Be Released

Disc 7

November 20, 1975; Harvard Square Theater, Cambridge, MA

1. Simple Twist of Fate^*

2. Oh, Sister

3. Hurricane

4. One More Cup of Coffee (Valley Below)

5. Sara

6. Just Like A Woman#

7. Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door#^

8. This Land Is Your Land

Disc 8

November 21, 1975; Afternoon; Boston Music Hall, Boston, MA

1. When I Paint My Masterpiece

2. It Ain’t Me, Babe

3. The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll

4. A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall

5. Romance In Durango

6. Isis

7. The Times They Are a-Changin’

8. I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine

9. Mama, You Been On My Mind

10. Never Let Me Go

11. I Shall Be Released^

Disc 9

November 21, 1975; Afternoon; Boston Music Hall, Boston, MA

1. Mr. Tambourine Man^

2. Oh, Sister

3. Hurricane

4. One More Cup of Coffee (Valley Below)

5. Sara^

6. Just Like A Woman

7. Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door

8. This Land Is Your Land

Disc 10

November 21, 1975; Evening; Boston Music Hall, Boston, MA

1. When I Paint My Masterpiece

2. It Ain’t Me, Babe

3. The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll^

4. It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry#^

5. Romance In Durango

6. Isis^

7. Blowin’ In the Wind^

8. The Water Is Wide^

9. Mama, You Been On My Mind

10. Dark As A Dungeon

11. I Shall Be Released

Disc 11

November 21, 1975; Evening; Boston Music Hall, Boston, MA

1. I Don’t Believe You (She Acts Like We Never Have Met)

2. Tangled Up in Blue#^

3. Oh, Sister^

4. Hurricane

5. One More Cup of Coffee (Valley Below)^

6. Sara

7. Just Like A Woman^

8. Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door

9. This Land Is Your Land

Disc 12

December 4, 1975; Forum de Montreal, Montreal, Canada

1. When I Paint My Masterpiece

2. It Ain’t Me, Babe

3. The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll*

4. Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You^

5. A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall#^*

6. Romance In Durango#

7. Isis#~

8. Blowin’ In the Wind

9. Dark As A Dungeon

10. Mama, You Been On My Mind

11. Never Let Me Go#~

12. I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine*

13. I Shall Be Released

Disc 13

December 4, 1975; Forum de Montreal, Montreal, Canada

1. It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue^

2. Love Minus Zero/No Limit^

3. Tangled Up In Blue

4. Oh, Sister

5. Hurricane

6. One More Cup of Coffee (Valley Below)#*

7. Sara#

8. Just Like A Woman

9. Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door

10. This Land Is Your Land

Disc 14

Bonus Disc; Rare Performances

1. One Too Many Mornings*

October 24; Gerdes Folk City, New York City, New York

2. Simple Twist of Fate*

October 28; Mahjong Parlor, Falmouth, MA

3. Isis

November 2; Technical University, Lowell, MA

4. With God On Our Side

November 4; Afternoon; Civic Center, Providence, RI

5. It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)

November 4; Evening; Civic Center, Providence, RI

6. Radio Advertisement For Niagara Falls Shows

Niagara Falls, NY

7. The Ballad of Ira Hayes*

November 16; Tuscarora Reservation, NY

8. Your Cheatin’ Heart*

November 23

9. Fourth Time Around

November 26; Civic Center, Augusta, Maine

10. The Tracks of My Tears

December 3; Chateau Champlain, Montreal Canada

11. Jesse James

December 5; Montreal Stables, Montreal, Canada

12. It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry

December 8; “Night of the Hurricane,” Madison Square Garden, New York, NY

 

# Included in the film Renaldo & Clara (1978 film)

~ Released on 4 Songs From Renaldo & Clara E.P. (1978 album)

^ Released on The Bootleg Series, Volume 5: Bob Dylan Live 1975 (2002 album)

* Included in Rolling Thunder Revue (2019 film)

 On Discs 1-13:

Bob Dylan: vocals, guitar, piano, harmonica

Joan Baez: vocals and guitar on “Tears of Rage,” “I Shall Be Released,” “Blowin’ In the Wind,” “Wild Mountain Thyme,” “Mama, You Been on My Mind,” “Dark As Dungeon,” “The Times They Are a-Changin’,” “I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine,” “Never Let Me Go,” “The Water Is Wide,” and “This Land Is Your Land”

Roger McGuinn: guitar and vocals on “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” and “This Land Is Your Land”

Bobby Neuwirth: guitar, vocals

Scarlet Rivera: violin

T Bone J. Henry 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

Ronee Blakley: vocals

Ramblin’ Jack Elliott: vocals, guitar

Allen Ginsberg: vocals, finger cymbals

Joni Mitchell: vocals

On Disc 14:

Bob Dylan: vocals, guitar, piano and harmonica

Joan Baez: vocals (2)

Rob Stoner: bass (2)

Eric Andersen, Arlen Roth: guitars (2)

Larry Keegan: vocals (8)

Robbie Robertson: guitar (12)

All songs by Bob Dylan except:

“Romance In Durango,” “Rita May,” “Joey,” Isis,” “Hurricane,” “Oh, Sister” by Bob Dylan and Jacques Levy; “This Wheel’s On Fire” by Bob Dylan and Rick Danko; “Tears of Rage” by Bob Dylan and Richard Manuel; “Rake & Ramblin’ Boy,” “Spanish Is the Loving Tongue,” “Easy & Slow,” “Wild Mountain Thyme,” “The Water Is Wide,” and “Jesse James” traditional, arranged by Bob Dylan; “People Get Ready” by Curtis Mayfield; “The Ballad of Ira Hayes” by Peter LaFarge; “This Land Is Your Land” by Woody Guthrie; “Dark As A Dungeon” by Merle Travis; “Never Let Me Go” by Joseph Scott; “Your Cheatin’ Heart” by Hank Williams; “The Tracks of My Tears” by William Robinson, Jr., Pete Moore, and William Tarplin.

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This entry was posted on June 5, 2019 by in 2019, In the Spotlight, June 2019, Rat On Music and tagged , , .
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