(2CD) 29 rare performances from the ‘copyright collections’ chronicling his transformation from groundbreaking acoustic “folk” artist to pop culture icon
– November 30, -0001
This 2 CD set cherry picks tracks from the three original albums released in 2012, 2013, and 2014, each issued in very limited quantities. Released to protect copyrights of the songs, the three albums were issued–not strictly for worthwhile song/performance qualities–but as a business move. The original albums are pretty repetitive as far as the songs which for some fans made for slow-going when listening to them. I do wonder why this set wasn’t released under the “Bootleg Series” of releases. Maybe to keep things simple the name “Copyright Collections” is a better reference to the original albums–or maybe the title sounds more esoteric. Who knows? But it’s the music that’s important. But the sound quality does sometimes vary from good to decent/okay, with a few tracks a bit rough sounding.But this 2 CD set is in some ways an improvement as far as a listening experience over the original albums. While there’s nothing truly musically new or startling, this set compiles, in chronological order, a lot of good songs and performances from Dylan, either solo or with a backing band.Disc 1 is Dylan solo, on vocals, guitar, and harmonica at venues like Gerde’s Folk City (’62), Town Hall N.Y. (’63), a track from the March On Washington with Joan Baez helping out on vocals (’63), and from the Royal Festival Hall (’64), and a track from the Newport Folk Festival (’64). For fans of early Dylan there’s a number of great performances here that bring back the sound and feel of those early days. This was the Dylan that so many people pinned their hopes to as far as someone who could get a message across to many people during those years.Disc 2 begins with Dylan solo (tracks 1-6) from England (’65), and (track 7) Dylan backed by Robbie Robertson, Al Kooper, Levon Helm, and Harvey Brooks on a nifty sounding “Maggie’s Farm” (’65), at Hollywood Bowl. Track 8 is Dylan with Bloomfield, Goldberg, Kooper, and Sam Lay (what a band, listen to Bloomfield’s guitar) on “It Takes A Lot To Laugh…” from the Newport Folk Festival (’65). Tracks 9 and 13 are “Desolation Row” from Australia (’66) and “Visions Of Johanna” from Ireland (’66) which feature Dylan on vocals/guitar/harmonica. Tracks 10-12 have Dylan and most of The Band on “Baby, Let Me Follow You Down”, “I Don’t Believe You” (’66) both from Wales, and “Ballad Of A Thin Man” from Scotland (“66). This was Dylan with his “new” sound, blasting out his songs with a new energy, that caused a minor furor in music circles at the time.There’s a lot here for all fans of early Dylan, from his acoustic solo period, up into his electric period in ’65/’66 which had many of his early followers/fans saying that Dylan had “sold out” by playing with an electric backing band. I remember friends of mine who turned their backs on Dylan’s electric sound–wanting him to stay as he was musically. And while I like much of his acoustic music, it was when Dylan plugged in with a band that his music really came alive for me. There’s a kind of excitement different from his early acoustic stuff, when Dylan used a band that brought an immediacy to the music during a time when so many bands were forming and playing a “new” kind of rock ‘n’ roll music in the ’60s. But take your pick–or embrace both periods of music–there’s good stuff all through this collection–especially for Dylan fans who missed getting the three original albums.The packaging is a standard size double jewel case. There’s a 16 page booklet with a track list, recording information, and a list of musicians, plus pages of period photos. There are no booklet notes.”Blood On The Tracks” is coming soon.
– November 30, -0001
What we have here is a Bootleg Series that’s not called a Bootleg Series! These are rare, live recordings that are FANTASTIC and tons of fun to listen to! The audio quality varies but I would say 80% sounds great!Disc 1 starts off with “Blowin’ In The Wind” & “Corrina, Corrina” – these two along with “When the Ship Comes In” are the worst sounding as far as audio quality. Bob does “Corrina, Corrina” slightly different here than on “Freewheelin’” which makes for a fun listen – almost makes up for the poor sound quality!“John Brown” starts off the row of 5 songs from the April 12, 1963 “Town Hall” concert in New York. This song is really cool and tells a great story – I like this performance better than “Live At The Gaslight ‘62”. It shows up again 30 years later on “MTV Unplugged” in a more rock n’ roll acoustic form.“Don’t Think Twice” is great here (better than the Bootleg 6 performance) but I prefer the “Freewheelin” studio track. This is such a classic it’s hard to go wrong with it! This song alone should be enough to get Bob into the Country Music Hall of Fame! “Bob Dylan’s Dream” is a good song but not on my favorite’s list – Bob does do a great performance of it though and fits perfectly on this collection!I LOVE “Seven Curses”!!!! It was my favorite track on Bootleg 2 and probably on my Top 20 list of all of Bob’s songs! It’s got that haunting vibe to it and tells a great story! This one is a great performance but I still prefer the Bootleg 2 studio recording.“Boots Of Spanish Leather” is one of the best performances on here! What a great folk song along the same line as “Girl From The North Country”, but I like “Boots” even better! An even better performance of this is on the “Live At Carnegie Hall” EP!Both “Masters Of War” & “Hattie Carroll” are the BEST sound quality here – sounds like Bob is right in your living room singing these songs directly to you! These are from the 10/26/63 Carnegie Hall concert but left off of the EP! This concert was my favorite from Bob in the 60’s! Other tracks from this can be found on “Bootleg 1” (“Talkin’ John Birch” & “Who Killed Davey Moore”) and “Bootleg 7” (“A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” & “When The Ship Comes In”).By far the worst sound quality on here is the March on Washington ’63 performance of “When The Ship Comes In” – Joan Baez sings backup here and this would be a beautiful track if the audio quality was better… still worth having for the historical value! There is video footage of this on the “No Direction Home” DVD.“The Times They Are A-Changin” starts a row of performances from the Royal Festival Hall on 5/17/64 – these have great sound quality and I wonder if the rest of these songs will show up on a bootleg – a great performance that reminds me of “Bootleg 6”!“Girl From The North Country” is another classic and glad to have it here… a perfect live performance – check out the 1969 studio version on “Nashville Skyline” with Johnny Cash! Cool stuff!!There are not many performances of “Mr. Tambourine Man” I care for… the “England ‘66” performances sound like Bob is singing with an English accent, Jack Elliot ruins the song singing backup on “Bootleg 7”. The “Bootleg 6” version was okay but still not as good as the “Bringing It All Back Home” recording. But I have to say I actually like this rendition here! Shows forth the wonder and fairy-tale imagination that the original does – takes the mind on a vacation!“It Ain’t Me Babe” is a really cool early performance… Bob substitutes “Lord, Lord, Lord” instead of “No, No, No” in the chorus! Other than that it’s about the same as the “Another Side” studio recording.Now we skip to the “Newport Folk Festival” of ’64 for “To Ramona”. Another country-sounding song that I’ll bet Marty Robbins was fond of back in the day!“Chimes Of Freedom” rounds out disc one and takes us back to the Royal Festival Hall – this was the song that got people to thinking Bob was more than a singer/songwriter, like a prophet or something! A great performance that rivals the one on “Bootleg 7”!Disc 2 begins with “One Too Many Mornings” – the sound quality of this leaves something to be desired but it’s a good performance… slightly different and more energetic than the original studio recording.“It’s Alright Ma” is another great early performance… when Bob is singing on this one, his guitar sounds further away from the microphone, then at the end of each verse it sounds like he moves it closer – kinda weird sounding but good nonetheless!Now we get to my favorite song on here – “Love Minus Zero” is PERFECT!!!! Perfect sound quality, perfect performance!!! Love the D-A-G chord changes at the end of each phrase – I can’t get enough of this track and could listen to it all day! Don’t know which is better, this one or the “Bringing It All Back Home” original. Both are the sound of perfection!I thought “Gates Of Eden” was good but I’ve always thought the live versions of this sort of drag along… I prefer the “Bringing It All Back Home” original.“It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue” & “She Belongs To Me” are also good (sort of great) from the same concert!“Maggie’s Farm” (like we need another live version) is interesting here! It sounds more organ driven instead of guitar driven like it was on the Newport Festival/Bootleg 7. Cool stuff but the sound quality is a tad off.Here we go to the infamous “Newport Folk Festival” of 1965… the one where Bob was literally booed off the stage! “Bootleg 7” gives us “Maggie’s Farm” and we get the rest of the songs from “The Other Side Of The Mirror” DVD, except for one! Now this release gives us the elusive “It Takes A Lot To Laugh” – a really cool, hard-rocking number that would be considered the Heavy Metal of 1965! At the end of the song we can hear Bob leaving abruptly and telling his band “let’s go”! He comes back later with an acoustic guitar and makes everybody happy!Bob does “Desolation Row” at a TV station in Australia – it’s really cool, similar to the “England 1966” concerts – the sound quality isn’t that great but the perfect performance makes up for it!The rest of the songs are old standbys from Bob’s Europe concerts from May, 1966… These are interesting and in high quality Mono, so definitely listenable … I thought “Ballad Of A Thin Man” sounded much better here than on “Bootleg 4” with so much echo going on with the sound system on that one you could hardly hear it, it gets better on the May 26th “Royal Albert Hall” release but I think it sounds even better here.So all in all this really is a great release and a treasure for any Bob Dylan fan. This would probably be an okay place to start if you’re just getting into Bob’s music with lots of classic songs included! A definite 5 stars and highly recommended!
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