(2LP) Previously unreleased, actual 26th May 1966 concert recording – not the notorious, mis-titled bootleg Manchester recording from the same tour with Robbie Robertson, Garth Hudson, Richard Manuel, Rick Danko & Mickey Jones.
Dave Fever Tree Sigmon
– November 30, -0001
This stand-alone concert is from Dylan’s first of two shows that he played at London’s Royal Albert Hall. Just like his Manchester gig he did nine days earlier, this show was professionally recorded by Columbia Records. The setlist is identical, but Dylan’s singing and The Hawks playing are strikingly different enough that it’s a must have. Soundwise, it’s phenomenal.It was in 1966 that Dylan started to conceptualize the future of the rock concert and this tour reflects it concretely. With the solo acoustic half, he goes about the expected deed, but he does it with terrific clarity. The version of “Visions of Johanna” found here is even more exciting than the one he did in Manchester. It almost seems as if Dylan suddenly realized he was on to a great song. He gets such emotional mileage from just his well-enunciated voice, acoustic guitar and harmonica, It’s good for countless hearings. And so is “Mr. Tambourineman”, which is done at a slightly quicker pace. The Bristish audience applauds politely enough at its recognition, but perhaps Dylan’s impatience is at work here so he could really brandish his electric guitar.. But he sings it great and he plays two insane harmonica solos. A tour de force.It’s in the electric second half of the show in which the moods of Dylan and the audience get juggled. The first strains of guitar noise, scratching for the rhythm on “Tell Me, Momma”, heralds his intentions. The Hawks’ backing is just as powerful as it was in Manchester. Richard Manuel’s piano on “Baby, Let Me Follow You Down” is a big treat. On “Ballad of a Thin Man”, the ensemble work of Robbie Robertson’s B.B. King-styled guitar intro and master Garth Hudson’s swirling outpaces any expectations.Then, there’s the Messiah himself. Dylan’s interaction with the audience is minimal. But it’s key, just before a blistering “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues”, when he tosses of sly ripostes to his equally supportive and ticked off audience. He states, “These are all protest songs. Now come on! This isn’t Bristish music, it’s American music. Now come on!”. It’s priceless Dylan talk. Robertson’s guitar solo on this track is nothing short of electrifying. “Like a Rolling Stone” caps the show and is as earth-shaking as anything can get. Dylan gets more infuriated as the song progresses. This is no act. It’s him and the Hawks in the moment.I’m not sure, if during this time, Dylan was impervious to his audiences desires and demands. However, what he and the Hawks achieved under these conditions is quite miraculous and he was a lightning rod who called the rock concert into being. Of historical importance, this was the last venue Dylan played before vanishing into another life.
– November 30, -0001
– November 30, -0001
Finally, the wait is over for Bob Dylan fans, yours truly included. Until 1998, many people thought the release of Bootleg Series, Vol. 4-Live 1966 was the “Royal Albert Hall Concert”, but it was actually recorded at Free Trade Hall in Manchester during his U.K. visit on that world tour with the Hawks[Before becoming the Band two years hence]. Now we finally got the REAL deal here, which is part of a mammoth box set of all the live recordings of that tour in 1966. In case you don’t feel like shelling out all that money for the 36 disc package, your best bet is this live concert at London’s famed concert hall.Like the previously released ’66 live show at Free Trade Hall it contains the same set list[Seven solo acoustic and eight electric], although the version of “Visions Of Johanna” contained here was previously released on Dylan’s Biograph set in 1985. All’s well in the acoustic set except for minor tuning problems on one of which Dylan remarked, “My electric guitar always stays in tune”. Nobody shouts “Judas” during the electric portion here although dispels any hecklers by reassuring them, “Come on now, these are ALL protest songs. They’re not British music, they’re American music”. The sound is superb in both the acoustic and electric sets. During the former Dylan’s harmonica playing doesn’t disappoint the crowd nor his acoustic guitar playing whereas during the latter his harmonica is only heard on “I Don’t Believe You” otherwise he anchors down the rhythm with his black Telecaster, which he would pass on to lead guitarist Robbie Robertson, who at this time was firing off blistering leads on a canary yellow Telecaster. The rhythm section comprises bassist Rick Danko playing some pulsating lines and offering brief backing vocals on “One Too Many Mornings” and drummer Mickey Jones[In place of Hawks’ co-founder Levon Helm, who left in mid-tour due to unwillingness of Dylan fans’ accepting of the transition to rock]offering some thunderous drumming to liven up the tempo and keep hecklers at bay. “Tell Me Momma” (The electric half’s kick off); “I Don’t Believe You”, “Baby, Let Me Follow You Down”; “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues”; “Leopard-Skin Pillbox Hat” and “Like A Rolling Stone” are prime examples of this[Jones had previously drummed for Trini Lopez, amongst other artists and later became an actor. He also had footage captured on home movie equipment of this world tour which is available on DVD]. Rounding out the lineup are keyboardists Richard Manuel and Garth Hudson. Manuel offers some barrelhouse licks on piano[He is absent on “Ballad Of A Thin Man” as Dylan takes over at the piano bench and sings lead regardless]while Hudson offers his merry-go-round playing on the organ. Each of them offer breaks on “Let Me Follow You Down” apart from Robertson’s guitar breaks. Love Hudson’s playing on “Don’t Believe You”; “Tom Thumb’s Blues”; “Ballad Of A Thin Man” and “Like A Rolling Stone”, especially. Manuel’s playing is most enjoyable on those same songs as well.I must admit it felt a little different to hear this particular concert after nearly 20 years of hearing the Free Trade Hall concert. But it’s definitely a treat to have this in my collection. As I said already, if you want to save money than obtaining the entire 36 disc set documenting all the live recordings of that ’66 tour get this ONE, whether you have Bootleg Series, Vol. 4 or not. It’s truly treasure. Don’t delay!
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