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CD Reviews  Bob Dylan  Live 1975

Live 1975This double CD set is Volume five in what Sony calls the Bootleg Series.  Evidently, there is more to come.  This is a reasonably priced, expertly produced package of songs recorded from Dylan’s 1975 tour, The Rolling Thunder Review.  It comes with a fifty-page booklet written by Larry “Ratso” Sloman, writer for Rolling Stone and author of the book On the Road with Bob Dylan.  There is also a DVD included, with Dylan performing Tangled Up In Blue and Isis.
  If Dylan had not survived his infamous motorcycle accident in 1966, he would have left behind a body of work that would have forever canonized him with the other icons of that era.  He would have taken his place in history with Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix and John Lennon.  But he didn’t, and so
Bob Dylan takes his place with the grateful undead—The Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Paul Simon and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, to name but a few.  The composer of Blowin’ in the Wind, I Shall Be Released and Like a Rolling Stone has become fair game for talk show hosts, comedians and local DJs.  They mimic his voice while they count his gray hairs.  I find this a sad commentary on our society.  Sad that a man who confounded journalists for years because he refused to expound on the songs that were changing the conscience of our nation, is now constantly ridiculed simply because he’s grown older.
  And so, we find in 1975, a poised, confident Dylan.  Here, in The Rolling Thunder tour, surrounded by an eclectic blend of old friends, such as Joan Baez and musicians that he literally picked off the streets, Dylan feels relaxed enough to rock it up a bit on some of his older material. 
Tonight I’ll be Staying Here With You, It Ain’t Me, Babe, and Romance In Durango are all given an upbeat tempo, with Dylan singing with his strongest voice.  With a throaty gravel, he practically shouts, “It Ain’t Me, Babe” while accompanied by an incredibly tight band of musicians.
  His more recent material at that time is covered more or less as they were recorded—something Dylan rarely does.
Simple Twist Of Fate, Tangled Up In Blue, and Hurricane are very strong and evoke Dylan’s mood at that time.  Before the band launches into Hurricane, he implores the audience to “Do what we can to get this man back on the streets.”
  If you are not a fan of
Bob Dylan, there is nothing this writer or this CD can say or do to change your mind.  But if you are like me, you won’t be able to listen to Mr. Tambourine Man, Blowin’ In The Wind, and It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue, without shedding a few tears.  A few tears for the loss of the passions and emotions that we held so dear in such turbulent times.  A few tears for the compassion and social awareness that his music raised.
Bob Dylan continues to make his music, and he continues to baffle us with his mysterious ways.  But the only mystery that appeared on this tour was the whiteface makeup Dylan wore onstage.  I read the entire booklet to find the answer and, if you are as curious as I, you’ll have to buy the CD to find out for yourself; just don’t be surprised if you’re still left to scratch your head and wonder.  Enjoy this treasure and, as Dylan once sang: “May you stay forever young.”

Pat Benny

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