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The Bootleg Series, Vol. 6: Live 1964 - Concert At Philharmonic Hall

Bob Dylan

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Album Review

It does seem strange, very strange indeed, to be hearing an official release of this historic concert, which has been available as a bootleg for decades. The Halloween gig at Philharmonic Hall in New York was a special part of the tour for Another Side of Bob Dylan, arguably his greatest acoustic recording. What's more poignant, however, is how it previews the material on Bringing It All Back Home. While the songs on Another Side hinted at things to come, nothing could have prepared audiences for the dreamy surrealism of "Mr. Tambourine Man," or the nightmarish abstract poetry of "It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)," and "Gates of Eden" — all of which appear on Disc One. The remainder of the material comes from Dylan's preceding catalog; there are stirring protest and topical songs, folk songs, humorous narratives, love songs, great wisecracks, and talking blues — "Talking John Birch Paranoid Blues!"), most of them classics — "With God on Our Side," "Hard Rain's Gonna Fall," "Times They Are A-Changin'," "Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll," "Don't Think Twice, It's Alright," "Mama You've Been on My Mind," "All I Really Want to Do," "It Ain't Me Babe" — all of these songs and many others (there are 17 in all) are delivered with the confidence of the seasoned performer; a man who knows his audience and how to handle them. It's not cynical, not detached, just masterful. For those unfamiliar with this set, Joan Baez makes an appearance near the end of the show, and duets with Dylan on four cuts including an amazing read of "Silver Dagger." It is true that if you possess the boot, you have all the music here, and chances are, it has some pretty good sound. But you'll need this version, too. For starters, the sound is spectacular, wonderfully warm and immediate, and the transfer is extremely clean with wonderful dynamics. Secondly, the package is deluxe. In addition to a fine essay by Princeton historian and author Sean Wilentz (he made the gig when he was 13), there are a truckload of killer photos from the show and the period, along with complete discographical information that puts the bootleg packages to shame. For those interested in the acoustic Bob Dylan, this concert is like the grail; his voice is in impeccable shape, and his delivery is revelatory. For those interested in the transition from acoustic to electric, this show is the seam, and for those who are die-hard fans, this is another welcome item in the official catalog.

Biography

Born: 24 May 1941 in Duluth, MN

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Bob Dylan's influence on popular music is incalculable. As a songwriter, he pioneered several different schools of pop songwriting, from confessional singer/songwriter to winding, hallucinatory, stream-of-consciousness narratives. As a vocalist, he broke down the notion that a singer must have a conventionally good voice in order to perform, thereby redefining the vocalist's role in popular music. As a musician, he sparked several genres of pop music, including electrified folk-rock and country-rock....
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The Bootleg Series, Vol. 6: Live 1964 - Concert At Philharmonic Hall, Bob Dylan
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