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The Bootleg Series Vol. 5: Live 1975, The Rolling Thunder Revue

4.5 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio CD (25 Nov. 2002)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Columbia
  • ASIN: B000075AKK
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 63,994 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Product Description

Amazon.co.uk

One of the many oddities of Bob Dylan's long and unruly career has been the rather cursory recording treatment given his stint as ringleader of the Rolling Thunder Revue. It's a shortcoming that's rectified with the release of Live 1975. Prior to the appearance of this two-disc (plus bonus DVD) collection, Rolling Thunder's eclectic road show was chronicled only in the infrequently screened, Dylan-directed Renaldo & Clara film and the bafflingly brief and one-note 1976 live set, Hard Rain. In contrast to its predecessor, this set, culled from four appearances made in November and December of 1975, captures the breadth and subtleties of Dylan's Rolling Thunder performances.

"Tonight I'll Be Staying Here with You", formerly a coda from Nashville Skyline, is given a rather incongruous bite here, while "It Ain't Me, Babe" is coloured brightly by multi-instrumentalist David Mansfield along with erstwhile David Bowie guitarist Mick Ronson, the spark plug of the gratifyingly ragtag group that coalesced on short notice. Solo acoustic performances weave through caterwauling full-band treatments of songs old ("The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll") and new ("Hurricane" and four other selections from Desire, which wouldn't hit the racks until early 1976). While the contributions of a number of caravan cohorts and guests are left out, Joan Baez shares the spotlight with Dylan on four numbers, most notably on the rarity "Mama, You Been on My Mind" and the traditional "The Water Is Wide". But despite its cavalcade trappings, it was Dylan's show, and this collection demonstrates finally just how close to his 60s peak the 70s Dylan was. --Steven Stolder

BBC Review

By 1975 it was the best of times, it was the worst of times. With a cracking return to form album (Blood On The Tracks) under his belt and a triumphant tour with the Band completed, Robert Zimmerman had reclaimed his place as the acerbic crown prince of rock. Yet all was not rosy. As fans already knew, Blood...was a very personal exhumation of the troubles affecting his marriage and, at 34, it looked as if Dylan was careening into a very early mid-life crisis. What to do? Why, hit the road with a circus-style troupe of friends, old lovers and diverse musicians; play in small venues and fill the gaps between shows with improvised (and filmed) surrealism, of course. Oh, and paint your face white. Welcome to Bob Dylan's Rolling Thunder Tour.

Until now the tour (which kept rolling well into the following year) has only been documented by the almost biblical intensity of Hard Rain. This fifth addition to the ongoing 'Bootleg series' cherry-picks some magical moments from the tour's opening months at the end of '75. Drawing on a core of musicians from the Desire sessions along with notable additions such as Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell, Roger McGuinn, Bobby Neuwirth, Ramblin' Jack Elliott and even ex-Spider From Mars Mick Ronson, Dylan is in revelatory form.

From the opening bars of ''Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With You'' the energy strips away any fears that any Zim-like inscrutability will obscure the songs. ''Throw my ticket out the window! Throw my mattress out there too!!'' declaims Bob. Forget the down-home simplicity of Nashville Skyline, this song is now a raging, lusty broadside. The band are fabulously tight considering Bob's habit of changing...well anything from tempo to lyrics. Scarlet Rivera's violin and David Mansfield's pedal steel add glittering nuances and ''It Ain't Me Babe'' and ''Mr Tambourine Man'' get re-tooled into sleeker, more contemporary forms, losing nothing of their original impact.

Meanwhile disc two's selection of down-tempo numbers (''Love Minus Zero'', ''Tangled Up In Blue'' etc.) is beautifully pitched. Dylan's joyous performance in such intimate venues shines out in a puckish ability to rewrite lyrics on the hoof and also (gasp) talk and joke with his audience and band. There's the impassioned appeal for Ruben 'Hurricane' Carter's release (the tour was an ongoing vehicle for pleading his innocence) but also a fair slice of Bob-style jocularity. ''Play a protest song!'' shouts one punter. ''OK, here's one for ya'' drawls Bobby. And then launches into the rolling lament ''Oh, Sister''. Trés droll.

Add a wonderful essay, by tour diarist Larry 'Ratso' Sloman and some of the best photos of Dylan, ever, and you've got a package that's as good an argument for the ongoing canonisation of Bob as any so far. If you've got friends who claim not to like Dylan, play them this. If they don't like it, check their pulse. --Chris Jones

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Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Bob Dylan live can be a mixed blessing, as everybody who has heard more than a couple of Dylan's live recordings can attest, and most of his live albums are for the dedicated fan rather than the casual one.
But this fine record can be enjoyed by both Dylan-philes and those who just want a couple of his best albums and his best songs.
Most of the eleven songs on disc 1 are recorded with a backing band (Roger McGuinn, Mick Ronson, and Rob Stoner among the musicians). Among the highlights are a powerful, beefed-up and slightly slowed-down (to a tempo of about 70) rendition of "It Ain't Me Babe", a wonderful "Romance In Durange", a solo "Mr. Tambourine Man" and a catchy, electric "Mama, You Been On My Mind".
Disc 2 are mostly solo performances, and they stand out as some of the greatest recordings Bob Dylan has ever made. Especially the first two tracks, "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue" and "Love Minus Zero/No Limit", which to me are the definitive readings of these songs. Dylan's hoarse voice is surprisingly mellow and pleasant, on "Love Minus Zero" in particular, and he and Joan Baez duet on a beatiful "The Water Is Wide".
Other highlights include a great "Tangled Up In Blue" and a powerful "Hurricane".
(At one point a spectator yells "play a protest song", and Dylan calmly answers : "Here's one for ya". He then plays "Oh, Sister"!)
The sound is great all the way through. It's clear and full, and "Live 1975" proves once and for all that Robert Allen Zimmerman can actually sing.
There is nary a weak track on this wonderful record, and it is highly recommendable to anyone with an interest in Bob Dylan's music, be it ever so slight. It should be in any serious music collection.
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Format: Audio CD
I have been a Bob Dylan fan for more than 20 years now - since I was 16 years old - and I have always had to put up with older people telling me that the Rolling Thunder Tour was the apogee of Bob's touring life. Unfortunately there was no recording of the tour available, except for the rather lack lustre (but charming in it's own way) "Hard Rain".
All of that has now changed, and the "Live 1975" recordings are with us - and they are worth the wait. Dylan has often been criticised for his lack of enunciation - but here he sings more clearly than I have ever heard before. And the attention to detail in the band settings is wonderful. Check out "Hurricane" on disk 2. It's just like the album version, but somehow more urgent, more focussed - "better" in fact.
The highlight for me is "The lonesome death of Hattie Carroll". If you have become bored of hearing Bob "rework" (ie. fail to do justice to) his material over the years, check this out. Yes, he has reworked it, but rather than detract from it, he has added to it immencely. And it serves as a fresh reminder of just what a wonderful piece of writing it is !
The message is clear - whether you are a "new" Dylan fan, or an old stager (and if you are old enough and lucky enough to have been at one of the "Rolling Thunder" shows, I truly envy you) go out and buy it
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Format: Audio CD
Unlike the other bootleg series, volume 5 is a collection of exerts from Dylan's Rolling Thunder tour in 1975, rather than a continuous recording from a single concert. In my opinion, it is all the better for it since it only means that the better performances are put on the CD and there is no question of cohesion in the track listing (at first you might even think it was one single concert!)
The songs on it are brilliant, predominantly coming from "Blood on the Tracks" and "Desire" - two of Dylan's best albums and certainly the best of his later works. The album offers every side of Dylan: Dylan in protest in "Hurricane", laid-back Dylan in "Mr Tambourine Man", sorrowful Dylan in "Sara" (an extremely sad song, heightened by the timing of these performances, still in the wake of his break-up with his wife Sara). Dylan's habit of altering words and even perspective comes through here too ("Knockin' on Heaven's Door" has completely new lyrics and "Tangled Up In Blue" is sung entirely from the 3rd person). Joan Baez also lends heavy support and "Water is Wide" is all the more sublime for her part in the duet.
Ultimately, 1975 gives a diverse flavour of Dylan that no other CD can really match, making it perfect for someone just becomming interested in Dylan (and packing more diverse songs than a greatest hits often will). For a serious Dylan fan, 1975 is essential in offering an incite into Dylan's later concerts and is so brilliantly performed that it really is a necessity.
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Format: Audio CD
A surprising luxury - a well packaged live document of Dylan re-interpreting mainly early songs with a welcomingly tight outfit.Re-interpretation is certainly the word, the thunderous "Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With You" even a frequent lyric change"Tangled Up in Blue" makes it of obvious interest to completists.
For my money the versions of "A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall" and "Hurricane" are better than the studio originals. Joan Baez is an intrusion as, in the 21st century, her vocal delivery has dated out of proportion to the man she accompanies. However don't be put off by the ironical "Bootleg" label, the sound is crisp and Bob's delivery is clearly where it should be - in the face of an ever expectant audience.
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