Live 1975 - The Rolling Thunder Review
Track Listing
  1. Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With You
  2. It Ain't Me Babe
  3. A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall
  4. The Lonesome Death Of
    Hattie Carroll
  5. Romance In Durango
  6. Isis
  7. Mr. Tambourine Man
  8. Simple Twist Of Fate
  9. *Blowin' In The Wind
  10. *Mama, You've Been On My Mind
  11. *I Shall Be Released
  1. It's All Over Now, Baby Blue
  2. Love Minus Zero/No Limit
  3. Tangled Up In Blue
  4. *The Water Is Wide
  5. It Takes A Lot To Laugh,
    It Takes A Train To Cry
  6. Oh, Sister
  7. Hurricane
  8. One More Cup Of Coffee
  9. Sara
  10. Just Like A Woman
  11. #Knockin' On Heaven's Door
*Performed with Joan Baez
#Performed with Roger McGuinn

Bob Dylan: Vocals/ Guitar/ Harmonica
Bobby Neuwirth: Guitar/ Vocals
Scarlet Rivera: Violin
"T-Bone" Burnett: Guitar
Steven Soles: Guitar/ Vocal
Mick Ronson: Guitar
Dave Mansfield: Steel-Guitar/ Mandolin/ Violin/ Dobro
Rob Stoner: Bass
Howie Wyeth: Piano/ Drums
Luther Rix: Drums/ Percussion/ Congas
Ronee Blakely: Vocals

The Rolling Thunder Review - 1975
Plymouth, Massachusetts
North Dartmouth, Massachusetts
South Eastern Massachusetts University
Lowell, Massachusetts
Providence, Rhode Island
Springfield, Massachusetts
Burlington, Vermont
Durham, New Hampshire
Waterbury, Connecticut
New Haven, Connecticut
Niagara Falls, New York
Rochester, New York
Worcester, Massachusetts
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Boston, Massachusetts
Waltham, Massachusetts
Hartford, Connecticut
Augusta, Maine
Bangor, Maine
Quebec City, Quebec, Canada
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Clinton, New Jersey
New York City, New York

Recorded on tour with the legendary Rolling Thunder Review
October to December 1975

times front cover

"We're gonna go any place we can. But we also have a lot of expenses to meet. I mean we're not gonna play living rooms, you know. It's not a nightclub show...But we're gonna play small theatres and we have played theatres and we're gonna continue to play theatres." Bob Dylan 1975.

The first and by far more successful leg of the now legendary Rolling Thunder Review took place in late 1975 and was probably Bob Dylan's most musically rewarding undertaking. Playing smaller venues in the northeast United States and Canada, Dylan and his assorted band of itinerant gypsies played to rapturous audiences in a tour that began in Plymouth Mass. in late October and culminated in Madison Square Garden's "Night of the Hurricane" on December the 8th. There are not enough superlatives to describe just how wonderful this chronicle of those magical concerts is, Dylan was in his element and his mood seems to have had a positive affect on the rest of the band "He's a superbeing. From somewhere else" said Mick Ronson while Steve Soles was even more in awe "Dylan is a psychic, he paraphrases things I've dreamed" he said.

The tracks on this album are from concerts in Boston, Cambridge, Worcester and Montreal and the packaging, with its crisp digital sound, superb photography and thoughtful and intelligent liner notes from RTR groupie Larry "Ratso" Sloman are everything we have come to expect from this series. The opening track "Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With You" is perhaps a surprise, but it bears no relation to the original version on 1969's "Nashville Skyline." It has been wholly rewritten and Dylan performs it with a vigour and commitment that is a trademark of this set. "It Ain't Me Babe" is more restrained but no less powerful and has some excellent work from Howie Wyeth and Dave Mansfield, Dylan's harmonica brings the predictable roar of approval from the crowd. "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" grows up here as it mutates from the thoughtful musings of an adolescent folksinger into the full throated rock and roll of an older, wiser and more mature artist. "The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll" is a song that Dylan had been performing in concert since he returned to live performance the previous year. It obviously means a lot to him and here it is presented with reverence and dignity with an arrangement that is almost waltz like.

Dylan introduces "Romance In Durango" with "Scarlet Rivera joining us here. This is called "Romance In Durango"...Remember Durango Larry?" as the first of the six songs from the soon to be released "Desire." All of these are fairly faithful to the album sound, not surprising perhaps as they would have still been fresh and the nucleus of the band was the same. Along with the following song "Isis" it is one of the strongest songs on the album and the performances of these two here go some way to indicating just what Dylan was capable of as a live performer in the mid seventies. Both of these stunning performances form one of the many highlights of this album (there is a de-luxe version featuring a live performance of "Isis" on DVD). By way of contrast the acoustic "Mr. Tambourine Man" is understated and absolutely beautiful. It emphasises Dylan's versatility and anyone fortunate enough to witness such a performance should consider themselves very lucky indeed. "Simple Twist Of Fate" would have been familiar to audiences from "Blood On The Tracks" which was by now almost a year old. The version here is slightly rewritten (but not as drastically as it would be in later incarnations), but I can't help feeling that the new ending could have done with a little more work.

Dylan is joined on stage by Joan Baez for the classic "Blowin' In The Wind" and your enjoyment of this will depend largely on your opinion of her. Duetting with Baez on five or six songs at each gig had become part of the tour and the press took the opportunity to trot out all the old clichés about the king and queen of folk music, but the truth was that the relationship was not as symbiotic as she would have wished. However, this song works as the pure clarity of Baez's voice contrasts superbly with Dylan's more unconventional vocal style. This is particularly true with "Mama, You Been On My Mind," which is given a country flavour that works extremely well and really grows on you after a few listenings. Baez struggles to keep up with Dylan, but more than comes into her own on the absolutely gorgeous "I Shall Be Released," surely worth the price of admission alone. I am no great Joan Baez fan, but credit where it is due, she said of Dylan at the time "Dylan has been a big element in my life, and he always will be. But we are different things to each other at different times."

The second part of the album opens with two classics from 1965's "Bringing It All Back Home." Both performed acoustically, "It's All Over Now Baby Blue" and "Love Minus Zero/No Limit" again show Dylan to be in his element with this sort of material, and he has the audience in the palm of his hand. They are both taken from the acoustic section of the Montreal concert (December 4th), and suggest that that must have been a particularly good evening. Rapturous applause greets "Tangled Up In Blue" which has a rather hoarse sounding Dylan tending to rush a little. This had become a crowd favourite, again due to the recent "Blood On The Tracks" and the lyrics of this version remain fairly faithful to that of the album track. Joan Baez returns to duet on the traditional "The Water Is Wide" and shows again how well she and Dylan sound together, and then we are back into rock and roll territory with "It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry" which Dylan cryptically introduces as an "...autobiographical song" and really puts the band through their paces.

When someone in the audience calls for a protest song, Dylan answers with "Yeah, here's one for you" and launches into "Oh, Sister," the first of four songs from "Desire" (but taken from three different concerts). "Oh, Sister" is eerily close to the original with Scarlet Rivera's violin very prominent. She was also highly complimentary of the RTR (she cancelled a tour of her own in order to be a part of it) and was quoted as saying "I felt this incredible freedom to express whatever feeling, whatever thought, whatever symbolism and actually carry it out." "Hurricane" the only track from the November 19th Worcester concert is introduced by Dylan with the words "This song is called "Hurricane." If you have any political pull at all maybe you can help us get this man out of jail and back onto the streets" probably because he knew that Joseph P. Kennedy 111 son of the late Robert Kennedy was in the audience, and lest we forget part of the reason for this tour. The song is performed at a frenetic pace (as it is on the album) with Ronee Blakely doing her level best to keep up with Dylan and his amazing vocal control, and one has to wonder at his ability to perform a song of such lyrical complexity at such speed and so flawlessly. After a workmanlike performance of "One More Cup Of Coffee" Dylan gives us "Sara" one of the most personal songs he has ever written, and this is made more so (if that were possible) by the change in the lyrics of the third verse and he omits verse five completely, but it remains an achingly beautiful song.

The closest thing to a request comes with "Just Like A Woman," as a remarkably affable Dylan says "...we'll try it" in response to the plea from the audience and he and the band perform a rousing version of the song that sounds just a little forced. Finally we have Dylan and Roger McGuinn duetting on a beautiful country version of "Knockin' On Heaven's Door" another song that Dylan enjoys rearranging lyrically, and suddenly with "Thanks for coming. We'll be in the area for a few days, maybe we'll see you tomorrow night" it is all over.

We had to wait nearly thirty years for this album, but it was surely worth the wait. "Live 1975 The Rolling Thunder Review" is a remarkable album that perfectly captures a moment in music history like no other, and makes a mockery of "Hard Rain" (both the album and the TV special) and sadly Dylan's own film chronicle "Renaldo And Clara." It gives us an artist at the absolute zenith of his craft and one who is comfortable with himself, his band, his music and his audience "I tried to get rid of the burden of the Bob Dylan myth for a long time, because it is a burden. Just ask anyone who is a star" he said at the time. A superb album and a must for any Dylan fan - five stars.


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