REVIEW

 
BOB DYLAN
War Memorial 1975 [no label 1CD bootcity 64844]
Live at War Memorial Auditorium, Oct 31, 1975.

With all the attention that’s been given to anthologizing so many of Dylan’s other live outings (the Never Ending Before The Royal Albert Flood 65 tour collection), it seems incredible that the first leg of Rolling Thunder has still to fall under a similar microscope. In terms of material played (and musicians to play it), it was certainly his most ambitious jaunt prior to the Never Ender, while the rearrangements that seemed to drop nightly into the repertoire ensured that, even when you knew what song was coming next, you didn’t necessarily know what it’d sound like.

From the earliest days of the outing, while the madness was still at its peak, and the Thunder was rolling without any of the squabbling and snarling that later came to mar it, this newly discovered (mid-2006) 17 song line-recording readily upgrades the existing War Memorial tape, and doubles in size the most commonly circulating CD rendering.

Dylan is in excellent form, dedicating "Isis" to Keith Richard and "Never Let Me Go" to David Crosby. But Baez is even better, crystalline through "Diamonds And Rust" and "Dixie," and even making the usually-grating "Oh Happy Day" sound like a cause for celebration. A haunting snatch of "Please Come To Boston" makes you yearn for any still-undiscovered, more complete rendering of the show, but Dylan’s return to the stage sweeps all disappointment away, as "I Don’t Believe You" and "Just Like A Woman" bookend some dynamite highlights from Desire - Scarlett rarely sounded so good as she does through tonight’s "Hurricane," while "One More Cup Of Coffee" is positively chilling. But best of all is the sound quality, which renders this among the finest of all circulating Rolling Thunder tapes. - Dave Thompson

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September 29, 2006