REVIEW

 

BOB DYLAN
Tales Of Thunder 1975 (2CDs) 1976 (2CDs)

Cast in the spirit of the box set that served up one of every song performed by Dylan and the band on the 1974 tour, Tales Of Thunder offers up four CDs worth of jewels, gems and junk from Rolling Thunder, lined up in no particular order, but still offering a remarkable glimpse into the sheer versatility that Dylan was demonstrating on that outing.

The sourcing is almost impossibly narrow. From 33 shows in 1975, just ten are represented here, with the Toronto show the dominant flavor; 25 gigs in 1976, meanwhile, are represented by just nine gigs, and New Orleans hangs heavily over them all. Which means this is not the place to look for those super-scarce one-offs that still dog most collections. Of the 38 songs performed across the 1975 leg of the tour, 31 are present here; but there’s no "Lay Lady Lay," no "I Threw It All Away," no "One Too Many Mornings." Likewise, the 1976 discs round up 30 songs, but there was no less than 64 different numbers performed throughout the outing, which means coverage is not even half way there.

But with just three songs duplicated across the two sets ("Hard Rain," "Isis" and "Knocking On Heaven’s Door"), this is certainly an excellent compilation for the less-than-hardcore fan… that is, anyone who doesn’t especially care about hearing every single song, but still wants to know why this tour ranks among Dylan’s most memorable. And the rest of us? Well, we’re already dedicated to spending the rest of our lives seeking out a tape of the Salt Lake City show, in the hope of hearing Dylan and Baez duet across "Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts." What’s a little more duplication while we’re waiting? - Dave Thompson

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December 14, 2007