Wednesday, December 04, 2002

My faith in the record industry has been restored. Yesterday I took receipt of the Bob Dylan Bootleg Series Vol 5 - Live 1975 - A record of the first leg of Dylan's legendary 'Rolling Thunder Revue' tour. It is without doubt the best live album I have ever heard - even better than the extraordinary Dylan Live 1966 set. Originally, I had not expected it to be so awesome - primarily on account of 'Desire' being one of my least favourite Dylan albums and also being fairly non-plussed with the 'Hard Rain' set (recorded in 1976 on the second leg of the Rolling Thunder Revue Tour). But here we have radically different versions of several of his songs, Mick Ronson and T.Bone Burnett playing a stormer on guitar, Roger McGuin and Joan Baez popping up on a few tracks and the fiddler girl from Desire playing a blinder. The band is incredibly tight. There isn't a weak track on it but highlights include an awesome heavy boogie take on 'A Hard Rains a Gonna Fall', the harp playing on 'It ain't me Babe', the intense full band arrangement of 'Hattie Carroll', the incendiary 'Isis' (different to the live version on 'Biograph') and the beautiful duet with Baez on 'Mama, You Been On My Mind' - and all that is only on the first disc! I won't even attempt to list the highlights of the second CD.

Columbia/Sony must be congratulated on this release. The sound quality is peerless, the accompanying booklet is wonderful and even the DVD included with the limited edition version provides a rare video take of 'Tangled up in Blue' and 'Isis' in full 5.1DVD surround sound. I'll even forgive it the fact that it plays black and white only on my DVD player. Roll on 2003 and the release of Bootleg Series Vol 6 - Live 1964.

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