Monday, December 23, 2013

Bob Dylan 56: 50th Anniversary Collection 1963

Well, it happened again, sort of. This time, the assumed record label attempt to either protect their archives, tease the public or both resulted in a six-record set of otherwise uncollected (but mostly bootlegged) Bob Dylan recordings, with limited availability.
This time, however, the studio takes on 50th Anniversary Collection 1963 total exactly six: alternates of “Eternal Circle” and “Percy’s Song”, another extremely sloppy stab at “That’s All Right, Mama” that peters into something called “Sally Free And Easy” before stopping altogether, the slightly more interesting “East Laredo Blues” piano solo, and the legendary unreleased tracks “Hero Blues” and “New Orleans Rag”.
The bulk of the live recordings are of more historic than musical interest. “When The Ship Comes In” at the March on Washington, for example, would be a lot more palatable if it didn’t sound like a news broadcast (and didn’t have Joan Baez yodeling all the way through it). Typical is a 12-song sequence called “The Banjo Tape” (because of one of the accompanists; he appears to have acquired a 12-string). In this seemingly impromptu hootenanny, the most successful songs, and the ones that don’t break down after a minute, happen to be his own compositions.
There’s also the balance of his two legendary New York concerts of the year, at Town Hall and Carnegie Hall. Despite these having already been plundered for various Bootleg Series sets (and in one case, Greatest Hits Vol. II) with pristine sound, having been professionally recorded, the question is begged: why not issue the complete shows in sequence?
Then there are a few lost songs, some better than others. “Ramblin’ Down Through The World” began the Town Hall show, and isn’t much of anything. “Hiding Too Long” is more fascinating, if clumsy. There are a few renditions of “John Brown”, and several of “Only A Pawn In Their Game”.
Like most bootlegs, this isn’t an album sequenced for anything other than posterity, and the multiple takes of less than exciting songs gets tiresome. It still provides a fascinating glimpse at the kid trying to finish his second album and on his way to his third.

Bob Dylan 50th Anniversary Collection 1963 (2013)—3
CD availability: none; LP only

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