SODD 007: Bob Dylan The Hurricane Carter Benefit

NY, NY – Madison Square Garden on December 8, 1975

8 / 10 stars for this very good audience recording of a great performance

Side 1: 
When I paint my masterpiece 
It ain’t me, Babe 
Lonesome death of Hattie Carroll 
Tonight I’ll be staying here with you 
It takes a lot to laugh 

Side 2:  (duets with Joan Baez)
The Times 
Dark as a dungeon 
Mama you’ve been on my mind 
Never let me go 
I dreamed I saw St. Augustine 
I shall be released 

Side 3: 
Romance in Durango 
Oh sister 

Side 4: 
One more cup of coffee 
Just like a woman 
Knockin’ on heaven’s door  (Providence, RI – November 4 ’75  2nd show’)
This Land is your Land (Bangor, ME – November 27 ’75 )


Second release ca. 1978 with a b&w cover on TAKRL 24910 – This seems to be rather rare.

Dylan Hurricane Carter BenefitDylan Hurricane Carter b


Third release in 1980 on Phoenix:

wolfgangsvault has a full recording of what they call “set 1” plus more Rolling Thunder shows:

I tried to find out if any tracks on the official “Bootleg Series Vol. 5 – Rolling Thunder Review” release (now here’s a great name for a series of releases. If bootlegs are so bad, why use that description as a selling point?) came from this show but I was unable to.

That having been said, I wanted to include a positive review of the officially released package (as this blog is as much performance-based as it is bootleg-based). Obviously, those in ’76 didn’t have a chance to buy this official item but most would certainly have preferred it over the audience recording as their first choice:

“The Bootleg Series Vol.5, chronicling the early months of Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue tour back in ’75, was probably the biggest surprise for me in terms of sheer quality; to put it bluntly, it is the best live Dylan record I have heard, and unless I am pleasantly surprised later on (unlikely, considering that I have Real Live and Dylan & The Dead to look forward to) I imagine it will stay that way. Whereas Dylan’s 1966 “Royal Albert Hall” concert – often cited as his best live document – captures Dylan at his angriest and most elusive, reinterpreting his older folk classics as brash electric rockers whether his audience liked it or not, The Rolling Thunder Revue is nothing but celebratory. The first six tracks here are, to me, some of the best music this guy’s ever created: “Tonight I’m Staying Here With You,” previously the sweet, unassuming final track on Nashville Skyline, is recast here as a driving anthem without losing a hint of its intimacy; “It Ain’t Me, Babe”, beyond all reason, works as a reggae-tinged country song; and “The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll” takes a previously dour protest song and intensifies it beyond all measure. Far and away my favorite track here, however, would be “A Hard Rain’s-A Gonna Fall,” which manages to take one of Dylan’s most prophetic standbys and turn it into a boogie-rock hoedown. Just this track alone – featuring one of Dylan’s fiercest vocal performances – may be proof that when it comes to reinterpreting Dylan, nobody does it better than the man himself.
The rest of Rolling Thunder isn’t nearly as exciting as those first six tracks, but what it lacks in intensity it more than makes up for in intimacy and open-heartedness. For one thing, it features Dylan’s first duets with Joan Baez in over a decade, with the two of them performing lovely versions of “Blowin’ In The Wind,” “Mama You Been On My Mind” and “I Shall Be Released.” Dylan’s solo acoustic songs are practically as good, with effective takes on “Mr. Tambourine Man,” “Love Minus Zero,” and then-recent Blood On The Tracks classics “Tangled Up In Blue” and “Simple Twist Of Fate”. And while I will admit that most of the live Desire tracks here don’t do much for me – they’re fine, but not remarkable – the Revue’s performance of “Isis” is so great that it almost makes the studio version redundant. The Bootleg Series Vol. 5 succeeds by combining the best of both worlds, leavening Dylan’s penchant for defying audience expectations with a sweet sense of nostalgia that never comes off as pandering. Even if it doesn’t replicate the exact feel of a Rolling Thunder show, it feels like a complete Dylan experience.”

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