Super Lawyers
William C. Altreuter

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

As I predicted, I have successfully resisted picking up "Live 1964". Michaelangelo Matos
is scathing
in this week's Voice: "Joan Baez appears on four cuts, a warning itself. And the material that was released at or around the time is performed better on albums worth owning." The pattern for the minstrel of Minnesota of late has been to release a side of new material, followed by a box set of archival material, alternating every other year or so. He has now released back to back live albums. I like the Rolling Thunder Review collection, and feel like this was a period in his career which was overlooked for too long, probably because "Renaldo and Clara" was such a dog. (I've never seen it, and would love to, which probably means I am more of a Dylan freak that I would ever admit.) I saw a Rolling Thunder show, at Niagara Falls, and thought it was swell-- good as "Live 1975" is, it would have been better if it had included the Roger McGuinn numbers, and the weird number that Mick Ronson played, and even the Ramblin' Jack Elliot song, whatever it was.

Back to back live albums is a pretty good sign that an artist's creativity is flagging: add to that the fact that Dylan's discography over the last ten years includes two greatest hits collections and two more live sets (including an MTV "Unplugged" set. Now c'mon.) and the pattern comes into clearer focus. If anyone is entitled, I suppose he is, but it seems to me that there must be loads of more interesting stuff in the vaults.

If he is going to milk it, lets have more of the "Basement Tapes" stuff that we know is out there. Let's hear "Blood on the Tracks" as originally recorded. There has to be decent tape of the Forest Hills concert that Al Kooper has talked about for years; there are Dylan songs that others have covered that we haven't heard him do. He retained the rights to the set he did at George Harrison's Concert for Bangla Desh, and that numbers among the very best live recordings he ever did. (For my money, the all time best version of "It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry" is buried on a box set that features more Ravi Shankar than Ravi Shankar's mother needs, Ringo forgetting the words to his own hit single, and a pointless Billy Preston number.) We have way, way more recordings of duets with Joan Baez than we need, how about a collection of collaborations with some of the other people he has sung with --many of whom had voices that work better with Dylan's than Baez-- what were they trying to prove?

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