しかし14枚組のROLLING THUNDER REVUE
Like others I've been waiting years for an official release of more music from Dylan and Johnny Cash. Admittedly this is a side of Dylan far away from albums like Highway 51 or later, Blood On The Tracks. But this latest in the Bootleg Series is another piece of the Dylan music puzzle, even though it lasted only about two years.
Disc 1 has some alternates from the John Wesley Harding album (tracks 1-8) plus alternates and an outtake (tracks 9-15) from the Nashville Skyline album. And while I've always liked the Harding album, the various takes of songs heard here aren't all that different from what we've already heard on the original album. They're nice to hear but certainly not revelatory. The arrangements are close to the finished tracks, but as I said, anything from these sessions is nice to hear. The Skyline versions too are close to the finished tracks with slight variations, but again, nothing really new. The song "To Be Alone With You" is a nice up tempo tune as is "One More Night". The bluesy outtake "Western Road" is worthwhile because its a rarity for Dylan and mostly because its just a good tune with a great arrangement.
Disc 2 begins the Dylan-Cash sessions, and its here that fans of Cash/Dylan/country music will find the most meat on this set. But all through these recordings its hard not to feel that Dylan is slightly in awe of Cash. Sitting there playing guitars and singing with a titan of country music must've been somewhat intimidating even for Dylan. All through the recordings, the talk between Dylan and Cash in between songs is warm and comfortable. But Dylan takes a backseat to Cash on most of these songs with Cash seeming to lead things. But saying that, its great to hear more from these sessions, which I've waited for, for many years. The music is relaxed and comfortable with both Dylan and Cash playing their way through a number of Cash songs. Songs like Cash's "I Still Miss Someone" and "Big River" are pure country from another era. Both Dylan and Cash trade vocals on "Big River" which is cool to hear. "Matchbox", "Ring Of Fire", and "Mystery Train/This Train is Bound For Glory" from these sessions are also nice to hear again.
Disc 3 has more from the Dylan/ Cash sessions plus tracks from the Johnny Cash Show, and Self Portrait outtakes of "Ring Of Fire" and "Folsom Prison Blues". Also here are tracks from banjo master Earl Scruggs (including an interview with Scruggs that once you've heard it can be skipped over), and sons Randy (guitar) and Gary (bass), plus Dylan on guitar and vocals. Tracks five and six are medleys of Jimmy Rodgers' tunes that make for good listening if Rodgers songs are your cup of tea. They're relaxed and folksy medleys that spell out the words country music. The Cash TV songs "Threw It All Away" and "Living The Blues" with Dylan and a small band bring back memories of watching Cash's show for many people around back then. If you weren't around then its hard to realize what Cash having a TV show and having Dylan as a guest meant to so many then. Final song "Girl From The North Country" with Dylan and Cash in a duet is what many people remember from this show and for good reason--its simply a good performance from both men.
The outtakes that form the Self Portrait album I'll leave alone--to each his own on these tracks. The musical tracks from Scruggs are another slice of Dylan going country. "East Virginia Blues" (heard on the '71 documentary "Earl Scruggs: Family and Friends") has Dylan singing along with Scruggs and family but Dylan isn't our front. "To Be Alone With You" is better with Dylan on vocals with some good old-timey playing from the Scruggs, as is "Honey, Just Allow Me One More Chance" which is a bit loose in the arrangement but fun to hear anyway. "Nashville Skyline Rag" has some good banjo picking from Scruggs with his son's equally good guitar picking. If country music from that era is to your liking you'll like these tracks.
The discs slip into wallet style cardboard holders each having some good period photos and a track list on the inside panel. The 54 page booklet has a number of photos most of which we've seen before along with repros of handwritten lyrics. There's an Introduction from Ben Rollins plus two pages of thoughts on the music from Rosanne Cash There's a long essay by noted music writer Colin Escott that has good information on the sessions, plus a complete track list with personnel. Everything fits into a somewhat thin cardboard slipcase with a track list on the back cover. The sound is very good to excellent--warm and clean sounding--with the TV tracks slightly below that in fidelity.
This period of Dylan's music was never a high point for many Dylan followers, but it is a good look into Dylan's continuing exploration of music. Will this release be the first choice to pull down from the shelf repeatedly? Probably not for many Dylan fans. Its nice to hear music from these sessions even if its not particularly revelatory. This set of music will make Cash/country music fans happier than many Dylan fans who heard this period of music as possibly some kind of stopgap before Dylan eventually released an album like Blood On The Tracks.
Disc 2 is hilarious with Johnny Cash and Bob basically doing impromptu recordings of various songs reminiscent of the Basement Tapes. Johnny is really into it, laughing and having a great time but Bob seems a little "out there" - like he's in awe of Johnny or very respectful of him... Bob is quieter here than I've ever heard him! He forgets most of the lyrics and Johnny has to remind him and they also have to get lyric sheets for some of the songs! Johnny says, "hey Bob - let's do Girl From The North Country" - and Bob replies... "oh I'm not sure I can do that, John" in a soft, quiet tone - but they finally start the song and it came out really good! I would have to say both takes of "Mountain Dew" are my favorites on Disc 2 - I was surprised Carl Perkins was on here playing guitar! Didn't know he was at these sessions!
Disc 3 continues with Johnny and Bob - the highlight here is the Jimmie Rodgers salute they do... that's the first I've ever heard either one yodel - I think Bob yodels a smidgeon better than Johnny! But that's hilarious stuff and great fun! The tunes with Earl Scruggs on banjo is also a treat - my favorite of these is "East Virginia" but all seem to be really cool. Bob's Self Portait outtakes of "Folsom Prison" & "Ring Of Fire" leave a tad to be desired... but both are interesting .. check out Bob's "Folsom Prison" cover on Bootleg 11 (Basement Tapes Raw) - it ROCKS and is much better than the version here!
So this is very much a welcomed addition to the Bootleg Series! Hopefully this will finally get Bob inducted in the Country Music Hall of Fame which is long overdue! I recommend this to any Dylan or Cash fan! Really cool and enjoyable stuff!