Recorded: May 10, 1963
Released: April 12, 2011
This is an oddity. A concert from just before the release of “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan”. Several songs from that album are included, and even one that wouldn’t come out until “The Times They Are A-Changin’”. There are only 7 songs, which is odd, but I guess it makes sense because it was part of a folk festival. The release also is an oddity, as rather than being officially part of The Bootleg Series, it was released as a bonus disk before becoming available as a standalone. It’s also an oddity, because while I listened to it before “The Freewheelin’…”, when I got around to writing, I forgot about it (that’s probably significant)
OK, my job is to try to imagine what it would have been like to have heard this concert, but wow, is that ever tough. It was part of a festival, it was before “The Freewheelin’…” was released and Dylan’s first album wasn’t a big deal, so was the audience really there for Dylan? Probably not. Were they familiar with his first album? Were they surprised that he didn’t do any songs from that album? Were they suitably amazed by “Masters of War”? It does seem like they enjoyed all the talking blues, and they are suitably funny… and in at least two cases, suitably political,
But from my perspective, the performances are just fine; they don’t improve on the studio versions, and other live performances also are much better.
Pitchfork isn’t the best source for Dylan opinion, but their take on this release seems about right to me.