The notion of reviewing an archival Bob Dylan release on CD may seem a bit ridiculous for a publication such as Audiophile Review. The music on this release is not particularly demo worthy and the fidelity varies sometimes significantly towards the preservationist completist realm. But, it is a Bob Dylan album and vintage Bob Dylan at that, so for that alone your ears should be perking up.
This collection is also significant because it’s the first widely distributed collection of key highlights from a series of extremely limited European-only releases, issued as an exercise to preserve copyrights and compositions which were at risk. If you were lucky enough to get one of those 100 releases (each, in 2012-14) then you already know some of the joys within. You can read more about those sets on the wiki by clicking here and here and here.
For the rest of us this material is thus probably somewhat new and worthy of your attention. As a supplement-of-sorts to the acclaimed “bootleg series,” Bob Dylan Live 1962-1966 – Rare Performances From The Copyright Collections offers a handy and easily digestible alternate view snapshot of Dylan’s dramatic ascent from Woody Guthrie-flavored folk-country coffeehouse unknown to trend setting rock ‘n roll taste maker. Here you get some recordings from his early days in small New York clubs to the big concert stages where his early electric performances helped trigger a musical revolution.
Whether you have all the “bootleg series” recordings or not, it’s still really cool to hear this evolution such rapid progression, all from an alternate perspective not on his commercially available LPs. Some of my favorite pieces here are the version of “Maggie’s Farm” — Live at the Hollywood Bowl in 1965 — with vocals so upfront and clear so you can really hear every detail of the story (and there is a story!). I also was pleased this collection includes a great version of “She Belongs To Me” from London’s Royal Albert Hall in 1965 which has a very different, folksier feel than the studio version on Bringing It All Back Home — Dylan is also quite a bit more scathing in his vocal delivery when he points a finger: “you are a walking antique.”
You can find Bob Dylan Live 1962-1966 – Rare Performances From The Copyright Collections on Amazon for under $15 these days which is kind of a steal – heck when I pre-ordered it was 20!
Unfortunately, this album is not available on Tidal for streaming. However if you want to check out some of the “Bootleg Series” — and if you haven’t yet, you know you should! — listen to the Royal Albert Hall 1966 show for starters. I would also check out the Witmark Demos 1962-64 (early publishing demos he made very simply and quickly). Telltale Signs is a cool look into later period Dylan. There is also a nice sampler of music from the legendary Basement Tapes sessions, recordings Dylan made with the band back in 1967 or so. All these and more are streaming in CD quality up on Tidal which is pretty handy if you want to explore these amazing archival releases, especially if you are trying to decide which to purchase it on CD or on LP.
Good stuff there….