Bootleg Series, Volume 6

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On March 23, Columbia/Legacy will release Live 1964: Concert at Philharmonic Hall — The Bootleg Series Volume 6, a two-CD set documenting the all-acoustic, October 31, 1964, Halloween-night concert by Bob Dylan at Philharmonic Hall in New York City. The recording captures a 23-year-old Dylan at a transitional moment in his career, two months after the release of Another Side of Bob Dylan, the last acoustic album he would record before heading into the studio weeks after the Philharmonic Hall concert to embark on the experiment that would result in the electrified rock heard on Bringing It All Back Home, several songs from which he previewed at this concert. Live 1964 will take its place as the only and earliest official release of an all-acoustic Bob Dylan concert.Live 1964 shows Dylan at the peak of his early performing powers. Less than three years since his first album was released, he offhandedly jokes with his audience, fending off enthusiastic hecklers with deft wit and snappy comebacks, only to turn around and deliver blisteringly intense versions of protest songs, folk tunes, talking blues, love ballads and a few theretofore unreleased, indefinable songs, including “Mr. Tambourine Man,” “Gates of Eden” and “It’s Alright Ma,” that would spark a musical revolution over the course of the next year. Joan Baez appears as special guest on four tracks.

Live 1964 comes in a brilliant box with a hardcover slipcase and a 52-page booklet with rare and previously unpublished photos by Daniel Kramer, Hank Parker and Sandy Speiser. The booklet includes a new essay by Sean Wilentz, the Princeton University-based historian and writer who attended the Halloween 1964 concert at age 13.

Disc 1
1. The Times They Are A-Changin’
2. Spanish Harlem Incident
3. Talkin’ John Birch Paranoid Blues
4. To Ramona
5. Who Killed Davey Moore?
6. Gates of Eden
7. If You Gotta Go, Go Now (Or Else You Got To Stay All Night)
8. It’s Alright Ma, (I’m Only Bleeding)
9. I Don’t Believe You (She Acts Like We Never Have Met)
10. Mr. Tambourine Man
11. A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall

Disc 2
1. Talkin’ World War III Blues
2. Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right
3. The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll
4. Mama, You Been On My Mind
5. Silver Dagger
6. With God On Our Side
7. It Ain’t Me, Babe
8. All I Really Want to Do

Even the most devoted Dylan fans will admit that his concerts are hit-or-miss, amazing or horrible. I’m looking forward to Volume 6 because, so far, the bootleg series has done a good job of sticking to the good ones (see Volume 4 and Volume 5). Though they’re not concert discs, Volumes 1-3 (released in a single set) provided an auspicious start for the series.