Picks and Pans Review: Live 1966: the "royal Albert Hall" Concert
Bob Dylan (Columbia/Legacy)
Album of the week
This long-unreleased recording was made during Dylan's 1966 appearance at the Free Trade Hall in Manchester, England. (Tape boxes may have been mistakenly labeled after a later gig in London, which accounts for the quote marks in the title.) The two-part concert album captures Dylan in the midst of his transition from the role of acoustic folksinger (he performs with only a guitar and harmonica on the album's first disc) to that of loud and electrified folk-rocker. Taped shortly before the motorcycle accident that sent him into nine months of seclusion, this remarkable album captures all the energy, anger and in-your-face artistry on display that night.
The first disc, which includes acoustic renditions of "Desolation Row," "Visions of Johanna" and "Just Like a Woman," reminds us why his old fans were so upset when he electrified. Unplugged, Dylan was explosive. But in the second, plugged-in half of this concert, he was even more so. "Judas!" an audience member shouts at one point. "I don't believe you ...you're a liar," Dylan spits back. Urging his wondrous collaborators—the Hawks, soon to become the Band—to play even louder, he closes the show with an impassioned seven-minute sonic blast through "Like a Rolling Stone." Even 32 years later, the performances here are powerful enough to make this album among the best releases of 1998.
Bottom Line: Dylan at his incendiary finest
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