BOB DYLAN – ” Hard Rain ” Released 13th September 1976 Best Live Albums

Posted: December 29, 2016 in CLASSIC ALBUMS, MUSIC
Tags: , , , ,


The Rolling Thunder Revue started off 40 years ago on October 30th, 1975, and continued into the middle of 1976. Even by Bob Dylan standards, there was a lot of shape shifting in the mid-’70s. His 1975-76 Rolling Thunder Revue cavalcade tour teamed him with such come-and-go fellow travelers as Joan Baez, Allen Ginsberg, Roger McGuinn, Mick Ronson and a young T Bone Burnett, among many others. (See the oddball film ‘Renaldo & Clara,’ preferably the full four-hour version, to get some sense of it.)

Other artists involved in The Rolling Thunder Revue 1975 1976 Bob Dylan Joan Baez Roger McGuinn Ramblin’ Jack Elliott Joni Mitchell Mick Ronson Allen Ginsberg Gordon Lightfoot Mimi Fariña T-Bone Burnett Rob Stoner Ronee Blakley

The 3 best all time Bob Dylan live officially released concert albums are obviously “Hard Rain”, “Bob Dylan Live 1966, The “Royal Albert Hall” Concert” & “Bob Dylan Live 1975, The Rolling Thunder Revue”. They are all brilliant. Today “Hard Rain” is among the best of the lot.

Hard Rain is a live album by American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, released on September 13th, 1976 by Columbia Records. The album was recorded during the second leg of the Rolling Thunder Revue.

The album was partly recorded on May 23rd, 1976, during a concert at Hughes Stadium in Fort Collins, Colorado; the penultimate show of the tour, the concert was also filmed and later broadcast by NBC as a one-hour television special in September. (Hard Rain’s release coincided with this broadcast). Four tracks from the album (“I Threw It All Away,” “Stuck inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again,” “Oh, Sister,” and “Lay, Lady, Lay”) were recorded on May 16th, 1976 in Fort Worth, Texas. Neither the album nor the television special was well received at the time. It was outdoors, it rained, and when it aired in September of that year, much-hyped, it was not so well received. Though it had its moments, it was kind of glum. But the concurrent album of the same title? What was glum on TV was raging on vinyl.

“Although the band has been playing together longer, the charm has gone out of their exchanges,” writes music critic Tim Riley. “Hard Rain…seemed to come at a time when the Rolling Thunder Revue, so joyful and electrifying in its first performances, had just plain run out of steam,” wrote Janet Maslin, then a music critic for Rolling Stone. In his mixed review for Hard Rain, Robert Christgau criticized the Rolling Thunder Revue as “folkies whose idea of rock and roll is rock and roll clichés.”

The album received an awful lot bad criticism upon its release, and surprisingly still does. To my ears it has always sounded amazing. Listening to other bootlegs from Rolling thunder 2 & watching the Hard Rain movie (and outtakes), one could easily wish that more songs had been included, and he’d put out a double album. But it is what it is, and it’s incredible. it still sounds fresh & wonderful today.

Hindsight shows that this album introduces the ragged, postmodern Bob Dylan, right from the grungy instrumental ground-pawing ahead of the start of the first number. Moreover the running order now seems surprisingly well thought out. It represents, too, the late phase of the historic Rolling Thunder Revue tour and captures the distinctive, bare-wired sound of Dylan’s existential gypsy band. Stand-out track is ‘Idiot Wind’, which, as Dylan grows ever more engaged, bursts open and pours out its brilliant venom.

Some ’60s faves like “Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again” and newer songs “Shelter From The Storm” all get some rough treatment—-gaining fierce intensity amid what sounds like some stormy conditions involving not just the weather, but the participants. Think of it as Dylan’s punk album.

Must-hear: The album opens with “Maggies Farm” as if influenced by the New York Dolls, roaring and messy, powered by Mick Ronson’s strutting glam-metal guitar lines. And a 10-plus minute “Idiot Wind” closes it on an even messier note, compellingly so.

The last three songs on the album (“You’re a Big Girl Now,” “I Threw It All Away,” and “Idiot Wind”) are as powerful and exciting as anything Dylan has done (comparable, for instance, to the May 1966 versions of “Ballad of a Thin Man” and “Like a Rolling Stone”). As phenomenal as every aspect of each of these performances is, the unique orchestration of guitars, keyboards, violin, drums and voice on “Big Girl” must be singled out for particular praise. Stoner’s bass-playing while Dylan sings “Down the highway, down the tracks, down the road to ecstacy” on “Idiot Wind” will have a special place in my heart as long as I live.


Track listing

Side one
“Maggie’s Farm” – 5:23
“One Too Many Mornings” – 3:47
“Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again” – 6:01
“Oh, Sister” (Dylan, Jacques Levy) – 5:08
“Lay Lady Lay” – 4:47
Side two
“Shelter from the Storm” – 5:29
“You’re a Big Girl Now” – 7:01
“I Threw It All Away” – 3:18
“Idiot Wind” – 10:21

Bob Dylan – vocals, guitar, production
Additional musicians
Gary Burke – drums
T-Bone Burnett – guitar, piano
David Mansfield – guitar
Scarlet Rivera – strings
Mick Ronson – guitar
Steven Soles – guitar, background vocals
Rob Stoner – Bass, background vocals
Howard Wyeth – drums, piano

  1. Buffettville says:

    I find live albums, for the most part, to be a major disappointment.
    However, Dylan released one in 1979 that, for me, stands heads above the rest.
    His “Live at Budokan,” which is often maligned, deserves better.
    By the late 1970s, his ever-growing legion of fans — like his earlier folk fans — had apparently been lulled into a false sense of security. They, along with the press, were worshipping at his feet and quite content with the status quo. The album was trashed by one and all.
    However, as we would eventually learn, there would never be a status quo where Dylan’s concerned, evidenced today by his release of not one, but two, albums reaching into the American songbook. Surprisingly, they’ve not only been well accepted, but praised to no end.
    For me, his reggae treatments of classic Dylan songs were invigorating and his voice never sounded better than on “Budokan.”
    The guitar intro to “Mr. Tambourine Man,” which kicks off the album, continues to ring in my ears, followed by a classic rendition of “Shelter From The Storm.”
    I encourage everyone to set aside any preconceived notions and give it another listen — at maximum volume.

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