Saturday, December 10, 2016

Music Review: Bob Dylan The 1966 Live Recordings Box Set

How does one critically approach Bob Dylan?

He is beyond the status of an icon and probably America's greatest writer, Nobel notwithstanding. Although I am sure he will tell you and on many days I would agree that mantle sits with the senior Hank Williams or with Johnny Cash.

But to the millennial, who many of my age wish would remove themselves from our lawns, such is the essence of Bob Dylan and his greatness; honesty and an anti-narcissism that the average person does not understand.

Art in whatever form it morphs into is solely about honesty; in its clarity, in its message and in its communication. And that lyrically and musically is Bob Dylan.

When his prize was announced by the Nobel committee the reaction was generational. For those over forty this was a 'no brainer'. For those under this became a scandal; an American? Someone everyone knew? What about novels?

What about them? Award winners of every kind usually don't hold up over time.

And for Dylan, predictably and essentially...'thanks but I have things to do'...

One of those things is the promotion of the amazing 36 CD box set of live recordings. The complete 1966 world tour with his then back up band, which later changed their drummer, went out on their own and become the legendary group known as The Band.

The tour was historic for pairing Bob Dylan with that group from Canada who too would make its mark on music. The 1966 recordings have been much sought after; largely overseas recordings from a tour that up to this point have been poorly bootlegged and incomplete.

The tour was historic. This is the tour in those pre-internet days that established Dylan's brilliance world wide.

The tour was historic and most importantly so, these recordings were the first extended tour of the electric Bob Dylan something that was earth shattering to music, an extension of the infamous or famous 1965 incident that branded the great man 'a Judas'.

History presently seems to be made everyday and every minute in this world that is shallow, lazy and intentionally ignorant. The term is passed about to bolster one's importance beyond the speck of dust we truly are. But this set chronicles not that. This set chronicles a sea change in music and rock and roll. And to this point we should never underestimate the importance of these recordings.

The recordings are clear and vibrant saturated in unparalleled musicianship with lyrics on high. This is brilliance. Dylan was never better, like a fighter outpointing his opponents; like an artist proving every single one of his critics wrong.

The Band never sharper as they came into their own.

Screw the objections about Dylan's voice. And to those latched on to the pounding of a bass laced with nothing but profanity; Dylan's voice is a lot more pleasant as an instrument for those lyrics than the nonsensical non-sequitur rhymes that entertain the charts and The White House these days.

And it is those lyrics that we focus on. Lyrics that truly deserve every honor known to man written by a genius that only comes our way once a generation or two.

Congratulations Bob Dylan on the Nobel for Literature. Congratulations Bob Dylan for your very greatness and thank you for the inspiration, the though provoking themes and for truly finding the soul and beat of society.

Art is supposed to dissect an aspect of life and serve it to us in way we should better understand. This box set gives us the Rosetta Stone to the nature of man and life in a modern, clear and still powerful fashion. This is not do wop. This is not the beat. This is literature rivaling Shakespeare.

Visit Bob Dylan's site. Buy these recordings and revel in the history of living in a time when such genius will always live.

It doesn't get any better than this.

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