Sunday, 17 April 2011
BOB DYLAN – IN CONCERT AT BRANDEIS UNIVERSITY 1963
This is a public service announcement rather than a review. It ain’t no use to sit wonder why babe, if you don’t know by now. A recording discovered in 2009 and previously only available as a box set bonus disc, Brandeis University 1963 now gets a merited stand-alone release.
Saturday 10th May 1963 and Dylan had one album in the shops, which scarcely hinted at what was to come two weeks later with Freewheelin’, when he’d enter the public consciousness in dramatic fashion. Here, low down the bill in a university folk festival, Bob has the audience hanging on every masterfully annunciated word. Within two short sets you’d think he’d be eager to showcase “Blowin’ In the Wind” or “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” but, luckily for us now, he opts for “Talkin’ John Birch Paranoid Blues” and “Talkin’ Bear Mountain Picnic Massacre Blues”, songs that wouldn’t even feature on future studio albums such was the pace and quality of songs flowing from his pencil.
“Ballad of Hollis Brown” and “Masters of War” is heavy, hypnotic Bob, but elsewhere it's jokey, playful Bob providing plenty of laughs, illustrating his songs with witty surreal adventures delivered with perfect comic timing. The aforementioned “Talkin’ Bear Mountain Picnic Massacre Blues” tells of a New York boat trip that was cancelled after too many people turned up and the boat started to sink. In Bob’s fanciful version of a real event, he gets washed ashore where his arms and legs are busted, stomach cracked, feet splintered, he couldn’t walk, talk, see or smell, feel, touch, crawl, “I was bald, I was naked. Quite lucky to be alive though”.
Seven songs, over 38 minutes, less than five quid. Announcement ends.
Bob Dylan In Concert – Brandeis University 1963 is released by Columbia Records.