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Bob Dylan – Debaser 2007 (Crystal Cat CC 816-817)

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Debaser 2007 (Crystal Cat CC 816-817)

Debaser-medis, Stockholm, Sweden – March 27th, 2007
Disc 1: Intro., Most Likely You Go Your Own Way (And I’ll Go Mine), Not Dark Yet, I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight, It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding), Tears Of Rage, Highway 61 Revisited, Lay Lady Lay, Rollin’ And Tumblin’, To Ramona, Country Pie

Disc 2: Tangled Up In Blue, A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall, Summer Days, Like A Rolling Stone, Thunder On The Mountain, All Along The Watchtower. Bonus tracks: Maggie’s Farm (Agganis Arena, Boston, MA – November 11th, 2006), The Times They Are A-Changin’, Down Along The Cove (Jardins de Cap Roig, Palafrugell (Girona), Spain – July 6th, 2006), Absolutely Sweet Marie, Señor (Tales Of Yankee Power) (Leipzig Arena, Leipzig, Germany – May 2nd, 2007)

Debaser 2007 the second release of the initial show on the European tour, the club gig at the Debaser-medis in Stockholm, Sweden. The earlier release Tears Of Rage, Tears Of Grief (Tambourine Man Records TMR-120/121) used different tape source than Crystal Cat use. The tape Crystal Cat use is louder than the one used by Tambourine Man. It is also unbalanced with the vocals pushed way behind the guitar making it difficult to follow the lyrics. It lacks the warmth of Tears Of Rage, Tears Of Grief and the increased volume and clarity emphasizes even more the glaring mistakes the band make throughout the set.

This is the first concert after a four month lay off. Like with Toad’s Place and The Supper Club, in keeping with his practice whenever he plays a small venue he makes interesting changes in the set list. Debaser has a unique set list for this tour beginning with the opener “Most Likely You Go Your Own Way (And I’ll Go Mine).” In reviewing the show for the TMR release: “This show marks the first time in many years that Dylan plays guitar on stage instead of playing the electric piano only. “Most Likely You Go Your Own Way” to “Lay Lady Lay” features Dylan on guitar and for the rest of the set, “Rollin’ And Tumblin’” to the final encore “All Along The Watchtower” he plays keyboards. The results are mixed.

“Dylan adds little augmentations to Freeman’s leads that work well. At times he sounds bad and clashes with the lead, the most egregious example being “Highway 61 Revisited” where he is out of tune and out of sync during the solo passages. In fact the first half of the show shows a sloppiness that is in direct contrast to the end of the U.S. tour in November, where the band were honed to a fine point and were tighter than a tourniquet. During the second half, when Dylan switches to electric piano, the band tighten up and the show improves dramatically. This is also the first European gig after the release of Modern Times and is their first exposure to that material live.

Curiously, Dylan changes the set list around drastically and only “Rollin’ And Tumblin’ and “Thunder On The Mountain” are actually played from the new album. The opening song, “Most Likely You’ll Go Your Own Way” recalls the 1974 tour with The Band where it served as the most common opening (and closing) songs of the set. This is the first time it opens a show since May 5th, 2006 in Atlanta. “Not Dark Yet” makes an appearance as the second number and sounds very mellow in this gig. This version of “Lay Lady Lay” works very well, and the audience greet “Rollin’ And Tumblin’” with the loudest ovation of the evening.

“One of the biggest surpises is the inclusion of “Country Pie” from Nashville Skyline. It recieves its first airing in almost three years since August 15th, 2004 in Richmond, Virginia. “Tangled Up In Blue” begins with Dylan accompanied with acoustic guitar until the first “tangled up in bluuuuee” when the band crashes in. “Summer Days,” as times sounding a bit tired by the end of the last tour, sounds very tight and hard as the band pound out the swing rhythm. The appreciative audience are rewarded with three encores: the expected “Like A Rolling Stone,” the Modern Times opener “Thunder On The Mountain,” and “All Along The Watchtower.” The five bonus tracks span the end of the last US and the European tour. “Maggie’s Farm” comes from the first Agganis Arena show that TMR covered on Workingman’s Blues.

Crystal Cat use a superior sounding tape and makes one wish this source was used for the earlier release. “Down Along The Cove” received only a handful of performances in 2006 and Dylan again augments this version from Palafrugell with additional verses not found on the John Wesley Harding version. The final song, “Señor (Tales Of Yankee Power),” comes from one of the final shows on the tour and Dylan’s weary voice gives a spectacular dimension to the track. Debaser 2007 is packaged in a double slimline jewel case and picture discs. It is a good release of an interesting show, but the TMR version is better balanced and warmer. (GS)

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