Free Trade Hall 1965 [Rattlesnake RS 133]
The Times They Are A Changin’ / To Ramona / Gates Of Eden / If You Gotta Go, Go Now / It’s Alright, Ma ( I’m Only Bleeding ) / Love Minus Zero – No Limit / Mr. Tambourine Man / Talking World War III Blues / Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright / With God On Our Side / She Belongs To Me / It Ain’t Me Babe / The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll / All I Really Want To Do / It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue. [75:55]
Free Trade Hall, Manchester, England. May 7th, 1963.
Manchester’s Free Trade Hall holds it’s own in the pantheon on famous rock pilgrimages. More than just a handful of men of a certain age claim to have been in attendance at the Sex Pistols show there in 1977. Even people who were too young to have attended claim it to be one of the best nights of their lives. A few less claim to have been at possibly it’s second most famous gig though but via the medium of recorded music we can all take part in listening to the show.
This is possibly one of the first of Dylan’s British shows to have been captured to tape and while it may not be as well known as it’s ballsier, rowdier, younger brother it’s grasp on modern folk and the mythology of Bob Dylan cannot be denied.
Apparently recorded by one of the in the know employees of the Hall who, allegedly, recorded a lot of the artists / orchestras that passed through the venue in the 1960’s with rudimentary in- house equipment this is a fantastic recording and one of the best to hear Dylan turning from broad political songs to more personal themes.
The show was first released on silver disk by the venerable Swingin’ Pig as “Now Ain’t The Time For Your Tears” [Swingin’ Pig TSP-CD-057] in 1990 as the advent of the CD bootleg was taking hold. Unfortunately, the flighty porcine saw fit to add their dollop of ‘No-Noise’ technology on to the tape, effectively killing the hiss on the top end but leaving a cloud over the recording. This was fixed by the Wanted Man label a few years later in 1995 as they released “Now’s The Time For Your Tears” [WMM 61] but utilizing the raw tape and not covering up the deficiencies of the tape and leaving it just that little bit ‘hissy’ but natural.
Eight years later the Rattlesnake label have released their own variation on the theme using a recording that sounds close to the description of the Wanted Man Tape but, presumably, remastered without the hiss or the ‘no – noise’ effect. I don’t own the WMM version so couldn’t possibly comment on the variation between the two but the sound is a very good ‘soundboard’ ( as we might justifiably call it these days ), enough movement within the tape not to make it sound lifeless, bassy enough to give it a punch.
For those of you who may not be familiar with the tape at all then it stands to reason that this should be a marker in your Dylan collection. As noted above Dylan was moving from his political stance ( But obviously not leaving it behind ) and experimenting with his Burrows-esque cut up writing style and surrealism. A captivating performer, Dylan had also made his own legend with a series of darkly witty and metaphorical interviews. His stage banter here expresses the same dry humour as, after finishing “If You Gotta Go .. ” he says “That was called ‘The Gates of Eden’ .. This one is called “It’s Alright, Ma ( I’m Only Bleeding)” Ho ho ho .. “
The next time he would visit these shores, Dylan was a different beast again, less communicative, less acoustic, strung out, riding the crest of a wave of fame and dragging with him a band called the Hawks ..
The cover to this CD outstrips the other releases by miles using a colourised, solo shot of a smartly dressed Dylan, cigarette in hand, disdainfully staring towards the camera, the small ( 4 page ) booklet inside follows the same theme using various other era perfect pictures in the same format to create a fantastic package.
If there is a true top ten of Dylan bootlegs that never changes, this CD should be a part of it. Dylan’s many moods are featured here, all on one disk and all in fantastic quality. A must have piece.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)