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Bob Dylan – Original Hard Rain Complete (Further Along FAP-004)

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Original Hard Rain Complete (Further Along FAP-004)

Starlight Ballroom, Bellevue Biltmore Hotel, Clearwater, FL - April 22nd, 1976

(55:31)  Afternoon show:  Mr. Tambourine Man, The Times They Are A-Changin’, When I Paint My Masterpiece, Seven Days, Blowin’ In The Wind, I Dreamed I Saw St Augustine, Diamonds And Rust.  Evening show:  Like A Rolling Stone, Isis, Lay Lady Lay, Just Like A Woman, Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door

The two Rolling Thunder Review shows on April 22nd, 1976 at the Starlight Ballroom in Clearwater, Florida were videotaped for Bob Dylan’s first attempt at the Hard Raintelevision special.  After a disagreement with the producer the project was halted and he produced his own special a month later using the Fort Collins, Colorado show.  Original Hard Rain Complete presents the video soundtrack in good to very good mono quality.  Previous releases of this material include Seven Days (Clean-cut Productions), an LP released in 1986 with “Seven Days” from the afternoon show along with Infidels outtakes and other rarities.  Ten tracks can be found on the compact disc title Like A Rolling Stone:  The Hidden TV Shows (Angry Dino 1014) with several tracks from Fort Collins, and Acoustic Thunder (Wild Wolf 75/76) with “The Times They Are A-Changin’” and “One More Cup Of Coffee.”

“Mr. Tambourine Man” and “The Times” opened the afternoon show.  Both are played by Dylan alone on guitar and harp and are nearly identical versions to the studio versions.  The tape then jumps to the ending of the show with “When I Paint My Masterpiece,” the song that usually began Dylan’s sets on the RTR 1975 tour.  Dylan introduces the song by saying, “Here’s a good friend of mine, we’ve known each other for about 1200 years, Mr. Bobby Neuwirth from Canton, Ohio. … Here’s a good friend of mine from Paris, just flew in, Mr. Bobby Neuwirth.”  The song still features the atmospheric mandolin, but sounds closer to Spanish than Italian.  The rarity “Seven Days” follows, but wasn’t intended for the Hard Rain special.  Some sources place it as the last song played in the afternoon, but others say this is the Special Rider demo recorded at the April 17th rehearsals.  The fact that there is a cut before the song and since it fades after two minutes and forty-four seconds supports this.     

“Wanna bring out a special friend of mine throughout the years, miss Joan Baez – and she is great! Wanna dedicate this to all the people in Hibbing, Minnesota. Duluth, Minnesota” Dylan says as Joan Baez comes out to sing “Blowin’ In The Wind.”  And before “I Dreamed I Saw St Augustine” he quips, “Joan has a habit of changing. Never know what she’s gonna do next.”   The tape for the afternoon show ends with Baez’s “Diamonds And Rust.”

The songs from the evening show start with the third number played that night, “Like A Rolling Stone.”  This is the second of two performances of the track on the RTR tours (the other being November 15th, 1975 in Niagara Falls).  Some sources claim this comes from the afternoon show instead.  “Isis” follows and in a new arrangement that emphasizes the melody over the bombastic tsunami of noise from the previous years.  It is telling, in watching the footage, that Dylan is playing the guitar during the performance, concealing his vulnerabilities on display the previous year, where he sang the song without it.  “Lay, Lady, Lay” already has adopted the cynical edge that would characterize this tour (“Let’s go up stairs / who really cares?”)  Roger McGuinn joins them onstage for the final song of the disc “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door.”  The evening show ended with “Silver Mantis” but that hasn’t surfaced.  As a single silver pressed release Further Along tried to restore some order by placing the songs in sequence, but the inclusion of “Seven Days” is rather strange, giving a false impression of what was included in the aborted telecast. 

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Bob Dylan - Original Hard Rain Complete (Further Along FAP-004), 2.5 out of 5 based on 1 rating

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