Bob Dylan – A Dark Night On The Spanish Steps (Rattle Snake RS 062/63)

A Dark Night On The Spanish Steps (Rattle Snake RS 062/63)

Civic Center, Augusta, Maine – November 26th, 1975

Disc 1 (71:54):  Joni Mitchell:  Edith & the Kingpin, Coyote, Don’t Interrupt the Sorrow, When I Paint My Masterpiece, (w/Neuwirth), It Ain’t Me Babe, Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll, Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You, It Takes A Lot To Laugh, Romance In Durango, Isis, Blowin’ In The Wind (w/Joan Baez), Dark As A Dungeon (M. Travis) (w/ Baez), Mama You Been On My Mind (w/ Baez), The Water Is Wide (Trad.) (w/ Baez), Never Let Me Go (Joe C. Scott) (w/ Baez), I Shall Be Released (w/ Baez), Joan Baez:  Diamonds And Rust

Disc 2 (73:56):  Do Right Woman Do Right Man, Joe Hill, Love Song To A Stranger pt. 2, Long Black Veil, Please Come To Boston, Roger McGuinn:  Eight Miles High, Chestnut Mare, Joan Baez & Roger McGuinn:  The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down, Dylan: Fourth Time Around (solo acoustic w/harp), Simple Twist Of Fate (solo acoustic w/harp), Oh Sister, Hurricane, One More Cup Of Coffee, Sara, Just Like A Woman, Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door, This Land Is Your Land

With Bob Dylan’s intention to have a tour the polar opposite of the 1974 trek with The Band, the Rolling Thunder Review played many smaller venues in out of the way cities, picking up performers along the way.  But like many things with Dylan, the original intention was lost for accommodation to his popularity, and the final shows of the tour were booked in larger arenas like Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto, Forum de Montréal, and Madison Square Garden in New York.

The November 26th show in Augusta, Maine is one of the last of the small shows.  A tape of the show surfaced in 1999, and Rattle Snake pressed it onto A Dark Night On The Spanish Steps.  The sound quality is fair to good, being a distance from the stage and containing significant audience noise.  There are several small cuts between some of the songs, but nothing too destructive.  

There are other, better sounding tapes in circulation from this tour.  Augusta, however, is complete and contains the only version of “Fourth Time Around” played during the RTR.

Missing also are the opening acts, which were Bob Neuwirth, T-Bone Burnett, Steven Soles, Rob Stoner, Mick Ronson, Ronee Blakely and Ramblin’ Jack Elliott.  The tape starts with an announcer introducing Joni Mitchell to the stage.  The taper must have been a Mitchell fan since her set occurred in the middle of the opening set by Guam.

“I want to lay three new movies on you.  It’s like seeing a picture show for the first time” and discusses how they form a chronology.  The first being the meeting, the second and interim space, and  

She speaks about her songs as being three films.  “Edith & The Kingpin” and “Don’t Interrupt The Sorrow” were the two songs she normally performed.  She adds “Coyote” to her set.  She played it on her own tour earlier this year and would record it in the studio in 1976 for her LP Hejira.

Dylan singing “When I Paint My Masterpiece” as a duet with Neuwirth starts off his first set.  “It Ain’t Me Babe” sounds very fluid, dynamic and tight in this performance.  And Dylan introduces “It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry” as “an autobiographical song.”  His opening set closes with an extraordinarily heavy performance of “Romance In Durango” and a light “Isis,” which is “a true story…could happen to anybody” and is dedicated to Keith Richards.

The following six songs are folk duets with Joan Baez.  If the 1974 tour brought back the spirit of 1966, then this set brings back the spirit of 1963.  Both sound very passionate singing these songs.  They emphasize the cover tunes such as “The Water Is Wide” and “Never Let You Go” (one of the signature tunes of this tour).  Baez sings several of her own songs afterwards including her ode to Dylan “Diamonds And Rust” and the insightful “Love Song To A Stranger Part 2.” 

Dylan’s second and final set starts off with two solo numbers.  “Fourth Time Around,” common in 1966, receives a rare outing in a gorgeous rendition followed by a gentle “Simple Twist Of Fate,” the only Blood On The Tracks song in the set.

He is backed by Guam for the remainder of the show which includes devastating versions of “Hurricane” and “Sara.”  They close with “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door,” which different musicians taking a verse, and Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land.”  A Dark Night On The Spanish Steps is another quality Rattle Snake release with a thick booklet with many photographs from the era.  Although this isn’t the best sounding or most known show from the Rolling Thunder Review, it does have the passion that went into this tour in the first place and is worth having. 

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