Bob Dylan – And A Cannon Ball Blew My Eyes Away! (TMR-113/114)

 And A Cannon Ball Blew My Eyes Away! (Tambourine Man Records TMR-113/114)

Kohl Center, Madison, WI – October 31st, 2006
Setlist: Disc 1:  Intro., Maggie’s Farm, She Belongs To Me, Lonesome Day Blues, Positively 4th Street, Rollin’ And Tumbin’, John Brown, Watching The River Flow, Workingman’s Blues #2
Disc 2:  Highway 61 Revisited, When The Deal Goes Down, Tangled Up In Blue, Blind Willie McTell, Summer Days, Thunder On The Mountain, Like A Rolling Stone, All Along The Watchtower

And A Cannon Ball Blew My Eyes Away!
is a complete stereo audience recording of Bob Dylan’s Halloween concert in Madison, Wisconsin.  Like many of the other tapes from this tour, this is an excellent, well-balanced, finely detailed and powerful recording of one of the better show on this tour.  “Maggie’s Farm” (played closer to its 1988 arrangement) and “She Belongs To Me” are the common opening two songs, followed by a “Lonesome Day Blues” so heavy it seems to knock back the first ten rows.  “On this night, however, the old master’s shaky wisdom was partially redeemed. Not the greatest ever, but these musicians are as elastic and volatile as their boss, especially lead guitarist Denny Freeman.

Their start was slow — it wasn’t until their fourth song before drummer George Receli’s scowl became a smile — but once they settled in, they became confident enough to add new textures to the canon.  Freeman is clearly his star pupil.   Dylan has had more than his share of blues-rock showboats over the years, but he’s never had a guitarist with such exquisite taste as Freeman.  While the Texan could appear a bit restrained when called on to deliver a thunderous blur of notes, the phrasing of his solos was always spare and thoroughly original.

“During ‘When The Deal Goes Down,’ Freeman gave an especially serene solo — his tone-rich sound rung and reverberated like an organ — and he actually got some cheers.  Most shocking was the inconsistent treatment of older standards ‘Like A Rolling Stone’ and ‘All Along The Watchtower,’ which were not impressive. ‘Like A Rolling Stone’ was lusterless and seemed perfunctory, even contrived. Lights illuminated the audience for the chorus, cueing them to roar. ‘Watchtower’ was meant to defiantly conclude the evening and came on strong with energy and volume, but nearly collapsed when the group meekly pulled too far back as they made room for Dylan to sing the first verse.

They were never able to recapture that electricity, and it didn’t help matters when Dylan’ insisted on changing the emphasis of certain words and then botched the lyrics completely. It was disservice for a show that had worked so hard to prove a point” (Dylan, Foo Fighters Surprising Treats On Halloween by David Hyland).  The title of this release quite rightly quotes the line from “John Brown” as it is one of the most impressive renditions on tape.  Like with Rock And Tangled Up In Blue TMR use a simple but effective cover of Dylan’s face superimposed over a photo of the venue designed by Office Camnes.  This is a great recording of a great show and is recommended.  (GS)

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