BBC In Concert 1965 (BlackDog-005)
BBC Studios, Shepherd’s Bush, London, England – June 1st, 1965
Ballad Of Hollis Brown, Mr. Tambourine Man, Gates Of Eden, If You Gotta Go Go Now, The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll, It Ain’t Me Babe, Love Minus Zero / No Limit, One Too Many Mornings, Boots Of Spanish Leather, It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding), She Belongs To Me, It’s All Over Now Baby Blue
From BlackDog’s liner notes: “Postponed for a week because of his illness, Dylan’s two 35-minute BBC-TV shows – filmed one after another on 1st June 1965 – remain one of his last full concert television appearances as an acoustic solo artist. They were shot at the BBC Television Theatre, on Shepherds Bush Green, now better known as the Shepherds Bush Empire. Joan Baez taped a very similar programme there a few weeks later.
Mono audience tapes of the shows were first bootlegged in the early ’70s, and mysteriously one song (‘If You Gotta Go’) circulated later in stereo, but neither programme has been seen since its original broadcast. ‘The BBC shows don’t exist on video, I’m told,’ wrote John Bauldie in one of the earliest issues of The Telegraph. ‘Good news, however, is that they’re safely tucked away in the library on two reels of 16mm film. Doubting Thomas that I am, I’ll believe it when I see it.’ His skepticism was well-founded, as 40 years later the only visual evidence of the shows remains the photos.
“The first of the two Dylan specials was broadcast by BBC-TV on 19th June 1965, at 10:50pm… Until now, the tapes used for every bootleg, both on vinyl and on cd, have been produced using the same method – somebody pointing a microphone at their television. Understandably, this was before the age of sophisticated recording methods and TVs with audio outputs. The results, while acceptable, were not of a very high standard. However, some of the more inventive fans did work out ways of recording the shows through a ‘line input’. What we have on this release is evidence of such a recording. It is effectively a mono soundboard recording of Dylan’s 1965 BBC In Concert performance, and it sounds wonderful – far better than had been available before. Every strum of the guitar is captured with remarkable clarity for a tape of its age. This new recording has recently been unearthed after remaining unheard and uncirculated since it was first recorded.”
These BBC sessions have been released before as The Circus Is In Town on Scorpio (92-BD-SC-4004), the sixth disc in the exhaustive ten disc set 1965 Revisited on Great Dane (GDR 9419/1-14) and finally as At The Beeb on Mainstream (MSBR-039) released in 2003. The Mainstream release drew some rave reviews for their treatment of the older source, but this new release by BlackDog is a brand new source and is as good as they say it is. It’s great to hear Dylan from the summer of 1965 in such stunning sound quality.
The performance itself is vintage Dylan. His rearrangements in later years are always inventive, but here is simple beauty with Dylan alone with his guitar and harp. The opening “Ballad Of Hollis Brown” sounds very bleak, dark, depressing and hopeful at the end. “Love Minus Zero/No Limit” is beautiful as is “It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)” which he sarcastically introduces as “a funny song.” BlackDog produced this in a stately package with several photos from the sessions. In general this is a great release and is destined to become a classic.