Bob Dylan – Laguna Seca Daze (Mercury Den Music MDM-007/008)

Laguna Seca Daze (Mercury Den Music MDM-007/008)

Laguna Seca Daze, Monterey, CA – May 27th, 1995

Disc 1 (67:55):  Crash On The Levee, It Takes A Lot To Laugh It Takes A Train To Cry, All Along The Watchtower, Simple Twist Of Fate, Silvio, Tombstone Blues, Mr Tambourine Man, Masters Of War, To Ramona, Seeing The Real You At Last

Disc 2 (79:27):  Every Grain Of Sand, Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again, Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door.  Bonus tracks, Stadtpark, Hamburg, Germany – July 2nd, 1995:  Queen Jane Approximately, Pledging My Time, Masters Of War, It’s All Over Now Baby Blue, She Belongs To Me, Obviously Five Believers, My Back Pages

The soundboard recording for the May 27th, 1995 Bob Dylan show in Monterey has rightly become one of the best from the nineties.  It first surfaced soon after the event on Guided by the Eternal Light (Tuff Bites 95/1026) with an ugly cover and many bonus tracks from audience tapes from the tour, and was copied on Loud And Strong (White Rabbit WR 003/4) with different bonus tracks but with the Montery concert in identical quality.

Later in 1995 two edited versions Watching The River Flow (Tarantula 52795) and Every Night About This Time (Oxygen OXY 059), were released with ten songs each. 

The following year Laguna Beach (Midnight Beat 067/68) came out with cleaner and better balanced sound bonus tracks from the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame induction in 1995 and a duet on “I Shall Be Released” with Elvis Costello at Brixton Academy in March, 1995. It quickly became the definitive version of the show on silver disc.

Laguna Seca Daze presents the same excellent sound and mastering job as Midnight Beat.  Since it has been sold out for more than a decade, it is a welcome release.  The label includes a sixteen page booklet with liner notes and beautiful period photographs.

Monterey was the thirteenth show of the 1995 Spring tour.  It was an outdoor show, the first night of the annual Laguna Seca Daze music festival when he headlined a bill which included Beth Harat, the Black Crows and George Clinton.  The tape was made by the Bill Graham Presents and is even included on the Wolfgang’s Vault website.

The greatness of any Bob Dylan rests upon his commitment to the material being played that night.  It is the immediacy in this performance which elevates it to legendary status.  They begin the show with “Crash On The Levee (Down In The Flood)” with Dylan out front behind the microphone without guitar, keyboard or harp, a sign to the audience of his honesty and vulnerability.

The first half is dominated by the long and aggressive blues numbers “It Take A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry” and a rather sloppy “Tombstone Blues.”

But the mid show acoustic interlude is beautiful with very emotional versions of “Tambourine Man” and a version of “To Ramona” which hits the waltz beat heavily.

“Seeing The Real You At Last” is one of only three songs from the eighties included in the set (along with “Silvo” and the sublime “Every Grain Of Sand.”)  The set ends with “Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again” and the only encore is “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” which features Dylan, Jackson and Baxter all trading off riffs in the long solo.

Mercury Den include a fascinating portion of the July 2nd show in Hamburg.  Sourced from an excellent audience recording, it contains very rare live performances of “Pledging My Time” and “Obviously Five Believers” from Blonde On Blonde.  The latter actually received quite a few performances that year in a hard rock arrangement.

Overall Laguna Seca Daze is another tremendous release on Mercury Den Music.  The tape and performance deserves the deluxe treatment offered in this release and is highly recommended.   

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