Stuck Inside Of New York With The Beacon Blues Again (Rattlesnake RS 183/184/185)
Beacon Theater, New York, NY – April 29th, 2005
Disc 1: Intro., To Be Alone With You, Hazel, Cry A While, Shelter From The Storm, Cold Irons Bound, Chimes Of Freedom, Highway 61 Revisited, Love Sick, Watching The River Flow, Not Dark Yet, Summer Days, Mr. Tambourine Man
Disc 2: Things Have Changed, band introduction, Like A Rolling Stone. Bonus tracks, April 25th, 2005: Visions Of Johanna, Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again, High Water (For Charlie Patton), Standing In The Doorway, Desolation Row, Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues. April 28th, 2005: Señor (Tales Of Yankee Power), Mississippi
Disc 3: April 26th, 2005: Love Minus Zero/No Limit, This Wheel’s On Fire, Masters Of War, Don’t Think Twice It’s All Right. April 30th, 2005: To Ramona, Ballad Of Hollis Brown, If You See Her Say Hello, Lenny Bruce, Death Of Hattie Carroll, I Shall Be Released
Bob Dylan’s five-night residency at the Beacon in April 2005 has already ascended into the realm of legend. That New York tends to hype everything is main reason, and everything surrounding Dylan is larger than life. But on the evidence of the audience tapes surfacing from that week it sounds like they all rose to the occasion and played some of their best concerts from the spring tour and perhaps for the entire year. Rattlesnake chose to document the fourth night’s show in its entirety. The liner notes explains: “considered by all attendees as the best gig and after listening several times we agree that this concert alone is worth the scalpers’ outrageous prices.
Quite short in length, only fourteen songs, lasting just over one hundred minutes, Dylan puts his voice straight into your ears”. Stuck Inside Of New York With The Beacon Blues Again (a very long title) utilize amazing quality stereo audience recordings for all of the nights. They capture the depth and warmth of the performances and are among the very best I’ve every heard being as close to perfection as possible. Given the consistency of the recordings it’s most likely one taper captured all five nights. Rattlesnake put a lot of care into the selection of the bonus tracks as well, selecting some stunning highlights. The audience is typical of New York: very boisterous and vocal, although none of that is intrusive on the tapes (that is, none of them are close enough to really interfere). The atmosphere is captured beautifully. The show on the 29th is great.
The label is correct to point out that Dylan selected an excellent band. “To Be Alone With You” is a hard rocker driven along by Herron’s violin lines and begins a little slow here but quickly picks up steam. “Cry A While” is played with a newer syncopated arrangement. “Highway 61 Revisited”, “Cold Irons Bound” and “Watching The River Flow” are very heavy. The best part of the show comes close to the end with a very gentle version of “Not Dark Yet”, followed by the swing “Summer Days” and “Mr. Tambourine Man”. Among the bonus tracks, “Desolation Row” is similar to other performances from the tour and clocks in at over eleven minutes. “Love Minus Zero/No Limit” from the 26th is very interesting and no matter which arrangement Dylan chooses for that track the wonderful melody always shines through. Rattlesnake released this in a fatboy jewel case with several pictures from the week at the Beacon and very informative liner notes. It’s turning out to be one of their most popular titles issued this year and I can say it certainly deserves to be. It is certainly worth having. (GS)