The Magical Mystery Caravan (Godfather Records GR 433)
Palace Theatre, Waterbury, CT – November 11th, 1975
(73:01): Hard Rain, Romance In Durango, Isis, Blowin’ In The Wind, Water Is Wide, I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine, Never Let Me Go, I Shall Be Released, Simple Twist Of Fate, Oh Sister, Hurricane, One More Cup Of Coffee, Sara, Just Like A Woman, Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door, This Land Is Your Land
The Magical Mystery Caravan contains the hour long fragment of the Waterbury Connecticut Rolling Thunder Review tape. It is one of the best sounding tapes in circulation from this part of the tour and has been released many times before.
A piece of this tape with “Hard Rain”, “Romance In Durango”, “Isis”, “Blowin’ In The Wind”, “The Water Is Wide”, “I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine”, “Never Let Me Go”, “I Shall Be Released”, and “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” was used on Tell It Like It Is (Spacematic 004) released in 1993 and the same songs were used on Plymouth Rock (Colosseum 97-C-015) along with the old Plymouth tape. Two songs, “Simple Twist Of Fate” and “Oh Sister,” are on Cowboy Angel Blues (Q Records QR-21/22) issued in 1998.
The complete sixteen song tape was used on Satisfied Man (Blue Eye Records BER002). This has all of the Dylan material except for the opening two songs “When I Paint My Masterpiece” and “It Ain’t Me Babe” both of which have never circulated.
In 2004 Waterbury 1975 (Palm Drive PDCD-014/015/016) was pressed with the entire show from the mono soundboard. This included the non-Dylan portions but still missing the first two tracks. Most recently Thinman used part of this tape, cutting “Never Let Me Go” but including Roger McGuinn “Chestnut Mare,” as filler on Like Rolling Thunder (Thinman-36/37) along with the DIR Plymouth, MA tape.
Godfather offer the complete surviving Dylan portions of the show alone, so it’s in line with Satisfied Man. It is a very crisp and clear mono soundboard recording with great dynamics and is an improvement over the Thinman release from several years ago.
The first three songs are from Dylan’s first set and the first song on the disc represents Dylan’s plan for the tour. In comparison to the previous year when he toured with The Band and presented rather orthodox interpretations of his classics, the Rolling Thunder Review presented many and various shades of tonal quality and an assortment of stylistic elements introduced into the arrangements. “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” is played as a hard driving blues number with a country and western slide guitar underlining the melody.
“Romance In Durango” is introduced as “a new song, you probably haven’t heard this one. We’re gonna dedicate this one to Sam Peckinpah.” Both this and the following song “Isis” from the as-yet-released Desire album are played closer to the studio arrangements. Within a month they will be much more heavy and aggressive like the versions played in Montreal, who contributes these two numbers to both the film Renaldo And Clara and the Biograph box set.
The next five songs are duet with Dylan and Joan Baez, starting with “Blowin’ In The Wind.” “The Water Is Wide” is a seventeenth century Scottish folk tune and they deliver a gorgeous version of it. This performance was included in the film Renaldo And Clara. The duet arrangement of “I Dream I Saw St. Augustine” is one of the highlights of the first RTR. Baez doesn’t just sing harmony but is in dialogue with Dylan’s through the piece. This section ends with “I Shall Be Released,” dedicated to Richard Manuel.
The final Dylan set, and the finale of the show begins with “Simple Twist Of Fate.” But the bulk of the set relies upon all of the new songs from Desire. Scarlet Rivera carries “Oh Sister,” the mournful violin adding a feminine voice to what is an moving appeal for intergender sympathy. “Hurricane,” which gave the tour a purpose, is “about a man who just, ah, got transferred today, from one prison to another” and is followed by “One More Cup Of Coffee,” an “underground song.”
Dylan sings “Sara” for Larry Sloman, “our favorite reporter, who’s out there somewhere, he tells it like it is.” The closing of the show does not rely up any material from the latest LP Blood On The Tracks, but looks instead to “Just Like A Woman,” a poignant “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” and the all-ensemble Woody Guthrie cover “This Land Is Your Land” with all the singers taking their turn. The packaging for this title is again outstanding with very good liner notes and photographs from the RTR tour.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)