Bob Dylan – Thunder Rolled And Lightening Followed (Apocalypse Sound AS193)

 Thunder Rolled And Lightening Followed (Apocalypse Sound AS193)

Bob Dylan’s 1974 US tour with The Band, his first in almost a decade, is notable for its lack of visual documentation.  Media coverage of the 1974 tour was banned and was only breached once, so far as we know, at the Nassau Coliseum in New York when NBC filmed a section of the acoustic set.  The only film record of the 1974 tour available is fairly poor 8mm dubbed audience film (around 20 minutes worth from a variety of shows).

But the Rolling Thunder Revue in 1975, Dylan’s next round of touring, was almost the complete opposite.  It started with an appearance on television in September and was coverd by the press due to Dylan’s support of Rubin “Hurricane” Carter.  Ultimately two television specials and extensive filming for Dylan’s feature Renaldo And Claraguaranteed this to be one of Dylan’s best documented tours up to this point in his career.

Thunder Rolled And Lightening Followed collects onto one disc several documents from this tour.  Apocalypse Sound essentially presents everything found on the two DVD title Rolling Thunder Anthology on Watchdog except it’s all on one disc.  The visual and sound quality are still the best these will have.    

“Hard Rain” US TV version.  Hughes Stadium, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO – May 23rd, 1976: A Hard Rain’s A Gonna Fall, Blowin’ In The Wind, Railroad Boy, Deportees, I Pity The Poor Immigrant, Shelter From The Storm, Maggie’s Farm, One Too Many Mornings, Mozambique, Idiot Wind, Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door

May 23 in Fort Collins, Colorado was the penultimate gig on the second Rolling Thunder Review show.  Videotaped with extreme intensity, “Hard Rain” was telecast on NBC on September 16th.  The video quality is very good but a bit muted.  And only an hour of the almost three hour long show was broadcast starting off with the encore “Hard Rain’s A Gonna Fall.”  

The performances are stunning with the arrangement of “Blowin’ In The Wind,” the flamenco-rock arrangement of “I Pity The Poor Immigrant” and one of the best performances of Woody Guthrie’s “Deportees.”  

The newer songs come off well with the heavy metal fuzz arrangement of “Shelter From The Storm,” “Maggie’s Farm” and a soul-splitting run through of “Idiot Wind.”  Rob Stoner, the bassist and de facto band leader, pointed out this is a record of a band fighting for it’s life onstage against bad vibes of the tour and the elements.  But this translates into a dramatic performance with makes good television.  This is one of the best documents of Dylan from the 1970’s. 

Rejected TV special, Starlight Ballroom, Bellevue Biltmore Hotel, Clearwater, FL – April 22nd, 1976:  Mr. Tambourine Man, The Times They Are A-Changin’, Blowin’ In The Wind, I Dreamed I Saw St Augustine, Diamonds And Rust, When I Paint My Masterpiece, Like A Rolling Stone, Isis, Just Like A Woman, Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door, Lay Lady Lay

The first attempt at filming a “Hard Rain” television special occured a month before at the fourth show on the tour at the Starlight Ballroom in the Belleview Bitmore Hotel in Clearwater, Florida.  The video of the copy used by Apocalypse Sound is very good.  The only negative is slight fuzziness in the darker parts, but when the lights are on it has nice clarity. 

Taped by the “Midnight Special” TV show, it has the expected bright, happy and cheerful production values that characterize their show.  It is also probably there reason why Dylan was unhappy with results and refused to let it air.

The special is an edit of the both the afternoon and evening performances.  Performed on a carpeted stage with ranks of people surrounding the stage, the setting certainly provides the commedia dell’arte ethos Dylan was trying to attain in the first Rolling Thunder Revue.

“Mr. Tambourine Man” and “The Times They Are A-Changing” are played by Dylan alone accompanying himself on acoutic guitar lending an air of nostaligia for the start of the telecast.  Afterwards Dylan introduces Joan Baez, saying:  “Wanna bring out a special friend of mine throughout the years, miss Joan Baez – and she is great! Wanna dedicate this to all the people in Hibbing, Minnesota. Duluth, Minnesota.”

“Blowin’ In The Wind” and “I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine” are played as a duet.  Before the latter Dylan quips:  “Joan has a habit of changing. Never know what she’s gonna do next” to which Baez adds “I remember rehearsing this in 1965,” a wry comment on her non-participation on his English tour that year.  Baez is then given a solo slot with “Diamonds And Rust,” her hommage to Dylan.

Bobby Neuwirth, whom Dylan says they’ve “known each other for about 1200 years,” comes on stage and they sing “When I Paint My Masterpiece” as a duet in the country and western arrangement favored on the second RTR.  A surprisingly orthodox version of “Like A Rolling Stone” follows and this marks the second and final time it’s performed on the two RTR tours.

The final four songs are all continue with the full band.  “Isis” is played in it’s 1976 arrangement which is closer to the Desire version.  Quite strangely, the show ends with “Lay, Lady, Lay.” It sounds out of place where it is.  “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” works better as a final number (as it does on the other “Hard Rain” special).  Nevertheless, this is great footage to have and the performances are excellent.         

Renaldo And Clara Unreleased Footage, recorded in various venues in North American and Canada, November / December 1975:  A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall (Montreal, Canada – December 4th, 1975), It Ain’t Me Babe (Cambridge, MA – November 20th, 1975),  Knocking On Heaven’s Door (1st version) (Clinton, NJ – December 7th, 1975), It Takes A Lot To Laugh It Takes A Train To Cry (Boston, MA – November 21st, 1975 late show), Romance In Durango (Montreal, Canada – December 4th, 1975), One More Cup Of Coffee (Montreal, Canada – December 4th, 1975), Sara (Montreal, Canada – December 4th, 1975), Never Let Me Go (Montreal, Canada – December 4th, 1975) (duet with Joan Baez), Just Like A Woman (Cambridge, MA – November 20th, 1975),  Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door (Cambridge, MA – November 20th, 1975)

This block of footage contains filmed musical scenes for the film from various locations on the first RTR tour in 1975.  As such there are copious scenes of Dylan in the face paint.  Many of the songs are taken from the December 4th Montreal concert which is one of the best from the tour.  One of the more intriguing tracks is the first “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door.”  This was filmed on December 7th, the night before the first Hurricane benefit in Madison Square Garden in New York and of which no film has ever surfaced.  These tracks are great theater, but it would be nice to have the entire Renaldo And Clara film booted (something which hasn’t happened in a long time).   

“Hard Rain” Japanese TV version.  Hughes Stadium, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO – May 23rd, 1976: : A Hard Rain’s A Gonna Fall Blowin’ In The Wind, Deportees, I Pity The Poor Immigrant, Shelter From The Storm, Maggie’s Farm, One Too Many Mornings, Mozambique, Idiot Wind, Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door

Same footage as the US edit.  The visual quality is slightly sharper and the colors more bright but is still missing Joan Baez’s “Railroad Boy.”  Also here are Japanese translations of the song titles and lyrics on the bottom of the screen. 

World Of John Hammond, US TV broadcast, WTTW studio, Chicago – September 10th, 1975:  Hurricane, Simple Twist Of Fate, Oh Sister

The final piece is Dylan’s appearance on the “World Of John Hammond” television broadcast.  This was during the sessions for Desire and several months before the start of the Rolling Thunder Review.  It features the “core” band of Dylan, Scarlet Rivera (violin), Rob Stoner (bass) and Howie Wyeth (drums). 

After a lengthy introduction by the hose They start off with their current cause “Hurricane.”  “Simple Twist Of Fate” from Blood On The Tracks follows with another unreleased song “Oh Sister” ending the telecast.  The arrangements are extremely intense and at the same time intimate since the band was stipped down compared to the massive band assembled later on.  Overall this is a good visual document for one of Dylan’s most interesting and creative periods in the mid seventies.     

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  1. Same video quality, better sound.

  2. How does this compare with the Watchdog version?


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