Bob Dylan – We Hear You Knockin’ (Thinman-064/65)

We Hear You Knockin’ (Thinman-064/65)

Blockbuster-Sony Music Entertainment Center, Camden, NJ – July 17th, 1999

Disc 1 (53:23):  Dylan intro – Somebody Touched Me, Mr. Tambourine Man, Masters Of War, Love Minus Zero – No Limit, Tangled Up In Blue, All Along The Watchtower, Make You Feel My Love, Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again, Not Dark Yet – band introduction

Disc 2 (49:54):  Highway 61 Revisited, Like A Rolling Stone, It Ain’t Me Babe, Not Fade Away.  Bonus tracks:  Paul Simon intro of Dylan / The Sound Of Silence, That’ll Be The Day / The Wanderer, Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door

We Hear You Knockin’ documents the July 17th, 1999 show Bob Dylan played in the wilds of Camden, New Jersey.   They use a very good to excellent audience recording whose only flaw is a slight distortion during the loud parts, particularly on the drum sound.  The audience is also a typical vocal, noisy and rowdy Jersey crowd cheering, whistling and singing along to the songs.  However, the artist and music are really only part of the show and since the audience noise is not too intrusive it brings a lot of energy to the show placing the listener right in the middle of the venue. 

Bob Dylan toured on a co-bill with Paul Simon two times in 1999.  Camden occurs right in the middle of the summer tour.  Dylan and Simon alternated playing as opening act and in this show Simon was the opener and Dylan went on second.  The NET band was comprised of Charlie Sexton on guitar replacing Bucky Baxter, Larry Campbell on guitar, mandolin, pedal steel and electric slide guitar, David Kemper on drums and Tony Garnier on bass.

Dylan plays the acoustic guitar on the first five songs and on “It  Ain’t Me, Babe” in the encores.  He opens the show with the bluegrass gospel “Somebody Touched Me,” the song most frequently employed as opener and both Sexton and Campbell sing back up vocals.  “Mr. Tambourine Man” is next and is played a bit slower than on Bringing It All Back Home.  Dylan reverses the course of the melody line to ascend at the end of each verse rather than descend.  The original conveyed a feeling of coyness in gaining attention from one’s hero but the way it is played here reverses the meaning, giving the impression of one wanting to court attention.

“Masters Of War” features an interesting call and response between Dylan and Campbell on guitars and is followed by a nice “Love Minus Zero/No Limit” with Campbell moving to pedal steel guitar.  “We’ll play another love song right now for everyone. It’s a love song, we just love to play” Dylan says before an energetic version of “Tangled Up In Blue” where everybody sings along.  “All Along The Watchtower” has traces of the Hendrix arrangement but with a shuffle rhythm underlying the guitar.

“We’re gonna play a song right now, number one on the country charts by my buddy Garth Brooks. Anyway, I wrote this song about my ex-wife and I had to get it out of my system, so I’ve written this song for her. My ex-wife left me again tonight. She was a tennis player and love means nothing to her” is Dylan’s incongruous introduction to “Make You Feel My Love.”  But the highlight of the set comes with “Not Dark Yet.”  Arguably the best song off of Time Out Of Mind, the seven minutes are a complete journey from light to dark and the band play the dynamic song beautifully.  This title is worth having for this performance alone.  The set closes with a noisy version “Highway 61 Revisited” which features two brilliant slide solos by Campbell.

The encores begin with “Like A Rolling Stone” and continue with an acoustic rendition of “It Ain’t Me, Babe” and end with a cover of Buddy Holly’s “Not Fade Away.”  As a bonus, Thinman include the three songs Dylan sang with Paul Simon during Simon’s set.  Dylan joined Simon onstage for sixteen out of the thirty-six shows they played.  We Hear You Knockin’ is packaged in a double slimline jewel case with thick color glossy inserts giving the entire production a classy look.  On the back they include a photograph of Dylan standing onstage with Simon from this particular show.  Given the sound quality and the excellence of the show and bonus material, this is a great title from Thinman worth having.   

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