Like A Rolling Stone (Seymour SRCD-20070036)
Like A Rolling Stone Alt # 1, Like A Rolling Stone Alt # 2, Like A Rolling Stone Remake Take 1, Like A Rolling Stone Remake Take 2, Like A Rolling Stone Remake Take 6, Like A Rolling Stone Remake Take 6 Again, Like A Rolling Stone Remake Take 8, Like A Rolling Stone Remake Take 10, Like A Rolling Stone Rough Mix, Phantom Engineer, Sitting On A Barbed Wire Fence Alt. Newport Folk Festival, Newport, RI – July 25, 1965: Maggie’s Farm, Like A Rolling Stone, Phantom Engineer. Sessions New York, NY – July 29, 1965: Tombstone Blues Rough Mix. Sessions New York, NY – July 30, 1965: From A Buick alt. Fox Warfield Theater, San Francisco – November 15, 1980: Groom’s Still Waiting At The Altar, Bob Dylan Introduces Bloomfield, Like A Rolling Stone
Seymour Record’s latest Michael Bloomfield release concentrates on his time with Dylan by featuring several outtakes from three sessions in the 1960’s and his final live appearance in 1980, a year before he died. The point of interests is the first half of the disc that dates from the mythical June 15, 1965 session in New York for “Like A Rolling Stone.” This session featured Bob Dylan, Al Gorgoni and Michael Bloomfield on guitars, Al Kooper on organ, Paul Griffin on piano, Joseph Macho Jr. on drums, Bobby Gregg on drums and Bruce Langhorne on tambourine. The disc begins with the producer Tom Wilson saying, “Like A Rolling Stone…one.” The first track last just under a minute and contains the introduction of the song in a waltz meter. It breaks down with Dylan saying, “I got lost. I just played the introduction.”
They pick up the song again, still in triple meter, with Dylan singing the familiar first verse. “Okay, Bob, we got everybody here. Let’s do one and I’ll play it back for you and you can pick it apart. This is CO86446 ‘Like A Rolling Stone remake take 1.” The band proceeds with the familiar arrangement, picking up the song at the first verse. This track lasts about two minutes before breaking down with Dylan saying “stop. We just got to work that part out.” The next take breaks down after Dylan flubs the first line. “Like A Rolling Stone” take six is taken at a faster tempo and stops after several seconds. Dylan says to Wilson “let’s take it again. Is my guitar too loud?” Take 6 Again follows, lasting about a minute before breaking down. There is a cut in the tape before Wilson announces, “take eight.” The sound quality of this take is a bit more muffled than the previous. It fades out after a minute of a performance very close to the final version.
Take ten breaks down after several second with producer Wilson saying, “there’s something wrong.” There is a cut in the tape at this point. When it comes back, the producer is speaking about something wrong with the piano time wise. The final “Like A Rolling Stone” is a rough mix of the final version with the complete ending not found on Highway 61 Revisited. The next two tracks are the other two songs worked on during this session. “Phantom Engineer” is in perfect sound quality. It was re-recorded later as “It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry” but this early version is at a faster, bouncier and happy tempo. “Sitting On A Barbed Wire Fence” sounds the same as it was released on The Bootleg Series Vol. 1-3. This edit has a count-in that is absent on the official version but is otherwise identical.
This is followed by the three song electric set from the Newport festival on July 26, 1965. At this live appearance Dylan and Bloomfield were joined by Kooper on piano, Goldberg on organ, Jerome Arnold on bass and Sam Lay on drums. Seymour use a professional multi-track source with Bloomfield’s guitar turned up loud, emphasizing the cataclysmic affect this set had upon the world of popular music. The syncopated rhythms of “Maggie’s Farm” are the basis for Dylan’s yelling and Bloomfield’s snarling guitar replies. Of all the different arrangements this song underwent in forty years this still remains the most explosive of them all. The audience’s reaction, a combination of cheers and boos, is deafening. “Like A Rolling Stone,” the latest single, sound almost mellow and tame by comparison. Finally “Phantom Engineer” is played closer to the bouncy outtake rather than the sludge blues the song would become for Highway 61 Revisited as “It’ Take A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry.”
The disc continues four days later for the session that produced “Tombstone Blues” and the following day for “From A Buick 6.” The later is an alternate take at a quicker tempo than the official version. This title ends with a soundboard fragment from Bloomfield’s final live appearance with Dylan more than fifteen years after Highway 61 Revisited and Newport. This show occurs right in the middle of Dylan’s gospel period in San Francisco. Bloomfield was in the audience and he was invited up on stage to play for two numbers. “Groom’s Still Waiting At The Altar” would be released on 1981’s Shot Of Love and he adds his heavy blues to the tune. After a long speech where Dylan speaks about first meeting Bloomfield, they play a version of “Like A Rolling Stone” that is very close to the original single. Bloomfield again adds gorgeous little blues ornaments to the verses and. The quality of this soundboard is a bit dull but very clear and enjoyable. It adds emotional poignancy since it was recorded three months before he died of an heroin overdose on February 15, 1981.
Like A Rolling Stone is a tremendous effort by Seymour packaged in a single jewel case. The design of the booklet is reminiscent of Dylan’s LPs from the sixties. It is a fascinating listen since they placed all of the songs in proper chronological order. The focus of this release will obviously be the previously unavailable outtakes for the greatest song ever written, and it is fun to listen to the song and the artists as it is undergoing development. It is frustrating how short the fragments are. With the wealth of previously unavailable Dylan soundboards and outtakes surfacing on many different labels, perhaps there is more from the vaults yet to come?