- The Bootleg Series Vol. 4 review
abbreviated review in one word, essential.
Dylan's album, Bootleg Series Volume 4 captures Bob
performing live on May 17, 1966, in Manchester, England in both an
acoustic and electric setting. A generous
book with historical information and photos is included.
The first disc is a set of Bob Dylan's acoustic music performed at his peak.
His voice is incredibly strong and powerful throughout, and the
track selection is much to our liking with no weak song renditions. It
is no surprise that "Its All Over Now, Baby Blue" is
a highlight with great vocal phrasing and harmonica
playing. The following track, "Desolation Row," is quite
long, and just about the time you get tired of the verses Bob strums
some outstanding rhythm guitar intermixed with his harmonica to the
delight of his audience.
The electric set of the show featured on disc 2 of the Bootleg Series Volume
4 is one of Dylan's best electric performances,
certainly the most intense. Backing him is The
Band, with the exception of drummer Levon Helm, and what a team
they make, they joined up again in 1974.
The Band exceptionally set
the cornerstone and foundation with their tight rhythm section, and in
addition, they hit all the right accents, dynamics, and fills to
bring out the best in Bob.
Throughout the set, the vocals are very strong. Take for example
"Just Like Tom Thumb Blues" during the section "I
don't have the strength to take another shot" where Dylan
highlights the word shot, as he leaves the notes pour out of voice
with an uncanny balance of gentleness and strength. Robbie's guitar
solo and concluding riffs are excellent to bring more joy.
Robbie doesn't take the standard approach with his guitar playing of
strumming the chords till he has the opportunity to play a guitar
solo. Rather, he is continually throwing in riffs and fills, leaving
the rhythm section to the drums and bass, making these renditions of
this material essential. Another strength is Robbie's
approach of concluding songs with a combination of melody and
A few of the electric tracks Dylan plays harmonica. The second song "I Don't Believe You" showcases his ability to not only
play a solo, but to highlight and enhance others. As Robbie is
cranking out his guitar solo, Bob cues into his solo in perfect
Dylan's Bootleg Series Volume 4 captures Bob in top form.
Barry Small ©