Bob Dylan

Live 1964: Concert at Philharmonic Hall, October 31, 1964

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(Legacy) Bob Dylan was making the transition from folkie minstrel to cultural force when he recorded this 17-song concert. His voice is heard shifting from Guthrie-style rasp to his own, more inscrutable sound, and his attitude hasn't yet hardened into enigma. There's rapport with the audience, sympathy for his flubbed verses, and that self-conscious irony that always attends Dylan's music and persona. There's also humor; when he says he's wearing his "Bob Dylan mask," the meanings are multiple and raucous.

The music is clear as a bell, though Joan Baez, at the time Dylan's troubled paramour and patroness, isn't that strong on four selections. That's appropriate: By the time he recorded this, her influence, on both pop music and Dylan, was on the wane. The material largely revives Another Side of Bob Dylan, his puzzling and fecund 1964 album. With its unusual blend of anecdote and mysticism, Another Side presaged what was to come with Bringing It All Back Home: electrifying folk and alienating the folkies. The concert begins with Dylan's heraldic "The Times They Are A-Changin'." By the time the song ends, this becomes even clearer. And Dylan hadn't even plugged in yet. -- Carlo Wolff

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