Back In The Rain
The Rolling Thunder Revue - 1976
Stuck Inside Of Mobile - Live - New Orleans - May 3, 1976
Isis - Live - Oklahoma City - May 18, 1976
I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight - Live - Lakeland - April 18, 1976
One Too Many Mornings - Live - Fort Worth - May 16, 1976
You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome - Live - Oklahoma City - May 18, 1976
You’re A Big Girl Now - Live - New Orleans - May 3, 1976
Positively 4th Street - Live - Houston - January 25, 1976
Romance In Durango - Live - San Antonio - May 11, 1976
I Pity The Poor Immigrant - Live - New Orleans - May 3, 1976
Just Like A Woman - Live - Clearwater - April 22, 1976
I Want You - Live - Oklahoma City - May 18, 1976
Shelter From The Storm - Live - New Orleans - May 3, 1976
Going, Going, Gone - Live - Fort Worth - May 16, 1976
Idiot Wind - Live - Fort Worth - May 16, 1976
Most Likely You Go Your Way (And I Go Mine) - Live - Clearwater - May 19, 1976
A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall - Live - Fort Collins - May 23, 1976
(Sooner Or Later) One Of Us Must Know - Live - Wichita - May 19, 1976
Welcome back to the Rolling Thunder Revue! This set covers the second of the two Rolling Thunder tours. The first was in 1975, and the second was in 1976. While the first tour was fairly loose, the second was a rawer, rougher-hewn affair.
The personnel were similar, but the sound had changed radically. Gone was the standard setlist, replaced by a rotating set of songs. The emphasis had been altered from Dylan’s recently released Desire record to include a wider variety of songs, particularly from Blonde On Blonde and Blood On The Tracks.
1975’s more imaginative arrangements featuring congas, mandolins, and violins were largely replaced by distorted guitar, sometimes featuring a slide. Dylan himself took over lead guitar duties on occasion, though the band included such late twentieth century notables as T-Bone Burnette and Mick Ronson. Piano remained a significant force in the arrangements, as found on this compilation on “I Pity The Poor Immigrant” and “You’re A Big Girl Now.” The violin was still present, and is particularly fierce here on a raucous one-off performance of “Positively 4th Street.” Dylan doesn’t recall all of the words, but the song has lost none of its punch in the ten years since it was last played in concert. “I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight” is also rather endearing, presented as an appropriately boozy rendition.
Several of the songs here are earlier performances of those that would appear on Columbia’s official document of the tour, Hard Rain. They tend to lack the harsh power of those later shows, but make up for that loss with more nuanced vocals. “One Too Many Mornings” has not yet picked up the extra verse that it would by the end of the tour, and “Shelter From The Storm” features one of Dylan’s strongest voice performances.
While at the beginning of the tour, as found in the original un-aired Clearwater TV special, “Isis” had lost much of the punch that it had the previous year, it had picked up a radical new arrangement by mid-May. The version from May 16 seems to have been transitional, as that recording suggests a slow song that shifts tempo after a verse or two. By May 18, when the version on this set was recorded in Oklahoma City, the song was a fully rollicking, uptempo tune.
The bonus cuts here were found to be wanting in one way or another. All were very rare performances, but the sound quality on “Most Likely You Go Your Way” and “One Of Us Must Know” is very poor. “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” is interesting, and more traditional in arrangement than the bluesy version from 1975, but suffers from its increased length.
Since the songs are longer, not as many could be featured from the tour. Not present are any of the fantastic acoustic performances that tended to open the sets. You can find many of the best ones on other Thousand Highways collections.
I hope you enjoy the compilation. It’s been fun, but was fairly tough to assemble. The wide variety of quality in tapes from the second Rolling Thunder tour was challenging to arrange without presenting jarring transitions between songs. Hopefully, I’ve been reasonably effective in doing so. Here’s my one recommendation: play it loud.
Next month, we will be skipping ahead ten years to Bob Dylan's 1986 tour with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. While their more experimental 1987 tour has been featured on this site before, 1986 has been documented only through a handful of cuts on Ashes & Dust and the One More Night releases. Get ready to receive a healthy dose of Dylan's rockabilly renaissance, with an emphasis on his covers and contemporary songs of the 1980s. Until next time, keep yourself healthy and listen to some good tunes.