Bob Dylan - Live 1966 (The Bootleg Series Vol. 4)
Bob Dylan had released a half-dozen contemporary live albums before this arrived in 1998, but none as vital. These days new volumes of The Bootleg Series come out once a year (Vol. 10 came out last year and Vol. 11 is out this fall), but at the time, this was only the second release in the series and it’d been seven years since the first one (volumes one, two, and three came in one box). What it captured was Dylan’s first electric tour, backed by the then-unnamed Band.
Audiences reacted hostilely to Dylan’s decision to play electric and this English audience is no exception; someone yells “Judas!” before “Like a Rolling Stone” (Dylan responds, “I don’t believe you. You’re a liar!” and then instructs the Band to “play fuckin’ loud”). This reaction seems at odds with the music itself, as four of the five members of the Band (freelance drummer and later actor Mickey Jones fills in for Levon Helm quite capably) are in fine form backing Dylan, who is on fire in angry performances of material drawn from his first seven albums.
On the ’66 tour, Dylan did capitulate to audiences expecting an acoustic performance by giving them one before a second set with the Band. But he pulled off a neat trick here; playing songs from his recent electric albums solo acoustic and then rearranging songs from his solo acoustic albums as electric performances—confusing audiences. Live 1966 neatly divides these two sets into two discs. This is perfect; on disc one you get an intimate performance from Dylan, showcasing his hypnotizing harmonica solos, then on disc two you get slaughtered by Dylan and the Band firmly plugged-in.