- Audio Cassette (Oct. 17 1990)
- Number of Discs: 1
- Format: Import
- Label: Sony
- ASIN: B0000025OV
- In-Print Editions: Audio CD | LP Record
- Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
I vehemently disagree with other reviewers, including star rock journalist Greil Marcus, about the Band's "Rock of Ages" -- I have never liked it. The guest horn section sounds like they aren't even playing in the same concert as everyone else.
Of the other Dylan & the Band live recordings, "Live 1966" and "The Last Waltz" are mediocre. One exception on the "The Last Waltz" is the wonderful version of Rev. Gary Davis's "Baby Let Me Follow You Down", which really rocks. Few people remember Dylan's odd "Self Portrait" album, but it has four excellent live tracks by him and the Band -- "Like a Rolling Stone", "The Mighty Quinn", "Minstrel Boy", and "She Belongs To Me".
Dylan and the Band did studio recordings together, too. "The Basement Tapes" is stellar. "Planet Waves" is very good. And, of the 5 of their songs together on the "Volume 2" disc of Dylan's "Bootleg Series", 3 are quite good.
Dylan, as usual, significantly alters some of his songs, ending up with a somewhat harsh version of "Lay Lady Lay" and a slightly tuneless "Ballad Of A Thin Man". But almost everything else is great, or at least good.
He does three acoustic solo tunes at the beginning of disc 2, of which "Just Like A Woman" is the best and "It's Alright, Ma" the worst, but everything else is band-backed (in more ways than one!).
And the Band are a joy to hear. They bring out the best in Dylan on fiery live renditions of "Most Likely You'll Go Your Way", "Rainy Day Women", "Highway 61 Revisited" and "All Along The Watchtower", as well as the inevitable "Like A Rolling Stone", which almost matches the power and majesty of the so-called "Royal Albert Hall" version.
Robbie Robertson provides excellent guitar work, particularly on "It Ain't Me Babe", Levon Helm was always one of the greatest rock n' roll-drummers, Rick Danko's bass playing on "Knockin' On Heaven's Door" is masterful, and Garth Hudson's organ provides texture and the characteristic, swirling sound of Bob Dylan's greatest-ever backing group.
The Band's own songs generally work very well also. "Endless Highway", "Up On Cripple Creek", "The Weight" and "The Shape I'm In" are the best (this is not the first time I've wondered why the late Richard Manuel sang "I Shall Be Released" in a falsetto), and even though the songwriting of Robbie Robertson and that of Bob Dylan are quite different, they don't clash too badly at all.
The sound is very good, and both Dylan and the Band play with lots of energy, making this a thoroughly enjoyable documentation of the last coorporation between Bob Dylan and the Band.
There isn't much live The Band out there. Rock of Ages is a classic, especially the new expanded version. Last Waltz is not too bad--apparently, though, it took a lot of surgery to make that listenable. Live at Watkins Glen--isn't. So fans should definitely treasure this album for that reason, as well as for the moments when Dylan shines.