Before the Flood (Audio Cassette)
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Dylan has issued a large number of live albums in his day, but 1974's Before the Flood deserves special mention because of the presence of the Band behind him. Dylan had recently brought the Band into the studio to record the chart-topping (yet still somehow underappreciated) Planet Waves, which was the first (and, as it turned out, only) studio record he made after leaving Columbia for Asylum. He then asked them along on the subsequent tour, which at the time became the most successful rock tour in history. The fruits of that partnership are contained on this two-CD set, which actually ignores Planet Waves completely in favor of older classics. Although the album includes several strong collaborations, the highlights ironically come during Dylan's solo-acoustic portion, which yields powerful and gritty versions of "Don't Think Twice" and "It's Alright Ma," and during the Band's own exhilarating numbers with Dylan sitting out. --Marc Greilsamer --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
"Before the Flood" captures the electrical bond that had linked the two legends together in the first place, something missing from earlier classic Dylan/Band efforts like "The Basement Tapes." The Band (unintentionally) upstages and outshines their former mentor, being the more thrilling of the two, but Dylan finally demonstrates the sincreity and power of his cross from folk to rock. But here, the response from fans surely isn't the boos it met in 1965; Dylan compositions associated with his folk period are given a more exciting life, notably 'It Ain't Me Babe' and 'Blowing In the Wind,' as he soars on 'Rainy Day Women,' 'Knockin' On Heaven's Door,' and 'All Along the Watchtower.' The Band however steals the show, even though there are more Dylan compositions on the album; they captivate with such paintings of rural life as 'The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down' and Richard Manuel's shiver inducing vocal on 'I Shall Be Released.' "Before the Flood" also contains the most thrilling and rambunctious live version of the raw 'The Shape I'm In.'
This album packages one of the best live performances in rock and roll. "Before the Flood" is an absolute necessity for Dylan/Band fans and concert experts in general, and it's a pleasantly affordable necessity at that.
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.
Besides the historical nature of this tour (The US post office had to set up extra mailboxes for ticket requests in many major cities) the album captures the spirit of the event. Certainly it could have been recorded better with current technology! Then again this was 1974! I doubt that any of the shows on this tour matched the intensity of that second Denver performance but the Album (CD) is still darn good Rock and Roll from the prime time of the genre.
The songs are great, the band is great and if Dylan wasn't at his best during that particular recording he was still better than just about every other performer around. Too bad they didn't record the second Denver concert but who would have known that it would all come together on that one night. This is a "must have" album if for no other reason than it was the first of the super tours. Without it there would have been no Springsteen, No Greatful Dead, No Neil Young or any of the great concerts we take for granted today. It was the beginning and in some ways it was the end! Catch this little piece of musical history and enjoy.
Most recent customer reviews
I highly recommend this album to ANYONE! Since I was little, I knew Levon Helm as the singing drummer, but OMG! THIS GUY CAN DRUM! Read morePublished on March 2 2010 by Courteney A. Coady
"Before the Flood" is a great album, and the Band's best live recording, with Dylan and alone. Read morePublished on April 30 2004 by Arthur C. Wilson
To put this review in the proper perspective, let me state up front that while I am a huge fan of Bob Dylan, I am in no way a fan of The Band; thus, I'm not really qualified to... Read morePublished on April 5 2003 by Daniel Jolley
This is the epitome of rock for me. Other songs and, yes, even other albums are better but none stirs as deeply as this set. Read morePublished on Sept. 3 2002 by Noah Count
Dylan's music is closest thing to American folk art produced in the 20th century. Always evolving, his songs remain works in progress even after 40 years of recording and touring. Read morePublished on June 7 2002 by B. Rosenthal
This is a 1974 live album from Dylan's "Planet Waves" tour, when the Band was his backing group. The 2-CD set includes 13 Dylan songs and 8 by the Band. Read morePublished on June 4 2002 by woburnmusicfan
This album has some of Bob's best songs from his classic mid and late 60's period, including "Like a Rolling Stone," and "All Along the Watchtower. Read morePublished on May 31 2002 by Daniel N. Dickinson
I'm not that big a fan of Bob Dylan (particularly his voice), but I nevertheless consider this set to be a very worthy part of my collection. Read morePublished on April 25 2002 by Jinkyu
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