Uncut Editor's Diary

The Genius Of Bob Dylan

Allan Jones

I’ve been away this week, and was amazed when I got back to discover the continuing contributions to the Is This Bob Dylan’s Greatest-Ever Vocal Performance debate.

Quite a number of you agreed enthusiastically with Paul Metsa’s claim that Bob’s best vocal ever was on the version of “A Hard-Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” that he performed in Nara, Japan as part of the Great Music Experience festival.

I recall seeing this when it was originally broadcast – in fact, had it on video until I lost the cassette – and being more than slightly gob-smacked by Dylan’s performance.

As I mentioned in my original blog, it’s years since I saw it – so thanks to Liam who sent me the following YouTube link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5EC_vawTTDg

Even more than I remembered, it’s an astonishing version, Dylan’s absolute genius blazing through every second. Great close ups, too, of the great Jim Keltner at work on drums behind Bob. Man, is he not the coolest rock drummer ever?

You can also see incredible versions here of “Ring Them Bells” and “I Shall Be Released”, from the same concert.

It’s also worth mentioning some of the other candidates you’ve suggested as contenders for Bob’s GEVP – including the live version of “Idiot Wind” from Hard Rain and virtually anything from the Warfield Theatre gospel shows, which have drawn a lot of adulatory comment.

My own favourite Dylan vocal? Hell, too many to mention in full, but I have to make special mention of “Up To Me”, originally recorded but not included on the final version of Blood On The Tracks and also the version of “Tangled Up In Blue” from Renaldo & Clara.


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