American icon Bob Dylan recently courted controversy by offering coffee chain Starbucks the exclusive right to sell his latest release of vintage material entitled Live at The Gaslight 1962
. As much as one can argue about the politics of buying music at a lattÃ?Â© joint, this disc is worth a trip to the coffee giant.
This new collection of classic material was recorded at the hallowed Greenwich Village club, The Gaslight in between the release of Dylan’s first album, the commercial failure Bob Dylan and what would be his career-making album The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan. This live set captures the young singer/songwriter at that magical moment when he was moving away from covering standard folk tunes in favor of creating his own original work.
Being that this is a decades old live set recorded in a tiny, yet legendary, hole in the wall club, there are a few noise bobbles to deal with. There’s some crowd chatter and even a few honking horns, but it all adds to the charm of the CD and helps to drop the listener smack dab into the moment.
The 10 track disc has three Dylan originals – “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall”, “Rocks and Gravel” and “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” along with six other traditional standards. The booklet enclosed with the CD describes these versions of “Hard Rain” and “Don’t Think Twice” as the “earliest surviving recordings” of the now famous Dylan tunes.
What’s truly amazing here, besides the more than decent sound, is the fact that these songs already sounded pretty polished, especially the former tune.
As a young man, Bob Dylan was, and probably still is, passionate about old time folk songs. He was Woody Guthrie’s biggest fan. It’s no surprise then that this new kid on the folk block does a fabulous job with standard tunes as well. Classic American tunes like “Barbara Allen” and “Handsome Molly” are given the Bob Dylan treatment.
His arrangements truly make these dusty old tunes spring to life and they are also a good harbinger of things to come. Besides being a brilliant lyricist and player, Dylan also had a talent for arranging all types of music. He obviously spent a lot of time practicing with these folk classics. What he does with the song “Cocaine” is truly amazing. Both hushed and soulful, it’s the type of song that could easily find a home in the clubs of the modern music market.
Bob Dylan’s Live at The Gaslight 1962 is a fond portrait of a singer in transition. On this recording, he’s perhaps still more Woody Guthrie’s fan than his own man, but that was about to change. Many know and have heard the recordings of “the” Bob Dylan, but it’s nice to hear this small sample of Dylan, the still somewhat humble club player.
While there might only be 10 tracks on this disc, Columbia did a good job of putting together the booklet and liner notes. Fans of the singer will enjoy this disc about the ever-evolving career of their favorite artist.