By Steve Newton
Back in October of ’92 a mindblowing array of the world’s top recording artists performed at New York’s Madison Square Garden for Bob Dylan’s 30th anniversary concert celebration, and this Tuesday (March 4) a deluxe edition of the concert is being released on CD, DVD and Blu-ray.
I watched the Blu-ray this afternoon, and, man, there’s some mighty tasty stuff on there.
As far as ace guitar-playing goes, the highlights are many. Taking the cake is probably Johnny Winter’s version of “Highway 61 Revisited”, in which the albino bluesman goes hog wild playing slippery slide on his trademark Gibson Firebird. (An equally smokin’ version of that song, from Winter’s 1969 Second Winter album, is also included in the Winter boxed set released last week.)
On “All Along the Watchtower”, Neil Young goes raggedly and gloriously bonkers on his black Les Paul, using his Bigsby vibrato bar to bring the Crazy Horse-style noise we’ve grown to love on tunes like “Like a Hurricane” and “Cortez the Killer”.
Also seriously rockin’ is Rolling Stone Ron Wood on “Seven Days”, which was one of the tracks that made his Gimme Some Neck LP one of my Top 30 Albums of 1979.
Other highlights of the Blu-ray include Roger McGuinn joining Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers on “Mr. Tambourine Man”–which McGuinn’s band the Byrds had a #1 hit with back in ’65. Also verging on unforgettable is “My Back Pages”, where Dylan, Petty, Young, George Harrison, and Eric Clapton all join in the fun.
I particularly like the moment where Clapton gestures to Dylan as if to say: “Is it okay if I sing a verse, kind sir?”
Next to Dylan and his deathless songs, the real stars of the show are the backing band, primarily composed of members of Booker T. & the MGs. The lineup of keyboardist Booker T. Jones, guitarist Steve Cropper, bassist Donald “Duck” Dunn, drummers Anton Fig and Jim Keltner, and bandleader G.E. Smith is impeccable throughout. Smith is particularly impressive under pressure, dealing with Winter’s request for more onstage volume one minute and the next making sure a roadie hurries to grab Chrissie Hynde’s Tele when she’s done doing “I Shall Be Released”.
“Let’s have a big Bobfest welcome for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers,” urges Young before Petty and crew perform “Licence to Kill”, a track from my personal fave Dylan album, Infidels. I feel a huge attraction to anything that combines Petty + Dylan since seeing them together at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley, California in 1986.
Now there’s a Blu-ray I would definitely like to file right next to this one in the man-cave.
Here’s the complete track listing:
“Like A Rolling Stone” – John Mellencamp
“Blowin’ In The Wind” – Stevie Wonder
“Foot of Pride” – Lou Reed
“Masters of War” – Eddie Vedder/Mike McCready
“The Times They Are A-Changin'” – Tracy Chapman
“It Ain’t Me Babe” – June Carter Cash/Johnny Cash
“What Was It You Wanted” – Willie Nelson
“I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight” – Kris Kristofferson
“Highway 61 Revisited” – Johnny Winter
“Seven Days – Ron Wood
“Just Like a Woman” – Richie Havens
“When the Ship Comes In” – The Clancy Brothers and Robbie O’Connell with special guest Tommy Makem
“War” – Sinead O’Connor
“Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues” – Neil Young
“All Along the Watchtower” – Neil Young
“I Shall be Released” – Chrissie Hynde
“Love Minus Zero, No Limit” – Eric Clapton (Track Only Available on DVD/Blu-Ray Format)
“Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright” – Eric Clapton
“Emotionally Yours” – The O’Jays
“When I Paint My Masterpiece” – The Band
“You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere” – Mary Chapin Carpenter/Rosanne Cash/Shawn Colvin
“Absolutely Sweet Marie – George Harrison”
“License to Kill” – Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
“Rainy Day Women #12 & 35” – Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
“Mr Tambourine Man” – Roger McGuinn
“It’s Alright, Ma” – Bob Dylan
“My Back Pages” – Bob Dylan/Roger McGuinn/Tom Petty/Neil Young/Eric Clapton/George Harrison
“Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” – Everyone
“Girl of The North Country” – Bob Dylan
DVD Bonus Tracks:
“Leopard-Skin Pill-box Hat” – John Mellencamp
“Boots of Spanish Leather” – Nanci Griffith with Carolyn Hester
“Gotta Serve Somebody” – Booker T. & the M.G.’s