Bob Dylan: Bob Dylan Live 1962-1966: Rare Performances From The Copyright Collections  (Columbia)

Every year, many artists and labels from the 1960s end the year with an archival collection intended to extend the copyright of unreleased material in the vault. Some of these releases  consist of only a literal handful of impossible to find physical copies, while others, such as those from Motown Records and the Beach Boys, distribute them digitally and have become an annual treat for music fans. In recent years, these copyright extension collections have been treated a little more seriously, with actual physical releases appearing. Bob Dylan Live 1962-1966 is a two CD culling of material from the archives.

Although in later years Dylan’s live performance style has been challenging––if not occasionally incomprehensible––in his early years, he was an absolute must-see act, whose exaggerated folky twang  only added an otherworldly, timeless dimension to his acoustic guitar/harmonica combo on such classics as ”Blowin’ In The Wind,” “The Times They Are A-Changin’,” and “Mr. Tambourine Man.” As he progressed and matured as a songwriter his arrangements became more complex, controversy leading him to ”go electric” and hiring an actual rock band to accompany him. It was such a foolish controversy, anyway; half a century later, listening to ”I Don’t Believe You,” “It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry,” and “Maggie’s Farm,” it’s amazing to think people have a problem with the songs at all.

Bob Dylan Live 1962-1966 doesn’t offer anything but the simple pleasure of enjoying a Bob Dylan performance.  Its compilers were wise to stick with familiar hits and beloved numbers, although one might feel the collection is missing some key songs. Ultimately, though, that’s not the point; if anything, this is just a simple, no-frills reminder of what made Bob Dylan so great in the first place.

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