May 22: Bob Dylan The Great Music Experience, Nara, Japan 1994 (video)
For the first time ever, Dylan was backed by a full orchestra, the New Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra. The final day was widely televised and Dylan was in magnificent form. I remember being near tears as The Voice returned in all its full, expressive, raging glory. I watched the footage again and again, transfixed at what seemed the best ever rendition of “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” and a magical and magisterial “Ring Them Bells”, with Dylan filmed beneath a huge statue of Buddha.
~Andrew Muir (One More Night: Bob Dylan’s Never Ending Tour)
Todaiji Temple Nara, Japan 22 May 1994 The Great Music Experience. Produced by Tony Hollingsworth.
Freewheelin’ in it’s released form is essentially a “best of” from one of the most creative years in Dylan’s life. The lag between sessions resulted in an album whose sound metamorphosed at least twice.
~Clinton Heylin (BD – The Recording Sessions)
Dylan nailed 3 master versions for “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan” @ this important recording session.
This ranks high as one of the most important boot releases of all time, and on top of that, it’s simply a thrill and a joy to just sit back and listen to. If you’re only planning on getting one bootleg this decade, this is the one. Hands down.
Bob Dylan plays his first major solo concert at a major New York concert venue; Town Hall. He still hadn’t released his groundbreaking second album and chose only to play 3 songs from his first album. A confident young Dylan mostly playing songs unknown to the audience & ending with a long spoken poem called “Last Thoughts on Woody Guthrie”.
The Town Hall was about three-quarter full…. not bad considering his only released album had been a “flop”.
It is a GREAT concert… a “must” for any Dylan fan.
The first bootleg recording (with some songs from the concert) started circulating in 1970. The full concert recording started circulating in 2008 (superb soundboard sound).
Mavis Staples began her career with her family group in 1950. Initially singing locally at churches and appearing on a weekly radio show, the Staples scored a hit in 1956 with “Uncloudy Day” for the Vee-Jay label. When Mavis graduated from what is now Paul Robeson High School in 1957, The Staple Singers took their music on the road. Led by family patriarch Roebuck “Pops” Staples on guitar and including the voices of Mavis and her siblings Cleotha, Yvonne, and Purvis, the Staples were called “God’s Greatest Hitmakers.”
With Mavis’ voice and Pops’ songs, singing, and guitar playing, the Staples evolved from enormously popular gospel singers (with recordings on United and Riverside as well as Vee-Jay) to become the most spectacular and influential spirituality-based group in America. By the mid-1960s The Staple Singers, inspired by Pops’ close friendship with Martin Luther King, Jr., became the spiritual and musical voices of the civil rights movement. They covered contemporary pop hits with positive messages, including Bob Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall” and a version of Stephen Stills’ “For What It’s Worth.”
A cappella (Italian for “in the manner of the church” or “in the manner of the chapel”) music is specifically group or solo singing without instrumental accompaniment, or a piece intended to be performed in this way. It contrasts with cantata, which is accompanied singing. A cappella was originally intended to differentiate between Renaissance polyphony and Baroque concertato style. In the 19th century a renewed interest in Renaissance polyphony coupled with an ignorance of the fact that vocal parts were often doubled by instrumentalists led to the term coming to mean unaccompanied vocal music. The term is also used, albeit rarely, as a synonym for alla breve.
Mavis Staples – A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall (a cappella) with a fine introduction by Mavis: