The very first time I listened to this was back when it was first release in 1974. My brother had purchased the cassette tape and I use to borrow it from him. It was my first experience listening to either Dylan or The Band live and was blown away. I thought "How can anyone top this for a live album?" Over the years I had pretty much forgotten about it until I had the opportunity to purchase the double CD last year. With great anticipation I started listening and came away a little underwhelmed. Not that it is a bad set, it isn't. In fact it's quite good. But there are a couple of things that can make this a little disappointing.
1. Regarding The Band's two sets: I also own both Rock of Ages
&The Last Waltz
. Both are better sets for The Band, with Rock of Ages being the best. On "Before the Flood" some of the songs really sound like the group just weren't on the same page. When you compare both "The Weight" & "The Shape I'm In", two of my favorites, they just do not compare with the versions from Rock of Ages.
2. Dylan also seemed out of place with The Band at first. The first three songs, "Most Likely You Go Your Way (and I'll Go Mine)", "Lay, Lady, Lay", and "Rainy Day Woman" have a below-average sound to them.
But as we hit song #4, "Knockin' On Heaven's Door" the music does start to blend. As we move through CD #1 we're treated to some classic music by both, with a great version of Robbie Robertson's "Stage Fright" to finish off the CD.
CD #2 starts of with Classic acoustic Dylan, as we hear "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right", "Just Like a Woman", and "It's All Right, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)." It's here we get a little bogged down by the second Band set. As mentioned previously, "The Shape I'm In" & "The Weight" are not up to other live versions of the songs. But hold on to your hat, Dylan comes back on and we get the best song of the night, "All Along The Watchtower" and it JUST rocks. If I have only one complaint about it, it's too short. I would have loved an extended guitar solo at the end but we get only about 32 bars. Great, just not enough. It's followed by solid versions of "Highway 61 Revisited" & "Like a Rolling Stone." And as an encore we hear "Blowin In The Wind" and it does not disappoint.
Overall, I am happy with this purchase. I still pull it out and listen to it now and then. I would recommend it to any Dylan & Band fans, at least to round out your collections.