Bob Dylan

Acoustic Thunder

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While 1976's legendary Rolling Thunder Revue tour remains best remembered for the widescreen grandeur of its large all-star lineup, headliner Bob Dylan regularly took the stage alone, brandishing little more than an acoustic guitar (and sometimes enough pancake makeup to caulk a bathtub). The bootleg release Acoustic Thunder assembles 14 solo songs from 12 different stops on the Rolling Thunder tour, and while the quality and consistency of the audience recordings fluctuate wildly from track to track, Dylan's brilliance never dims. If anything, these are his most focused and powerful performances of the tour, stripped of all theatrical artifice to reveal again the singular genius of his songwriting. Dylan tellingly saves some of his most starkly intimate material for the acoustic portion of these shows. He renders classics like "Visions of Johanna," "Just Like a Woman," and "Tangled Up in Blue" with uncommon poignancy, wringing new emotional depth from songs that should have been tapped dry long ago.