Hard Times in New York City is a virtual highlight reel spanning from the fall of 1961 to the summer of 1962, capturing Bob Dylan in the infancy of his performing career. While serious Dylan enthusiasts will already possess the sessions sampled here in their entirety, neophyte collectors seeking a taste of his pre-Columbia Records activities will find much to savor. The bulk of material originates from Dylan's November 4, 1961, appearance at New York's Carnegie Chapter Hall, his first-ever performance outside the coffeehouse circuit. The leap in confidence and ability from earlier reel-to-reel tapes is remarkable, and he translates the energy of the small audience into a performance of extraordinary intimacy. Hard Times in New York City also features several songs from Dylan's landmark September 1961 residency at Gerde's Folk City, where he received the laudatory New York Times review that led to his Columbia deal. Material recorded at fellow folkie Cynthia Gooding's New York apartment and at Montreal's Finjan Club complete the package, which also features classic period photos and adequate sound.
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