Bob Dylan

I Ain't No Judas

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Recorded in rural Red Bluff, CA, on October 7, 2002, the two-disc bootleg I Ain't No Judas captures Bob Dylan at the peak of his late-career renaissance, restoring the energy and power to a songbook tarnished by years of non-committal, often contemptuous live performances. As Dylan's aptly named Never-Ending Tour wears on, it seems that he often summons up his finest performances for the most unlikely, out-of-the-way venues, and the Pauline Davis Pavilion -- essentially a livestock arena within the Tehama Fairgrounds site -- certainly qualifies; Dylan renders both radio hits including "Like a Rolling Stone" and album cuts like "You're a Big Girl Now" with conviction and clarity, while ingenious new arrangements reanimate chestnuts like "It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)" and "One Too Many Mornings." And less than a month after longtime friend Warren Zevon announced his terminal lung cancer, Dylan also delivers a pair of thoughtful, poignant Zevon covers: "Accidentally Like a Martyr" and "Mutineer," the latter performance later officially released on the Zevon tribute disc Enjoy Every Sandwich. In addition to the complete concert, I Ain't No Judas also features a smidgen of bonus material cut at the Janus Jazz Festival a month earlier. A rival bootleg, Don't Shoot the Piano Player, also presents the Red Bluff gig, but its release suffers from unappealing packaging and several factual errors and misspellings.