Roughly six weeks after the landmark 1965 Newport Folk Festival appearance that transformed him from luminary to lightning rod, Bob Dylan descended upon Los Angeles' Hollywood Bowl with his new backing band in tow. After first abandoning the protest themes of his classic early anthems to focus on more poetic, personal subjects, Dylan was now forsaking the rigid traditions of roots music to go electric, drawing on the spirit of rock & roll to forge a revolutionary and controversial sound all his own. Just his second full-length show post-Newport, the September 3, 1965, Hollywood Bowl gig remains a fascinating portrait of Dylan in transition: foreshadowing the structure he would employ on the epochal U.K. tour of the following year, he divides the performance into two halves, opening with a solo acoustic set and closing with an electric performance backed by guitarist Robbie Robertson, organist Al Kooper, bassist Harvey Brooks, and drummer Levon Helm. But while the acoustic portion is sublime, highlighted by luminous readings of "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue" and "To Ramona," the electric set proves wanting. While more confident and robust than the Newport performances, the arrangements are still somewhat tentative, conjuring little of the visceral roar that would define the 1966 trek. The historical value of these long-lost and much-bootlegged tapes cannot be overstated, however. Alternative Edge's Hollywood Bowl 1965 boasts the same source limitations as rival releases and features the show in its entirety (minus the finale of "Mr. Tambourine," missing from all known recordings), making it an essential addition to any serious Dylan enthusiast's collection.
Hollywood Bowl 1965 Review
by Jason Ankeny