Bob Dylan

Live at the Gaslight 1962

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The mysterious tape of early Bob Dylan performances said to have been recorded at the Gaslight Café in Greenwich Village in 1962 began turning up on bootleg albums such as Ode for Barbara Allen, The Gaslight Tapes, Dylan '62, and Barbed Wire Blues in the 1970s. In 1991, one track, "No More Auction Block," earned legitimate release on The Bootleg Series, Vols. 1-3 (Rare & Unreleased), but this ten-track disc is the first extensive issuance of the material in legal form. The mystery of the origins of the recordings have finally been dispelled, however. The show was recorded in the fall of 1962 at the Gaslight by Richard Alderson and contains more songs than the 11 now commercially available. (Among the missing songs is an early version of "Ballad of Hollis Brown," later heard on 1964's The Times They Are a-Changin'.) Nevertheless, this album is a valuable missing link between Dylan's self-titled debut album (released in March 1962), which consisted mostly of cover tunes, and The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan (released in May 1963), which unveiled Dylan the songwriter. Most of the songs Dylan performs here are covers, but there are early versions of "A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall" and "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right," two of the major songs that would appear on The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, as well as "Rocks and Gravel" (a free-form adaptation of Brownie McGhee's "Solid Road" and Leroy Carr's "Alabama Woman Blues"), which was recorded for The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan and even included on its initial version, and the antiwar "John Brown," later recorded for the various-artists album Broadside Ballads, Vol. 1. Those songs reveal Dylan's emerging songwriting talent (the lyrics of "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" don't even seem quite finished), while the other six songs are more reminiscent of the gruff traditional folksinger of the Bob Dylan album, though one who can be gentler ("Barbara Allen") and more provocative ("Cocaine") than he seemed on his first LP. The recordings are considerably clearer than the bootleg versions, but they retain their unofficial quality, with occasional flaws, the most notable of which is the abrupt ending of the final track, "West Texas." [Live at the Gaslight 1962 was made available initially only at Starbucks coffee shops and at the Starbucks-owned Web site,]

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