Bob Dylan

Rock Solid

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Rumor has it that Columbia planned to record Bob Dylan's five mid-April 1980 performances at Toronto's Massey Hall for a proposed live album and concert film. While the project never reached fruition, the existence of multi-camera video footage lends credence to the gossip, as does the crystalline fidelity of the bootleg release Rock Solid, which cherry-picks highlights of the April 19 gig. Returning to the road following a two-month hiatus that yielded the Saved LP, Dylan seems re-energized and focused, shedding some of the fire-and-brimstone proselytizing of his previous gospel outings and letting the sheer conviction of his art do the preaching. Regardless of the listener's beliefs, it's virtually impossible not to yield to the power and glory of this deeply soulful music, which communicates the true depth of Dylan's Christian convictions in ways that studio efforts like Slow Train Coming don't. It's a shame Junkyard Angel opted to release only seven songs from the show, adding a Montreal sound-check rendition of "Cover Down Break Through" for no apparent reason. Both Flashback's The Born Again Music and Wanted Man's Solid Rock feature the following evening's performance in its entirety, and are recommended to listeners over this abbreviated edition.