In Brandeis, Dylan performance short but sweet

Bob Dylan
In Concert: Brandeis University 1963
Columbia/Legacy (88697 84742 2)
★★★★

By Gillian G. Gaar

This CD (previously available as a limited release) has a long-lost gem: a previously unreleased concert by Bob Dylan, recorded on May 10, 1963, two weeks before the release of “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan.” A tape, believed to be a recording from a mixing disc, was found last year among the possessions of journalist/Rolling Stone co-founder Ralph Gleason, tucked away and forgotten for more than 40 years.

Dylan’s appearance is short — a mere eight songs, split over two sets — but sweet. Dylan was just one act of many at that year’s Brandeis Folk Festival (he’s referred to as “Bobby” Dylan by the announcer), but the crowd response is nonetheless enthusiastic (especially for the closer of the first set, “Masters Of War”). His three “talking blues” numbers allow for some contemporary politically-themed commentary (especially “Talkin’ John Birch Paranoid Blues,” and “Talkin’ World War III Blues”), while “Bob Dylan’s Dream” spins out lively wordplay. A partial “Honey, Just Allow Me One More Chance,” “Ballad Of Hollis Brown” and “Talkin’ Bear Mountain Picnic Massacre Blues” round out the set. It’s just Dylan and his guitar, and while you wish the performance had been longer, it still offers a wonderful chance to experience vintage Dylan before his career exploded.

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