Wednesday, April 23, 2008
In a catalog full of records in which opinions are divided, maybe no other record in Bob Dylan's career is more divided than his 1974 live disc, Hard Rain.
A look at the AMG review of the album, and one gets a 2-star rating, dismissing it as a record of excess without the sound quality to match. A mess of a record, yes. That's why it is great. This, perhaps as much as his Royal Albert Concert Hall performance, is Dylan the punk.
In his catalog it follows Blood on the Tracks, probably one of his more mellow and contemplative records. However, where that record is full of the insight of his failing marriage and brutally honest, with Dylan sounding emotionally torn, Hard Rain is a big FUCK YOU and takes the songs (with the help of the Rolling Thunder Revue) to a level of near insanity.
Most of the songs are screamed and shouted, not sung. This is a passionate performance that holds nothing back. Songs of break-up, with new lines that shed light on the shambles that Dylan is in. One listen to "Lay Lady Lay" will show you that this is different. It pleases in the way that a live Stooges record does, or a live Stones record. This hardly sounds like Dylan, it's loud and raucous.
So while opinions are certainly going to continue being divided, this record is an important document into the career of Bob Dylan. And I love it.