Bob Dylan Live 1964 — Bootleg Series Vol. 6

"It’s just Halloween,” Bob Dylan announces to the Philharmonic Hall on Oct. 31, 1964 — "I have my Bob Dylan mask on.” But in fact what we hear throughout this remarkable concert is Dylan switching from one mask to another: the 1962 anthemic folksinger mask, which made him famous but soon became stale and routine; the 1963 protest singer mask, which his fans loved even though it never quite fit him; the 1964 rapscallion mask, which he donned a few months earlier when recording the wine-soaked shaggy dog and visionary tracks on Another Side; and a new mask entirely, one that delighted in the surreal and the apocalyptic and threatened to form a band sometime soon. More interesting than any of these, however, are the brief glimpses that we have of Dylan himself (whoever he is) as he changes from one mask to another, joking with the crowd, forgetting song lyrics, giggling to himself. There’s also something magical about the hushed sound of an audience hearing "It’s Alright Ma” and "Gates of Eden” for the first time. By the following spring, Dylan will have grown sick of the blur of personae and the demands of the conservative folk establishment (well documented in Don’t Look Back), but here, in the fall of 1964, his performance is pure exuberance and wit. Columbia made a great decision in adding this concert to their Bootleg Series — I can’t wait to hear what they choose for volume seven. (Columbia)