From: xyx 
Date: Sat, 26 Oct 1996 22:30:57 -0400

Here at the DEEP we'd like to express our heartfelt condolences to both the
immediate and extended families of the legendary Dylanologist  and (more
importantly)  universally-liked John Bauldie.  It is distressing to lose such
a respected and admired member of "our" community and more distressing still
for those of you out there who knew him personally.  Mr. Bauldie's place in
Dylanology, Dylan fandom & in his readers hearts remains alive.  R.I.P. John,
you will be sorely missed.

THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK  2CD    (Laughing Camel HUMP 001/002)
    Liverpool, UK  Empire - 27 June '96 (15 trax entire show) + filler 26
June (4 trax)
     Tracks : 19       Times: 71+/74+      Source: Audience      Quality:
Very Good**
Dylan hits the ground running from the get-go here with an amazingly energetic and
house rocking "Pill Box Hat." No warm-up and easing into this show, nossiree,
this one rocks your socks off immediately. A real rabble-rouser w/some fine harp
playing and piano accompaniment by Al Kooper that really adds a lot to the tune
(but hey Al, where did you go after that?)  Quality is a bit bottom heavy and
needs some of the old EQ to balance things out. I must admit I thought the
vocals were a bit harsh on first listen but subsequent hearings have grown on
me (the sound here is reminiscent of "The Pedlar Now Speaks," albeit not as
upfront as that recording).  Anyway, "Tonight I'll Be Staying" is another
treat, what a great ensemble this band is - totally in sync.  Bob delivers a
great vocal on a powerful "Watchtower,"  turn this one up real loud for the
full effect- it rocks like hell.  Things slow down w/the rarely played "Under
the Red Sky"  but "Tom Thumbs" picks things up again, slower than usual and
beautifully sung by Dylan. The last verse is a killer vocally and the whole
band sounds great on this one - the ending jam is really fine as it starts
 off easy but builds and builds to an exciting ending.  Right into a ballsy
"Silvio" they go, with Kooper delivering some nice organ runs and Dylan's
vocals crisp and true - he sounds exceptionally great tonight - gotta hear
him sing "... when I come knockin' don't throw me no booooooooone" -  
man, oh man.  

That's the thing about Dylan,
right? You might be tired of hearing "Silvio" but you gotta listen closely to every
one as you never know when he's gonna blow you away with ANY ONE LINE or
ANY ONE WORD, THE WAY HE SINGS IT!!!!!!!  The possibility alone makes it
all exciting, and when the possibility turns into reality, well,  that's when
your spine tingles (in sports terms, it was like watching Reggie Jackson
strike out -  that was more exciting than watching anyone else hit a homer.
And when he hit one....whew).

A superbly played acoustic set follows:  Bob using the whole range of the
full-throated miracle, going from tender to tough and back again on Mr.TMan/
a dark, ominous and eerie John Brown that (IMO) has replaced "MofWar" as his
signature anti-war song/ and a beautifully sung and played  "To Ramona" - the
"someday maybe, who knows baby....." line is particularly noteworthy, as is
the impeccable guitar playing throughout the entire song. A joy to hear.
   "Thin Man" continues the proceedings at a high level- Dylan's singing is
on the mark still, clear and distinctive on every word with some intersting
phrasing and the band is tight and rockin'.  "Masterpiece" features some cool
organ (reminds me of the Band version) and pedal steel and yet another vocal
where Dylan shows us the magic he does w/his singing. Powerful drumming, too,
Mr. Watson. "Seven Days" and "Alabama Getaway" are given blistering
treatments, sung and played w/extreme confidence and assurance, not to
mention excitement, by everyone.  Some nice background vocals on both and
Kooper provides a nice kick w/some energetic piano on "Alabama." The guitar
work also sounds extremely sharp.  A soft and sweet "It Ain't Me Babe"
follows with the crowd singing along at every opportunity. Dylan pulls back
the reins a bit & it is oh so effective - listen to him sing  "...someone who
will die for you and mooooore...." and it is to die for.  A lot
of cool phrasing on this one, the guitar playing is impeccable and  Bob gives us
a long and searing harp exhibition.  Play this for the non-believers. RDW wraps it
all in a tidy package of tight, powerful drumming and roadhouse piano from Kooper.
For a show I was not enamored of at first, this one sure has left its mark
after repeated listenings.

 If that ain't enough, 4 trax from the opening night round out disk 2.
Drifters/Long Black Coat/Positively 4th/Watching the River Flow.  Pos 4th
Street, in particular, is astounding - what a treat to hear it live
w/Kooper's organ. I love this somewhat slowed down version (not as slow as in
Berlin, tho) and the way Dylan sings it differently each time he chooses to
perform it. A chilling vocal performance w/the organ giving it that sweet
BonB sound. River Flow has that nice blues-rock-shuffle feel perfectly suited
to the band. An uncredited "Visions" from Dublin '66 is
best ignored here.
Nice first-time outing for the humpers from Laughing Camel. Highly

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