Twenty-two years ago, Columbia Records threw Bob Dylan a 30th anniversary bash at Madison Square Garden with one of the most impressive lineups in the history of rock. Neil Young, Tom Petty, George Harrison, Johnny Cash, Lou Reed, the Band, Pearl Jam, Eric Clapton, Stevie Wonder, Willie Nelson and many others came together to share the stage with Dylan and perform his songs. It was broadcast on Pay-Per-View and portions of the show were released on VHS and CD, but on March 4th a super deluxe version of the concert will hit shelves on CD and DVD/Blu Ray. Check out the trailer here.
Highlights from the show include Dylan's solo acoustic rendition of "Girl From the North Country," Neil Young's frenetic "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues" with Booker T And the M.G.'s and George Harrison's beautiful take of "Absolutely Sweet Marie," which marked his final time performing in public. "That gig was one of the highlights of my career," says guitarist G.E. Smith, who was the musical director of the show. "There aren't a lot of people that can attract a lineup like that, and everyone was on their best behavior. Lou Reed and Neil Young can be prickly, but not in the three days we were prepping that show. I also got to talk to Johnny Cash. What's cooler than that?"
There's been talk of re-releasing the show for years. "We were just able to locate the high definition footage," says a source close to the Bob Dylan camp. "It had been sitting in Japan at NHK. Japan was an early adopter in HD and they had HD cameras at the event. What you're seeing now is their cut of the show, which nobody had ever seen before. Getting the full rights was very complicated because of bankruptcies. A Sony lawyer who was a passionate music fan sorted it all out."
Unfortunately, this release still isn't the complete show. Dylan played an acoustic rendition of "Song to Woody," one of his earliest compositions, but there were technical problems. "As frustrating at this sounds, his guitar wasn't recorded," says the source. "All you're hearing is a faint guitar and Bob's voice and we just couldn't use that." There were also problems during an all-star finale of "My Back Pages," but they were able to fix that in post-production. "Let's just say that some of the harmonies on that are overdubs," says the source.
Sinead O'Connor was supposed to perform Dylan's gospel classic "I Believe in You," but days earlier she tore up a photo of the Pope on Saturday Night Live and the crowd booed her off the stage. A rehearsal of her performance was tracked down and it'll be included on the reissue, alongside a new forty-minute documentary about the concert featuring previously unseen rehearsal footage and new interviews. Time constraints forced producers to cut out Neil Young's cover of "Forever Young" on the pump organ, but bits of his his rehearsal will be seen in the bonus material.
Here is the complete track listing for Bob Dylan - The 30th Anniversary Concert Celebration - Deluxe Edition
"Like A Rolling Stone" - John Mellencamp
"Blowin' In The Wind" – Stevie Wonder
"Foot of Pride" – Lou Reed
"Masters of War" – Eddie Vedder/Mike McCready
"The Times They Are A-Changin'" – Tracy Chapman
"It Ain't Me Babe" – June Carter Cash/Johnny Cash
"What Was It You Wanted" – Willie Nelson
"I'll Be Your Baby Tonight" – Kris Kristofferson
"Highway 61 Revisited" – Johnny Winter
"Seven Days – Ron Wood
"Just Like a Woman" – Richie Havens
"When the Ship Comes In" – The Clancy Brothers and Robbie O'Connell with special guest Tommy Makem
"War" – Sinead O'Connor
"Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues" – Neil Young
"All Along the Watchtower" – Neil Young
"I Shall be Released" – Chrissie Hynde
"Love Minus Zero, No Limit" – Eric Clapton (Track Only Available on DVD/Blu-Ray Format)
"Don't Think Twice, It's Alright" – Eric Clapton
"Emotionally Yours" – The O'Jays
"When I Paint My Masterpiece" – The Band
"You Ain't Goin' Nowhere" – Mary Chapin Carpenter/Rosanne Cash/Shawn Colvin
"Absolutely Sweet Marie – George Harrison"
"License to Kill" – Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
"Rainy Day Women #12 & 35" - Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
"Mr Tambourine Man" – Roger McGuinn
"It's Alright, Ma" – Bob Dylan
"My Back Pages" – Bob Dylan/Roger McGuinn/Tom Petty/Neil Young/Eric Clapton/George Harrison
"Knockin' On Heaven's Door" – Everyone
"Girl of The North Country" – Bob Dylan
DVD Bonus Tracks:
"Leopard-Skin Pill-box Hat" - John Mellencamp
"Boots of Spanish Leather" – Nanci Griffith with Carolyn Hester
"Gotta Serve Somebody" – Booker T. & the M.G.'s
CD Audio Bonus Tracks:
"I Belive in You" – Sinéad O'Connor (from soundcheck, previously unreleased)
"Don't Think Twice, It's Alright" – Eric Clapton (from soundcheck, previously unreleased)