by Bob Dylan
For the last few months of 1975 and the first few of 1976, Bob Dylan led two tours, both unoffically called 'Rolling Thunder.' The tours were a kind of travelling circus, with many guest musicians (Roger Mcguinn, Joan Baez, T-Bone Burnett, Mick Ronson, Ronee Blakely) and some weird hangers-on (Dennis Hopper, Sam Shepard). out of these notorious shows came Dylan's much ballyhooed (and largely unseen) four-hour film renaldo and clara, a tv concert special, and this live album, released in late 1976. Often dismissed as one of Dylan's lesser recordings, Hard Rain is actually, in some ways, one of his best. partially inspired by Patti Smith and by a chaotic personal life, this album captures Dylan's music at its most raucous. Indeed, some have called it his 'punk' album. His singing, especially on Idiot Wind and Shelter From the Storm, has never sounded more venomous. Older material like Maggie's Farm and One Too Many Mornings is drastically rearranged. Hard Rain should rightfully be compared to Neil Young's Time Fades Away as a wrongfully overlooked live album by a major artist.