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Bob Dylan: Guitars Kissing & The Contemporary Fix

[cover art]

[Yugoslavian CD] [Yugoslavian back cover]

2CD bootleg from the legendary Dylan/Hawks concert at the Manchester Free Trade Hall, May 17, 1966. With Dylan, Danko, Hudson, Manuel, Robertson, and Mickey Jones on drums. There is also a Yugoslavian bootleg with the same title and content, but different artwork, out there (DPP 1996).


by Bill Glahn, Live! Music Review, February '96

How long can collectors and fans be expected to wait? After releasing The Official Bootleg Series Vol. 1-3, a stripped down version of what was once planned as a five-CD box, Columbia/Sony began promising to release the complete Manchester Free Trade Hall show from May 17, 1966 as Volumes 4 and 5. Several years later there is still no official release or even a scheduled release date. No doubt someone in the upper echelons of Sony was asking themselves the same question and in a fit of frustration made the masters available to a well connected bootlegger. At least that is the rumour.

This two-CD set arrived anonymously with a computer printout that said simply: "The masters were reviewed by a pair of guitar techs who both pronounced them to be a quarter-note sharp - so the pitch was adjusted for this release. Other than that adjustment, this is a precise representation of what Columbia has been promising for the last couple of years."

So - does this live up to the hype? Absolutely! Much of this show has been around for years and has made numerous appearances on bootleg before, most often being referred to as Royal Albert Hall. Prior to this set, the best version appeared on a pair of Swingin' Pig CD's a number of years ago, a release which proved to be a revelation at the time. It approached official quality, but didn't quite make it in terms of completeness or fidelity.

Guitars Kissing finally gives fans the best documentation possible of this legendary and controversial tour in which Dylan moved firmly away from pure folk and into the disdained (at the time) area of electric rock 'n' roll. Of course, Dylan was right to make the move. Elitism had no place in a music which embraced the downtrodden and took up the fight against racism, poverty, and segregation as folk did in the '50s and '60s. The so-called folk intelligensia howled at Dylan's "abandonment" of that music as the only true music of the working man. This condescending attitude seems so magnificently hypocritical 30 years later.

In fact, Dylan couldn't have picked a more "honest" group of musicians to back him. The Hawks were no rookies in the world of music and touring. They were the backing band of Ronnie Hawkins, a rock-a-billy figure of some note, who made his living playing an endless stream of road houses and honky-tonks throughout the south. If Hollis Brown were to go out for an evening's worth of music there is little doubt that he would venture down to a neighbouring road house to see a band like the Hawks than to travel to the big city coffee houses where college-aged beatniks would gather around to stroke each other and revel in their own perceived importance.

Shouts of disapproval can be heard throughout the electric portion of this show, an indication of just how important the hard-core folkies perceived themselves to be. After Ballad Of A Thin Man someone yells out "Judas" and the audience applauds the detractor. Dylan proceeds, telling his band to play louder, a flip of the finger to arrogance and hypocrisy if ever there was one. The level of importance of this tour cannot be underestimated. Ten years later Dylan would take a full contingent of amplified folkies along for the ride on the Rolling Thunder Review. Nobody was complaining by then.

As a secondary point, this double-CD set bears witness to what a great band The Hawks (who later became The Band) were. Although Levon Helm was not present for this tour (Mickey Jones substituted), the double keyboards of Garth Hudson and Richard Manual drive the music while Robbie Robertson weaves in an out with amazing grace (How's that for back-dooring a folk anthem into a rock 'n' roll review?).

Sound quality is superb with the warmth of a full-bodied analog master tape and virtually no hiss (noticeable only in headphones). Columbia/Sony can get back to the drawing board to plan something different for their official bootleg series. The Manchester show has now been done to perfection.
--Bill Glahn, Live! Music Review, February '96

The sound samples of the Dylan/Hawks tunes, availabe from the track list below, contain whole songs and will take a long time to download.


1. She Belongs To Me
2. Fourth Time Around
3. Visions Of Johanna
4. It's All Over Now, Baby Blue
5. Desolation Row
6. Just Like A Woman
7. Mr Tambourine Man
8. Tell Me Mamma AU file (2.9MB)
9. I Don't Believe You AU file (3.8MB)
10. Baby Let Me Follow You Down AU file (2.6MB)
11. Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues AU file (3.8MB)
12. Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat AU file (2.7MB)
13. One Too Many Mornings AU file (2.9MB)
14. Ballad Of A Thin Man AU file (4.7MB)
15. Like A Rolling Stone AU file (5.2MB)

Bob Dylan - Guitars Kissing & The Contemporary Fix - 1996 - Scorpio SIAE 51766A/E

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