50 Years Of Blonde On Blonde (Live) by Old Crow Medicine Show

Reviewed by Harry Kaplan

For an established band to recreate an iconic album in its entirety live could be a career killing move. It takes huge cajones to even attempt to pull something like this off. Well Old Crow Medicine Show pulled off the seemingly impossible. This isn’t one cover song, this is a live re-creation of one of the greatest folk/rock and roll albums of all times. I didn’t want to like it because I have such a reverence for the original but, this live album is too damn good. They made me like it. Not just like it, but love it. All the songs are sung perfectly with such conviction that they pay homage to the master himself.

I know all of the songs on this double album by heart since it has been one of my go to’s since 1985. I already have an indelible image of what these songs sound like and what they should sound like. With such a strong preconceived notion and expectation of these songs, the covers have to be good. And they are. Very, very good. I am still quite amazed that they took all of these songs and countrified them a bit, yet still stayed very true to the originals. 

Having listened to this album in its entirety, I now regret that I wasn’t there to witness these concerts live when they took place in Nashville in 2016. These guys sound more like Dylan than Dylan does. And the harmonica parts on this collection are absolutely brilliant. Well, there is still time to see it live because The Old Crow Medicine Show is taking this album on the road in May and June so there is still time!

Take Rainy Day Women #12 & 35 (Track 1), for instance. It is performed perfectly. It is upbeat and fun but technically perfect. I think I even hear some kazoos in this song. This may be as good as the original. I know that is blasphemy, but I speak the truth.

The vocals really shine on Sad Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands (Track 14). The energy from the crowd and the band is palpable. The pedal steel and other instrumentation is absolutely spot on and accompany the vocals with the precision of a diamond cutter

One of the songs that was a little more countrified than the other is Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again (Track 4)This is not an easy song to sing. The tempo is fast and there are a lot of words with a fair number of octave changes. I guess the Old Crow Medicine Show likes a challenge because they definitely conquered this challenge with a vengeance.

Let me say it again, tackling a musical work of this magnitude is quite an undertaking. But these boys have successfully channeled Dylan into an absolutely magical performance of one of the greatest albums of all time. There is a good chance I could listen to this instead of the original. Well, maybe I will split my time. After all, we are talking about Dylan here. But The Old Crow Medicine Show make it tempting.

Buy 50 Years Of Blonde On Blonde Live

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