This page features two readers polls to find the best Bob Dylan live album and the best Bob Dylan studio album,.
What are the best Bob Dylan live albums?
I’ve put together a poll to find out what is the best Bob Dylan live album and I’d appreciate it if you could vote for your favourites.
There are a few to choose from.
Do you like the controversy caused by the Live 1966 Royal Albert Hall performance when Bob Dylan was called Judas after he strapped on his electric guitar?
Or perhaps Bob Dylan turning his act into a Las Vegas style performance with some radical re-workings of a great set list on Bob Dylan At Budokan?
The results of the best live album by Bob Dylan poll
Just under 100 people have voted for their favourite Bob Dylan live albums at the time of this update. Here are my thoughts on the results. Only in 2015 have I increased the number of albums voters can select from three to five. That’s because of the release of radio and TV broadcasts that aren’t approved but are legal in Europe.
Two albums are in a clear lead and both come from the bootleg series of archive releases.
At #1 is the historic album wrongly called Live 1966 Royal Albert Hall since it was recorded in Manchester. This is the album that for uses the debate on whether Dylan should be an acoustic folk singer or an electric rocker.
As far as I’m concerned, the debate was ended the year earlier with the release of the exceptional studio album, Highway 61 Revisited. While I can’t dispute that the Royal Albert Hall album is of historic importance and it’s one that every Dylan fan and even every rock fan should hear, I’m not convinced that it’s a great listen. I’ve owned it for many years but I don’t go back to it that often but then, I’ve always felt that Blonde On Blonde was overrated.
I have no problems withe the album at #2 in the poll, Live 1975 Rolling Thunder Revue.
Touring to promote the great studio albums Blood On The Tracks and Desire, this has a vigorous reworking of his older songs with a full sound that never resorts to the garage rock of the electric half of Live 1966.
At #3 is the live album Dylan did with The Band which helped to reinvigorate him for a mid 1970s revival in form, Before The Flood from 1974.
This is Dylan very much in classic rock mood. There are two ways to look at this album, either as a very good summary of the two acts or something a compromise that’s neither a Bob Dylan live album like Live 1975 or a live album by The Band like Rock Of Ages.
At #4 is an album that is often panned by critics and I love. I’m pleased to see that others appreciate Bob Dylan At Budokan from 1978 as well.
This presents Bob Dylan, almost as a Las Vegas showman with a big band with saxes and flute and female backing singers. If you like the Street Legal studio album, I think you’ll love this one. The version of I Want You is gorgeous and the entire setlist is packed with his best known songs. My only criticism is that I’d like mire punch on the Highway 61 Revisited songs.
In fifth place was a taster for the Rolling Thunder Revue shows and the second half of the tour in 1976 called Hard Rain. This is a supplement to Live 1975, although it was released much earlier.
Although it was only a single vinyl album compared to the longer albums above it, I can understand why it’s getting plenty of support.
At #6 is the first Bob Dylan as an acoustic folk singer, Live 1964 at Philharmonic Hall. This is for those who love the Dylan songs from the time before he picked up an electric guitar.
There are plenty of others from the early 1960s including those radio and TV broadcasts but this is a great place to start.
How many Dylan live albums are essential to a well balanced collection? Certainly the six albums listed above. The great thing about these albums is that, although they repeat songs, each album has a strong individual identity.
I’m by no means a Dylan fanatic but I have all these plus Real Live from 1984 with ex-Rolling Stone Mick Taylor on lead guitar and the full 1963 Carnegie Hall concert. I could easily add more.
If I had to trim it down to two, I’d select At Budokan and Live 1975 Rolling Thunder Revue knowing that The Band”s Rock Of Ages is also part of my best of the best collection.
Do you agree?
What are the best Bob Dylan studio albums?
I believe the best live albums and best studio albums are often linked in time.
Three albums are running away with this poll and they are the big three – Blood On The Tracks, Blonde On Blonde and Highway 61 Revisited. Given the quality and number of Dylan studio albums, it looks stingy to force the choice of the best two but that’s what I did.
What Are The Best Live Albums Ever?
Please help me to find the best live albums by voting in more of my live album polls: Dylan features in the genre polls for singer songwriters, classic rock and folk but the main purpose of these polls is to help you to find other live albums that you might love.
I also have a division 2 poll because there are so many good singer songwriter albums.
Again there is a division 2 poll for classic rock
If you like Bob Dylan, you might want to look at the polls for these other top singer-songwriters: