When we open our ears – and it may take a dozen listenings before we stop hearing this album in terms of what we expect these songs to sound like, or, for the fans, in terms of the performances we think should have been included – the rewards and surprises of Hard Rain are nearly inexhaustible.
~Paul Williams (Bob Dylan: Performing Artist, Vol 2: The Middle Years 1974-1986)
Hindsight shows that this album introduces the ragged, postmodern Bob Dylan, right from the grungy instrumental ground-pawing ahead of the start of the first number. Moreover the running order now seems surprisingly well thought out. It represents, too, the late phase of the historic Rolling Thunder Revue tour and captures the distinctive, bare-wired sound of Dylan’s existential gypsy band. Stand-out track is ‘Idiot Wind’, which, as Dylan grows ever more engaged, bursts open and pours out its brilliant venom.
~Michael Gray (The Bob Dylan Encyclopedia)
The 3 best all time (from any artist) officially released concert albums are obviously “Hard Rain”, “Bob Dylan Live 1966, The “Royal Albert Hall” Concert” & “Bob Dylan Live 1975, The Rolling Thunder Revue”. They are all brilliant. Today “Hard Rain” is the best of the lot.
The album received an awful lot bad criticism upon its release, and surprisingly still does. To my ears it has always sounded amazing. Listening to other bootlegs from Rolling thunder 2 & watching the Hard Rain movie (and outtakes), one could easily wish that more songs had been included, and he’d put out a double album. But it is what it is, and it’s incredible. It is also (as noted by Paul Williams) inexhaustible, it still sounds fresh & wonderful today.
New York City, New York
On September 6, 1961, Bob Dylan performed at the Gaslight in New York.
His set also include an appearance by Dave Van Ronk playing guitar and singing harmony vocals on “Car, Car,”.
Some of the songs appeared on the first official Bootleg series set (Vol 1-3). Others have yet to be officially released.
With the same band and repertoire as at Forest Hills, Dylan plays a major west coast show. However, this time far more of the audience are enthusiastic about the show, and Dylan treats them to an encore. Afrer the show, he attends a Hollywood-style party, along with 300 other guests, at which he meets a longtime idol, Marlon Brando.
~Clinton Heylin (Bob Dylan: A Life in Stolen Moments Day by Day 1941-1995)
…The historical value of these long-lost and much-bootlegged tapes cannot be overstated, however. Alternative Edge’s Hollywood Bowl 1965 boasts the same source limitations as rival releases and features the show in its entirety (minus the finale of “Mr. Tambourine,” missing from all known recordings), making it an essential addition to any serious Dylan enthusiast’s collection.
~Jason Ankeny (allmusic.com)
Los Angeles, California
3 September 1965