''Before the Flood'' is a live album by American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan and The Band, released on June 20, 1974, on Asylum Records in the United States and Island Records in the United Kingdom. It was Dylan's first live album, although live recordings of earlier performances would later be released. It is the 15th album by Dylan and the seventh by the Band, and documents their joint 1974 American tour. It peaked at on the ''Billboard'' 200, reached on the popular album chart in the UK, and has been certified Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America.


Dylan and his new record label Asylum had planned professional recordings before the tour began, ten separate sessions in total: three in New York at Madison Square Garden on January 30 and 31; two in Seattle, at the Seattle Center Coliseum on February 9; two in Oakland, California, at the Alameda County Coliseum on February 11; and three in Los Angeles on February 13 and 14. To compile the album, recordings were taken from the final three shows at the Los Angeles Forum in Inglewood, California, with only "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" from New York. The title of the album is thought to derive from the novel ''Farn Mabul'' by Yiddish writer Sholem Asch; Dylan had a personal relationship with Moses Asch, son of Sholem and founder of Folkways Records, a record label hugely influential in the folk music revival. Another theory is that the title refers to the album arriving before the inevitable flood of bootlegs could saturate the underground market. While Dylan and the Band had recorded the studio album ''Planet Waves'' prior to the tour, few of its songs were incorporated into the tour's setlist, and none are represented on ''Before the Flood''. After the double album release, Dylan signed a new contract with Columbia Records in time for his next studio album, ''Blood on the Tracks'', after returning label president Goddard Lieberson made a determined campaign to get Dylan back from Asylum. The Band continued to record on their own for Capitol Records. Subsequent reissues were on the Columbia imprint, and on March 31, 2009, a remastered digipak version of ''Before the Flood'' was issued by Legacy Recordings/Columbia, now part of Sony Music Entertainment.

Critical reception

In a contemporary review for ''Creem'' magazine, Robert Christgau felt that the Band followed Dylan in intensifying his old songs for the arena venue and stated, "Without qualification, this is the craziest and strongest rock and roll ever recorded. All analogous live albums fall flat." In a less enthusiastic review, ''Rolling Stone'' magazine's Tom Nolan said Dylan's vocal emphasis and the Band's busy arrangements make for an awkward listen, although revamped versions of songs such as "It's All Right, Ma", "Like a Rolling Stone", and "All Along the Watchtower" are successful and sound meaningful. ''Before the Flood'' was voted the sixth best album of 1974, in ''The Village Voice''s annual Pazz & Jop critics poll. Christgau, the poll's creator, ranked it second on his own list. In a retrospective review, Greg Kot of the ''Chicago Tribune'' called the album "epochal", while AllMusic's Stephen Thomas Erlewine described it as "one of the best live albums of its time. Ever, maybe." Greil Marcus commented, "Roaring with resentment and happiness, the music touched rock and roll at its limits." By contrast, Dylan himself later disparaged the tour, feeling that it was overblown. "I think I was just playing a role on that tour, I was playing Bob Dylan and the Band were playing the Band. It was all sort of mindless. The only thing people talked about was energy this, energy that. The highest compliments were things like, 'Wow, lotta energy, man.' It had become absurd."Dylan, Bob, in conversation with Cameron Crowe. ''Biograph''. 1985, Columbia Records C5X 38830 vinyl edition, liner notes, p. 22. In a retrospective review, Scott Hreha from ''PopMatters'' also felt that each act did not sound collaborative as on ''The Basement Tapes'' and that the album "remains a worthy but inessential item in Dylan's catalog—and both he and the Band have better live recordings available, especially the several volumes in Dylan's ''Bootleg Series''."

Track listing

Sides one and four are performances by Bob Dylan backed by the Band; side two and tracks four through six on side three are by the Band; tracks one through three on side three by Dylan alone. "Blowin' in the Wind" is a splice of two separate performances.



* Bob Dylanvocals, guitars, harmonica, piano * Robbie Robertsonelectric guitar, backing vocals * Garth Hudsonorgan, piano, clavinet * Levon Helm – vocals, drums * Richard Manuel – vocals, piano, electric piano, organ, drums * Rick Danko – vocals, bass guitar


*Rob Frabonirecording engineer, mixing engineer *Phil Ramone – recording engineer *Nat Jeffrey – mixing engineer *Barry Feinstein – photography, design *Village Recorders – mixing location *Kendun Recorders – mastering location *Jeff Rosen – reissue producer *Steve Berkowitz – reissue producer *Location Recording by Wally Heider Recording, *Recording Crew: Ed Barton, Bill Broms, Jack Crymes, *Biff Dawes and Deane Jensen.



External links

* {{DEFAULTSORT:Before The Flood Category:1974 live albums Category:Asylum Records live albums Category:Bob Dylan live albums Category:CBS Records live albums Category:Collaborative albums Category:Columbia Records live albums Category:Island Records live albums Category:The Band live albums Category:Albums recorded at the Forum