Second Gaslight Tape

late 1962

Barbara Allen
A Hard Rain's A Gonna Fall
Don't Think Twice
Black Cross
No More Auction Block
Rocks and Gravel
Moonshine Blues
John Brown
Ballad of Hollis Brown
See That My Grave is Kept Clean
Cuckoo is a Pretty Bird
Ain't No More Cane
Motherless Children
Handsome Molly
Kind Hearted Woman
West Texas
This is, without a doubt, the best early Dylan (pre-1964) live material I've ever heard. This is a must for any Dylan fan, and fortunately this material is widely available on CD (Italian import - check your local CD store for availability) and in very decent sound.

(Update: Ten tracks from this tape are now officially available from Columbia through special arrangement with Starbucks.)

The performances are all at the Gaslight Cafe, but the audience is barely in evidence. It could have been recorded on a slow night or possibly during a time when the club was closed to the public. The recording sounds very professional, so maybe this was an informal recording session. The audience can be heard during "Hard Rain" singing along, so maybe this was a private session of sorts (party tape?). Dylan seems to have left his harmonica holder at home because none of the songs on this tape feature his trademark harmonica at all. This actually adds to the greatness of the performances, I think, because it forced Dylan to attempt something interesting on the guitar during the spots where the harmonica breaks should fall. This is most evident on "Don't Think Twice" and "Cocaine", two songs where harmonica had been the dominant instrument. All the songs on this tape sound very unusual for this reason.

Dylan is in exceptionally good voice throughout. Of special note is his vocal on "Barbara Allen", where (as has been noted by others) his voice sounds strangely like his Nashville Skyline voice of many years later. On "No More Auction Block" he manages to sound 100 years old and his singing from the viewpoint of an ex-slave is very convincing. The other blues and spirituals are equally impressive, my favorite being "West Texas", which features a very compelling guitar figure and an excellent blues vocal. But I think my very favorite song on the tape has to be "Handsome Molly". This is just an incredible song (not written by Dylan, btw) that never fails to move me. I also like "Barbara Allen", "Motherless Children", and "Moonshine Blues". Actually, there isn't one dead spot in this entire set. The original songs, many being heard possibly for the first time, are: "Hard Rain", "Don't Think Twice", "John Brown", "Hollis Brown" (hmmm, wonder if they're related :-), and if you insist "Rocks and Gravel", but I'm pretty sure that this song doesn't belong in the list of original Dylan songs.


  • Live at the Gaslight 1962 [Columbia] (official release)
  • The Gaslight Tapes [Laser]
  • The Gaslight Tapes [Rattle Snake] (upgrade)
  • Bob Dylan Rare Live Performances of the Sixties (Volume I & II) [Magic Music]
The Laser disc is reported to be the world's first bootleg CD

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