On May 1, 1970, Bob Dylan got together with George Harrison, Charlie Daniels, Billy Mundi and Bob Johnson (yes, that Bob Johnson) and recorded a bunch of songs; sadly, only of these, "If Not for You" from The Bootleg Series, Vol. 1-3, has seen an official release, which is a shame because it's such a great session.
On Almost Went to See Elvis (good name, huh?), a bootleg of that May day, it begins with the quintessential version of "Song to Woody." Sung with the same sincerity as the version appearing on Bob Dylan, the song sounds even better with a backing band and Dylan's "new" voice. No fan should go without it.
The next track, an instrumental of "Don't Think Twice, It's Alright," isn't anything special but does have a great bass solo by Charlie Daniels. One of the main reasons I like this boot is because Dylan doesn't completely take over; he's clearly in awe of Harrison and Daniels in the same way he was with Johnny Cash a year earlier.
"Yesterday," a song that The Beatles wrote and recorded in 1965, is an odd song for Dylan to sing but he does a really good job with it. For some reason, he puts added emphasis to the line, "Why, why...she...had to go, I don't knowwww/She wouldn't say." Harrison's guitar playing really shines on this track; to quote The Eagles, it's got a "peaceful, easy feeling" to it. And that's the last time I'll ever quote The Eagles.
Changing the lyrics every so slightly, "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues" doesn't have the same longing and emotional impact of the ones on Highway 61 Revisited and The Bootleg Series, Vol. 4, but it's still rather good. After the final line of "I'm going back to New York City/I do believe I've had enough," Dylan and Daniels repeat each other with a chorus of "Hey, hey, hey," etc. Then the song begins again with, "When you're lost in Juarez..."
A rocking version of "Da Doo Run Run" is the only non-Dylan or Beatles song played during the session and it's just plain fun. Just a bunch of guys toying around and playing their instruments--harmonica included.
The boot ends with two version of "One Too Many Mornings"--one instrumental and the other with lyrics. The instrumental is rather boring and I think Dylan realizes this because he says, "Let's just stop there." Then the band cracks into the much better version. Somewhere between the studio version on The Times They Are A-Changin' and the electric one featured in '66 in terms of intensity, it's a nice way to end an album.
If you ever get a chance to download or buy this bootleg, you should do so. It's essential listening for any Dylan (or Beatles or George Harrison or Charlie Daniels Band) fan.