Read how David Browne rates albums from Bob Dylan, Weezer, James Brown, Guns N' Roses, Fleetwood Mac, and Paul Simon
BOB DYLAN The Bootleg Series Vol. 6: Bob Dylan Live 1964/Concert at Philharmonic Hall (Columbia/Legacy)
It’s shocking that this pristine tape — the young bard in full-on protest-song mode — was shelved. (Check out ”The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll.”) Even more startling are his between-song quips: He’d never again be so giddy on stage, telling the Halloween-night crowd ”I have my Bob Dylan mask on!”
WEEZER Deluxe Edition (Geffen/UMe)
The CD that brought emo to the malls now sounds positively innocent next to later Weezer. Extras: A rarities disc that, as on acoustic takes of ”Jamie” and ”No One Else,” is often more sonically varied than the original.
JAMES BROWN Live At the Apollo (1962) (Expanded Edition) (Polydor/UMe)
”Remastered” versions of old CDs are annoyingly common, but this merits the makeover: Brown’s iconic 1962 concert sounds brighter than on the 1990 disc. It’s tame by modern funk standards, but there’s no denying Brown’s scorched-earth pleading or the newly thrusting horns. Extras: Singles-length versions of four tracks. Why?
GUNS N’ ROSES Greatest Hits (Geffen)
In place of Chinese Democracy comes an unnecessary set charting their decline from Sunset Strip spitfires of Appetite for Destruction to bloated behemoths of Use Your Illusions. Extras: Pointless remake of ”Sympathy for the Devil” from Interview With the Vampire.
FLEETWOOD MAC Rumours (Warner Bros.)
The 27-year-old (!) milestone gets the director’s-cut treatment (as do Fleetwood Mac and Tusk). Extras: A disc of studio outtakes proves the quintet was no jam band: Early, pre-overdub versions of ”Dreams” and other tunes are nearly identical to the renditions we know. At least the haunted B side ”Silver Springs” is here.
PAUL SIMON The Paul Simon Song Book (Columbia/Legacy)
Imagine early S&G tunes without G: That’s the essence of this unearthed ’65 solo album. Mostly a curiosity, though it has moments (”Flowers Never Bend With the Rainfall”). Extras: Barely different alternate takes of two cuts.