Bob Dylan's Rolling Thunder Revue has long been one of rock's most-discussed spectacles, with its traveling-circus atmosphere and remarkably diverse array of musical participants. But while bootleggers have had their way with it, the tour was barely acknowledged by those responsible for preserving Dylan's live legacy in official form. This generously proportioned two-disc set captures Dylan at his most mercurial, veering from raging songs of protest (a steely, spitting version of "Hurricane," which was, at that point, unreleased) to pastoral interludes of beauty (highlighted by a passel of duets with Joan Baez
, including a lovely rendition of the traditional "The Water Is Wide"). Dylan's constant quest to reinvent himself -- or at least his songs -- is in full evidence here, in the grand-scale presentation of the early high-water mark "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll" and the woozy, sea-chantey take on "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" (replete with storefront-church call-and-response vocals). Baez isn't the only Thunder-er to shine: "It Ain't Me, Babe" benefits from the Technicolor guitar splashes provided by Mick Ronson
-- an unlikely but ideal foil for Dylan's stark performance style. "Tonight I'll Be Staying Here with You," on the other hand, takes on a whole new personality, thanks to Dylan's aggressive delivery, which makes the sentiment sound more like a jut-jawed threat than a sensual promise. Like all the previous offerings in the Bootleg Series, this is a fascinating, unflaggingly revealing snapshot of an artist who seldom stands still long enough for anyone to capture an image for posterity.