This article is about the Bob Dylan album. For the period in Christian and Jewish theology, see Antediluvian
Before the Flood is a live album by Bob Dylan and The Band, released in June 1974 on Asylum Records in America and Island Records in England. It is the seventeenth album by Dylan and the seventh by The Band, and documents their joint 1974 American tour. It peaked at number three on the Billboard 200, reached number eight on the popular album chart in the United Kingdom, 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,Washington, at the 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.
After the double album's 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.
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.
Subsequent reissues were on the Columbia imprint, and on March 31, 2009, a remastered digipak version of Before the Flood was issued by Legacy Records, Columbia now part of Sony Music Entertainment.
Reviews for Before the Flood were positive. AllMusic has described it as "one of the best live albums of its time. Ever, maybe." Robert Christgau wrote, "At its best, this is the craziest and strongest rock and roll ever recorded. All analogous live albums fall flat." Greil Marcus commented, "Roaring with resentment and happiness, the music touched rock and roll at its limits." The Village Voice placed it at number six Pazz & Jop Critics Poll for 1974. In contrast, Dylan himself later disparaged the tour, feeling it 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."
During 1974, both the album and its single "Most Likely You Go Your Way (And I'll Go Mine)" appeared on charts compiled by Billboard magazine. Before the Flood peaked at number 3 on the Pop Albums chart, and "Most Likely You Go Your Way" reached number 66 on the Pop Singles chart.
Track listing 
- Sides one and four are performances by Bob Dylan and 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. All dates from Los Angeles except as indicated.
All songs written and composed by Bob Dylan, except where noted.
- Side one
- Side two
- Side three
- Side four
- Bob Dylan – vocals, guitars, harmonica, piano
- Rick Danko – vocals, bass guitar, fiddle
- Levon Helm – vocals, drums, mandolin
- Garth Hudson – Lowery organ, clavinet, piano, synthesizer, saxophone
- Richard Manuel – vocals, piano, electric piano, organ, drums
- Robbie Robertson – electric guitar, backing vocals
- Technical personnel
- ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. Before the Flood at Allmusic
- ^ Robert Christgau review
- ^ Nolan, Tom (29 August 1974). "Bob Dylan: Before The Flood : Music Reviews : Rolling Stone". web.archive.org. Archived from the original on 3 November 2007. Retrieved 11 September 2011.
- ^ "RIAA – Searchable database: Before the Flood". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 25 October 2011.
- ^ Shelton, Robert. No Direction Home: The Life and Music of Bob Dylan. 1986, ISBN 978-0-688-05045-0, pp. 436-437.
- ^ Bjorner's Files Still on the Road
- ^ Gray, Michael. The Bob Dylan Encyclopedia. 2006, ISBN 978-0-8264-6933-5, p. 43.
- ^ Shelton, p. 378.
- ^ AllMusic website review
- ^ Robert Christgau Consumer Guide
- ^ Marcus, Greil (1997). Mystery Train Images of America in Rock & Roll Music. New York: Plume. p. 221. ISBN 978-0-452-27836-3.
- ^ Rocklist Website
- ^ Dylan, Bob, in conversation with Cameron Crowe. Biograph. 1985, Columbia Records C5X 38830 vinyl edition, liner notes, p. 22.