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Sunday, June 1, 2014

Acknowledgments & Further Reading

Welcome one last time, friends.

Since the conclusion of this project some weeks ago, I wanted to provide some brief acknowledgments and recommendations for further listening and reading.

With regard to the former, I would like to first thank the tapers who have made this website possible. Many names have been lost to time, but some contributors to the taping community stand out. In no particular order, I thank Soomlos, Hide, Bach, Spot, Zimmy21, Les Kokay, LTD, and Hurricane62. Surely there are many others I am forgetting at this moment; feel free to note them in the comments below.

Perhaps as important as the tapers are the community's contributors who make the recordings available either in their pure form or as part of compilations. These include ExpectingRain's Lilraven, Nellie, StHelens, Daveskey, Smoke, 10haaf, Lee67, Ditch, and NotDarkYet. Though I am proud of the Thousand Highways Collection, these folks are the foundations on which it was based, and without whom it could not stand.

As for recommendations, I urge interested listeners to seek out the following books:

Paul Williams - Performing Artist, Volume One (1960 - 1973)
Paul Williams - Performing Artist, Volume Two (1974 - 1986)
Paul Williams - Performing Artist, Volume Three (1986 - 1990)

Andrew Muir - One More Night: Bob Dylan's Never-Ending Tour (1988 - 2011)

Clinton Heylin - Revolution In The Air, The Songs Of Bob Dylan (1956 - 1973)
Clinton Heylin - Still On The Road, The Songs Of Bob Dylan (1974 - 2006)

Derek Barker - The Songs He Didn't Write: Bob Dylan Under The Influence

Paul Williams' series is really the finest work around on Bob Dylan's performing career from 1960 to 1990, and Andrew Muir's One More Night is a worthy successor, picking up where Williams' work concluded. Clinton Heylin is often considered a divisive author, but his exhaustive look at Dylan's writing and recording career is unparalleled; each song written gets an entry. Derek Barker's book is the definitive look at this artist's work covering other musicians' material. None of these are particularly biographical in scope, but if you, like me, are interested in Dylan's music more than his personal life, you'll find that these are the only books you'd ever need on his work. It's worth noting that these links are to amazon.com, since that is the most reliably stable website for linking, but try to seek these out at local bookstores if you have the opportunity.

Finally, I would like to thank the listeners and the musicians. Without the listeners, this would be a largely unrewarding endeavor. Without the artists, we would live in a poorer culture. We should all be grateful that we live in a time when this kind of art can be performed, recorded, preserved, and enjoyed by generations to come.

Thank you,
CS

Sunday, May 18, 2014

One More Night: Unreleased Live Recordings, 1961 - 2014 (Volume Five)




One More Night: 1961 – 2014
Volume Five

Desolation Row – September 3, 1965
Trouble – August 16, 1989
Mr. Tambourine Man – March 7, 2005
Uranium Rock – June 29, 1986
Shake Sugaree – June 17, 1996
Soon – March 11, 1987
Tough Mama – April 11, 2009
You’re Too Late – January 29, 1999
When First Unto This Country – June 12, 1991
One More Night – September 29, 1995
I Want You – May 18, 1976
Pretty Peggy-O – April 18, 1997
When I Paint My Masterpiece – October 29, 1999
Remember Me – 1961
Dignity – November 13, 2004
Restless Farewell – November 19, 1995

Bonus

Tell Me Mama – May 14, 1966
Visions Of Johanna – April 18, 1976
Vincent Van Gogh – May 16, 1976
With God On Our Side – October 18, 1988
Congratulations – June 7, 1989
I Believe In You – March 30, 1995
House Of The Rising Sun – June 18, 2000

Link


This is the final installment in the five-part One More Night Collection, which compiles excellent live performances from throughout Bob Dylan’s career into a cohesive listening experience.

The first track, “Desolation Row,” is the song's debut. Recorded at an Autumn show in 1965, you can hear the audience laugh at surrealist imagery. The vocals are word-perfect, and reveal a man completely dedicated to his craft. Though some crowds would be hostile to Dylan's artistic evolution, the audience at this show was nothing but engaged.

“Trouble” is a gritty, dirty run-through of this rarely played Shot of Love b-side. The band, as it so frequently was in 1989, is fully engaged with the dystopic tone.

“Mr. Tambourine Man” appears for the second time in this collection in what has been called a funereal arrangement from 2005. It is delicate, and much of the song is very close to acapella. There is an unconfirmed rumor that this song was performed at this show as an unspoken dedication to the recently deceased American author Hunter S. Thompson, for whom it was a favorite.

The fourth song, “Uranium Rock,” is a stark tonal shift from the preceding track. This is Dylan at his rockabilly best of 1986, playing a song that has been controversially attributed to Warren Smith. In fact, much of the song has lyrics unrelated to the original; only the structure and part of the “money money” refrain has been retained from Smith’s 1958 original. This practice was one that Dylan would use a handful of times in the mid-‘80s, as his 1985 “Shake” (played at Farm Aid) was based on the template of Roy Head’s “Treat Her Right.”

“Shake Sugaree” was played with some regularity throughout 1996, but this is the version familiar to most listeners. A traditional-sounding song attributed to Elizabeth Cotton, the lyrics are fairly inscrutable. It may also have been recorded for Dylan’s 1997 record, Time Out of Mind, though no recording has been made available yet.

The fifth track, “Soon,” is a recording held in high esteem among tape collectors. It was played at a Gershwin Tribute Gala in 1987. Featuring some of Dylan’s most tender vocals of that decade, the song is accentuated by some melodic harmonica. This recording is likely derived from a TV feed or similar source, accounting for the less than ideal sound.

“Tough Mama,” from 2009, is my favorite live performance of this song. Appropriately rollicking, it is one of two performances of the song at a three-night Amsterdam residency. It has been almost entirely rewritten! New lyrical highlights include “the dress that your wearing weighs a ton” and “staring at the ceiling/sitting in a chair./Big fire blazing/ashes in the air.”

“You’re Too Late” is a 1999 cover from Daytona Beach. Bob Dylan’s covers during the 1997 – 2001 tours were frequently concert high points, and this is no exception. Larry Campbell adds some extraordinary pedal steel guitar to the recording.

Track eight, “When First Unto This Country,” is not an ideal recording. Though clear, the vocals are sometimes covered by a loudly mixed acoustic guitar. With that caveat, though, the song is magnificent. This is one of the singer’s numerous immigrant songs of a type shared by “Across The Borderline,” “I Pity The Poor Immigrant,” and “Deportees.” To be clear, all except one of these are covers, but Dylan consistently makes them his own.

“One More Night” is one of the best songs of the set. Again, despite the tape’s shortcomings, brilliance shines through. This is one of only two live performances of the Nashville Skyline song, and the only one with Bob Dylan on vocals. He is fully committed to the song, singing it with all the sorrow of a man who lost his sweetheart only yesterday. Allison Krauss is featured on violin.

“I Want You” dates from 1976. The Rolling Thunder Revue featured many songs that had not been played live until that time, and this is one of the most engaging. The band’s jaunty tone contributes significantly.

“Pretty Peggy-O,” which turned up earlier on A Thousand Highways in its 1988 guise, features dramatic vocals putting across all of the pathos possible in this old tale of unrequited love. The recording is sourced from the excellent Bathed in a Stream of Pure Heat 1997 tour compilation, and has long been a favorite of mine.

The twelfth song, “When I Paint My Masterpiece,” is a laid-back performance from 1999. This song has been truncated slightly to fit the runtime of a CD, but I’m sure you can seek out the full version if you enjoy it.

“Remember Me” is, like the recording of “Gypsy Davy” that appeared on an earlier volume of One More Night, among the first recordings we have of Bob Dylan’s performing career. It is on the Gleason tapes, and does not sound similar to the album he would record later in the year. Instead, it has a texture and cadence reminiscent of the great Johnny Cash. It is also one of Dylan’s most compelling performances of 1961.

“Dignity,” is incredible. It’s perhaps even the best live recording of this song. The 2004 arrangement is a passionate, powerfully driven version that’s propelled along by an almost Celtic-rock sound composed of guitar and piano. The vocal highlights include “have you seen… uh, Dignity” and, of course, “somebody showed me a picture and I just laughed, ha ha ha.” This one will get you rocking.

And finally, “Restless Farewell” concludes the set. How could it be any other way? From the singer’s soft croon to the band’s harmonious backing, Dylan’s rarely delivered a greater performance than this. The song was performed at a Sinatra Birthday Tribute in 1995, but it is a fitting farewell to the Thousand Highways Collection.

Concerning the bonus tracks, “Visions of Johanna” is a stunning rare rendition of the song from the Rolling Thunder Revue. “With God On Our Side” features a new verse concerning the Vietnam War written by Neville Brothers, and “Congratulations” is one of only three live performances of this Traveling Wilburys lost-love classic. Lastly, “I Believe In You” is a suitably muscular performance of Dylan’s 1979 hymn.

If you enjoy these songs, be sure to purchase the original studio recordings from Columbia Records:


And so we have come to the end of the series. All things must end, after all. Hopefully you've found something here that enriched your experience of Bob Dylan's performance art. It seems that everyone has enjoyed it, and that's brought me quite a bit of joy. It's great to bring a little bit of happiness into the world; curating this collection of beautiful and unique recordings has been a privilege.

Thanks for listening,
CS

Sunday, May 11, 2014

One More Night: Unreleased Live Recordings, 1961 - 2014 (Volume Four)



One More Night: Volume Four
Unreleased Live Recordings
1961 - 2014 

All Along The Watchtower - June 9, 1998
She Belongs To Me - April 30, 2006
I Don't Believe You - October 31, 1975
Chimes Of Freedom - November 18, 2005
I'll Be Your Baby Tonight - November 12, 1981
I Dreamed I Saw Saint Augustine - November 4, 1975 (Evening)
Shelter From The Storm - March 23, 2010
Baby Please Don't Go - December 22, 1961
It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding) - June 22, 2007
I'm Not Supposed to Care - May 13, 1998
When The Night Comes Falling From The Sky - June 29, 1986
Visions Of Johanna - May 16, 1966
Buckets Of Rain - November 18, 1990
Samson & Delilah - June 11, 2004
Every Grain Of Sand - June 28, 1989

Bonus Tracks

Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues - April 13, 1966
Like A Rolling Stone - April 22, 1976
Tangled Up In Blue - June 11, 1984
In The Garden - March 21, 1995
Man Of Constant Sorrow - April 16, 2002
Return To Me - April 18, 2009
The Weight - August 3, 2013

Link


The songs here represent one of the most cohesive of these five volumes documenting Bob Dylan’s “off the record” performance career.

“All Along The Watchtower” is an esteemed arrangement performed only in 1998. The drums create a cascading pattern that gets the record off to an uptempo start.

“She Belongs To Me,” accented heavily by Donnie Herron’s steel guitar, features a little-used but effective vocal technique popularly known as ‘downsinging.’ In short, the singer draws out the penultimate syllable of a line, then drops to a lower register for the final syllable. That dry definition aside, the song never fails to bring a smile to my face.

“I Don’t Believe You” is an appropriately breezy take on this tale of romantic disappointment. If you’ve heard the acoustic tracks on The Bootleg Series Five – The Rolling Thunder Revue, you’ll have an idea of how this sounds. The rhythm is steady, and gives the singer an opportunity to play around with phrasing. A harmonica solo closes the song.

“Chimes Of Freedom” is, as far as I’ve heard, the most perfect recording of this song. Though folks for whom the ‘upsinging’ of latter years may object, the tight relationship of singer and band here presents an almost flawless rendition of a classic. You can see bolts of lightning and feel the warmth of a summer night in each note.

“I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight” is another track from 1981, one of many found on these five CDs. That was an excellent tour, and though much of it provided substance, this song represents the more playful elements of the Caribbean-influenced concerts.

“I Dreamed I Saw Saint Augustine,” from the Rolling Thunder Revue, is the second appearance of this song on the One More Night collection. Here it is presented as a duet between Dylan and Joan Baez, and is one of their more successful collaboration. The mandolin is a highlight here, as is the strange and appealing turn the vocals take on the line “alive with fiery breath.”

“Shelter From The Storm” is a bit of an oddity. The arrangement was only used briefly, and has been referred to as hip-hop influenced, though I’m not fully convinced. Either way, it reminds this listener of 2009’s “I Feel A Change Comin’ On,” and is a pleasant listen.

“Baby Please Don’t Go” is one of Dylan’s finest early blues recordings. He mixes around lyrics, including a verse referring to Parchment Farm. All acoustic, the song has a powerful drive delivered by the singer’s physical stomp.

“It’s Alright Ma” is a remarkably strong performance of this dense poem. Accompanied by his reliable rhythm section and blazing guitars and violin, the singer puts forth every word with the fire and brimstone necessary to convey the cruelty of a cynical culture.

“I’m Not Supposed To Care” is a Gordon Lightfoot cover. Much like “Early Morning Rain” and “Shadows,” the intersection of Lightfoot’s words and Dylan’s voice is hugely successful. The tale of a man so desperately in love with his ex-lover that he will be willing to drop everything and fulfill her every need should the day come, believing that she’d do the same, is deeply moving.

“When The Night Comes Falling From The Sky” is a song in transition from its steady arrangement on the Empire Burlesque record to the looser one played on the Temple In Flames Tour. The apocalyptic love story builds from a nigh-acapella introduction to a pulse-pounding rhythm reminiscent of the earlier “All Along The Watchtower.”

“Visions Of Johanna” is a classic recording of a classic song from Dylan’s noted 1966 World Tour. This performance comes from Sheffield, though it seems like each version of this tune is special for one reason or another. From 1966 to the present day, you just can’t go wrong with “Visions Of Johanna.”

“Buckets Of Rain” almost got pushed out of the set, as the recording runs a little hot, but it’s just so much fun. This is also, to date, the only live performance of the song. Note the humorous moment at which the band believes the song has ended, but the singer pushes them ahead to one whimsical final verse.

“Samson & Delilah” is a spirited version of the traditional song. Though I’ve not heard The Grateful Dead’s arrangement, I would not be shocked if it functions as the template for this one. I am not fully clear on the lyrics, but everyone’s clearly having such a great time. The earliest version of this song with which I’m familiar with is Blind Willie Johnson’s 1927 recording, presented on Dylan’s own Theme Time Radio Hour. You may hear buzzing at the end of the track; this was apparently related to a power cut that nearly derailed the band’s contribution to the 2004 Bonarroo Festival, but thankfully the show went on.

The final song, “Every Grain Of Sand,” is considered by many to be one of the best performances of this beautiful song. Deeply poetic, the singer conveys new angles in this acoustic rendition from 1989. The harmonica is especially moving.

Among the bonus tracks, several stand out as noteworthy. Though this recording of “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues” is a little harsh on the ears (which precluded its inclusion of my 1965/1966 compilation, Shades of Blue), it includes the delightful discussion of Tom Thumb’s origins as an introduction to the song. “Like A Rolling Stone” is the only Rolling Thunder-era performance of the song, and was part of Dylan’s Hard Rain TV special, which remains unreleased. “Man Of Constant Sorrow” is not the typical arrangement, but is instead an electrified version based on the one that appeared in the Coen Brothers’ film Oh Brother, Where Art Thou. “Return To Me” is a rare live appearance of the Dean Martin classic, which Dylan also recorded in-studio for the Sopranos soundtrack, Pepper & Eggs. Finally, “The Weight” was recorded on 2013’s Americanarama tour, and features Jeff Twitty and Jim James sharing the stage and the microphone.

If you like the tracks, be sure to purchase the original studio recordings available from Columbia Records:


I hope you enjoy the songs, and find that they stand up to the quality of the preceding and following volumes.

Thanks for listening,
CS

Sunday, May 4, 2014

One More Night: Unreleased Live Recordings, 1961 - 2014 (Volume Three)

 
One More Night: Volume Three
Unreleased Live Recordings
1961 - 2014 

Can’t Be Satisfied – November 2, 1992
Something There Is About You – February 20, 1978
Precious Angel – November 12, 1980
One Irish Rover – August 16, 1989
With God On Our Side – November 4, 1975
I Pity The Poor Immigrant – May 16, 1976
Ballad Of A Thin Man – July 25, 1981
Workingman’s Blues #2 – April 17, 2014
Seven Days – June 19, 1996
Moonlight – March 10, 2004
Ain’t Got No Home – December 22, 1961
New Morning – November 27, 2005
Red Cadillac & A Black Moustache – June 29, 1986
Delia – April 15, 1992
Mr. Tambourine Man – May 16, 1966

Bonus

It Ain’t Me, Babe – September 3, 1965
Wild Mountain Thyme – December 2, 1975
Go Down Moses – October 17, 1987
What Was It You Wanted? – February 6, 1990
To Be Alone With You – January 17, 1993
Tough Mama – April 8, 1999
What Good Am I? – June 12, 2010

Link


The third volume of One More Night contains fifteen more classic songs from the span of Bob Dylan’s performing career.

“Can’t Be Satisfied” was one of many electric country and blues covers played by Dylan and his band around 1990. This was an especially spirited performance, with the singer interjecting “baby I’m gone” a couple of times throughout the track, to the audience’s delight. It gets a little shaky by the end, but that’s part of the charm, after all.

The second track, “Something There Is About You” is one of the more intriguing curiosities from this five volume set. It is a unique arrangement of the song, and the only performance after 1974. The sound quality is not the best, but it is the clearest recording I’ve heard yet. The lyrics hew closely to the original, excepting a couple of alterations.

“Precious Angel” is, much like the preceding track, a song’s final performance as of the date of writing. It is also, as Greil Marcus notes in Still On The Road: Volume Two, a very atypical rendition. Though the arrangement is essentially identical to previous incarnations, the singer plays blazing harmonica over the chorus rather than accompanying his backing vocalists.

Track four, “One Irish Rover,” is a Van Morrison cover. It’s a mood piece, and is personally quite meaningful to me. Bob Dylan played this song eighteen times from 1989 to 1993, and this one’s probably the best.

“With God On Our Side” is one of only a handful of performances of this song after 1965, and the only one between 1965 and 1982. The vocals are outstanding, and the enunciation is deeply textured. The crowd’s quite into this one, commenting on and responding to the lyrics. The one significant lyrical alteration is the wonderful expansion of “I’ve learned to hate Russia” to “I’ve learned to hate Russia, and China, and Korea, and Vietnam, and Poland, and Bulgaria, and South America, and Cuba all through my whole life.” This received resounding applause, as you’d suspect.

“I Pity The Poor Immigrant” was a highlight of the 1976 tour, and the recording here is as pristine as can be. The song is rearranged from its original studio recording to an uptempo latin style; T-Bone Burnette is responsible for the incredible piano-playing on this one.

“Ballad Of A Thin Man” is a fairly standard treatment, but the vocals are so incendiary it could not be excluded. This song tended to benefit from the backing vocalists during Dylan’s 1978 and 1981 tours, and the Avignon recording is no exception.

The eighth track, “Workingman’s Blues #2,” is an exemplary performance of one of Bob Dylan’s modern classics. The lyrics have been radically reworked, with only half of the original words remaining. The arrangement, too, is new to the 2014 tour. It’s a sweet and very sympathetic reading, carrying the lyrics with due weight.

“Seven Days” is interesting, as the song was never recorded in studio when it was originally composed in 1976. It went unperformed from 1976 to 1996, when it became a fixture of Dylan’s live set. After that year, it was retired once again. The song is played with gusto, and it lost none of its passion in the two decades it had been shelved. It has been suggested that the song was revived as a result of the singer’s Hyde Park Trust concert of 1996, at which he collaborated with Ron Wood; Wood was given the song in 1976 to record for an album, and played it at Bob Dylan’s 30th Anniversary Celebration in 1992.

“Moonlight” appears here in an uptempo arrangement that was used only briefly. Though the song was played with regularity from its introduction in 2001, I have only heard this arrangement on live recordings of the 2004 tours. It’s very effective, if not as unique as the song’s typical style. Intriguingly, several lyrical rewrites lend credibility to an interpretation of the track as a murder ballad, with the narrator noting that the “bell tolls for you my friend.”

Song eleven, “Ain’t Got No Home,” is a catchy Woody Guthrie cover. It is characteristic of Dylan’s 1961 Guthrie interpretations, with a spirited harmonica solo throughout. Listeners would be advised to look into obtaining the very different arrangement played by Bob Dylan and the Band at the 1968 Tribute to Woody Guthrie.

“New Morning” was played sparingly on the Never-Ending Tour, primarily in the early 1990s. This version is the best of the lot, and dates from 2005. It features a beautiful interplay between violin and piano.

“Red Cadillac & A Black Moustache” is a Warren Smith cover, one of several played by Dylan on his 1986 tour. It would be memorably recorded for Good Rockin’ Tonight: The Legacy of Sun Records in 2000, and apparently also exists as an uncirculating outtake for Dylan’s own Knocked Out Loaded from 1986. If this live rendition is any indication, that outtake must be fantastic.

The penultimate song, “Delia,” is one of the more interesting tracks on this CD. Though Bob Dylan would perform many traditional and cover songs from 1988 to 1992, “Delia” is one of only two that would be among the songs recorded for two cover records in 1992 and 1993. Lyrically, it has more in common with the one performed by Blind Willie McTell than the one recorded for World Gone Wrong would. The arrangement is also unique, and dissimilar to the acoustic renditions after the release of that record.

“Mr. Tambourine Man,” from the noteworthy 1966 tour, has been celebrated as one of the best performances of this monumental song. I agree – the harmonica alone is spine-tingling. Though the song would receive many excellent treatments through the years, this solo rendition from almost fifty years ago remains one of the singer’s finest achievements.

Concerning the bonus tracks, “It Ain’t Me, Babe” was only excised from the third volume’s proper tracklist at the last minute; though it’s a great song in a fascinating electric arrangement from 1965, the distortion made it a little tough to listen to when juxtaposed with surrounding tracks. “Go Down Moses” is incredible, and one of only two known performances of the song, both from Dylan’s 1987 Temples In Flames Tour. “Tough Mama” is a truly noteworthy recording, since this song is performed here in a rare slow tempo. As far as I’m aware, the song would never again be played in this manner.

If these songs do the trick for you, I encourage you to purchase the original studio recordings, available on the following records:

The Times They Are A-Changin'
Bringing It All Back Home
Highway 61 Revisited
John Wesley Harding
New Morning
Planet Waves
Slow Train Coming
World Gone Wrong
"Love & Theft"
Modern Times
The Bootleg Series, Volume 1-3

Thanks for listening, folks. Next week will be the fourth volume of this five-volume conclusion to the Thousand Highways Collection. Until then, keep yourself healthy and listen to some good tunes.

-CS

Note: Another week, another technical hiccup. If you downloaded this set on Sunday, May 4, you were left high and dry without any bonus tracks. The file has since been re-uploaded with the bonus included.

Monday, April 28, 2014

One More Night: Unreleased Live Recordings, 1961 - 2014 (Volume Two)


One More Night: Unreleased Live Recordings
1961 - 2014
Volume Two
 
God Knows – April 8, 2006
I Believe In You – July 10, 1981
Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat – May 14, 1966
Hazel – April 29, 2005
Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues – June 16, 2008
Gypsy Davy – 1961
Cry A While – November 27, 2005
Slow Train – July 25, 1981
Huck’s Tune – April 4, 2014
Oxford Town – October 25, 1990
Weary Blues From Waiting – April 18, 1976
Watching The River Flow – September 12, 1993
Pancho & Lefty – June 11, 2004
That Lucky Old Sun – February 24, 1986
Million Miles – February 5, 1999
Answer Me, My Love – October 17, 1991
Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door – July 23, 1981

Bonus

I Don’t Believe You – September 3, 1965
Tangled Up In Blue – December 10, 1978
Every Grain Of Sand – June 30, 1984
Moon River – August 27, 1990
Absolutely Sweet Marie – April 8, 2006
Heartbreak Hotel – August 16, 2009
Let Your Light Shine On Me – July 19, 2013

Link



As with Volume One, you’ve got a varied and excellent set of songs here strung together by nothing but their common glimpses of poetic beauty and outrageous fun.

“God Knows” opens the collection, and is as fine a rendition of the song as you’ll hear. It’s the last performance to date as well, which is interesting. The reading of “we’ll get all the way from here to there if we have to walk a million miles by candlelight” sounds like the singer means it! An appropriate way to begin this journey through the years.

“I Believe In You” brings the tone down, but the kicking organ and drums keep this from moving into fully laid-back territory. There’s almost a reggae tone to the proceedings, which will be echoed in the compilation’s final song. This performance of “I Believe In You” comes from the period that Paul Williams describes as sounding like the singer was singing as if his life depended on it. Dylan’s truly committed to this one.

A positively raucous “Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat” picks things back up, with Robbie Robertson providing solos. The mic distortion works to this songs advantage, only really presenting on the singer “Yes I” at the start of chorus.

“Hazel” is tender, Dylan wringing out every bit of its torch ballad character – the highlight is clearly the phrase “you got something I want plenty of.” You’ve never heard him sing it like this.

“Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues” appear with the same arrangement you will find on the Rockin’ In Rio cut from the Down The River record. Here, though, the singer and band really get into the groove of the song, as it gets more spirited with each verse. This song has always been a favorite of mine, and the arrangement from 2008 stands up alongside arrangements from years past.

“Gypsy Davy” is among the earliest recordings in this collection, apparently being sung at the home of Sid Gleason in East Orange. It was almost relegated to ‘bonus track’ status, but its connection to Dylan’s career clinched its inclusion – he would revisit the folk standard on 1993’s World Gone Wrong LP, and would rework it into a new creation on 2012’s Tempest. The singer sounds unsure of himself on this one, though even here you can hear him reworking phrases while telling the tale. His voice is quite warm and pleasant as well.

“Cry A While” is, in many ways, the opposite of the preceding track. Loud, in your face, and leaning heavily on an inventive start-stop rhythm for effect, it’s almost surprising that both songs were recorded by the same artist. Yet, as this collection demonstrates, an artist can contain multitudes. This was a song that was edged out of my Thousand Hearts & Eyes compilation, since it was performed a few days after the Brixton Residency.

The next song, “Slow Train,” has long been a cherished unreleased performance. Truly the most fire-and-brimstone performance the song has ever received, it ends abruptly as the power is lost. Despite being fragmentary, the song cries out with all the fury of Dylan’s 1966 heydey, exhorting listeners to keep their eyes on that ‘slow train coming up around the bend.’

One of the most recent songs in this collection, “Huck’s Tune,” could not have been excluded once heard. As beautiful as the breezy studio recording of this song is, the live performance is heartbreaking. The readings of “the river is wider than a mile” and “you're in your girlish prime” are spine-tingling with the presence of love and loss; you really come to understand that what the narrator cherished was beautiful but fleeting, and has been lost for now. We are blessed to live in a time when this kind of performance art is available to us as the click of a button.

“Oxford Town” is a rare one-off rendition from 1990 in, of all places, Oxford, Mississippi. Played as a request, it is surprisingly fully formed and comes across as part of a fairly carnival-like atmosphere. More than simply a rarity, this song is a pleasant surprise.

“Weary Blues From Waiting” is another one-off. It was performed as a duet with Bob Neuwirth on the second Rolling Thunder Revue, and both put themselves fully into this Hank Williams lament.

The next track, “Watching The River Flow,” is not a notable performance. It is, however, absolutely a blast to listen to. The 1973 song has rarely sounded more alive, with its arrangement very reminiscent of Johnny Cash’s great Sun Records recordings. Please note that it has been slightly truncated to fit the run time of the CD; seek out the original recording if you would like to hear the extended fills in the last couple of minutes.

“Pancho & Lefty,” much like “Huck’s Tune,” is just gorgeous. This Townes Van Zandt classic has been performed by Bob Dylan several times over the years, beginning in 1989, but never with the depth of sorrow echoed here. You can see the dusty prairie, feel Cleveland’s cold, and weep alongside the singer.

“That Lucky Old Sun” is another cover, frequently associated with Ray Charles though performed by a vast array of artists. Considered an American standard, Dylan has knocked it out of the park each time he’s performed it. You can find other renditions on the Series of Dreams and Keep Humming compilations in the Thousand Highways Collection.

“Million Miles” is one of my favorite blues songs by Bob Dylan, and he frequently performs it with panache. Though this performance does not match those of 2003, it is excellent in its own right. Note the delightful ad-libbing of “well maybe just a few” after the singer confesses he’s “done so many things [he] never did intend to do.” You just can’t help but crack a smile.

The penultimate song, “Answer Me, My Love,” was a song that the singer would perform several times throughout 1991, sometimes claiming that it would be his next single. You have to wonder if this was just a laugh, or if there is a lost studio take of this sitting in the vault. Regardless, the recording here, though marred with some feedback, is a tender addition to Dylan’s catalog of American standards.

Finally, “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” concludes the set in a jaunty reggae arrangement. It sounds like a more polished, and more lively, take on the 1978 version. It’s got some new lyrics, but the harmonica and guitar really steal the show on a final jam. This closed many nights of the 1981 tours, and I think it does a marvelous job here as well.

Of the bonus tracks, it’s worth remarking that “Tangled Up In Blue” is performed with the biblical re-writes of late 1978, and that “Moon River” was performed as a tribute to Stevie Ray Vaughan in 1990. “Absolutely Sweet Marie” is just great fun, and though the sound quality’s not great on “Let Your Light Shine On Me,” it’s a fine reminder of Dylan’s commitment to country gospel music.

I hope this set is as nice as the last, and those to come. Enjoy, everybody! And until next time, keep yourself healthy and listen to some good tunes.

Ever yours,
CS

Update: Anyone who downloaded this in the first 24 hours is missing the lossless version of Track 5, "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues." The problem in the complete download link has been corrected, but I am including a link here for those who would just like to download that one song.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

One More Night: Unreleased Live Recordings, 1961 - 2014 (Volume One)


One More Night
Unreleased Live Recordings, 1961 - 2014
Volume One

Maggie's Farm - September 22, 1985
Going, Going, Gone - May 16, 1976
Fourth Time Around - May 27, 1966
A-11 - March 11, 2005
When You Gonna Wake Up? - October 20, 1989
Saving Grace - November 16, 1979
Born In Time - January 17, 1998
Love Minus Zero/No Limit - May 3, 1976
Under The Red Sky - November 7, 2013
Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues - April 18, 1976
The Times We've Known - November 1, 1998
I Dreamed I Saw Saint Augustine - July 19, 1986
Subterranean Homesick Blues - August 3, 2002
Poor Lazarus - December 22, 1961
It Takes A Lot To Laugh (It Takes A Train To Cry) - February 3, 1990
Visions Of Johanna - November 27, 2005

Bonus Tracks

Handsome Molly - July 29, 1961
Just Like A Woman - May 27, 1966
She's Love Crazy - October 29, 1978
When Did You Leave Heaven? - July 21, 1989
My Blue-Eyed Jane - February 5, 1999
Like A Rolling Stone - June 24, 2004
Jolene - November 15, 2009

Link


Welcome friends,

This set constitutes the first volume of a “best of the rest” compilation. For those who have obtained the many earlier CDs of the Thousand Highways collection, certain periods may have gone under-represented. Conspicuously, 1996-1998 were absent, as were recordings from 2004 outside of the Spring Tour, 2005 outside of the Brixton Residency, 1989 – 1993 outside of the recordings associated with Dylan’s studio output from that era, and Rolling Thunder-period performances which were composed earlier than 1974. I hope this final 5-CD compilation fills in some of those gaps, and expands on the already-extensive Thousand Highways collection.

With that said, I would like to give some brief details on each track. The first, “Maggie’s Farm,” was played by Bob Dylan at the first Farm Aid set, and was highlighted by author Paul Williams as an especially spirited recording. I can’t say I disagree, and it came across as the highlight of an excellent concert.

The second track, “Going, Going, Gone,” remains to me the definitive rendition of this song. The singer is hardly word-perfect, but the song has been re-written to great effect. The final verse in particular is hair-raising.

“Fourth Time Around” is a beautiful rendition made warmer still by the pleasant vinyl transfer. I am unaware of the origin of this recording, but it came to me by way of the consistently great The Bob Dylan and The Hawks British Judas Concerts 1966 collection.

“A-11” is a personal favorite, as I love the old recording by Buck Owens. This recording is high-quality, and represents an aspect of Dylan’s performance art – his country covers from the early years of the 21st century. The violin is dazzling as well.

The fifth song, “When You Gonna Wake Up,” begins a brief suite of faith-based songs. This song has been radically rewritten for the 1989 tour, though it appeared just this once before never being played again (as of Spring 2014). The arrangement is stunning, and consists of Dylan’s piano leading the band into clearly uncharted territory.

“Saving Grace” is the second song in the suite, and is again a definitive performance. While the studio version is wonderful, this is positively inspirational. The singer wrings every ounce of emotion out of the song.

The seventh track, “Born In Time,” was a highlight of the 1998 tours originating with the 1989 Oh Mercy sessions. You can hear demo versions of the song on The Bootleg Series, Volume 8 and the first volume of the Series of Dreams field recordings collection. The live recording is particularly spirited, with beautiful instrumentation.

“Love Minus Zero/No Limit” is a rare performance of the song from 1976 at the well-regarded New Orleans concert. It features some pleasant harmonica and the smoky, textured vocals of that era.

“Under The Red Sky” was performed at the second of two Rome concerts in 2013, and stands out as representative of the high quality from that Autumn Tour. Dylan’s piano-playing is at the forefront, and that makes this even better than the frequently excellent performances of this song over the years. The song didn’t quite make the cut on an earlier compilation, Ivory, but it fits in very well her.

The tenth song, “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues,” is another Rolling Thunder gem. Despite the limitations in the Lackland tape from that year (also featuring a notable “If You See Her, Say Hello”), this track came through loud and clear. The vocals are heads above what was present on the 1976 rehearsal tape, and the singer turns many phrases inside out – see the verse concerning the “sergeant at arms.”

Song eleven, “The Times We’ve Known,” is a favorite in the fan community. Dylan’s performance of this Charles Aznavour classic is deeply touching. Though it often circulates as a soundboard recording originally offered for free download from bobdylan.com, this audience recording offers a warmer, fuller sound.

“I Dreamed I Saw Saint Augustine” is one of the greatest performances of this song that I’ve heard, though I may be biased in favor of its inclusion – the song is one of my favorites by this artist. It offers a stark portrayal of one’s humility when faced with the divine, and though I’m not sure this performance conveys those depths, Dylan’s aside (“it’s alright”) cements it as an absolutely committed rendition. Look forward to an recording of this song from the Rolling Thunder Revue on one of the later volumes in this series. As a fun fact, the 1986 performance is noted afterward as being a very special request from a very special person, though she’s apparently not at the show! Funny stuff.

“Subterranean Homesick Blues” is a fun recording from the Newport Folk Festival in 2002. Its rhythm is all over the place in the best possible way, and one wonders if Dylan had been influenced by his own recording of “Cry A While” the previous year.

The fourteenth song, “Poor Lazarus,” is one of the earliest we have a record of him performing, as documented on the Riverside Church tape of early 1961. This performance dates from the end of that year, when the singer’s had the chance to perfect his delivery of a truly tragic, archetypical American tale: the young man gunned down and mourned by his mother while his father laments him as a fool and his sister's poverty keeps her from being at his funeral. The song is deeply powerful, and is reminiscent to me of the old song “Delia.”

“It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry” is a growly blues song from Dylan’s lauded Hammersmith Residency of 1990. This was squeezed out of the compilation “Town Without Pity,” but seemed to accompany the other tracks here quite well. Check out the “whoa!” as the song comes to its conclusion.

The final track, “Visions of Johanna,” is a unique treat. Considered by many to be one of the finest renditions of the song, it was delivered to an adoring audience in Dublin in the autumn of 2005. You can almost hear a different singer in each verse, teasing out every bit of nuance in the lyrics. The band’s light accompaniment is spot-on, particularly Denny Freeman’s sparking guitar.

Concerning the bonus tracks, I'd like to highlight this version of "Like A Rolling Stone" as originating in Glasgow, 2004; it's the version described by author Andrew Muir in his excellent One More Night history of the Never-Ending Tour, and described by Bob Dylan as having "the best singing audience we've ever heard." In addition, this edgy recording of "She's Love Crazy" is from the St. Louis show praised by Paul Williams in Performing Artist Volume Two.

Please enjoy this selection of songs, strung together by nothing besides their excellence. I think that despite their temporal disparity, they offer a cohesive picture of the singer and his worldview.

If you like the tracks, please be sure to download the original studio recordings present on the following records:


It is worth noting that this set has the auspicious distinction of being released on Easter Sunday, the happiest day of the year for a Christian such as myself. In that spirit, I would like to bid everyone a Blessed Easter. I would also like to thank again, though one cannot thank enough, the uploaders at Expecting Rain who have made the acquisition of many of these tracks possible - Lilraven in particular is a hero to the field recording community.

Next week is the second volume in the set. Don't miss it! Until then, keep yourself healthy and listen to some good tunes.

Thanks for listening,
CS

Note: If you downloaded this on 4/20/14 before 11:20 PM EST, your set was missing a lossless recording of "When You Gonna Wake Up?" This has been fixed in a newly linked upload.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

In London: Unreleased Live Recordings, 2013


In London: Royal Albert Hall Residency, 2013

 Things Have Changed - November 28
She Belongs To Me - November 28
Beyond Here Lies Nothing - November 26
Pay In Blood - November 28
Waiting For You - November 26
Duquesne Whistle - November 28
Tangled Up In Blue - November 27
Love Sick - November 27
High Water - November 26
Simple Twist Of Fate - November 26
Forgetful Heart - November 26
Spirit On The Water - November 27
Long & Wasted Years - November 28
Roll On, John - November 26
Blowin' In The Wind - November 27


Welcome,

We were blessed with an extraordinary touring year by Bob Dylan in 2013, culminating in a triumphant residency at London's Royal Albert Hall. The evenings were filled with beautiful music, both joyful and reflective. This single-CD retrospective of those cool November nights will leave the listener with a warmth only found in the finest music.

Highlights include "She Belongs To Me," in a new arrangement, "Pay In Blood," "Waiting For You," perhaps the most perfect performance of "High Water" since 2005, a meditative "Simple Twist Of Fate," the majestic "Long & Wasted Years," and the absolutely radiant "Roll On, John."

Songs not included here are "What Good Am I," which was not as strong as it was on the Spring tour, "Early Roman Kings," "Soon After Midnight" and "Scarlet Town" from 2012's Tempest, and "All Along The Watchtower." None were as strong as the fifteen songs presented here, but all have been included as bonus tracks if you would like to add them to a playlist to complete the setlist.

If you were at these shows, I have no doubt you will be talking about them for years to come. If you weren't there, I hope you can live vicariously through this collection. If one or more of the tracks stand out to you, you can check out the great recordings by Soomlos and Spot, without whom this compilation would not exist. If you like the performance but not the tape, search around - alternate recordings exist for each night, and the alternates are excellent in their own right.

Minimal work has been done on the tracks: harmonizing volume levels and adding necessary unobtrusive fades to transition between songs comprise the majority of my involvement beyond compiling.

If you enjoy these marvelous concert recordings, give a listen to the records on which they appear in their original studio incarnations:

Bringing It All Back Home
Blood On The Tracks
Time Out Of Mind
The Essential Bob Dylan
"Love & Theft"
Modern Times
Together Through Life
Tempest

And it is with this release that the chronological CDs cease. In the coming five weeks, I will be uploading five overall retrospective sets not strung together by chronology or theme. These will contain tracks found on no other compilations here, and represent the "best of the rest," as it were. Since there were years not covered on my blog (1996 - 1998) and songs which did not fit the theme (pre-Blood On The Tracks songs on my Rolling Thunder set), I had a vast catalog of great songs to pick from. Hopefully these five final CDs will fill in the gaps effectively, completing the sketch of an artist collected on this website.

Thanks,
CS