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Sunday, April 5, 2015

Testament - Unreleased Live Recordings, 1979 - 1981



 Testament: Live Recordings, 1979 - 1981

Gotta Serve Somebody - Live - Houston - November 12, 1981
I Believe In You - Live - Santa Monica - November 18, 1979
When You Gonna Wake Up - Live - Santa Monica - November 18, 1979
When He Returns - Live - Toronto - April 20, 1980
Man Gave Names To All The Animals - Live - Santa Monica - November 18, 1979
Precious Angel - Live - Santa Monica - November 18, 1979
Dead Man, Dead Man - Live - London - June 28, 1981
Saved - Live - Avignon - July 25, 1981
Covenant Woman - Live - Seattle - January 15, 1980
Gonna Change My Way Of Thinking - Live - Santa Monica - November 18, 1979
Do Right To Me Baby - Live - Santa Monica - November 18, 1979
Solid Rock - Live - London - June 28, 1981
What Can I Do For You - Live - Portland - January 16, 1980
Blessed Is The Name - Live - San Francisco - November 16, 1979
Pressing On - Live - Seattle - January 15, 1980
City Of Gold - Live - Birmingham - July 5, 1981

Links

Surprise - Happy Easter! I have been feeling particularly inspired during the last few days of Lent, and wanted to share an Easter gift with you fine people. It was put together much quicker than my usual compilations, but I don't think it suffers unduly for this difference.

These tracks comprise a fairly broad overview of Bob Dylan’s exploration of gospel music between 1979 and 1981. After his conversion to Christianity in 1978, Dylan jumped fully into creating faith-oriented music, and his devotion is present in every one of these songs, from the whimsical (“Man Gave Names To All The Animals”) to the intense (“When You Gonna Wake Up”) to the uplifting (“Pressing On”).

Hopefully I'm not getting too personal, but as a Catholic, I’ve often found a lot of inspiration in Dylan’s spiritual music. Be aware that, if you dislike the themes of Slow Train Coming and Saved, this compilation is not going to convert you into enjoying this era. If you enjoyed those, though, you will find these live performances to be very moving. The man is as dedicated to his craft here as he was in 1966, 1975, or 2014.

Many of the recordings are from the recently surfaced Mike Millard tapes. He was a live recording genius, and his recordings of the shows on November 18, 1979 and January 15, 1980, have become some of the finest records we have of Dylan’s “gospel” period. Other tapes include the ever-excellent 1981 shows, an improved version of the “Contract With The Lord” bootleg from ‘79, and the esteemed “Born Again Music” Toronto 1980 set. Some of the recordings are fairly surprising - a full band “City of Gold” from 1981 is the most notable. All songs here are positively magnetic.

Though this ground has been covered in the Thousand Highways Collection with Serve Somebody, 1979-1980 and Still The Same Man, Volumes 1 & 2, 1980-1981, Easter inspired me to craft a new mix. I’m very pleased with the results, and I hope that you will be too.

CS

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Rites Of Spring - Unreleased Live Recordings, 1966



Rites of Spring - World Tour - 1966
Disc One

She Belongs To Me - Live - Sheffield - May 16, 1966
Fourth Time Around - Live - London - May 27, 1966
Monologue On ‘Drug Songs’ - Live - London - May 27, 1966
Visions Of Johanna - Live - Melbourne - April 20, 1966
It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue - Live - Melbourne - April 20, 1966
Desolation Row - Live - London - May 27, 1966
Just Like A Woman - Live - Sheffield - May 16, 1966
Mr. Tambourine Man - Live - Sheffield - May 16, 1966




Rites of Spring - World Tour - 1966
Disc Two

Tell Me Mama - Live - Liverpool - May 14, 1966
I Don’t Believe You - Live - Liverpool - May 14, 1966
Baby, Let Me Follow You Down - Live - Liverpool - May 14, 1966
Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat - Live - Sheffield - May 16, 1966
Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues - Live - Melbourne - April 20, 1966
One Too Many Mornings - Live - Sheffield - May 16, 1966
Ballad Of A Thin Man - Live - Birmingham - May 12, 1966
Like A Rolling Stone - Live - London - May 26, 1966

Links


Bob Dylan’s 1966 concerts are considered by many critics to be among the finest achievements of twentieth century rock music. With these recordings, you have the opportunity to judge for yourself.

Though the most notable concert, performed in Manchester, was released to great acclaim in the 1990s, and a few other incredible performances were released over the years, like “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues” from Liverpool on Masterpieces and “I Don’t Believe You” from Belfast on Biograph, many other recordings have circulated among collectors over the past half-century. The acoustic sets are, overall, better represented. Many of the electric sets suffer from extreme distortion or truncated run-times. Still, one is able to piece together a ‘full show’ from circulating unreleased recordings. Concerning lineage, the recordings that make up this compilation are drawn entirely from the unparallelled “Genuine Live 1966” box set.

The concert setlists remained static from the start of the tour to its conclusion, excepting some early performances of “To Ramona” and “Love Minus Zero/No Limit” in the United States and “Positively 4th Street” in Sydney (found on The Thousand Highways Collection - Shades of Blue). No good recordings of the American shows are extant as of early 2015.

One of the most interesting aspects of the songs above are the between-song commentary. “Visions of Johanna” is introduced as ‘not a drug song,’ and its author asserts his disdain for British music journalism. “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues” is explained as a tale of Tom Thumb, a 125-year-old Mexican painter. Dylan reminds his audience ahead of “One Too Many Mornings” that he, too, was just a baby once. Finally, he gives his only band introductions of the tour before the final, caustic “Like A Rolling Stone,” assuring the audience sarcastically that he and The Hawks have enjoyed every minute of playing for them.

This is a deeply confrontational series of songs. Though the acoustic songs manage to express a kind of delicate beauty rarely found outside of classical music, the electric songs hurl every ounce of raw sound at the audience. At times, the quality suffers, as “I Don’t Believe You” gets a bit distorted and “Like A Rolling Stone” threatens to fall apart throughout its ten minutes, but you just can’t turn away. It’s really fascinating, and sounds no less alive and moving than the day it was recorded. In particular, “Just Like A Woman” is utterly heartbreaking, “Mr. Tambourine Man” is spellbinding, and “Ballad Of A Thin Man” is a truly definitive performance.

I hope you enjoy the songs. If you haven’t purchased it yet, do yourself a favor and obtain the official Bootleg Series release documenting this tour - its sound quality is quite remarkable, and puts this compilation to shame. If you really find yourself wanting more, look into the recently released Side Tracks album for a few more top-notch performances.

Thanks for listening! In May, we will move on to the wild, unknown country of Bob Dylan's 1975 Rolling Thunder Revue tour. Until then, keep yourself healthy and listen to some good tunes.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

The Ghost Of Woody Guthrie - Unreleased Recordings, 1961



The Ghost of Woody Guthrie
Unreleased Recordings - 1961

Handsome Molly - July 29, 1961 - Riverside Church Tape
Baby Please Don't Go - December 22, 1961 - Minnesota Hotel Tape
Pastures Of Plenty - Early 1961 - Gleason Tape
Ain't Got No Home - December 22, 1961 - Minnesota Hotel Tape
Railroad Boy - May 1961 - Minnesota Party Tape
1913 Massacre - November 4, 1961 - Live at Carnegie Chapter Hall
Poor Lazarus - December 22, 1961 - Minnesota Hotel Tape
This Train Is Bound For Glory - May 1961 - Minnesota Party Tape
Gypsy Davy - Early 1961 - Gleason Tape
How'd You Do - May 1961 - Minnesota Party Tape
Young But Daily Growing - November 4, 1961 - Live at Carnegie Chapter Hall
In The Evening - December 22, 1961 - Minnesota Hotel Tape
It's Hard To Be Blind - December 22, 1961 - Minnesota Hotel Tape
Omie Wise - July 29, 1961 - Riverside Church Tape
Railroad Bill - May 1961 - Minnesota Party Tape
Talking Merchant Marine - November 4, 1961 - Live at Carnegie Chapter Hall
Stealin' - December 22, 1961 - Minnesota Hotel Tape
Cocaine Blues - December 22, 1961 - Minnesota Hotel Tape
Don't Push Me Down - May 1961 - Minnesota Party Tape
Car, Car - September 6, 1961 - Live at The Gaslight Cafe
In The Pines - November 4, 1961 - Live at Carnegie Chapter Hall
Remember Me - Early 1961 - Gleason Tape

Bonus

Ramblin' Round - May 1961 - Minnesota Party Tape
San Francisco Bay Blues - May 1961 - Minnesota Party Tape
See The My Grave Is Kept Clean - December 22, 1961 - Minnesota Hotel Tape
VD City - December 22, 1961 - Minnesota Hotel Tape
Backwater Blues - November 4, 1961 - Live at Carnegie Chapter Hall
Death Don't Have No Mercy - May 1961 - Minnesota Party Tape


These recordings collectively form the best of what Bob Dylan recorded before the release of his first album. None are original songs; as the name suggests, Woody Guthrie and the music of the 1930s and 1940s hang like a specter over much of the material here.

You can really get a sense of Dylan beginning his journey towards musical stardom. While his earliest recordings here sound reasonably tentative, by the later recordings he has developed a knack for showmanship and inhabiting the songs. He even cracks a lewd joke when introducing "Talking Merchant Marine."

As is unsurprising, the sound quality is questionable at times. While the Minnesota Hotel Tape and the Carnegie Chapter Hall recordings sound utterly remarkable, the Minnesota Party Tape and the Riverside Church Tape leave a bit to be desired. The Gleason Tape falls squarely in the middle - it has an ambiance that makes up for its loud tape noise. None of the recording quality detracts significantly from the songs, and listenability was a concern, as ever, in compiling this set.

The bonus content includes a couple of songs that were on an earlier iteration of this record, and a handful of others that were interesting (especially Backwater Blues!) but that couldn't quite fit on the proper CD. "See That My Grave Is Kept Clean" represents the only representation of music present on Dylan's debut LP, though the melody of "1913 Massacre" would be re-appropriated for "Song To Woody."

I hope you enjoy the collection, which represents a glimpse into the formative period in the performance art of Bob Dylan.

The next release will be published on April 1, 2015, and will concern the esteemed 1966 World Tour. Until then, keep yourself healthy and listen to some good tunes.

-CS

UPDATE - March 10, 2015: New links are above, containing The Ghost Of Woody Guthrie with improved versions of the Minnesota Party Tape songs. For those of you who already downloaded the compilation, you can grab the Minnesota Party Tape link only. It contains all Minnesota Party Tape tracks except "How'd You Do," which sounded strangely worse on the alternate source. Please let me know if any of the new links are problematic.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Addenda: 2015 Expansion

Hello Internet!

In 2015, I have been working on a handful of new releases based on some recommendations from a supportive fan, and will be publishing them monthly beginning on March 1. Currently, I am planning to release several live compilations:

March: The Ghost of Woody Guthrie - 1961
April: Rites Of Spring - Live - 1966 (2 Discs)
May: Unknown Country - Live - 1975
June: Raging Glory - Live - 1976
July: A Voice Without Restraint - Live - 1986
August: The Water Is Wide - Live - 1989 (2 Discs)
September: Undesirables - Live - Fall 1991
October: Storyteller - Live - 1992
November: TBA - Live - Supper Club 1993
December: Roadhouse Hymns - Live - 1996
January: From New Orleans To New Jerusalem - Live - 1997
February:  After Hours - Live - 1998
March: TBA - Live - 2001

The first is one that should have been released here a long time ago, though I was worried about copyright issues due to the flood of unauthorized music from that year. In fact, 1961 recordings have lapsed into a gray area as far as I can tell, and my compilation contains no officially released music anyway. It was a hit when originally published in 2011 on Expecting Rain, and I am planning to expand it slightly; the original was also not presented in lossless quality, but this re-release will be.

It is a mystery why I never published a set for 1989 in the original run, because it is one of my favorite touring years. It's very strange, dark music that I tried to include on the two Series of Dreams CDs and the One More Night series. I think it deserves a dedicated standalone compilation.

I hope you enjoy these. I am also planning an index page to make the blog easier to access, whether you are a frequent visitor or new to the site. I'm looking forward to publishing some new content in 2015. Until then, keep yourself healthy and listen to some good tunes.

-CS

March 1 Update: This post has been edited to reflect exciting news: I am planning to complete 5 additional compilations: 1966, 1975, 1976, 1993 (Supper Club) and 2001. While all of these years were covered partially by other releases, it seems an omission to have no dedicated representation of these excellent live performances. This website is designed to be a sort-of one-stop introduction to the unreleased recordings of Bob Dylan, and is incomplete without these additions.

March 18 Update: Two more exciting additions - live sets from 1986 and Fall 1991.

April 2 Update: One more exciting addition - 1992 is getting its own full CD. For those who care, a bunch of projected releases have titles.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Things Have Changed - Live Recordings, 2014



Things Have Changed - Live 2014
Disc One

Things Have Changed - November 5, 2014 (Minneapolis)
She Belongs To Me - July 2, 2014 (Prague)
Beyond Here Lies Nothin’ - November 6, 2014 (Minneapolis)
Workingman’s Blues #2 - November 5, 2014 (Minneapolis)
Waiting For You - November 6, 2014 (Minneapolis)
Lonesome Day Blues - August 27, 2014 (Brisbane)
Huck’s Tune - April 4, 2014 (Tokyo)
Duquesne Whistle - November 5, 2014 (Minneapolis)
Pay In Blood - November 1, 2014 (Denver)
Tweedle Dum & Tweedle Dee - August 27, 2014 (Brisbane)
Tangled Up In Blue - November 5, 2014 (Minneapolis)
Cry A While - July 15, 2014 (Gothenburg)
Tryin’ To Get To Heaven - August 27, 2014 (Brisbane)
Love Sick - November 1, 2014 (Denver)



Things Have Changed - Live 2014
Disc Two

High Water - November 5, 2014 (Minneapolis)
Simple Twist Of Fate - July 3, 2014 (Zwickau)
Early Roman Kings - November 28, 2014 (New York)
What Good Am I? - March 31, 2014 (Tokyo)
Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues - July 15, 2014 (Gothenburg)
Girl Of The North Country - July 15, 2014 (Gothenburg)
The Levee’s Gonna Break - July 15, 2014 (Gothenburg)
Spirit On The Water - November 1, 2014 (Denver)
Shelter From The Storm - July 15, 2014 (Gothenburg)
Scarlet Town - November 1, 2014 (Denver)
Soon After Midnight - November 6, 2014 (Minneapolis)
Long & Wasted Years - November 28, 2014 (New York)
Blowin’ In The Wind - November 5, 2014 (Minneapolis)
Stay With Me - November 25, 2014 (Washington D.C.)



Things Have Changed - Live 2014
Disc Three (Bonus Content)

Watching The River Flow - July 15, 2014 (Gothenburg)
Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright - July 15, 2014 (Gothenburg)
Duquesne Whistle - April 4, 2014 (Tokyo)
Huck’s Tune - April 23, 2014 (Osaka)
High Water - April 4, 2014 (Tokyo)
Forgetful Heart - November 25, 2014 (Washington D.C.)
Early Roman Kings - November 6, 2014 (Minneapolis)
Summer Days - July 15, 2014 (Gothenburg)
Blind Willie McTell - March 31, 2014 (Tokyo)
Desolation Row - July 15, 2014 (Gothenburg)
Long & Wasted Years - November 6, 2014 (Minneapolis)
All Along The Watchtower - July 2, 2014 (Prague)
Blowin’ In The Wind - July 15, 2014 (Gothenburg)
Stay With Me - November 23, 2014 (Philadelphia)


Despite intending to conclude the Thousand Highways Collection with the five-part One More Night set in 2014, the year’s touring was too good to pass up. After a request came in from some other fans on Expecting Rain, I got to work compiling the best shows and the best recordings to create the most representative disc possible.

The project expanded in scope, however, when it became apparent that a single disc would not be ideal for conveying the double-set style of the show. Much as in 1966, Bob Dylan’s 2014 show includes an intermission that cleanly divides the evening into two distinct halves. This seemed an opportunity to present an idealized version of the 2014 collected recordings.

The result is available for download above. It includes two discs composed of the standard setlist with rare songs interspersed throughout; these were chosen for their performance or recording quality, so some other interesting selections from Europe’s festival shows were not included. The listener here will experience the majority of those songs, however.

Concerning the selection of specific songs, the format presented a significant challenge. Rarely has a tour maintained such consistent quality throughout, and rarely have so many excellent recordings surfaced to reveal them. Soomlos, Spot, Audiowhore, HHTFP and the ever-present Crystal Cat have offered recordings of extraordinary clarity and beauty. Tokyo, Prague, Denver, Minneapolis and Philadelphia were represented by especially fine tapes. I strongly encourage listeners to seek these out.

Choosing songs was, at times, a fairly arbitrary endeavor. “Duquesne Whistle” always presented the whimsy that it did in Minneapolis. “Scarlet Town” always retained the menace that it did in Denver. Yet for whatever reason, after careful consideration, the selections above stood out as somehow superlative. Some selections were easier - “Huck’s Tune,” “Spirit On The Water,” “Soon After Midnight,” and “Long & Wasted Years” were the strongest performances of these songs that I heard, by far.

The bonus content consists of recordings that, for whatever reason, were either not strong enough to make the cut or represent fairly alternative interpretations of songs present on the main set. “High Water” is more reserved vocally, but has a rootsier circular banjo sound. “Duquesne Whistle” does not soar as it would later in the year, but the vocals are more precise. “Huck’s Tune” is less melodic than its April 4 appearance, but offers a more complete set of lyrics and an emphasis on the song’s defiance. “Early Roman Kings” is one of the rare occasions in which the band got to rock out a bit, and clocks in at almost a minute longer than the New York version. “Long & Wasted Years” is a singularly mournful version of that song, and “Blowin’ In The Wind” is complemented by a greater violin presence. “All Along The Watchtower” and “Forgetful Heart” are the only songs missing from the standard setlist of the year, and are presented here for completeness - both are excellent performances, of course. They just didn’t quite fit on the second disc, and would have meshed poorly with the songs there.

The other pleasant factor in this compilation, more comprehensive than the Thousand Highways Collection tends to feature, is that purists will have the resources to throw away my selections and create a mix exclusively of the standard setlist; alternately, if you prefer the bonus versions, you can replace the ones chosen for the first two discs where an alternative exists. This is reasonably likely with “High Water,” “Duquesne Whistle” and “Stay With Me,” where the alternatives were candidates for inclusion in the main set.

Whatever you do, please enjoy these recordings. Bob Dylan turned in one of the finest touring years of his career, and we are blessed to have enjoyed such excellent documentation of this achievement.

Thanks for listening,
CS

Big Update 1/23/2015:

I have re-uploaded the CD with several changes. It now includes artwork for the third disc, which was previously missing. The notes now include the names of the cities in which concerts were performed; this was requested by a listener.

I have also split the file into several smaller downloads for those of you with slower or spottier internet connections, though if you want a single-click download, just click the "Things Have Changed - 2014 Tour (Complete)" file. The link above now takes you to the Mediafire folder wherein all of the files are located.

Finally, as an added bonus, I included a folder called "Expanded Content" that includes a much-requested audio version of "Long & Wasted Years" from New York (12-03-14) and four video files: "Duquesne Whistle," "Long & Wasted Years," "Tangled Up In Blue," all from Chicago, and "Stay With Me" from New York. The first three, in particular, are beautifully shot, though the source is Youtube. The file type is MP4, but feel free to convert to your format of choice. The first three video are attributed to the Youtube user zoothorn99 and the fourth was posted by Elizabeth Ramirez. These clips are incredible, and are a very cool document of 2014's incredible tour.

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