Sunday, November 1, 2015

SC93: Live At The Supper Club

Live at the Supper Club

Ragged & Dirty - Live - New York City - November 17, 1993 (Early)
One Too Many Mornings - Live - New York City - November 16, 1993 (Late)
I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight - Live - New York City - November 16, 1993 (Late)
Jim Jones - Live - New York City - November 17, 1993 (Late)
Weeping Willow - Live - New York City - November 17, 1993 (Late)
Ring Them Bells - Live - New York City - November 17, 1993 (Late)
Has Anybody Seen My Love - Live - New York City - November 17, 1993 (Late)
Disease Of Conceit - Live - New York City - November 17, 1993 (Early)
Blood In My Eyes - Live - New York City - November 16, 1993 (Early)
Delia - Live - New York City - November 17, 1993 (Early)
I Want You - Live - New York City - November 16, 1993 (Early)
Queen Jane Approximately - Live - New York City - November 17, 1993 (Early)
Jack-a-Roe - Live - New York City - November 16, 1993 (Late)
Forever Young - Live - New York City - November 16, 1993 (Late)

Bob Dylan’s performance at New York City’s Supper Club in November 1993 has gone down in legend as one of his more notable series of concerts. This is due largely to the very unique setlists, acoustic arrangements, and the circulation of excellent soundboard recordings.

I’ve collected the best of these here, and applied a bit of reverb to sweeten the sound, giving it a less harsh aural environment. The vocals are still mixed to the front, and the rhythm section is still crisp. In particular, dig the bass on “Jim Jones.” Spectacular stuff.

A handful of tracks here have appeared on previous Thousand Highways compilations, but they still represent the finest performances from this four night residency. Including them in one place presents a very pleasant listening experience from beginning to end, and I’d encourage the wine-drinking listeners to pour themselves a glass to accompany this collection.

As a word of warning, this is not the best era for Dylan’s voice, and it can come across a bit shrill. There were also a variety of digital flaws present on the soundboard tapes, which I’ve done my best to eliminate with a minimum of intrusion. I think you’ll be happy with the results, as they are an improvement on my earlier efforts with this material.

Highlights of the set include any of the unique songs - audiences of these four shows were lucky to catch the only live performances of “Ragged & Dirty,” “Blood In My Eyes,” “Jack-a-Roe,” and “Weeping Willow.” The Good As I Been To You and World Gone Wrong songs are noteworthy for being played in acoustic band arrangements, even though they appear as solo performances on their original recordings. The singer’s look back into his older catalog is successful as well, with moving renditions of “Ring Them Bells,” “Has Anybody Seen My Love,” “Disease of Conceit,” “Queen Jane Approximately,” and “Forever Young.” “I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight” and “I Want You” receive light but spirited readings, and serve to quicken the tempo of the set. In one of the more interesting arrangements, “One Too Many Mornings” includes a banjo!

I hope you enjoy the collection. It’s been requested often, and I think it will live up to expectations.

Next month, we'll move on to 1995! That was an excellent year for Dylan's acoustic and electric performances, as he played to the strengths of both styles. This website previously covered only the Prague Residency from March, 1995, so December will bring a welcome expansion. Until next time, keep yourself healthy and listen to some good tunes.


Thursday, October 15, 2015

In Minneapolis: Unreleased Live Recordings, 1992

In Minneapolis
Orpheum Residency - 1992

To Be Alone With You - Live - Minneapolis - August 30, 1992
If Not For You - Live - Minneapolis - August 31, 1992
Man In The Long Black Coat - Live - Minneapolis - August 31, 1992
I Believe In You - Live - Minneapolis - September 3, 1992
Under The Red Sky - Live - Minneapolis - September 2, 1992
Little Moses - Live - Minneapolis - August 31, 1992
Gates Of Eden - Live - Minneapolis - August 31, 1992
Visions Of Johanna - Live - Minneapolis - September 3, 1992
Idiot Wind - Live - Minneapolis - August 30, 1992
Every Grain Of Sand - Live - Minneapolis - September 3, 1992
Maggie's Farm - Live - Minneapolis - August 30, 1992
Blowin' In The Wind - Live - Minneapolis - August 30, 1992

Bob Dylan's 1992 tours were numerous and varied in tone and content. While the year started out with more variety in song choice, Dylan honed in on the best songs to perform during the late Summer and Autumn. With this in mind, while songs varied from night to night during his residency at Minneapolis' Orpheum Theater, the overall effect was similar. Choosing tracks for this compilation came down to picking not only the most interesting songs, but the best performances of those songs.

Even so, a fair number of these are indeed one-offs. "If Not For You" was performed for the first time in 1992, and the freshness is evident on this performance. "Man In The Long Black Coat" has evolved significantly since 1989, and you can compare this more richly textured rendition with the version found on the Thousand Highway Collection's 1990 iteration, Town Without Pity. The earlier one is no less interesting, but the arrangement has clearly changed with the expansion of the band.

"Little Moses" was performed frequently throughout the year, and this version is representative of its consistent status as a highlight. The two songs performed with a small acoustic combo, "Gates Of Eden" and "Visions Of Johanna," are true standouts of the collection. I'm not quite as sold on this version of "Visions" as most are, but it's quite pretty nonetheless. It's too bad this arrangement and band configuration was not used more often.

In the second electric set, "Idiot Wind" and "Every Grain Of Sand" constitute a fascinating pairing. From the tempest of the former song, being played this year for the first time since 1976, Dylan and the band segue into the peaceful latter song. Between the two, they represent a vast range of the human experience, and being juxtaposed emphasizes the artist's skill at depicting their complex, conflicted themes without losing a sense of identity. 

"Maggie's Farm" is an interesting variation on its arrangement for the prior couple of years, and presents something of an evolution from its appearance on the 1991 compilation Undesirables. "Blowin' In The Wind" concludes the set with something of a calming denouement. The harmonica here is especially beautiful.

As some fun trivia, Bob Dylan and his brother were, for a long time, co-owners of this venue! Additionally, his brother and mother were evidently in attendance at the final night of the residency, September 3. I'm sure they were quite proud of his outstanding performance. Please enjoy the compilation, and I hope it represents these nights well.

Next month, we will finally step into the notable Supper Club shows of 1993. More than a couple of people have requested that I cover these legendary four shows, so I hope my compilation meets their expectations. Until next time, keep yourself healthy and listen to some good tunes.


Thursday, October 1, 2015

Storyteller: Unreleased Live Recordings - Autumn 1992

Live Recordings - Autumn 1992

Can't Be Satisfied - Live - Cincinnati - November 3, 1992
Pretty Peggy-O - Live - Sarasota - November 9, 1992
All Along The Watchtower - Live - Cincinnati - November 3, 1992
Willing - Live - Sunrise - November 13, 1992
Silvio - Live - Sarasota - November 9, 1992
Boots of Spanish Leather - Live - Cincinnati - November 3, 1992
Mama, You Been On My Mind - Live - Wilkes-Barre - November 1, 1992
It's All Over Now, Baby Blue - Live - Cincinnati - November 3, 1992
Dear Landlord - Live - Providence - October 25, 1992
Unbelievable - Live - Youngstown - November 2, 1992
Simple Twist Of Fate - Live - Sarasota - November 9, 1992
Cat's In The Well - Live - Sarasota - November 9, 1992
Shooting Star - Live - Cincinnati - November 3, 1992

Welcome to the first post of Autumn, friends. And with that we'll delve back into Autumn of 1992.

Since 1991, Bob Dylan had made a significant alteration to his touring band - he added drummer Winston Watson and pedal steel player Bucky Baxter. This changed the sound rather significantly, though the change was not limited to these two instruments.

Along with the change in band members came a change in the group dynamic. For the most part, the ramshackle sound of 1991 was replaced with a more professional approach to making music. While this evolved over the course of 1992, and indeed would continue over the next few years, by 1992 the band had adopted a uniquely jazzy aesthetic. This consisted primarily of a loose approach to song arrangements with time for solos and the pursuit of ensemble riffs. While this stretched running times, they remained reasonably restrained; these would grow to be a bit outsized the following year, but Autumn of 1992 probably hit the ideal mixture of focus and room for improvisation.

The song selection did not change as significantly as the band, but some changes were still evident. On this tour, the opening track was generally a cover of Muddy Waters' "Can't Be Satisfied." This was performed excellently each night, and the version here from Cincinnati is a typically spirited rendition.

The opening electric set is well-represented on this compilation, as even the standard "All Along The Watchtower" and "Silvio" are exceptional performances. Dylan's harmonica on the former song really needs to be heard to be believed. Covers round out the opening gambit, with a rearranged "Pretty Peggy-O" and a cover of Lowell George's lovely "Willing." The latter is sung with the love of words that typifies Dylan's approach to singing.

The acoustic sets of this tour were remarkably beautiful as well, and are noteworthy for being some of the last times an audience could expect to see Bob Dylan almost alone on stage with an acoustic guitar. While he was backed by his guitarist for all songs, and a small combo for one or two songs each night, the audience could count on seeing him play a few tracks in a stripped down arrangement. Whether intentionally due to their impending removal, or unintentionally inspired by whatever it is that inspires him, Dylan provided some of the best acoustic renditions of his career. They were consistently excellent, and the three songs selected here are really quite beautiful. "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue" is particularly moving.

The second electric set begins with "Dear Landlord," though this song was only performed in the first electric set during the actual shows. It's hard to deny its rambling intro being ideal for the transition from acoustic to electric, however. From there, the set heats up dramatically with a pounding Unbelievable," rhythmically dense "Simple Twist Of Fate," and fiery "Cat's In The Well." The last song features Dickie Betts on guitar, and he seems to inspire Dylan to offer a particularly strong performance of this occasionally rote song. Finally, the set closes with the marvelous "Shooting Star." It's really quite a pleasant end to the 'evening,' so to speak.

Concerning production stuff, I had to do a bit of tweaking. A digital flaw in "Can't Be Satisfied" had to be corrected, though I couldn't fully remove it. "Mama You Been On My Mind" featured an enthusiastic audience member asking if the taper was finished - unfortunately, the person asked while the music was still being played. This was covered over by duplicating the left channel, and it's not especially disruptive.

Some popular songs were not included. In particular, Youngstown's "Farewell To The Gold" seems to be a fan favorite. It didn't quite match the overall sound of the set, unfortunately, and was cut. I will try to find another place for it in the Thousand Highways Collection. Also, "I Dreamed I Saw Saint Augustine" was played quite well, but similarly didn't quite match the surrounding recordings.

As always, the most important thing is to listen with an open mind and enjoy!

I'm planning to publish a bonus record this month that focuses on the Minneapolis Orpheum residency from August and September. Look for it in the middle of October. This residency features an especially beloved performance of "Visions of Johanna," though an equally remarkable "Gates of Eden" was played. Will they both appear on the compilation? Check back to find out! Until then, keep yourself healthy and listen to some good tunes.


Thursday, September 24, 2015

News Post: "Shades of Blue" To Be Discontinued Shortly

Good morning everyone,

Some good news and some bad news...

The good news is that Sony/Columbia are releasing the very exciting Bootleg Series Volume 12: The Cutting Edge on November 6, 2015. This will include three packages of outtakes from 1965 to 1966, including a 2 CD best-of, a 6 CD set of mostly complete takes, and an 18 CD collector's edition containing the entirety of the studio tape from this era. Pretty heady stuff. More details here.

The bad news, at least for you loyal readers/listeners, is that The Thousand Highways Collection will be one item shorter. My Shades of Blue compilation, found here, will be taken down from this website before November 6, 2015. I've been pretty clear in the past that I don't want any overlap between this website and material that can be purchased from Bob Dylan's record company, and am standing by that in this instance. I will maintain the tracklist for those of you who would like to purchase the 6 CDs and compile your own version of my set, but the links will be removed.

For the material not represented on The Bootleg Series Volume 11, I will probably publish a bonus CD in the month of November. This would be the live tracks and/or the hotel tapes. We'll see.

I hope all is well with you kind folks, and I'm looking forward to bringing you more unreleased music in the future.


Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Shadows & Rust: Unreleased Live Recordings, Summer 2015


Duquesne Whistle - Live - Ljubljana - June 25, 2015
Where Are You - Live - Tubingen - June 21, 2015
Visions Of Johanna - Live - Lorrach - July 16, 2015
Tangled Up In Blue - Live - Cordoba - July 9, 2015
Full Moon & Empty Arms - Live - Lorrach - July 16, 2015
I'll Be Your Baby Tonight - Live - Locarno - July 15, 2015
I'm A Fool To Want You - Live - Cordoba - July 9, 2015
Early Roman Kings - Live - Ljubljana - June 25, 2015
Sad Songs & Waltzes - Live - Mainz - June 20, 2015
'Til I Fell In Love With You - Live - Mainz - June 20, 2015
Lucky Old Sun - Live - San Sebastian - July 11, 2015
Soon After Midnight - Live - Bamberg - June 23, 2015
To Ramona - Live - Tubingen - June 21, 2015
Long & Wasted Years - Live - Ljubljana - June 25, 2015
Autumn Leaves - Live - Bamberg - June 23, 2015
Love Sick  - Live - Cordoba - July 9, 2015
Find yourselves a comfortable seat and get ready to listen to the definitive collection of Bob Dylan's unreleased recordings from his European Tour of Summer 2015. These were expertly taped by a variety of the great fans and generously published online for us all to enjoy.

More concerts than usual are represented in this set, since so many tapes were available in excellent quality. Even the most compromised of these, Cordoba and Tubingen, were marvelous articles. In particular, many have asserted that Cordoba affords the greatest performance of the tour; though the tape is marred by an enthusiastic crowd (all the better in person, to be fair), the performance overwhelms this concern. Tubingen, on the other hand, has an intriguing ambiance provided by heavy rain, which occasionally present a somewhat less distinct picture of the events onstage. Nonetheless, these are minor quibbles indeed once your ears hear the quality of the material presented at these shows.

Bob Dylan continued his strikingly excellent performance quality of the past couple years, marrying it to some new songs and the return of some older songs. Shadows In The Night is very well-represented, accounting for five of the sixteen songs here. Tempest is also prominent, providing four of the tracks. Of the remainder, one is a never-before-performed cover (Willie Nelsons' "Sad Songs & Waltzes") and the rest come from the 1960s, 1970s, and 1990s.

Noteworthy arrangements include a propulsive, jovial piano-driven rendition of "I'll Be Your Baby Tonight," a slick salsa-like performance of "To Ramona," and the jazzy "'Til I Fell In Love With You." I'm not sure the last constitutes a distinct arrangement, but the loose performance speaks of Dylan's recent Sinatra influences - dig the repeated final words.

Stalwarts from past tours include "Duquesne Whistle," with an extended instrumental opener reminiscent of its studio recording, "Tangled Up In Blue," "Early Roman Kings," now with one less guitar and four more maracas, "Soon After Midnight," a slightly re-written "Long & Wasted Years," and the outstanding "Love Sick," moved to a closing spot. 

It's worth noting that this compilation presents a vision of the songs that is not especially rooted in the order they were played in concert. "Duquesne Whistle" functions as an ideal opener, but it was consistently played midway through the first set. No concert featured nearly this many songs from Shadows In The Night, and most shows featured more uptempto songs. For this collection, I wanted to focus primarily on the more jazz-like elements of the show. This presents a more cohesive set, but the purist will undoubtedly want to seek out a few of the complete concerts. I recommend Mainz, Bamberg, Cordoba and Lorrach for the best representation. The set changed significantly over that period as well, moving from a set heavily dependent on Tempest to one that featured more old classics like "All Along The Watchtower," "Desolation Row" and "Blind Willie McTell."

I hope you enjoy the compilation!

This release should get you European listeners ready for Bob Dylan's upcoming 2015 Fall Tour; for all the rest of us, it'll have to tide us over until the man and his band return to our own concert halls.

Next month will feature 1992's live recordings. These will be an interesting comparison to the 2015 performances, since the Fall Tour of 1992 also presented a remarkably jazz-like aesthetic. Until then, keep yourself healthy and listen to some good tunes.


Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Undesirables: Unreleased Live Recordings, Fall 1991

Fall Tour - 1991

Maggie's Farm - Live - Indianapolis - November 10, 1991
You Don't Know Me - Live - Madison - November 5, 1991
The Man In Me - Live - Ames - November 2, 1991
Across The Borderline - Live - Ames - November 2, 1991
Shelter From The Storm - Live - Indianapolis - November 10, 1991
Trail Of The Buffalo - Live - Madison - November 5, 1991
Roving Gambler - Live - South Bend - November 6, 1991
Mr. Tambourine Man - Live - Dayton - November 9, 1991
One Too Many Mornings - Live - Dayton - November 9, 1991
20/20 Vision - Live - Austin - October 25, 1991
Folsom Prison Blues - Live - Evanston - November 4, 1991
Answer Me, My Love - Live - Evanston - November 4, 1991
New Morning - Live - Madison - November 5, 1991
Friend Of The Devil - Live - Dayton - November 9, 1991
Gotta Serve Somebody - Live - Evanston - November 4, 1991


Bob Dylan's 1991 tours were not well-received at the time, and have not received a critical reappraisal in the years since. Coming on the heels of his outstanding performances of 1989 and 1990, it is understandable that 1991 would suffer by comparison. While the early part of the year's live output was less than ideal, however, the Fall Tour of the United States ended up being one of Dylan's more successful efforts of the early Never-Ending Tour.

The name of this set comes from the unofficial name bestowed upon Bob Dylan's 1991 band by the members themselves after negative audience perception in Europe. Perhaps setting out to alter this opinion, both the singer and the band were firing on all cylinders in October and November.

"Maggie's Farm" received a looser, looping arrangement with a prominent slide-sounding guitar. Covers like "You Don't Know Me," "Across The Borderline," "Answer Me, My Love," "Folsom Prison Blues," "20/20 Vision," and "Friend Of The Devil" lit up the setlist with surprise. More traditional songs, including "Trail Of The Buffalo" and "Roving Gambler," were performed to great success in the acoustic slots.

One significant improvement to the nightly shows were the acoustic combo songs. These were played at the end of the acoustic set, and were foreshadowing for the arrangements Dylan would go on to use throughout the 1990s and 2000s. While the singer had performed with a single guitarist as acoustic accompaniment during the tours from 1988 to 1990, he would increasingly rely on an entire acoustic backing band as the decade would progress. Some would lament losing the experience of seeing Bob Dylan, nearly alone on stage, but the expanded band would open up intriguing possibilities for arranging acoustic songs, as you can hear on this compilation with "Mr. Tambourine Man," "One Too Many Mornings" and "20/20 Vision."

The electric performances were no less interesting, though they generally received less nuanced delivery. Exceptions include "Across The Borderline," in what is perhaps Bob Dylan's most sincere rendering of the song, and "Answer Me, My Love." While the other electric songs are delivered with slightly less care to the phrasing, the overall effect is undiminished. Listen to the exuberance of this rendition of "The Man In Me," the cool menace of "Gotta Serve Somebody," or the jaunty cascading arrangement of "New Morning," which is finally delivered excellently here after less successful outings earlier in the year.

I hope you enjoy the set. This tour featured remarkably good recordings, so the sound should be up to standards. The tapers were, as ever, heroic in their efforts.

Next month will bring us up to 1992, which will include the addition of pedal steel guitar to the touring mix. I am trying to publish a bonus disc this month, so check back in a few weeks to see if I was successful!

Until next time, keep yourself healthy and listen to some good tunes.


Note: This month's compilation is broken down into the typical download pieces (Complete, AIFF, MP3, Art/Notes), but I was running behind and it was more expedient to package them all as a single link to the Mediafire folder. You can download them individually once you have clicked the link above. Let me know in the comments if this presents any challenges.

Update 2015/09/02: I forgot to mention above that "20/20 Vision" is slightly edited with a splice near the beginning. An especially boisterous audience member shouted a vulgarity very close to the taper, and I cut this through some careful modification of the tape. I can't imagine anyone would miss it, but if you do, you can seek out an unedited version.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Beneath A Diamond Sky: Unreleased Acoustic Recordings, 1989

Beneath A Diamond Sky
Acoustic 1989

She Belongs To Me - Live - Rochester Hills - July 6, 1989
Girl From The North Country - Live - Chicago - July 2, 1989
Baby Let Me Follow You Down - Live - Berkeley - September 3, 1989
Mr. Tambourine Man - Live - Boston - October 24, 1989
Lakes Of Pontchartrain - Live - Frejus - June 13, 1989
Every Grain Of Sand - Live - Athens - June 28, 1989
Love Minus Zero/No Limit - Live - Chicago - October 31, 1989
In The Pines - Live - Milwaukee - July 3, 1989
It Ain't Me Babe - Live - Glasgow - June 6, 1989
Forever Young - Live - Barcelona - June 16, 1989


Art + Notes


This collection is not quite the revelatory set that the two other Thousand Highways Collection 1989 compilations are, but it is interesting nonetheless.

The songs consist entirely of acoustic performances from 1989. This is right in the heart of one of Dylan's most fertile periods for performing acoustic songs, alongside 1961-1966, 1975, 1995, and 1999-2002. The songs aren't as strong as those played the preceding year, but offer more intriguing renditions of the singer's own catalog; while 1988's acoustic sets were strongest when representing traditional songs, 1989's are at their best in the presentation of original material.

The summer tours make up the bulk of this set, due largely to Dylan's more limited vocal range in the Fall, and clearer tapes. The electric songs from the Fall Tour are loud enough to make it across the hiss of tape, but the acoustic songs fared less well. Even so, missing "Mr. Tambourine Man" from the Fall Tour would be a shame, so a performance from Boston graces this collection.

Notable inclusions are a very rare outing for "Baby Let Me Follow You Down," the only live acoustic performance of "Every Grain of Sand," one of only three live performances of "In The Pines," and a very beautiful "Forever Young." Note that "Every Grain of Sand" had appeared on another Thousand Highways compilation, but I thought it too good not to include here. It is, perhaps, the defining acoustic performance of the year.

"In The Pines" is intriguing, as it is said to be based on a version of the old song made popular by Bill Monroe, rather than the more familiar variant popularized by Leadbelly. I've not heard the Bill Monroe version, so I can't comment on whether this is true or not.

"It Ain't Me Babe" is the performance mentioned in Andrew Muir's One More Night, in which the singer messes around with the audience's capacity to sing along. "Lakes of Pontchartrain" is, as ever, utterly beautiful, and should be in everyone's collection. This is the performance that originally brought the song to my attention some years ago. I wish Dylan had recorded a studio cut of this at some point, but there is no evidence to suggest that he did.

The guitar work is pretty great throughout, owing to the combined efforts of the singer and the guitarist G. E. Smith, who played lead guitar in the year's electric sets. It really comes across in "Girl From The North Country," "Lakes of Pontchartrain," and "It Ain't Me Babe," but is quite pleasant throughout. Smith is one of the best accompanists that has played with Bob Dylan so far, and his talents are well-represented here.

As always, I hope you enjoy this pleasant collection. Next month will bring the Fall 1991 tour to this website. It's not one of Bob Dylan's more popular touring years, but I think a listen to this compilation might just push you into the fan camp. It's sure to be an interesting listen!

Until then, keep yourself healthy and listen to some good tunes.