Sunday, October 2, 2016

Wicked Messenger: Unreleased Live Recordings, 2003

Wicked Messenger
Field Recordings - 2003

Cold Irons Bound - Live - Zurich - November 3, 2003
If You See Her, Say Hello - Live - Helsinki - October 9, 2003
Dear Landlord - Live - London - November 25, 2003
Wicked Messenger - Live - Brussels - November 12, 2003
Shooting Star - Live - Zurich - November 3, 2003
High Water - Live - London - November 24, 2003
Born In Time - Live - Wallingford - August 17, 2003
Tangled Up In Blue - Live - London - November 25, 2003
Saving Grace - Live - Louisville - April 30, 2003
Things Have Changed - Live - New York - August 12, 2003
The Mighty Quinn - Live - London - November 23, 2003
Every Grain Of Sand - Live - London - November 15, 2003
Dignity - Live - Niagara - August 23, 2003

Welcome back!

Since compiling my original collection of recordings from Bob Dylan's 2003 Tour of Europe, I have found myself being drawn back to that year again and again. There is some kind of magic in the performances. I'm not sure if it is Freddie Koella's distinctive lead guitar, an inspiration to experiment driven by Dylan taking up the keyboards as his primary instrument in late 2002, or some other element. Whatever the cause, Bob Dylan and his band produced some the greatest music of the Never-Ending Tour throughout 2003.

While many songs here are from the deservedly praised Autumn Tour, a handful appear from earlier in the year. Among them, "Born In Time" is the final rendition of a song that Dylan had played frequently during the preceding decade. He sent it off in style, with characteristically sweeping guitar lines from Freddie Koella. "Saving Grace" had only recently returned to being performed in concert after a twenty year hiatus, and would disappear from regular appearances again by 2005. "Things Have Changed" is a roaring performance that teeters precariously on the edge, as do so many of Dylan's best performances from this year. "Dignity," sadly, is sourced from MP3, but that is the only circulating version of an alleged soundboard tape leak from the same source as Tell Tale Signs' marvelous "High Water." Other renditions of this arrangement, from the following year, appear elsewhere in The Thousand Highways Collection, but I enjoy it so much that I've tried to include it on compilations at every opportunity; please forgive me this indulgence!

As for the Autumn Tour, it almost seems a shame to highlight it again after covering it extensively on Piano Blues and Barroom Ballads, but the tour really is that great. Two songs from Zurich appear here, "Cold Irons Bound" and "Shooting Star," representing perhaps the single best night of the tour; what it lacked in adventurous setlists it makes up for in highly engaged vocals. Some of the rarer songs of the tour are included as well - "Dear Landlord," "Tangled Up In Blue," and "The Mighty Quinn," all from London, are typical of the experimental, rhythmically intense style that Dylan and his band produced throughout the year. The other songs, while less surprising, are no less magical. "If You See Her, Say Hello" may be the best this song sounded since 2009. "High Water" sounds very much like the version released on Tell Tale Signs, but the band has had a few extra months to perfect the arrangement further. Finally, "Every Grain Of Sand" is one of the best songs that Dylan ever wrote, and he performs it here with the delicate approach that it demands.

I'm just so proud of the final result on this collection of recordings from 2003. The bootleggers really went above and beyond in delivering perfect, crystal clear tapes. Similarly, Bob Dylan and his band were at one of their peaks, and I'm not sure he'd match this level of performance again until the following decade. I hope you enjoy the compilation as much as I do.

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


Thursday, September 1, 2016

Friend Of The Devil: Unreleased Live Recordings, 1999

Friend Of The Devil
Live Recordings: 1999

Gotta Serve Somebody - Live - Pensacola - February 2, 1999
Senor - Live - Columbus - November 3, 1999
Tombstone Blues - Live - Atlantic City - November 19, 1999
You're A Big Girl Now - Live - Amherst - November 18, 1999
Money Honey - Live - Ithaca - November 15, 1999
Friend Of The Devil - Live - Amherst - November 18, 1999
Everything Is Broken - Live - Binghampton - February 19, 1999
You're Too Late - Live - Daytona Beach - January 29, 1999
Seeing The Real You At Last - Live - New York - July 26, 1999
Simple Twist Of Fate - Live - Chicago - October 31, 1999
Folsom Prison Blues - Live - New Haven - November 10, 1999
It Takes A Lot To Laugh - Live - Columbus - November 3, 1999
Stuck Inside Of Mobile - Live - Pensacola - February 2, 1999
Blowin' In The Wind - Live - Antioch - September 8, 1999

Welcome to the second (and final) episode in The Thousand Highways Collection's coverage of Bob Dylan's concert performances from 1999.

A couple years back, The Endless Highway covered both the acoustic and electric portions of this year; Friend of the Devil is intended to follow up on that well-received compilation. More than a few people had requested more attention be given to 1999, which was reasonable given the variety of Bob Dylan's setlists and high level of commitment to the material.

Unfortunately, while there were numerous instances of rare song choices, many of the best renditions represent more frequently played songs. I hope you will not begrudge this collection's focus on performance quality rather than rarity of title.

With that said, a few songs here are particularly noteworthy. "Money Honey" was recorded for an Elvis Presley tribute album in 1994, but was only ever played live once; a lovely recording of that performance is found here. "You're Too Late" has only been played a handful of times - most recently at an unreleased (but partially broadcast) private concert in 2014 - and the finest circulating performance so far is from Bob Dylan's Winter 1999 Tour. "Seeing The Real You At Last," while more common earlier in the 1990s, had largely departed the setlist by this year; you will hear one of Dylan's most committed, snarling vocal performances of the song on Friend of the Devil. Finally, though "Blowin' In The Wind" is not infrequently played, this beautiful rendition features American multi-instrumentalist Marty Stuart on the mandolin.

Besides those rare tracks, the reminder of the songs are not uncommon in Bob Dylan's touring repertoire. "Gotta Serve Somebody" is uncharacteristically pointed, its ad-libbed lyrics tighter than usual. "Senor" features a truly lovely violin, and later a duet between violin and harmonica reminiscent of how the song might have sounded if it had been recorded and played during the Rolling Thunder Revue. "You're A Big Girl Now" has one of the more intriguing soundscapes of the set, as the rhythm section creates a mellow, introspective vibe and Dylan's melancholy lead guitar (not generally one of my favorite features in his songs) drives the performance home.

"Friend Of The Devil" is another excellent piece for the backing band, as Tony Garnier's bass and Larry Campbell's mandolin provide the listener with seven minutes of bluegrass joy. "Everything Is Broken," a song that was too often tossed off with little attention paid to vocal precision, is here infused with all the sarcastic sneering that the song deserves; many of the highlights are new lyrics, including the incisive "every time you leave and go off somewhere / my heart is broken, babe, but what do you care." "Folsom Prison Blues" is not as word-perfect as some earlier performances, though that does not impede the strength of this iteration. "Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again" is a glorious, blazing celebration prior to closing the set with an introspective bluegrass-flecked performance of "Blowin' In The Wind," reminiscent of its airings in 1980.

It is worth briefly remarking on the absence of an acoustic set here, given how prominently that featured in concerts from 1999. Honestly, the acoustic set primarily contained songs that have been well-covered on my earlier compilations from 1998 to 2001. The arrangements were not distinct from the immediately adjacent years, so it seemed unnecessary to emphasize them here.

The recording quality was extremely high during 1999, as it had been over the preceding few years. We are lucky to have such extraordinary documentation of such a fertile period in Bob Dylan's performing career. I hope you enjoy the album, and that it serves as a worthy successor to The Endless Highway.

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


Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Bourbon & Pride: Unreleased Live Recordings, 1990

Bourbon & Pride
Live Recordings - 1990

Dixie / Wiggle Wiggle - Live - New York - October 19, 1990
Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With You - Live - Columbus - November 16, 1990
Political World - Live - Winnipeg - June 18, 1990
Joey - Live - Normal - November 14, 1990
Old Rock & Roller - Live - Hamburg - July 3, 1990
TV Talkin' Song - Live - Normal - November 14, 1990
Lonesome Whistle Blues - Live - New Haven - January 17, 1990
Buckets Of Rain - Live - Detroit - November 18, 1990
No More One More Time - Live - Winnipeg - June 17, 1990
Stuck Inside Of Mobile - Live - Normal - November 14, 1990
Every Grain Of Sand - Live - Milwaukee - November 10, 1990
Highway 61 Revisited - Live - Normal - November 14, 1990

Welcome to 1990, listeners!

An earlier entry in the Thousand Highways Collection compiled the best recordings from Bob Dylan's 1990 residencies in London and Paris, but as I listened to recordings from throughout the tour in preparation for the upcoming collections of curiosities and miscellany, I was struck by their sound. The popular narrative holds that the shows peaked in January and went downhill from there, including a brief stint of auditioning new guitarists onstage; even so, I found that there were many outstanding concerts from throughout the year. In particular, the show in Normal was a highlight.

Gathering the recordings, I found that a full length CD ended up feeling exhausting. The performances here are uniformly excellent, but listening to Dylan's "take no prisoners" 1990 style for an hour and twenty minutes managed to lessen the charms. As such, this is an uncharacteristically short collection, clocking in at just under an hour.

Within that hour, though, I suspect you may be shocked how great Bob Dylan and his band sound. They took the rough aesthetic of 1989 and honed it into an increasingly muscular style throughout the year. At the same time, they began performing increasingly surprising cover songs - "Old Rock And Roller," "Lonesome Whistle Blues" and "No More One More Time" feature prominently here, but other songs performed throughout the year included "Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay," "Nowhere Man," "My Head's In Mississippi," and "Old Macdonald." On the subject of that last song, too, Dylan and the band opened most of the Autumn shows with a brief instrumental cover; that portion of the set is represented here by "Dixie," which the singer would go on to perform vocally twelve years later for the Masked and Anonymous film.

I've spliced together "Dixie" and "Wiggle Wiggle" from the same show, since I think the latter track works well as an opener and remains very rarely performed. As you can imagine, it towers over its much-maligned studio rendition. "Political World" is a version of the song that I was clued into by a fellow member of the Expecting Rain website, Nellie, and is as good as the song ever sounded outside of Daniel Lanois' New Orleans "studio." The guitar riff built by G. E. Smith is quite groovy.

"Joey" features one of my favorite song comments by the singer, as he remarks afterwards that "that was about a guy named Joey." The following track, "Old Rock And Roller," features about as much pathos as Bob Dylan could put forth on-stage. As he introduces it, "if you ever wondered what happens to people like me, here's a song that'll tell you about it." The song, originally written by Charlie Daniels for a 1989 album, tells the story of a musician who has been trying and failing to replicate the success of his 1960s recordings. My compilation's title, Bourbon & Pride, comes from (what I hear in) a line from this song - "he's been living thirty years on bourbon and pride." There isn't any simple outcome in the story, but its conclusion reminds the listener of Bob Dylan's own conclusion in 1987 that he was determined to stand on-stage in spite of his artistic challenges.

"TV Talkin' Song" is intriguing, as it sounds closer to the circulating outtake of that song than the final version released on Under The Red Sky. "Lonesome Whistle Blues" represents the only appearance of a song from the noteworthy live rehearsal at the Toad's Place venue in New Haven. Unfortunately, only the middle verse is fully remembered, but I think the song comes across regardless. Another good version of this was played at 1989's tour rehearsals, but this performance is the superior one. As one may imagine from its inclusion here, I also believe it to be the best song featured at the aforementioned live rehearsal in New Haven - while the recording quality of my copy of that set is quite nice, the performance is pretty much what you would expect from a rehearsal.

"Buckets Of Rain" already appeared on an earlier miscellaneous compilation, but I thought it too good not to include here. It is, of course, the only live performance of the song, and Dylan rises to the occasion with some inspired harmonica and a delightful unwillingness to let the song go when the band finishes playing the first time. "No More One More Time," written and originally recorded by Cajun accordionist Jo-El Sonnier, provides one of the strongest vocal performances of the album. Dylan had clearly connected with this recent song, singing it a handful of times in 1990 and again fourteen years later in 2004; this one was the best of the bunch.

"Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again" tends to be played well by its composer, but this version is especially strong. It sounds like a bolt of lightning, and you shouldn't be embarrassed if you're inclined to hit the repeat button when it's over! The next track, "Every Grain Of Sand," is probably the best song on this compilation. After performing interesting but somehow incomplete versions over the course of the preceding decade, Dylan finally connects with the song here in a way he hadn't since its initial recording. The band, too, offers delicate, sympathetic backing without losing their essentially garage-rock style. Finally, the set closes up with a characteristically rocking "Highway 61 Revisited," featuring plenty of roaring slide guitar

If you don't connect with this material, don't fret - you're in good company. 1990 was not the singer's strongest year, but I'll be darned if I don't find myself nodding along and getting thoroughly jazzed by these thirteen songs. This is Bob Dylan on the edge, and that's often when he finds the most interesting way to sing his songs.

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


Monday, August 1, 2016

Late Post: August 2016

Howdy folks,

Sorry to say, August's new CD will be late. I'm very proud of it, but won't have it up until August 2 at some point. I'm a bit sick and also trying to spend some time with my wife before she leaves on a lengthy research trip. Hope you all understand!


Friday, July 1, 2016

The Heat & The Pulse: Unreleased Live Recordings - Summer 1984

The Heat & The Pulse
Tour Of Europe: Summer 1984


Maggie's Farm - Live - Barcelona - June 28, 1984
Jokerman - Live - Barcelona - June 28, 1984
Senor - Live - Barcelona - June 28, 1984
Man Of Peace - Live - Offenbach - June 11, 1984
License To Kill - Live - Rome - June 19, 1984
I & I - Live - Barcelona - June 28, 1984

Mr. Tambourine Man - Live - Nantes - June 30, 1984
Desolation Row - Live - Rome - June 21, 1984
Tangled Up In Blue - Live - Paris - July 1, 1984

Love Minus Zero/No Limit - Live - Rotterdam - June 6, 1984
Enough Is Enough - Live - Paris - July 1, 1984
Knockin' On Heaven's Door - Live - Barcelona - June 28, 1984
When You Gonna Wake Up - Live - Rome - June 19, 1984
Every Grain Of Sand - Live - Barcelona - June 28, 1984
Tombstone Blues - Live - Barcelona - June 28, 1984

Bonus Tracks

It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry - Live - Nantes - June 30, 1984
Masters Of War - Live - Rome - June 19, 1984
Simple Twist Of Fate - Live - Rome - June 21, 1984
Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues - Live - Cologne - June 16, 1984

Welcome to our coverage of Bob Dylan's 1984 Tour of Europe. This is a special request, and I hope it lives up to expectations.

This tour had not yet been covered on the blog because it's not one that I am especially fond of. It was also represented by an official release on Columbia Records, Real Live. Given that a handful of tracks from the tour had found their way into The Thousand Highways Collection on my series of miscellaneous compilations, One More Night, or been part of my release focused on Dylan's sessions from 1983 to 1984, Faithful, a compilation dedicated exclusively to 1984 felt unnecessary. Still, a fan of the site talked me into reviewing my tapes, and I was pleasantly surprised.

Much of the tour is uninspired, but there are gems among the sets. The setlists themselves were actually fairly interesting, with a selection of songs drawn from throughout Dylan's recording career. The newest songs, as is typical with this artist, were the highlights, but older songs were often played well. "Knockin' On Heaven's Door," for example, features what I would consider the fulfillment of its reggae arrangement played with from 1978 to 1981; it's tighter and more compelling here than even the lovely renditions played three years earlier. Even the Gospel period was represented through the performance of songs like "Heart Of Mine" and "When You Gonna Wake Up," though only the latter appears here.

Interestingly, a handful of songs were written specifically for the tour. This is something that Bob Dylan has not tended to do, with notable exceptions - "Tell Me, Momma," "City Of Gold, " and "Ain't Gonna Go To Hell For Anybody" come to mind. This tour yielded fewer stellar results, but while the rehearsals reveal two songs that wouldn't ever be played live ("Almost Done" and "Dirty Lie"), three songs were either written or re-written and played on the road - "Enough Is Enough," "Tangled Up In Blue," and "Simple Twist Of Fate." The first never seems to have quite found a defined set of lyrics, as they vary from night to night; more than anything else, the song feels like an inspired riff on "Don't Start Me Talkin'", which Dylan had recently played to a live television audience on the David Letterman Show. The second song, "Tangled Up In Blue," is one of the most consistent highlights of the tour. A version from the United Kingdom was released on Real Live, and I included an alternative version as a bonus track elsewhere on The Thousand Highways Collection. Even with these earlier releases, it couldn't go unrepresented here, so the lovely performance from Paris is included; this is the recording discussed by Paul Williams in Performing Artist, Volume Two. Finally, "Simple Twist Of Fate" was extensively reworked and still never became a well-defined song. The most effectively realized version I found was from Rome, but the recording is indistinct and many of the lyrics are lost. I've included it as a bonus track.

Concerning the history of the tour, it was originally intended to be Bob Dylan's first tour of South America. Clearly, the continent was occupying his thoughts as it turned up repeatedly in his lyrics throughout the preceding few years. Unfortunately, the plans fell through, and he instead turned his eye to Europe. The concerts were performed to massive crowds in stadiums, and this lack of intimacy threatens to come through on many of the tapes - Dylan can sometimes sound like a broad caricature of himself. Still, the intent to please audiences shines through just as brightly, and offers such beautiful results as the version of "Love Minus Zero/No Limit" contained on this compilation, along with nightly examples of Dylan actually coaching the audience to sing along to "Blowin' In The Wind" (not included here). I'm not sure if that degree of audience outreach is unprecedented in his career, but it's certainly rare! Alongside him for much of the tour was Santana, and Joan Baez appeared at some of the shows as well. On the last few nights, he was joined onstage by Bono and Van Morrison, among others.

Notably, his band for this tour included guitarist Mick Taylor, formerly a member of the Rolling Stones. Taylor at times plays a bit too prominently, flavoring the recordings with a somewhat generic stadium rock sound, but at other times finds exactly the right tone to enhance the song. Key examples of the latter include the distinctly Muddy Waters sound on "Maggie's Farm," a distorted slide performance on "Man Of Peace," and an intense solo on "When You Gonna Wake Up," another song largely re-written for this tour.

The solo set is intriguing, as it is really the last time Bob Dylan would offer compelling solo performances. Though he would return to the format briefly on his 1986 tour with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, the effect was less successful; from 1987 on, he would exclusively collaborate with one or more other players during his acoustic sets. Happily, 1984 presents an excellent picture of the man as a solo artist. The version of "Mr. Tambourine Man" is reminiscent of its outings in 1966, combined with the vocal experimentation of 1981. "Desolation Row" is heard in one of only a handful of solo renditions outside of 1966 - it was played in this format, less successfully, on 1974's tour with The Band. "Tangled Up In Blue," discussed above, was an extraordinary piece of work every time he played it in 1984, and Paris was no exception.

Some significant edits were carried out in shaping this set of recordings, and I hope that doesn't upset any purists checking in. "Man Of Peace" needed to be slowed down, much to my sadness, as I loved the speed but disliked the artificially high-pitched vocal tone on the circulating recording; I don't know how off it actually was, but the result of my tinkering is slightly more natural than it had originally sounded. Reverb and equalization was required for "Love Minus Zero" and "When You Gonna Wake Up," as the first was muffled and the second was a bit too thin. A splice was necessary in "Mr. Tambourine Man," a the tape dropped a portion of the second chorus - I spliced in some tape from later in the song, but I don't find it conspicuous when listening. Finally, I added some audience noise to the end of "When You Gonna Wake Up" and "Tombstone Blues." In the former, the end was too abrupt, and in the latter, I wanted it to function as an end to the CD. In both cases, the spliced audience noise was sourced from the same show to maintain consistency of sound.

Please enjoy the final result. In spite of my initial skepticism, I'm very proud of the compilation! It's a very pleasant summer listen, much like Dylan's other live output from 1981 to 1986.

As ever, keep yourself healthy and listen to some good tunes.


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Update On Upcoming Releases - Summer 2016

Happy Summer!

In rather weird news, I stumbled my way into working out a 1984 Tour Compilation as a request from another community member, so the miscellaneous cuts will be delayed as well. I have a couple other ideas, which may turn into full compilations, so I hesitate to say which month the miscellaneous CDs will be published. This has the lucky bonus of allowing me to integrate newly circulating tapes from 1985, so I hope nobody is disappointed with the delay. For now, look forward to A Thousand Highways finally addressing the 1984 Tour in July, 2016.


Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Beyond Here: Unreleased Live Recordings, Spring 2016

Bob Dylan
Beyond Here: Spring Tour of Japan - 2016


Things Have Changed - Live - Tokyo - April 25, 2016
She Belongs To Me - Live - Yokohama - April 28, 2016
Beyond Here Lies Nothing - Live - Yokohama - April 28, 2016
What'll I Do - Live - Miyagi - April 9, 2016
Duquesne Whistle - Live - Miyagi - April 9, 2016
Melancholy Mood - Live - Tokyo - April 6, 2016
Pay In Blood - Live - Osaka - April 12, 2016
I'm A Fool To Want You - Live - Tokyo - April 6, 2016
That Old Black Magic - Live - Tokyo - April 19, 2016
Tangled Up In Blue - Live - Tokyo - April 25, 2016


High Water (For Charley Patton) - Live - Tokyo - April 22, 2016
Why Try To Change Me Now - Live - Miyagi - April 9, 2016
Early Roman Kings - Live - Tokyo - April 23, 2016
The Night We Called It A Day - Live - Tokyo - April 18, 2016
Spirit On The Water - Live - Osaka - April 12, 2016
Scarlet Town - Live - Tokyo - April 6, 2016
All Or Nothing At All - Live - Tokyo - April 23, 2016
Long & Wasted Years - Live - Tokyo - April 22, 2016
Autumn Leaves - Live - Tokyo - April 23, 2016
Blowin' In The Wind - Live - Tokyo - April 6, 2016
Love Sick - Live - Yokohama - April 28, 2016

Bonus Content

What'll I Do - Live - Osaka - April 12, 2016
Pay In Blood - Live - Yokohama - April 28, 2016
Tangled Up In Blue - Live - Tokyo - April 22, 2016
Spirit On The Water - Live - Tokyo - April 19, 2016
Spirit On The Water - Live - Tokyo - April 23, 2016
Scarlet Town - Live - Tokyo - April 22, 2016
Long & Wasted Years - Live - Tokyo - April 19, 2016
Lucky Old Sun - Live - Tokyo - April 4, 2016

Welcome friends,

As ever, we've been blessed with the arrival of a new handful of lovely recordings from Bob Dylan's most recent tour. In this case, we are in the debt of tapers Spot, Hiroyuki Soto, catpochi, mk4 robert, izumiblue, SFY, and Saulsaul. In most cases, I used the Spot recordings for my collection, as they were the most impressive to my ears. These things are always a bit arbitrary, of course, so I hope you'll bear with my selections - I am deeply grateful to all tapers, even when their recording was not used for this compilation.

During the month of April, 2016, Bob Dylan toured Japan. He stopped in Miyagi, Osaka, and Yokohama, though much of the time was spent in Tokyo at the beginning and middle of the tour. His last stop in Japan, in the Spring of 2014, produced one of the best recordings of that year, so I was excited for the tapes even ahead of hearing them; Dylan often performs beautifully in Japan, and seems to have a special relationship with the region as far back as his 1978 tour, documented on At Budokan. Happily, the tapes themselves were even better than I'd hoped - the recordings were clean, though not overly crisp, and preserved a sense of what Dylan and the band were doing nightly.

As for the performances, they were almost uniformly excellent. From night to night, certain portions would be played better, but overall, it was a quality run. As the deluge of tapes began in late April, I realized that I had the opportunity to hear each night of the tour, and opportunity that I had not taken previously. Listening to the entire tour leg, mostly in sequence, was an exciting experience, though I'd be lying if I said I didn't suffer from a bit of burn-out; these concerts are performed for the people in the audience, not some person listening along at home, and they shouldn't be expected to offer a coherent or compelling narrative over the span of an entire month. Still, I'm happy I had the opportunity. In listening, I thought that a compilation of the finest performance of each song would form a nice souvenir for those who had attended, and a pleasant vicarious experience for those of us who'd not had that blessing.

I've included my rambling notes alongside the recordings, as I actually listened to every extant lossless tape, excluding portions of April 11, April 25, and April 26; you'll note that two recordings from the middle date are included in my compilation, though, as I took a brief browse towards the end of my project. As a brief summary here, I'd like to offer my overall thoughts, since we are in an unprecedented position of hearing the long-term development of a setlist that Dylan's been modifying only slightly over the past three years:

"Things Have Changed" is more dramatic than it once was, functioning as a more apparent performance piece to open the night. The band has more room to play between verses than they did in previous years. This song offers the first appearance of a greater presence for Tony Garnier - whether this is a function of the arrangements, the sound in the halls, or the recording technology, I cannot say.

"She Belongs To Me" is very similar to preceding tours, though the harmonica is one of the better solos I've heard for this song.

"Beyond Here Lies Nothing" is a song that developed significantly over the course of the tour. At the start, it sounded very similar to 2015, but by the end Dylan had developed an apparently new piano line that cycles and is integrated better with the band, particularly Charlie Sexton's guitar. The recording included comes from the final tour date.

"What'll I Do" is haunting, and was consistently excellent. The vocals were regularly a standout on this one, particularly as Dylan seems to get two distinct tones in the midst of the first line (on the word "you"), and Donnie Herron has the opportunity to present some lovely steel guitar.

"Duquesne Whistle" is as excellent a version as you'll ever hear. Much as we'll hear with "High Water" later in the set, the entire band has the opportunity to shine here. Of particular importance on this one are the vocals, the piano, and Charlie Sexton's lead guitar. The audience gets in on the fun, and you can hear them repeatedly shout "woo" in time with the music during the last guitar break of the song.

"Melancholy Mood" is no better or worse than it was in 2015, which is to say that it's utterly mesmerizing. This is one of those songs that you're surprised hadn't been performed earlier in the man's career, since it's incredible every night. April 6 took the nod, largely due to the clarity and elegance of the recording.

"Pay In Blood" was challenging, since it was performed well on many of the nights, but it differed fairly radically in the recording quality and the performance emphases (at least within the bounds of a single tour and arrangement). Overall, it sped up over the course of the month, a la "Isis" in 1975, and some of the later offerings were comparatively perfunctory. The recordings offered some nights where the bass or distorted guitar were at the fore, and others where the acoustic guitar was more prominent - I favored the former, since the latter added more of a folky sound than I like on this song. In the end, I added some bass and reverb to the April 12 recording and called it a day.

"I'm A Fool To Want You" is great, though Dylan misses an early note - I don't recall which at the moment, as I type these comments. Regardless of that minor quibble, the emotion in the performance is palpable. This one's on par with the one recorded in Spain last year.

"That Old Black Magic" was a fascinating study, as each performance had a wide range of pros and cons. One minor, humorous detail (discovered when listening to more performances than one ought to) is that Dylan regularly started to say "got me in a trance" in the opening lines, rather than the intended "got me in a spell." There's not much to say about this one - it was regularly delightful, if not remarkable.

"Tangled Up In Blue" was another challenging selection, since many of the performances were excellent in some respects and disappointing in others. In the latter category, I could find no rendition where the singer's voice didn't crack on the word "avenue" in the second chorus. This seems a minor complaint, though, as many of the recordings featured both highly expressive vocals and lovely piano in the final verse. While I heard from others that April 22 was a favorite version, I ended up selecting the April 25 performance; both are great, of course.

After the intermission, the band kicks into "High Water." This was not a tour highlight overall, but the version played on April 22 is absolutely superlative. Unlike some nights, it builds in intensity as the song moves on, somehow feeling like a whole orchestra's playing on it by the end. Every player is emphasized, which contributes to the feeling that Dylan's assembled a truly inspiring band for his live shows.

"Why Try To Change Me Now" is one of many great performances, though others tend to fall short of the magnificent version played on April 9.

"Early Roman Kings" was played with vim and vigor throughout the tour, though I'll admit that my final choice was an easy one. This is a song that can fall narrowly short of the ideal, whether through a (paradoxically) smooth vocal delivery or a recording that fails to emphasize the drums and crunchy guitar. Luckily, Spot perfectly captured the performance from April 23, in which Dylan and the band unleash a riff midway through that pulls you into the song from a different direction and doesn't let go.

Like "Why Try To Change Me Now," "The Night We Called It A Day" is not particularly notable, which says more about the consistently high level of Dylan's recent performing than it does anything negative about this song. It is the lovely, heartbreaking, poetic vision that it ought to be, and that it is nightly.

"Spirit On The Water" is worth a few lines, since this song differed more than any other from night to night. From the tour's earliest days, Bob Dylan had largely abandoned the song's central lilting piano melody in favor of experimentation. Some nights were more successful than others - on April 6, the band fails to follow the leading piano riff, while on April 12, they capture a uniquely melancholy version of the track. On April 23, a brighter outlook prevailed, while on April 19, an impressionistic jazz experiment was the result; most bizarrely, one of the versions featured an instrumental final verse, as the vocals were abandoned halfway through - I wish I'd noted which one this was! I ended up selecting April 12, since the vocals were superior, but any of these is worth a listen.

"Scarlet Town" was pretty consistently played, and I almost selected the version from April 22 purely on the strength of its ending. but the one performed on April 6 was stronger overall. Interestingly, I found that the quality of this song hinged largely on George Receli's drumming. It's not a song that is evidently centered on the percussion, but an inventive drum fill made all the difference in listening to multiple iterations.

"All Or Nothing At All" was lovely on multiple nights, and you pretty well have to take your pick based upon the overall ambiance of the recording and the quality of the guitar work. In the case of Spot's capture of April 23, both were superlative.

The penultimate song of the main set, "Long & Wasted Years," is regularly a concert highlight. As he has done on previous tours, Bob Dylan seems to have added some new lyrics. In this case, he's shifted the song to a more apparently gunfighter aesthetic, as his enemy "bled to death and lost his lust / He was too blind to see / I didn't notice until later that he'd wounded me." There's a variation on the middle line, there, but I can't recall at the moment what it is. In any case, I almost picked the version from April 19, as it features the best ending for the song that I've ever heard, but the band and the singer get a bit lost at the start of one of the verses; I attempted a splice, but it sounded clumsy. As a result, you get the version from April 22, which is stronger overall than the performance from the 19th anyway.

"Autumn Years" was regularly played to a high standard, but never moreso than the haunting, understated performance featured on this compilation. The final drum flourish can come across as abrupt on some nights, but here it is the perfect stunning close to a compelling second act.

In the encore, Donnie Herron shines again on "Blowin' In The Wind." It becomes effectively a duet between piano and violin, though the guitars are quite lovely as well. Dylan's vocals are also quite moving on this song.

The final track, "Love Sick," is a rock masterpiece. In that sense, it stands apart from the preceding songs, but the rich vocals and sense of melancholy tie it into what came before. I increased the bass a bit, since the Yokohama recording lacked a bit of low end, but otherwise it's a perfect version of this staple song.

I hope you enjoy reading about the songs. If you want more details, check out the miniature tour notes diary I created as I listened through the entire run of shows. It's really just a reflection of what I was hearing on first impression, so don't look for anything especially enlightening.

Of particular note is the absence of both the lone performance of "Lucky Old Sun" from this tour, and any recordings from the excellent recording of Nagoya on April 15. Concerning the former, I was only able to track down a lossy copy, which would compromise the lossless aspect of the compilation; even steering clear of that potentially misguided concern, I wanted to represent the set as it existed overall - an exception would make it less representative. You can find an MP3 edit of that song in the bonus materials accompanying this compilation. Concerning the Nagoya show, I found that, while it was a great listen, individual songs didn't exceed the quality of those on preceding or subsequent nights. I suggest seeking out a copy of that concert to complement the material on Beyond Here.

As always, thanks for listening. Next month will feature the concluding "miscellaneous" chapter of the blog, in which I compile the odds and ends that didn't make it onto earlier collections. Until then, keep yourself healthy and listen to some good tunes!

- CS