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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Still Dreaming: Unreleased Acoustic Recordings, 1975



Tangled Up In Blue - Live - Toronto - December 2, 1975
With God On Our Side - Live - Providence - November 4, 1975 (Early)
I Don’t Believe You - Live - Bangor - November 27, 1975
Simple Twist Of Fate - Live - New York City - December 8, 1975
Mr. Tambourine Man - Live - Toronto - December 2, 1975
Fourth Time Around - Live - Augusta - November 26, 1975
Love Minus Zero/No Limit - Live - Toronto - December 1, 1975
It’s Alright Ma - Live - Providence - November 4, 1975 (Late)
It's All Over Now, Baby Blue - Live - Toronto - December 1, 1975


I told you there would be a bonus in May, and here it is!

This set of recordings is fairly interesting, if a bit short. Bob Dylan performed at least one acoustic song per night on his 1975 Rolling Thunder Revue tour, and as many as three. This was a brief interlude of sorts between another performer’s act and his second electric set, but was met with significant warmth by the audiences. Just listen to the start of Mr. Tambourine Man, included in this collection, for evidence of the crowd’s appreciation.

Unfortunately, unlike the surprisingly varied selection of acoustic songs in the following year, only nine separate songs are known to have been performed in 1975. One version of each is included here. Generally, sound quality is not as great as the electric sets. I find this a bit shocking, since typically the reverse is true (refer to the 1966 tapes for comparison). In some cases, the entire tape is problematic, like Augusta, but in others, the acoustic songs are inexplicably less distinct than electric tracks from the same night; December 2 is a characteristic example. I altered harmonica levels, re-EQ’d tracks, added some reverb and performed some very minor noise reduction to eliminate some distortion on the November 27 and December 1 & 2 recordings. On the performance from November 4 (Early), a splice was necessary to eliminate feedback.

Happily, some tracks here are crystal clear. “With God On Our Side,” “Simple Twist of Fate,” and “It’s Alright Ma” are beautiful recordings, and little work has been done to them. I worked on the remainder of the tracks to make them a bit clearer. You can compare the edits and the originals to judge for yourself, but I am reasonably proud of the results. There is no way to make these sound as excellent as Columbia’s Bootleg Series Volume 5, but they make an interesting addition to that official release. Much like the electric sets, Dylan’s performance of the acoustic tracks could vary radically from night to night. The songs overall maintain something of a dreamlike character, which inspired the title of the collection.

In short, this compilation should serve as a convenient way to assemble the acoustic performances of the year in one place. It also acts as a nice extension of the full Thousand Highways Rolling Thunder exhibition, Unknown Country. If you haven’t sought that one out, do so as soon as possible. Similarly, Columbia has released several incredible documents from the 1975 tour, including The Bootleg Series Volume 5, The Renaldo & Clara EP, and Biograph/Side Tracks. If you enjoy the tracks here, you’ll love those official releases all the more.

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

-CS

Friday, May 1, 2015

Unknown Country: Unreleased Live Recordings, 1975



Unknown Country
The Rolling Thunder Revue
1975

When I Paint My Masterpiece - Live - New York City - December 8, 1975
It Ain't Me, Babe - Live - New York City - December 8, 1975
The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll - Live - New Haven - November 13, 1975 (Early)
Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With You - Live - New York City - December 8, 1975
It Takes A Lot To Laugh - Live - New York City - December 8, 1975
Romance In Durango - Live - Waterbury - November 11, 1975
Isis - Live - Toronto - December 1, 1975
Never Let Me Go - Live - Waterbury - November 11, 1975
I Dreamed I Saw Saint Augustine - Live - Toronto - December 1, 1975
Dark As A Dungeon - Live - Boston - November 21, 1975 (Late)
Mama, You Been On My Mind - Live - Boston - November 21, 1975 (Late)
I Don't Believe You - Live - Boston - November 21, 1975 (Late)
Oh Sister - Live - Providence - November 4, 1975 (Late)
Hurricane - Live - Toronto - December 2, 1975
One More Cup Of Coffee - Live - Providence - November 4, 1975 (Late)
Sara - Live - Plymouth - October 31, 1975
Just Like A Woman - Live - New York City - December 8, 1975
A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall - Live - Waterbury - November 11, 1975

Bonus

The Times They Are A-Changin' - Live - Toronto - December 1, 1975
I Shall Be Released - Live - New York City - December 8, 1975
Mama, You Been On My Mind - Live - Bangor - November 27, 1975
Isis - Live - Waterbury - November 11, 1975
It Takes A Lot To Laugh [Extended Edition] - Live - New York City - December 8, 1975

Links

Welcome to the Rolling Thunder Revue. This set is made up of eighteen tracks depicting the mayhem associated with Bob Dylan's outstanding 1975 tour. It's all a bit hectic, and sometimes sounds a bit disorganized, but the result is some of the best art in the man's career.

I won't be writing a history of the Revue here. For that, I suggest consulting Larry Sloman's On The Road and/or Sid Griffin's Shelter From The Storm; as always, the best account of the music is Paul Williams' Performing Artist. I mention these because it's worth reading about the tour. It's aesthetic and sound were very tied up in its genesis - Dylan collaborated with playwright Jacques Levy for the composition of his new Desire songs and stage direction for the show, while recruiting various New York Greenwich Village personalities both known and unknown to populate a caravan inspired by his recent visit to rural France.

Concerning the songs themselves, they really form a rich tapestry of Bob Dylan's music up to 1975. Desire is very well-represented, having just been recorded prior to the tour. Interestingly, the texture of Dylan's voice and delivery change on these quite a bit from the start of the tour to its conclusion barely over one month later. Generally, early dates catch the singer with an airier voice but the arrangements suffer from caution; by the tour's end, the arrangements are loose and lived-in but the vocals are necessarily rougher. Unsurprisingly, Columbia's own excellent document of the period is largely derived from shows in the middle of the tour. My selections are a bit broader - songs that benefit from a bit of madness ("Isis", "When I Paint My Masterpiece") are generally from later in the tour, while songs that benefit from more precise vocals ("One More Cup Of Coffee," "Sara") tend to originate from earlier dates. The balance come from mid-November.

Note that no songs are included from the esteemed Montreal show of December 4. This is entirely down to sound quality, and good representation elsewhere. Columbia has done a very good job documenting this tour in general, and that concert in particular. Similarly, the Wolfgang's Vault soundboard releases were excluded here since they are considered officially released. You aren't missing too much there, though, since their thinness can be detrimental to the overall sound at times. If you like the tracks on Unknown Country, I strongly recommend seeking out these various official releases.

As far as particularly strong performances, it would be very hard to single them out. The relatively short running time of Bob Dylan's contribution to the Rolling Thunder shows (which were composed of many artists' sets) made it possible to include a fairly complete hypothetical setlist. Of the included tracks, "Isis" sounds particularly wild, "Hurricane" is an exceptionally spirited performance, and "Just Like A Woman" features a harmony vocal that is dramatically improved from earlier appearances in the tour; "Hattie Carroll" is also slowed down a bit, providing a particularly moving experience. Finally, the rhythm section on "One More Cup Of Coffee" is more inventive than some nights, which improves an always-welcome song just a hair.

A purist might note that the acoustic sets were sometimes longer, and this is true, but Dylan's solo portions were rarely the most noteworthy parts of the show. The final two songs of each night, "Knockin' On Heaven's Door" and "This Land Is Your Land," are omitted because they are just not that interesting. Both were very collaborative, and in my eyes suffer a bit for this. I'm sure it would have been great to be there, but I rarely want to hear Roger McGuinn when listening to a Bob Dylan album - they duet on "Knockin' On Heaven's Door" - and "This Land Is Your Land" tends to be a bit rudderless.

Edits were kept to a minimum, but some work needed to be done. The tracks from December 1 contained a very distracting buzz, and this was eliminated through limited noise reduction; the overall sound was not hurt a bit. The tracks from December 2 ran fast, and had to be slowed slightly; similarly, the December 8 tracks were sourced from Knight of the Hurricane, and had to be sped up slightly. Admittedly, between-song chatter is not emphasized here, in order to accommodate all eighteen songs. The only track that really loses much from this omission is "It Takes A Lot To Laugh," in which Dylan introduces Robbie Robertson as a guest on guitar and describes attendee Al Grossman as a man who "won't be the next president." Your guess is as good as mine.

I hope you enjoy the songs! This compilation took quite a bit more work than most of the Thousand Highways Collection, due to the sound peculiarities discussed above and the rather extreme differences in performances from night to night. I have about 200 tracks in a folder on my computer, though most of these are versions of the ones on the CD in louder, quieter, faster, slower, longer, or shorter forms. If these pique your interest, I strongly suggest seeking out the complete shows from November 4, December 1, and December 8. Overall, they probably represent the best of the unreleased content.

Next month we will be covering the second, even more on-the-edge 1976 Rolling Thunder Revue tour. At some point in May, I am hoping to release a small bonus, so check in on the site every once in a while; I promise it'll be worth your while. Until next time, keep yourself healthy and listen to some good tunes.

-CS

Update - May 2 2015: A generous soul has informed me that the CD ran approximately 2 seconds too long to fit onto a standard CD. I have re-edited the final track to be 4 seconds shorter, and all links have been updated. As an added bonus, I have included four "outtakes" - among these a much slower "Isis" and more countrified "Mama, You Been On My Mind" that is unfortunately marred by some vocal distortion - and an extended version of "It Takes A Lot To Laugh" that retains the introduction discussed above. Enjoy!

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.