Ashes & Dust: Unreleased Studio and Live Recordings, 1985 - 1986
Something's Burning, Baby - Empire Burlesque Session
Trust Yourself - Live: Farm Aid, 1985
Freedom For The Stallion - Unreleased, 1985
Driftin' Too Far From Shore - Empire Burlesque Session
Emotionally Yours - Live: July 4, 1986
Had A Dream About You, Baby (Take 5) - Hearts of Fire Session
A Couple More Years - Hearts of Fire Session
Band Of The Hand - Live: July 17, 1986
Lonesome Town - Live: July 4, 1986
Go 'Way Little Boy - Empire Burlesque Session
To Fall In Love With You - Hearts of Fire Session
We Had It All - Live: July 4, 1986
Old Five & Dimers Like Me (Take 3) - Hearts of Fire Session
Straight A's In Love - Empire Burlesque Session
The Very Thought Of You - Empire Burlesque Session
Across The Borderline - Live: Farm Aid, 1986
Who Loves You More - Empire Burlesque Session
Thank God - Live: Chabad Telethon, 1986
New Danville Girl - Empire Burlesque Session
Hope all has been well for you since last week. This week I am presenting one of the more peculiar compilations in my collection. 1985 - 1986 is not generally regarded as an especially strong period of time for Bob Dylan's music, and that is not a misguided impression. The records released were very much of their time, and thought he songwriting and performances remained strong, production sometimes obscured the quality.
What I would like these selected songs to do is to rehabilitate, to a small degree, this era. Clearly, a song like "Trust Yourself" comes across much stronger here, in a live context, than it did as originally released. Similarly, this live rendition of "Emotionally Yours" is incredible, though of course that song was one of the highlights of Empire Burlesque. "Band Of The Hand," which exists in a studio-recorded cut on the soundtrack to a film of the same name, is performed here with Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers as the backing band. The collaboration between Bob Dylan and Tom Petty from 1985 - 1987 was very fruitful, and will be explored further in next week's release.
The outtakes are just as interesting as the live cuts. "Go 'Way Little Boy" sounds like an updated "Absolutely Sweet Marie," and was originally given to another singer for her record. You might recognize "A Couple More Years" from my earlier post, Still The Same Man, Volume One, but this version is completely different - this Shel Silverstein-penned ballad was recorded acoustically at the sessions for the film Hearts of Fire in 1986, but was not released on that film's soundtrack. "To Fall In Love With You," recorded at the same sessions, is one of the more haunting and mysterious songs in this catalog. A number of these songs would later be rerecorded at sessions for Knocked Out Loaded, including "Driftin' Too Far From Shore" and "New Danville Girl," which was eventually rewritten as the esteemed "Brownsville Girl."
If you enjoy these songs, I encourage you to check out the contemporary official releases:
Though the production is challenging at times, you would be well-served by including the unparalleled "Dark Eyes" from Empire Burlesque in your record collection. Also, The Bootleg Series Volume Three includes a fantastic outtake of "When The Night Comes Falling From The Sky," also from Empire Burlesque. Unfortunately, the film soundtrack for Hearts of Fire is currently out of publication, but you never know when that may change; if you can find that soundtrack, "The Usual" is a pretty great recording not available elsewhere.
Next week we will be dipping back into live performances, documenting the positively fascinating jazzy recordings of Bob Dylan and Tom Petty's 1987 Tour of Europe. Don't miss it. Until then, keep yourself healthy and listen to some good tunes.