Monday, December 2, 2013

Renaissance: Unreleased Live Recordings, 1988

Renaissance: Live Recordings, 1988

Subterranean Homesick Blues - June 9, 1988
Pretty Peggy-O - July 2, 1988
My Back Pages - June 11, 1988
License To Kill - June 13, 1988
Gotta Serve Somebody - June 13, 1988
Wagoner's Lad - October 16, 1988
Eileen Aroon - June 15, 1988
Mama, You Been On My Mind - June 18, 1988
Give My Love To Rose - June 28, 1988
San Francisco Bay Blues - June 28, 1988
Barbara Allen - August 31, 1988
Masters Of War - October 13, 1988
It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry - June 10, 1988
Frankie Lee & Judas Priest - July 3, 1988
Visions Of Johanna - September 3, 1988
Gates Of Eden - June 18, 1988

Lossless Links:

MP3 Link:

Greetings, folks. This is my companion to the 1988 field recordings of Bob Dylan. Compiling it was one of the finest experiences I've had since beginning my practice of developing compilations based around certain time periods or themes in Dylan's recorded art. Previously, I suppose I'd only heard so-so sounding 1988-era soundboard recordings, which are frequently lacking in ambiance and sound quality. Still, if one digs around, there is gold to be had in this year. 

Perhaps moreso than at any time since 1979, he sounds truly spirited, demanding the listener's attention. Dylan's fiery breath brings new life to old gems like "Masters of War" and "Gotta Serve Somebody," while songs that are great in most performances shine to their typically high standard here ("Visions of Johanna," "License to Kill"). The acoustic set is interesting as well for the restraint paid to vocals on "Give My Love To Rose" and "Wagoner's Lad." "Mama, You Been On My Mind" receives one of its most pleasant airings here.

By contrast to 1987 and 1989, Dylan's voice is powerful in a way that evokes 1974 with a shade more nuance. The most striking conclusion I reached while listening to the vast array of tapes from 1988 is how similar '88 and '74 are in tone. Both are perhaps a bit under-appreciated and well-served by delving into them with an open mind.

If you'd like a single disc to represent this frenzied year of touring, this could be the one. On the other hand, if this piques your interest, a 5-disc bootleg called The Red Rose and The Briar was the source for a number of these recordings, and offers a comprehensive look at a fascinating period of Dylan's always-interesting performance art.

Original studio recordings of the live tracks from Renaissance can be found on the following official releases:

Next week, we will move ahead to the London and Paris residencies of 1990, which both produced much gold. Until then, keep yourself healthy and listen to some good tunes!



  1. Hi,
    Could you please post or give a link to Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, 13 October 1988? Your Masters of Wars here sounds better than mine file. And as you know the concert is magnificent.
    Thanks in advance,

    1. I am sorry to say that my version of "Masters of War" is sourced from the magnificent bootleg 'The Red Rose & The Briar,' an unparalleled 5-CD exploration of the 1988 tour. Much of it would not be in regular rotation for me (hence my single-CD summary), but it is really worth owning for those weird tracks. I'm not sure what that compiler's sources were, but the "Visions Of Johanna" on 'Renaissance' is also sourced from that set at a significantly higher quality than the more common recording from September 3. Very mysterious.

      Anyway, you can find 'The Red Rose & The Briar' here:

      And here is a complete recording of Upper Darby, posted at Expecting Rain by the ever-amazing Lilraven:

      I'm not sure if that's an upgrade on your set, but I'll hope so!

  2. This is fantastic. Your blog is the highlight of my Tuesday (NZ time). I always look forward to getting home from work and seeing what you've posted. Thank-you.

    1. Glad to hear it! I've got a lot more to come in the next few months.

  3. Thanks CWS another fine batch. Just been listening to some Blood on the tracks out-takes. I would like to collect all of these as a Christmas present for a friend. Can anyone point me to a list I can research as a starting point to start my collection.

    1. This got away from me. Here is a source to the Blood On The Tracks recording session info from the page I use:

      The person that runs that site, Olof Bjorner, is truly a champion of musical record-keeping.

  4. Eh... unfortunately expectingrain Upper Darby is from October 14 not 13 which I'm looking for.
    Anyway, many thanks

  5. Awesome collection ! Renaissance indeed. i remember it well when these tapes (!) started coming out, and the mounting excitement that Bob really was rediscovering (reinventing?) himself again ... was it really TWENTY FIVE years ago ? Sheesh ...

  6. Thanks CWS, will chase this up. Looking forward to your next comp.