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Monday, September 30, 2013

Still The Same Man - Volume Two: Unreleased Live Recordings, 1981



Still The Same Man - Volume Two
World Tour, 1981

Gotta Serve Somebody - June 29
Girl Of The North Country - June 27
Like A Rolling Stone - June 28
I Want You - November 10
Man Gave Names To All The Animals - November 12
Maggie's Farm - June 29
Solid Rock - November 12
Watered-Down Love - November 10
In The Summertime - July 25
Shot Of Love - July 25
Simple Twist Of Fate - November 10
Barbara Allen - July 4
Mr. Tambourine Man - July 9
When You Gonna Wake Up - June 29
Thief On The Cross - November 10
Dead Man, Dead Man - July 4
A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall - November 12

Lossless Links:

MP3 Link:


It’s a great thing that Bob Dylan’s 1981 European and American tours were so well documented, because they just sound so great. The band was on fire, the vocals were among the consistent of his career, and the selection of songs is fabulous. When else could you have heard songs from the ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s all played like they’d just been written?

Every song here has a unique arrangement, similar to the technique of 1978. “Gotta Serve Somebody” has cascading drums, “Girl of the North Country” has a delicate piano accompaniment (which reminds this listener of Dylan’s trio performances in 1987 performances), “Like A Rolling Stone” has a Caribbean feel, and the list goes on. “Man Gave Names To All The Animals” and “Solid Rock” are especially improved by the laid-back readings they get here, while the building crescendo of “Mr. Tambourine Man” would not be repeated again. You’ve also got the only recording of “Thief On The Cross” known to exist, along with an intriguing introduction to “Dead Man, Dead Man,” a song always better on tour than in the studio.

Editing has been minimal, though the beginning of “Gotta Serve Somebody” is spliced to remove some distracting feedback, and most of the songs from Houston and New Orleans have had audience noise added to the beginning and ends, since the tapes include some fairly abrupt transitions. It is worth noting that all tracks here are sourced lossless, with the possible exception of Houston (11-12); the best quality recording of that show, as far as I know, is said to be derived from a lossy original source, but you couldn’t tell by hearing it!

Though the collector will undoubtedly want the best shows of this tour in his or her possession, as they represent quite a variety of performance and song selection, I believe that this compilation represents the finest songs and sources available as of Fall, 2013. Hopefully you will agree!

If you like these songs, I would encourage you to check out the official releases from this period. Though there remains no significant documentation of Dylan's 1981 tour, you can find an exquisite "Heart Of Mine" from the New Orleans show (November 10) on Biograph. In addition, a performance of "Dead Man, Dead Man" from the same night is available for purchase somewhere, though I could not find it for this blog post. It was remixed by Daniel Lanois at the time of Oh Mercy's release in 1989.

This compilation includes unreleased live recordings of songs which were originally recorded for the following studio records:


And now, a very important announcement: this will be the last entry until November 4, 2013. I am getting married in October, and will be away from the blog until the end of the month. This will be the perfect opportunity for you to catch up on some of the older posts! When I return, we will continue moving on into the 1980s, beginning with an exploration of the unreleased songs from Infidels. Until then, keep yourself healthy and listen to some good tunes.

Enjoy,
CS

Monday, September 23, 2013

Still The Same Man - Volume One: Unreleased Live Recordings, Fall 1980




Still The Same Man: Volume One
Musical Retrospective Tour, 1980

Blowin' In The Wind - November 13
A Couple More Years - December 3
What Can I Do For You? - December 3
Ain't Gonna Go To Hell For Anybody - November 29
Slow Train - November 29
Just Like A Woman - November 16
Fever - November 30
We Just Disagree - December 4
Senor - November 11
The Groom's Still Waiting At The Altar - November 15
Mary From The Wild Moor - November 15
Let's Keep It Between Us - December 3
Rise Again - November 29
Caribbean Wind - November 12
In The Garden - November 11
City Of Gold - November 13

Lossless Links:

MP3 Link:

Welcome back, folks!

Compiling this has really taken some time, and to do so I listened to every extant tape of the Musical Retrospective Tour. This, as you can imagine, was a richly rewarding experience. While some tapes are of low quality, in many cases the tapes are among the finest of the era. Between sound and performance, you really can't go wrong with most of these!

Though my earlier release elsewhere was integrated to sound like a complete concert, this venture was not perfectly successful. When combined with the issues of CD-burning or MP3 conversion adding gaps between the tracks, I found it best to add fades to the collection. Hopefully you won't mind. If you only have room in your collection for one CD of 1980's Musical Retrospective Tour, this would be the set for you.

As my upcoming Still The Same Man Volume II opens with the typical "Gotta Serve Somebody" in a unique arrangement, that song is omitted from this release. Similarly, Volume II will not end with "In The Garden," as the passionate performance from 1980 was not rivaled the following year. The aim of this collection was not necessarily to present an imitation of the tour, but rather to give the listener a unified, cohesive document. In that, I hope it succeeds.

1980's remarkable arrangements of "Blowin' In The Wind," "Slow Train," and "What Can I Do For You," rank among the best renditions of these songs. "Caribbean Wind" is one of the defining performances of Dylan's career, and both "City of Gold" and "Let's Keep It Between Us" are truly lost classics. Present too are some of the more peculiar monologues of the Musical Retrospective (the discussion of Duluth's musical scene is a highlight). All are delightful, and make you rather wish he'd tell stories like these more often.

If you enjoy the tracks, I would encourage you to check out related official releases. In a bit of a twist, there are no official releases from this tour, to the best of my knowledge. This CD includes live recordings of songs originally found on the following studio records:


Next week I will post the second volume of this collection, the subject of which will be Bob Dylan's 1981 World Tour. And my goodness, that has got to be one of the finest set of tapes on record! Until then, keep yourself healthy and listen to some good tunes!

-CS

Monday, September 16, 2013

Every Grain Of Sand: Unreleased Recordings, 1980 - 1981



Every Grain Of Sand: Unreleased Recordings, 1980 - 1981
 
Wind Blowing On The Water - Outtake, 1981
Mystery Train - Outtake, 1981
Caribbean Wind - Outtake, 1980
Heart Of Mine - Outtake, 1981
Shot Of Love - Outtake, 1981
Lenny Bruce - Live at Avignon, 7/25/81
Jesus Is The One - Live at Avignon, 7/25/81
Watered-Down Love - Rough Mix, 1981
Let It Be Me - Outtake, 1981
Is It Worth It? - Outtake, 1981
Let's Begin - Live at Earl's Court, 6/29/81
Dead Man, Dead Man - Rough Mix, 1981
Magic - Outtake, 1981
Hallelujah - Outtake, 1981
Let's Keep It Between Us - Outtake, 1980
Yonder Comes Sin - Outtake, 1980
In The Summertime - Rough Mix, 1981
The Groom's Still Waiting - Rough Mix, 1981
Borrowed Time - Outtake, 1981

Lossless Links:

MP3 Links:

Welcome to a lovely and oft-overlooked corner of Bob Dylan's recording career - the sessions and concerts surrounding the release of Shot of Love. Shot of Love is a remarkably good record, whatever else you've heard, and was Dylan's last to sound like a bunch of people playing in the same room until Love & Theft in 2001. There was no sleek shine to this production, and consequently it breathed with the passion found in much of the man's best work. Unfortunately, many of the finest recordings from these sessions were not released on that album. In particular, "Yonder Comes Sin" and "Caribbean Wind" are absolutely essential, and "Heart of Mine" was recorded in a much better rendition than the one that appears on the official release.

Outside of these classics, more minor gems were recorded. No collection of Dylan outtakes would be complete without this cover of "Mystery Train," or this live performance of "Lenny Bruce" from the '81 tour. The fragmentary songs, including "Hallelujah" (not the Leonard Cohen song) and "Borrowed Time" make one wonder what could have been; "Is It Worth It" points to the reggae-influenced road ahead to Infidels, and contributes to the overall Caribbean sound of this era.

The other studio cuts are intriguing as well. "Let's Keep It Between Us" is a fairly recently unearthed prototype for a song that would become transcendant on the road in Fall, 1980. The rough mixes of "Dead Man, Dead Man," "Watered-Down Love," "In The Summertime," and "The Groom's Still Waiting At The Altar" are all interesting, but "Watered-Down Love" stands above the others, retaining an extra verse not present on the official release. "In The Summertime," too, stands out for the inclusion of a mournful harmonica that has been truncated on the Shot of Love LP.

The listener familiar with Dylan's unreleased output may wonder why more of the fiery performances from 1980 and 1981 are not present here. In fact, it is because the next two volumes of this series will be dedicated exclusively to those tours; I've saved the best live material for those releases. This should act as a primer though, since you will be able to hear "Caribbean Wind" and "Let's Keep It Between Us" develop into artistic triumphs on the 1980 tour, and "In The Summertime" and "Watered-Down Love" become centerpieces of Dylan's 1981 performances. It is always fascinating to watch the progression from studio recordings to on-stage renditions, after all.

I hope you enjoy this newest compilation, and include it in your collections alongside the inimitable Shot of Love. It was a blast to put together.

If you like the songs here, I would encourage you to buy the official release, Shot of Love. You can also find many of the best outtakes from these sessions on The Bootleg Series, Volume 1-3; these include the extraordinary "You Changed My Life" and "Angelina." There's even an acoustic demo of "Every Grain Of Sand" with a dog barking in the room! To get the full picture, you will also want to purchase Biograph, as this contains a 1981 reworking of "Caribbean Wind" that is radically different from the 1980 recording on Every Grain of Sand: Unreleased Recordings, 1980-1981. Note that these links are to bobdylan.com, but these recordings are available at Amazon, iTunes, and possibly your local music store (if it still exists).

Next week we will move back onto the stage with live performances from Dylan's "Musical Retrospective" tour of Fall, 1980. These include live recordings of several of the songs found above, along with special guest appearances, rare covers, and old classics born anew. Until then, keep yourself healthy and listen to some good tunes!

-CS

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Non-Music Technical Post, Part Two: Artwork

Hello again! This is a mid-week update, courtesy of blog reader Marcus. He noted a problem facing those of us who would like to add artwork to iTunes to accompany these volumes, but find that the artwork does not remain displayed after adding it. Apparently, this is due to restrictions on what data is associated with .WAV files (artwork is not among this associated data). Here is how to fix it, in the words of Marcus:

I actually surprised myself by figuring out a (ham-fisted) work around to the problem.

wav files dont allow you to add artwork, but if you duplicate one song from the album in the Apple Lossless format (iTunes/File/Create New Version)and then add the artwork to that file, then the artwork attaches itself to the whole album on iTunes.
Apparently, the artwork is still not really added to the wav files, but it adds it to the album - which was what I wanted.

I duplicate the last file on each album,so that it doesnt disrupt my listening.

Sometimes I surprise myself !
Hope that helps someone else.


Thank you very much, Marcus. If you've got a particular era you'd like me to look into for a new compilation, hit me up and I'll see what I can do :)

Monday, September 9, 2013

Serve Somebody: Unreleased Live Recordings, 1979-1980



Serve Somebody: Unreleased Live Recordings, 1979 - 1980

Gotta Serve Somebody - February 24, 1980
Precious Angel - November 16, 1979
 When You Gonna Wake Up? - November 14, 1979
When He Returns - November 16, 1979
Slow Train - November 7, 1979
Covenant Woman - November 19, 1979
Ain't Gonna Go To Hell For Anybody - April 20, 1980
Solid Rock - November 16, 1979
No Man Righteous (No, Not One) - November 16, 1979
Cover Down, Pray Through - April 20, 1980
What Can I Do For You? - November 18, 1979
Blessed Is The Name - November 18, 1979
Are You Ready? - April 20, 1980
I Will Love Him - April 19, 1980

Lossless Links:

MP3 Link:

It's time for a new release in this series, one that may not be as popular as others but is nonetheless one of my favorites. Bob Dylan's gospel era is undoubtedly divisive, so if you already dislike his religious music, don't expect this to change your mind. If you have heard Slow Train Coming and Saved, and liked them, then you will love this CD.

During the '79 and '80 tours Bob Dylan exclusively performed material from those two releases, along with songs that have gone unreleased entirely. All of these performances were filled with a passion befitting the subject matter, his recent conversion to Christianity.

I've captured the performances in the highest sound quality possible, and integrated a number of Dylan's "sermons" between the songs. This release should act as a bridge between the studio releases and the incredible, if unvaried, live show from these years. As expected, many songs were left out to fit the running length of a single CD. Generally, the songs that were most improved on-stage have been included, like a guitar-heavy "Slow Train," a confessional "Covenant Woman," and an intense "When You Gonna Wake Up." This performance of "Gotta Serve Somebody" at the 1980 Grammy Awards is fairly rare, which is a shame, as it is among the finest renditions of that song put to tape. In addition, five of the tracks are songs written and performed during this period but never released on any studio album, among these the absolutely uplifting "I Will Serve Him" and the full-on gospel rave, "Blessed Is The Name."

Creating this been a labor of love, listening to each concert from '79 and many from '80, and I am proud of the final product. I find the music very inspiring, and I'm sure it has a wider appeal. Sit down and lend an ear to these extremely talented and passionate performers putting on their show.

If you find these songs pleasant or otherwise worthwhile, I encourage you to check out the studio releases from these years, Slow Train Coming and Saved. Most of the songs included on this album appear originally on those studio records. Note that these links are to bobdylan.com, but these recordings are available at Amazon, iTunes, and possibly your local music store (if it still exists).
Next week we will continue our documentation of Dylan's gospel era with a dive back into studio sessions, combing the available outtakes of Shot of Love, along with some relevant live tracks. Until then, keep yourself healthy and listen to some good tunes!

*Volume 1 initially had a corrupted file, but it has been fixed. If you notice any other issues, please feel free to notify me. Thanks!

Monday, September 2, 2013

The Road Is Long: Unreleased Live Recordings, 1978 World Tour



The Road Is Long: 1978 World Tour
Repossession Blues - February 24
It's All Over Now, Baby Blue - July 6
I Threw It All Away - February 24
We Better Talk This Over - December 10
Tangled Up In Blue - June 7
I Don't Believe You - June 7
True Love Tends To Forget - July 8
Coming From The Heart - October 31
Am I Your Stepchild - December 9
Senor - December 10
If You See Her, Say Hello - February 24
The Man In Me - July 6
One Of Us Must Know - July 7
You're A Big Girl Now - February 24
Do Right To Me, Baby - December 16
Girl From The North Country - December 10
Changing Of The Guards - December 10

Lossless Links:

No MP3 links by request of the tapers

This is a companion to the long and winding road that Bob Dylan took through the year of 1978. Biographical details aside, it was a fascinating year for Dylan's art, as he released a loud, brassy record full of mysticism and imagery while touring the world performing some of the most radical rearrangements of his back catalog. Surely, it's a lot to take in.

Unfortunately, the tapes from this era are inconsistent in quality, due to the technical limitations of the time. The complexity of the arrangements were ill-suited even to the studio process for Street Legal, so it is not surprising that the enterprising bootleggers of 1978 were able to capture the mystery and majesty, but not always the subtlety of these rapturous concerts. Some tapes stand out, however, as the cream of the crop - these are a stronger document than even the contemporary release of Dylan's At Budokan. I'm speaking of tapes like Charlotte, Tokyo, Paris, Columbia, and more. Without these brilliant tapers, who but those in attendance could have heard the passionate "Coming From The Heart" from October 31, or this dramatic "Tangled Up In Blue" from June 7? Please bear in mind that this compilation focuses on the cleanest tapes of '78, so some brilliant performances on muddier recordings have been omitted.

Though the tour has its detractors, and fits somewhat uncomfortably between the fire of the Rolling Thunder Revue and the brimstone of the Gospel Tours, there is brilliance to be found here. I set out to make a companion to At Budokan that would round out the year's best performances of songs not included on that release. This CD has what I would consider to be the definitive "Man In Me" and "Changing of the Guards." Also, "Do Right To Me, Baby" appears here, the first performance of a Gospel-era song. Change was in the air at Dylan's December shows in 1978, and this song points toward the years to come. I wanted to get these and more songs down in one place for the newcomer to Bob Dylan's live bootlegs. Hopefully the veterans will find something of merit here as well.

In any case, this one is coming from the heart, and should be a pleasant listen on the long road ahead, whatever the destination.

Enjoy!

If you like this release, I would strongly encourage you to check out the official release from the Spring portion of the 1978 tour, At Budokan. In addition, the 1978 studio record Street Legal has a strong presence on The Road Is Long. All other tracks here are from older releases, except for "Do Right To Me, Baby," which would be rearranged and recorded in '79 for the Slow Train Coming LP, and the otherwise unreleased "Coming From The Heart."

Note that all links here are to bobdylan.com, but these recordings are available at Amazon, iTunes, and possibly your local music store (if it still exists).
Next week we will begin our documentation of Dylan's Gospel-Era live performances (1979-1981); these are not to be missed, and many describe the live shows as even more rewarding than the studio records. Until then, keep yourself healthy and listen to some good tunes!