A Thousand Hearts & Eyes: Brixton Residency, 2005
Maggie's Farm - November 23
Sugar Baby - November 24
Million Dollar Bash - November 21
High Water - November 23
She Belongs To Me - November 23
Shelter From The Storm - November 23
It's Alright Ma - November 24
Waiting For You - November 21
Blue Monday - November 23
Boots Of Spanish Leather - November 21
'Til I Fell In Love With You - November 20
Positively 4th Street - November 22
London Calling - November 21
Visions Of Johanna - November 21
Of course, we all know about Brixton 2005. Arguably one of the high points of Bob Dylan's late career. Five nights of songs, old and new, pulled from the fiery furnace and refined in the chilly London air. Like his brilliant Fall 2003 tour, the Fall 2005 tour culminated in amazing performances on the British Isles. All of these songs are sourced from Crystal Cat's “Brixton Box” Set, and the CD is arranged to present the best of the 5 nights. The tracks are a bit hot, tending towards clipped high and low ends, but the quality rarely suffers.
Our evening opens with a rollicking "Maggie's Farm" before a tender "Sugar Baby" pulls back on the energy, and then a joyful performance of "Million Dollar Bash" brings the audience and Dylan to laughter by the end. "High Water" turns up the heat, pedal steel melodies propel "She Belongs To Me," and "Shelter from the Storm" is played for all its drama. Possibly the strongest rendition of the march-like arrangement of "It's Alright Ma" is up next. Then one of the only airings of "Waiting For You" before 2013 – each word is drawn out to perfection. We are surprised again with Bob Dylan's only performance to date of Blue Monday. The violin brings out every ounce of sorrow present in "Boots of Spanish Leather," and the long-burning "'Til I Fell in Love With You" brings us around to a sad, longing "Positively 4th Street." After a brief, delightful cover of The Clash's "London Calling," the serene "Visions of Johanna" concludes this set. It's not quite as strong as its nigh-definitive reading in Dublin mere nights later, but this "Visions of Johanna" plays to the qualities of Bob Dylan's tight 2005 band.
This is one of the last appearances of such a jazzy sound in Dylan's repertoire until 2012, and 2006 would bring both the organ and an increasingly hard, bluesy sound to the forefront. The songs here are light, airy, somehow managing to sound simultaneously loose yet well-rehearsed. This is a band at one of its peaks, creating beautiful music for an adoring crowd. Perhaps some personal favorites are missing, but the 14 tracks give a representative look into the Bob Dylan of 2005. If 2003 was the beginning of this sound, then 2005 is the conclusion. If you find this set to your liking, and want more, consider seeking out the complete Brixton Box. As always, enjoy!
Also, if you don't already own them, original studio versions of these songs can be found on the following records, available for purchase from bobdylan.com:
The Times They Are A-Changin'
Bringing It All Back Home
Highway 61 Revisited
Blonde On Blonde
The Basement Tapes
Blood On The Tracks
Time Out Of Mind
"Love & Theft"
Next week I will be posting the best recordings from Bob Dylan's time playing on the organ, 2006 - 2009. Until then, keep yourself healthy and listen to some good tunes.