Sunday, April 6, 2014

Ivory: Unreleased Live Recordings, 2012 - 2013

Ivory: Unreleased Live Recordings, 2012 - 2013

Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues - November 7, 2013
Saving Grace - August 29, 2012
It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding) - October 12, 2013
Simple Twist Of Fate - October 22, 2013
Shadows - October 9, 2012
Joey - October 17, 2012
When The Deal Goes Down - November 7, 2013
Rollin' & Tumblin' - November 19, 2012
Ain't Talkin' - November 7, 2013
Delia - October 27, 2012
Mississippi - November 1, 2012
Highway 61 Revisited - November 19, 2012
Tangled Up In Blue - October 20, 2013

Leopard-Skin Pill Box Hat - November 6, 2013
Dignity - November 1, 2012
Suzie Baby - July 10, 2013
Tryin' To Get To Heaven - July 8, 2012
Beyond Here Lies Nothin' - October 19, 2013

We should count ourselves lucky, because this set is the real deal: thirteen jazzy tracks from Dylan's piano-playing era. This began with 2012's European Tour and has continued to the current time (Spring 2014). It has been rapturously received, and has been a component of Dylan adopting a softer, jazz-like sound. Harder tracks have not been absent, but the piano-driven songs have tended toward a more introspective quality. Dylan can add one more "late-career renaissance" to an already well-populated list.

Even the uptempo songs play out like a painting on canvas, like the ever-reliable "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues," an inventive "Rollin' & Tumblin'," a unique violin-driven arrangement of "It's Alright Ma," a bold "Joey," the adventurous "Mississippi," and a bluesy "Highway 61 Revisited." Perhaps even stronger are the quiet songs, the nostalgic "Simple Twist of Fate," Gordon Lightfoot's "Shadows," an airy "When The Deal Goes Down," and the eerie "Ain't Talkin'." In the middle are the other tracks, gospel throwback "Saving Grace," the old blues "Delia," and an exquisitely beautiful performance of "Tangled Up In Blue."

The piano is the centerpiece of each song. Though the 2012 songs are excellent, Dylan's playing consistently improved during its presence in the set. The 2013 songs showcase the piano at its finest, but among the earlier track "Highway 61" and "Mississippi" are driven almost entirely by this instrument, embellished of course by the band.

From a production standpoint, some of these tracks proved problematic, though I'm proud of the results. Crystal Cat's fine Stockholm 2013 recording sounded great, but the vocals were comparatively muffled when juxtaposed with the surrounding songs; it was re-EQ'd to fit in, and still sounds great. "Shadows" proved tricky as well, as something about the recording makes it a bit indistinct. Though equalization could make it clearer, the overall tone of the recording suffered and I thought it best to leave it as is. None of the other tracks required such drastic alterations.

I hope you enjoy the songs and this peek into the set's production. The recordings are top-notch, and Dylan's performance is consistently engaging. Something about the airy quality produced by the piano creates a texture that runs through the full CD. Set it to play, sip some fine wine and have a lovely time.

If you like the CD, don't forget to purchase the original studio recordings of these songs, found on the following releases:

Bringing It All Back Home
Highway 61 Revisited
Blood On The Tracks
World Gone Wrong
"Love & Theft"
Modern Times

One editorial note concerning the above official releases: though I've not heard it yet, word is that the recently remastered Saved is very good, especially if you were a member of that album's fairly limited fan club (a club in which I count myself).

Next week will be the final chronological release, a review of Bob Dylan's very esteemed residency at the Royal Albert Hall in November 2013. It's really quite beautiful, and presents a compelling bookend when placed alongside the first set in this collection, Shades of Blue. I hope you think so too. Until then, keep yourself healthy and listen to some good tunes.



  1. Thanks for the recent 2013 compilations, do you have plans for any more?

    There were a number of interesting 1 offs during 2013, for example:

    Suzie Baby (bobby vee) – St. Paul, MN – 10/07/2013
    1952 Vincent Black Lightning (Richard Thompson) – Clarkston MI – 14/07/2013
    Twelve Gates to the City (trad) – Toronto, ON – 15/07/2013
    Let Your Love Shine on me (Blind Willie Johnson) - Bridgeport CT – 19/07/2013
    In addition he sang “Roll on John” from the Tempest Album on 2 occasions - Blackpool, UK – 24/11/2013 & London UK – 26/11/2013, with different lyrics and arrangement, (nothing new, there).

    The Weight (Robbie Robertson) received 4 outings – Virginia Beach VA – 24/07/2013, Hoboken NJ – 26/07/2013, Salt Lake City, UT – 01/08/2013 & Irvine CA – 03/08/2013.

    Bob’s Song – Waiting for You, from the Soundtrack of “Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood” was performed 31 times.
    I’d be very interested to hear a compilation of the above.

    Yours in anticipation..

    1. Thanks for compiling this information. Concerning the interesting one-offs in 2013, those are not going to be covered in any comprehensive fashion. However, I've got the following notes:

      - "Suzie Baby" is present on this CD as a bonus track.

      - "1952 Vincent Black Lightning" has not yet surfaced, I'm sorry to say.

      - I did not really enjoy "Twelve Gates To The City," and the circulating recording is from a cell-phone if memory serves, so it is unlikely to appear on an upcoming set.

      - Similarly, "Let Your Light Shine On Me" may appear as a bonus track on a forthcoming CD. The sound quality is not great, but it's quite hummable.

      - "Roll On John" will be appearing on next week's London 2013 collection, and it truly is an incredible performance.

      - Though "The Weight" is not present on any of the chronological releases, it is slated to appear on an upcoming 'cleaning out the hard drive' release. That remains provisional, but it should appear as a bonus track if nothing else.

      - "Waiting For You," a delightful song in its own right, was performed to great effect throughout the Fall 2013 tour, and an especially high-quality version of it will be present on next week's set.

      I hope that encourages your anticipation without getting your hopes up too much, haha.


    2. I wait with anticipation, thanks for the detailed response.


  2. Wonderful series. The download link to this one only gives me blank page. Aborts the loading process.

    All the best for your endeavours!