Thursday, October 1, 2015

Storyteller: Unreleased Live Recordings - Autumn 1992

Live Recordings - Autumn 1992

Can't Be Satisfied - Live - Cincinnati - November 3, 1992
Pretty Peggy-O - Live - Sarasota - November 9, 1992
All Along The Watchtower - Live - Cincinnati - November 3, 1992
Willing - Live - Sunrise - November 13, 1992
Silvio - Live - Sarasota - November 9, 1992
Boots of Spanish Leather - Live - Cincinnati - November 3, 1992
Mama, You Been On My Mind - Live - Wilkes-Barre - November 1, 1992
It's All Over Now, Baby Blue - Live - Cincinnati - November 3, 1992
Dear Landlord - Live - Providence - October 25, 1992
Unbelievable - Live - Youngstown - November 2, 1992
Simple Twist Of Fate - Live - Sarasota - November 9, 1992
Cat's In The Well - Live - Sarasota - November 9, 1992
Shooting Star - Live - Cincinnati - November 3, 1992

Welcome to the first post of Autumn, friends. And with that we'll delve back into Autumn of 1992.

Since 1991, Bob Dylan had made a significant alteration to his touring band - he added drummer Winston Watson and pedal steel player Bucky Baxter. This changed the sound rather significantly, though the change was not limited to these two instruments.

Along with the change in band members came a change in the group dynamic. For the most part, the ramshackle sound of 1991 was replaced with a more professional approach to making music. While this evolved over the course of 1992, and indeed would continue over the next few years, by 1992 the band had adopted a uniquely jazzy aesthetic. This consisted primarily of a loose approach to song arrangements with time for solos and the pursuit of ensemble riffs. While this stretched running times, they remained reasonably restrained; these would grow to be a bit outsized the following year, but Autumn of 1992 probably hit the ideal mixture of focus and room for improvisation.

The song selection did not change as significantly as the band, but some changes were still evident. On this tour, the opening track was generally a cover of Muddy Waters' "Can't Be Satisfied." This was performed excellently each night, and the version here from Cincinnati is a typically spirited rendition.

The opening electric set is well-represented on this compilation, as even the standard "All Along The Watchtower" and "Silvio" are exceptional performances. Dylan's harmonica on the former song really needs to be heard to be believed. Covers round out the opening gambit, with a rearranged "Pretty Peggy-O" and a cover of Lowell George's lovely "Willing." The latter is sung with the love of words that typifies Dylan's approach to singing.

The acoustic sets of this tour were remarkably beautiful as well, and are noteworthy for being some of the last times an audience could expect to see Bob Dylan almost alone on stage with an acoustic guitar. While he was backed by his guitarist for all songs, and a small combo for one or two songs each night, the audience could count on seeing him play a few tracks in a stripped down arrangement. Whether intentionally due to their impending removal, or unintentionally inspired by whatever it is that inspires him, Dylan provided some of the best acoustic renditions of his career. They were consistently excellent, and the three songs selected here are really quite beautiful. "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue" is particularly moving.

The second electric set begins with "Dear Landlord," though this song was only performed in the first electric set during the actual shows. It's hard to deny its rambling intro being ideal for the transition from acoustic to electric, however. From there, the set heats up dramatically with a pounding Unbelievable," rhythmically dense "Simple Twist Of Fate," and fiery "Cat's In The Well." The last song features Dickie Betts on guitar, and he seems to inspire Dylan to offer a particularly strong performance of this occasionally rote song. Finally, the set closes with the marvelous "Shooting Star." It's really quite a pleasant end to the 'evening,' so to speak.

Concerning production stuff, I had to do a bit of tweaking. A digital flaw in "Can't Be Satisfied" had to be corrected, though I couldn't fully remove it. "Mama You Been On My Mind" featured an enthusiastic audience member asking if the taper was finished - unfortunately, the person asked while the music was still being played. This was covered over by duplicating the left channel, and it's not especially disruptive.

Some popular songs were not included. In particular, Youngstown's "Farewell To The Gold" seems to be a fan favorite. It didn't quite match the overall sound of the set, unfortunately, and was cut. I will try to find another place for it in the Thousand Highways Collection. Also, "I Dreamed I Saw Saint Augustine" was played quite well, but similarly didn't quite match the surrounding recordings.

As always, the most important thing is to listen with an open mind and enjoy!

I'm planning to publish a bonus record this month that focuses on the Minneapolis Orpheum residency from August and September. Look for it in the middle of October. This residency features an especially beloved performance of "Visions of Johanna," though an equally remarkable "Gates of Eden" was played. Will they both appear on the compilation? Check back to find out! Until then, keep yourself healthy and listen to some good tunes.



  1. Holy smokes, these acoustic tracks are really something. That might just be my new favourite Boots of Spanish Leather. I had no idea that '92 had such gems.

    1. I was as surprised as you! The earlier part of the year has some excellent acoustic songs as well - "Female Rambling Sailor" and "Roving Blade" come to mind. You can find those here on the A-Z index.

    2. I've got a feeling this one will get a lot of play.

      By the way, this is getting out of hand:

  2. Hats off for this one. It just sounds special from the first. I believe that's my new favorite Watchtower. The same for Peggy O. Now I have to track down the Cincinnati and Sarasota shows. Loved the Fall '92 shows already -- this collection underlines just what I love about them. And it hit me a couple months ago that Bob's voice is more similar then to what it's like now than any other older period I know of. That tough, lonesome sound. Anyways, thanks again for another great one. It's going to get a lot of play. And it'll be the perfect disc to help me convert unbelievers to Early Nineties Bob.

    1. Hey you've beautifully articulated my own thoughts is a way I couldn't get close to. It's a gorgeous set, all the more so for being so surprising.

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  3. I have not listened to a lot of '92, outside the Australian tour, so this sounds like a(nother) wonderful excursion for me ... thank you for all you do!

  4. I am quite sure from past experience that your judgement on what's on this compilation will be excellent and pleasing. Always thought this particular band went without being missed too much. I shall listen carefully to what's on offer. Many thanks ... again.

  5. Thank you. This was a great tour.

  6. Is the link still active? No response (Safari). thanks.