Monday, December 30, 2013

Ring Them Bells: Unreleased Studio & Live Recordings, 1994


Ring Them Bells: 1994

Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With You - Outtake: MTV Unplugged (11-18)
Ring Them Bells - Live: The Great Music Experience (05-20)
Masters Of War - Live: Woodstock '94 (08-14)
Lawdy Miss Clawdy - Unreleased Studio Session (09-30)
Absolutely Sweet Marie - Outtake: MTV Unplugged (11-18)
Tomorrow Night - Live: The Rhythm, Country & Blues Concert (03-23)
Everything is Broken - Outtake: MTV Unplugged (11-17)
Anyway You Want Me - Unreleased Studio Session (09-30)
The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll - Live: New York (10-20)
If You See Her, Say Hello - Live: New York (10-19)
Series Of Dreams - Live: Hiroshima (02-16)
I Want You - Outtake: MTV Unplugged (11-18)
Blue-Eyed Jane - Outtake: Jimmie Rodgers Tribute (05-09 to 05-11)
Jokerman - Live: Boston (10-08)
The Lady Came From Baltimore - Live: Besançon (07-04)
Money Honey - Unreleased Studio Session (09-30)
Hazel - Outtake: MTV Unplugged (11-17)

Lossless Links:

 MP3 Links:

This compilations acts as a survey of the best unreleased studio and live recordings available by Bob Dylan from 1994. This was a productive year for Dylan, as he toured the world, took part in the Great Music Experience at Nara, Japan, visited MTV studios for an Unplugged taping, headlined Woodstock '94, and recorded several studio sessions.

The Great Music Experience was intended to be an annual gathering of notable world artists at cultural heritage sites, but the 1994 iteration proved to be the only one. Dylan is backed here by an orchestra, and sings beautifully.

The MTV Unplugged concert is generally not considered to be in the same league as the Supper Club Residency of 1993, which it is believed to have replaced as a document of Bob Dylan's live performances in the early '90s; even so, many of the tracks recorded at this session are outstanding. In particular, "Hazel" and "I Want You" are two of the best renditions of these classic songs.

The studio outtakes included here consist of two sessions: the first was for a Jimmie Rodgers tribute. Interestingly, though this songs was recorded in 1994 with backing vocals by Emmylou Harris, its vocals would be rerecorded several years later for its inclusion on the final tribute record. The second studio session was evidently intended to produce one or more songs for an Elvis Presley tribute, but no final product was released. Thus, the tracks remain out of public circulation.

"Tomorrow Night" comes from a guest appearance at the Rhythm, Country & Blues Concert and includes pleasant backing vocals by Trisha Yearwood. This performance only surfaced recently.

The live tracks are, as ever, quite inspired. In particular, "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll" and "Jokerman" receive soulful readings, and the rearrangements of "Masters of War" and "Series of Dreams" are very successful. Though this acoustic version of "Masters of War" would go on to become a template for years to come, the experimental style of "Series of Dreams" would only appear in a handful of 1994 shows.

In short, this is one of the most complete and professional sounding sets in the series. I am quite proud of the finished product. Please enjoy this compilation! If you enjoy it, you should be sure to own the official recordings related to this era:

Next week, we will be exploring the recordings from Bob Dylan's residency at Prague in the Spring of 1995. That was regarded as one of the best series of shows from the Never-Ending Tour, so be sure to check it out. Until then, keep yourself healthy and listen to some good tunes.


Monday, December 23, 2013

Series Of Dreams: Unreleased Recordings, 1989 - 1993 (Volume Two)

Series Of Dreams: 1989 - 1993
Volume Two

Trail Of The Buffalo - Live: June 10, 1989
Under The Red Sky - Outtake: Under The Red Sky
Little Moses - Live: September 5, 1992
God Knows - Outtake: Oh Mercy
Sloppy Drunk - Unreleased: 1992 Bromberg Sessions
Golden Vanity - Live: April 24, 1992
Unbelievable - Outtake: Under The Red Sky
Has Anybody Seen My Love - Live: November 16, 1993
Shooting Star - Outtake: Oh Mercy
Polly Vaughan - Unreleased: 1992 Bromberg Sessions
Blood In My Eyes - Live: November 17, 1993
Roving Blade - Live: July 1, 1992
Born In Time - Outtake: Oh Mercy
Delia - Live: November 17, 1993
Handy Dandy - Outtake: Under The Red Sky
The Water Is Wide - Live: June 3, 1989

Lossless Links:

MP3 Link:

This is the second of two volumes in my collection which pertain to the best of Bob Dylan's unreleased output between 1989 and 1993. It should be equivalent to the first in quality, but I would like to make note of several highlights that may raise this part to a superior rank.

The first song, "Trail of the Buffalo," is a live outing of the track from 1989, and it appears here in its electric guise. It was played variously acoustically and electrically during the early years of the Never-Ending Tour, but I prefer the electric version. There is a violent kind of energy about this track that really puts the listener on edge. The band also briefly indulges in an almost klezmer-esque improvisation.

"Little Moses," also live, is about as fine a relationship as one can get between audience and singer. You can really hear the fans cheer as Dylan related the story of Moses in its old spiritual form, and you can hear the singer smile at times as he spins the tale.

"God Knows" is similar to the take heard on Tell Tale Signs, but has a slightly looser energy, culminating in a shouted "Aw!" between portions of the verse.

"Sloppy Drunk" is a jaunty tune recorded at the ill-fated Bromberg Sessions of 1992. These were intended to produce a full album follow-up to Under The Red Sky, but were found wanting for one reason or another; instead, Good As I Been To You was recorded. Though I am grateful for that fantastic record, one wonders at what other gems were recorded in 1992 but remain unreleased. The songs were drawn from various sources, including old country songs, mid-century rock songs, traditional ballads and contemporary singer-songwriter fare of the 1960s and 1970s. Many songs were connected to David Bromberg, who supervised the session.

"Has Anybody Seen My Love" is the esteemed recording from Dylan's 1993 live stint at The Supper Club, originally intended to be released officially; this was eventually shelved, ostensibly in favor of his MTV Unplugged record from the following year. Though this song is the only one that does not quite meet the criteria of this package (songs either originating in this period, or covers which are meaningful because of their significance to this time), it almost qualifies as a fully-formed reinvention of the Empire Burlesque original. There is something so free and jazz-like about this performance - the mood is so fully communicated.

"Shooting Star" is a good, though not great, performance and recording from the sessions for 1989's Oh Mercy record. It is interesting primarily because it has a radically different set of lyrics, an early draft that would be dramatically reworked for the final release.

"Polly Vaughan" is an allegedly original arrangement of an old Irish folk song, on which Wikipedia's knowledge is extensive. Dylan's arrangement and vocals are haunting, particularly the ambiguous final verse in which the eponymous woman appears as a ghost in a courtroom, "like a fountain of snow."

"Roving Blade" is one of my favorite live performances from this time period, and it sounds so fresh. The singer is committed to every word, and closes the song how he begins it. Though this would be performed twice more during the Never-Ending Tour, the 1992 rendition is the finest.

Finally, "The Water Is Wide" is one of the greatest extant recordings from Bob Dylan's live career, to my ears. It is so utterly passionate and courageous, sounding in no way like any other version of the song I've heard. The singer inhabits every syllable, culminating in a heartbreakingly harmonized final chorus. The band, too, is at the top of their game, providing all of the rhythm and sympathetic guitar that a listener could want. It's all been captured here in astounding clarity.

This set has been very carefully picked over and remastered to harmonize volume levels, though of course sometimes the vocals are quieter than one would like, or background noise is intrusive (I'm looking at you, "Shooting Star"). Still, every effort has been made to create a coherent listening experience. I hope you enjoy this compilation - your compiler certainly does. One final note - commenter Hilda Fernhout noted that the cover image above is Bob Dylan walking along Lake Ely by Antonin Kratochvil. It's one of the better images of the artist that I've encountered, and I'm happy to have the attribution added here.

Related studio releases include the following:

Next week, the 1990s rolls on with Bob Dylan's outstanding studio outtakes and a selection of live recordings from 1994; that was a great year, and the sound quality is fantastic. Until then, keep yourself healthy and listen to some good tunes.


Note: This post was edited to reflect the accurate date of "Golden Vanity" - the original post provided the date April 22, but the track is from April 24. The artwork will be changed to reflect this when I get some spare time. Thanks to the reader who noted the error!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Series Of Dreams: Unreleased Recordings, 1989 - 1993 (Volume One)

Series Of Dreams: 1989 - 1993
Volume One

Hard Times – Live: April 28, 1993
Political World – Outtake: Oh Mercy
Pancho And Lefty – Live: June 21, 1989
2X2 – Outtake: Under The Red Sky
Ragged & Dirty – Live: November 17, 1993
Catskill Serenade – Unreleased: Bromberg Sessions, 1992
Jim Jones – Live: November 17, 1993
Born In Time – Outtake: Under The Red Sky
Female Rambling Sailor – Live: April 5, 1992
20-20 Vision – Live: October 25, 1991
Wiggle Wiggle – Outtake: Under The Red Sky
Series of Dreams – Live: September 8, 1993
Lucky Old Sun – Live: November 5, 1991
TV Talkin' Song – Outtake: Under The Red Sky
Lakes Of Ponchartrain – Live: June 15, 1989
Jack-A-Roe – Live: November 17, 1993
Most Of The Time – Outtake: Oh Mercy

Lossless Links:

MP3 Link:
Good morning/afternoon/evening,

I have been fine-tuning on this new collection for quite some time, and it is finally ready for release. This project was exciting enough that, for the first time, I've broken my primary rule - the single disc format. Though 'Still The Same Man' was a two-volume affair, that concerned separate eras: 1980 and 1981; in this case, both releases will cover the work Dylan did from 1989 to 1993. This will not be a habit, but I think that these years are too rich a time period to be confined to a single disc.

Standout tracks from the first volume include the first of three Bromberg Session tracks extensively remastered from the original circulating tapes (rather than the Dolby-ized version floating around), a grand performance of "Hard Times" from willie Nelson's 60th Birthday Tribute, an expanded "Political World," an evocative live rendition of "Series of Dreams," an unsettling outtake of "TV Talkin' Song," and a full suite of Supper Club performances from then-recently released World Gone Wrong and Good As I Been To You. Finally, not to be missed is the absolutely stunning "Female Rambling Sailor." Though many of the highlights from these years consist of Bob Dylan performing traditional songs with an otherworldly passion, "Female Rambling Sailor" stands out as heartbreaking.

If you are unfamiliar with the Supper Club recordings from 1993, those will be of special interest. The tracks from Good As I Been To You and World Gone Wrong benefit from acoustic band arrangements. Similarly, "Hard Times" has been accentuated with a small band, including an accordion; the effects are transcendent. Some of the finer details in the outtakes are fascinating - "Political World" retains several verses excised from its release on Oh Mercy, and "Most of the Time" is intriguingly a vocal take completely separate from the releases on Oh Mercy and Tell Tale Signs. The version of this song recorded for a promo video is worth seeking out, but apparently was officially released in 1990 and therefore not eligible for Series of Dreams. The Under The Red Sky outtakes are consistently intriguing as well, since in most there are lyrics that were eventually cut from the released versions; the final portion of 2X2 is noteworthy in this regard. Because those sessions involved extensive overdubs, these outtakes are also generally a bit raw, for better or for worse. There will be more notes concerning the unreleased 1992 Bromberg Sessions, from which "Catskill Serenade" is drawn, next week.

Much of Bob Dylan's recording career is fascinating, but I am certain that the tracks here represent the best available from this one of his peaks. Clearly, there was a rediscovery and redirection occurring during this time, as noted on the past two releases. This reached a peak in the early 1990s, when Dylan was at his most passionate and experimental. You'll be sure to enjoy this record, and its continuation in Volume Two.

If you find yourself humming along to these tracks, I would strongly encourage you to check out Bob Dylan's official releases from this time frame:

I can't stress enough how great these official releases are. Oh Mercy is so elemental, and feels like you've stepped into humid New Orleans on the edge of a  lightning storm. The best tracks left on the cutting room floor from these sessions ended up on The Bootleg Series, Volumes 1-3, Tell Tale Signs, and Greatest Hits Volume 3. Strangely enough, several songs from that CD evolved into the foundation of Under The Red Sky. Ostensibly a collection of fairy tale-esque narratives, Under The Red Sky was excellently produced, and features many guests that round out the talent involved. Good As I Been To You and World Gone Wrong are two of Dylan's finest releases to my ears, accomplishing what the singer had set out to do on his debut release.

Nest week I will publish the second volume of this compilation, containing many wonderful tracks; if you know of any that seem conspicuously absent from this week's release, you will probably be pleasantly surprised next Monday. Until then, keep yourself healthy and listen to some good tunes.


Monday, December 9, 2013

Town Without Pity: Unreleased Live Recordings - 1990 London & Paris Residencies

Town Without Pity: The Best of the London & Paris Residencies, 1990

Absolutely Sweet Marie - February 8
Where Teardrops Fall - January 30
You Angel You - February 8
Hang Me, Oh Hang Me - February 8
You're A Big Girl Now - January 29
 All Along The Watchtower - January 29
I Shall Be Released - January 29
It's Alright, Ma - February 7
One Too Many Mornings - January 29
Boots Of Spanish Leather - January 30
Dark As A Dungeon - February 6
Simple Twist Of Fate - January 30
Ballad Of Hollis Brown - February 1
Man In The Long Black Coat - January 30
Disease Of Conceit - February 8
Has Anybody Seen My Love? - January 30
Queen Jane Approximately - February 3

Lossless Links:

MP3 Link:

These songs are all performances from Bob Dylan's esteemed residencies in Paris and London during the winter of 1990. This was a very fruitful tour, as Dylan reinvented classic songs and sharpened his interpretation of newer releases.

Highlights include a rare airing of “You Angel You,” an electrified Civil War ballad, “Hang Me, Oh Hang Me,” an absolutely intense “It’s Alright Ma,” the mournful “Simple Twist Of Fate,” the ominous “Man In The Long Black Coat,” a piano-driven “Disease Of Conceit,” and one of my personal favorites, “Has Anybody Seen My Love.”

Several changes had occurred between the beginning of the Never-Ending Tour in 1988 and this series of concerts. Dylan’s voice had altered significantly, drawing away some of the power of those ’88 shows while offering an opportunity to sing with more nuance. You can really hear the singer reaching for now depths in “One Too Many Mornings,” and “Queen Jane Approximately.” Another major change was the inclusion of harmonica from 1989 on. Though my overall impression of harmonicas is not necessarily a positive one, it really adds a melodic quality to many of the tracks here, particularly “You’re A Big Girl Now” and “One Too Many Mornings.”

If you like what you hear, you might enjoy listening to the original studio versions of these songs, released by Columbia Records:

Next week I will post one of the highlights of this series - the first of two volumes concerning unreleased studio and live recordings from 1989 to 1993. You'll get to hear some great outtakes and live tracks from Oh Mercy, Under The Red Sky, Good As I Been To You, World Gone Wrong, with related songs from that era. Until then, keep yourself healthy and listen to some good tunes.


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!


Monday, November 25, 2013

Enough Is Enough: The Best of the Rehearsal Tapes, 1971 - 1989

Enough Is Enough: The Best of the Rehearsal Tapes, 1971 - 1989

John Hardy - Grateful Dead Rehearsals, 1987
Little Queen of Spades - Never-Ending Tour Rehearsals, 1989
You're A Big Girl, Now - World Tour Rehearsals, 1978
Stop Now -  World Tour Rehearsals, 1978
Gonna Change My Way Of Thinking - Grateful Dead Rehearsals, 1987
Why Do I Have To Choose? -  European Tour Rehearsals, 1984
If You See Her, Say Hello - World Tour Rehearsals, 1978
Walking Down The Line - Grateful Dead Rehearsals, 1987
Don't Keep Me Waiting Too Long - Grateful Dead Rehearsals, 1987
The French Girl - Grateful Dead Rehearsals, 1987
Enough Is Enough - European Tour Rehearsals, 1984
I'll Be Your Baby Tonight - World Tour Rehearsals, 1978
If Not For You - Concert For Bangladesh Rehearsal, 1971
Stealin' - Grateful Dead Rehearsals, 1987
Ballad Of A Thin Man - World Tour Rehearsals, 1978
Shelter From The Storm - European Tour Rehearsals, 1984
Tomorrow Is A Long Time - World Tour Rehearsals, 1978
The Ballad Of Ira Hayes - Grateful Dead Rehearsals, 1987
Isis - Rolling Thunder Revue II Rehearsals, 1976

Lossless Links:

MP3 Link:

Good morning,

This compilation has taken some time to assemble, as I reviewed the available rehearsal tapes from 1971 to 1989. As far as I know, none exist prior to or after this point, excluding sound checks.  The one exception, 1994's MTV Unplugged rehearsals, will be the subject of a later release.

The tracks were judged by sound quality and performance, which prevented the inclusion of many 1976 tracks for the former reason and 1987/89 tracks for the latter. Still, a couple of performances from those sessions are included here. 1976's "Isis," in particular, is a fascinating look at a direction the song never took in concert. There's a looseness about many of the songs on this collection that invites the listener to sing along, and enjoy a peek behind the scenes.

None of this will be new to the collector, but to the novice some of these songs may not have been heard before. Dylan's 1987 takes on many of the songs of his youth are enjoyable, if slight, and are more pleasant to my ears than the tour which followed. Similarly, Dylan's voice on the 1978 rehearsals sounds strikingly similar to his Rolling Thunder vocals; this would swiftly pass away once the long tour began.

I hope you find something new or interesting in these tracks - rehearsals are not meant to be heard by anyone other than those present, and lack the polish or energy that make a studio or live recording compelling. Still, there can be art found even in these hidden moments. Set this one up to play, and see what you find.

If you enjoy these tracks, I encourage you to check out the official recordings of the tours or live performances to which they relate:

The Concert For Bangladesh (1971)
Hard Rain (Rolling Thunder II, 1976)
At Budokan (1978 World Tour)
Real live (European Tour, 1984)
Dylan & The Dead (Grateful Dead Tour, 1987)

Next week, you will receive this blog's first taste of the "Never-Ending Tour," with a live collection focusing on Bob Dylan's 1988 tour. Until then, keep yourself healthy and listen to some good tunes.


Monday, November 18, 2013

Determined To Stand: Live in Europe, 1987

Determined To Stand: Field Recordings, Autumn 1987

Tangled Up In Blue - September 12, 1987
Joey - September 12, 1987
Shelter From The Storm - September 15, 1987
Shot of Love - September 13, 1987
I'll Remember You - October 11, 1987
John Brown - October 11, 1987
Wicked Messenger - September 13, 1987
To Ramona - October 16, 1987
House Of The Rising Sun - October 7, 1987
When I Paint My Masterpiece - September 10, 1987
Seeing The Real You At Last - October 3, 1987
Tomorrow Is A Long Time - October 12, 1987
Pledging My Time - September 12, 1987
When The Night Comes Falling From The Sky - September 10, 1987
I Dreamed I Saw Saint Augustine - October 4, 1987

Lossless Links: 

MP3 Links: 

Happy Monday, Everybody...

Well, most folks don't like Mondays, but I hope you'll be happy once you give this a listen. Right here, hidden amongst these ones and zeroes, is one of the best-kept secrets of Bob Dylan's performing career. The Fall Tour of Europe, 1987, was one for the ages.

Now, be aware - there was a lot that did not work on this tour. While the backing band, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, provided reasonably consistent accompaniment, Dylan's vocals were not always up to the task. What was constant, though, was a sense of experimentation. From night to night, arrangements could vary radically. It took until the third night of the tour for a song to appear a second time!

And that experimentation, that push and pull between singer and band, and within the singer himself, is undoubtedly what generated the exquisite recordings found here. Just listen to the airy nature of "Tangled Up In Blue" and "Shelter From The Storm," the majesty of "I Dreamed I Saw Saint Augustine," the honesty of "To Ramona," the intimacy of "Tomorrow Is A Long Time," the anger of "John Brown," or the mystery in "When The Night Comes Falling From The Sky." Whatever strange quality imbues these performances, you can't find it anywhere else.

Part of the strength of these recordings, as noted above, is the interplay between Dylan and the band, especially keyboardist Benmont Tench. His piano-playing is the centerpiece of many songs, particularly "Shelter From The Storm," "John Brown," and "Tomorrow Is A Long Time." So too is the passion evident in the singing. "Joey" really presents what Dylan has called a Homeric quality in this definitive reading, and "Tomorrow is A Long Time," always a fine song, is truly confessional here. In some ways, it is a shame that these performers would never share a stage again after the Fall of 1987; one wonders if lightning could strike twice.

The title is taken from Bob Dylan's own words to describe the challenges he was facing during this period, and how he overcame them. Many of the concerts from this tour reflect a struggle to connect to the music, but every so often, the results of this struggle created something truly special. The inspiration from this revelation would lead to the Never-Ending Tour, which began the following year.

At times delicate, like "Shelter from the Storm," and at times absolutely outrageous, like Shot of Love, the passion for music comes through in every note. If you haven't listened to any shows from this tour, give this CD a chance. And if you have listened before, and not been impressed, give another listen. You never know when this will be just what you needed to hear.

If you enjoy these recordings, you may enjoy the studio incarnations of these tracks, found on the following releases:

Before stepping into the Never-Ending Tour era, next week's release will feature the best of the circulating rehearsal sessions from 1971 to 1989. Until then, keep yourself healthy and listen to some good tunes.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Ashes & Dust: Unreleased Recordings, 1984 - 1986

Ashes & Dust: Unreleased Studio and Live Recordings, 1984 - 1986

Something's Burning, Baby - Empire Burlesque Session
Trust Yourself - Live: Farm Aid, 1985
Freedom For The Stallion - Unreleased, 1985
Driftin' Too Far From Shore - Empire Burlesque Session
Emotionally Yours - Live: July 4, 1986
Had A Dream About You, Baby (Take 5) - Hearts of Fire Session
A Couple More Years - Hearts of Fire Session
Band Of The Hand - Live: July 17, 1986
 Lonesome Town - Live: July 4, 1986
Go 'Way Little Boy - Empire Burlesque Session
To Fall In Love With You - Hearts of Fire Session
We Had It All - Live: July 4, 1986
Old Five & Dimers Like Me (Take 3) - Hearts of Fire Session
Straight A's In Love - Empire Burlesque Session
The Very Thought Of You - Empire Burlesque Session
Across The Borderline - Live: Farm Aid, 1986
Who Loves You More - Empire Burlesque Session
Thank God - Live: Chabad Telethon, 1986
New Danville Girl - Empire Burlesque Session

[Link Removed - See Below]

Hello everybody,

Hope all has been well for you since last week. This week I am presenting one of the more peculiar compilations in my collection. 1985 - 1986 is not generally regarded as an especially strong period of time for Bob Dylan's music, and that is not a misguided impression. The records released were very much of their time, and thought he songwriting and performances remained strong, production sometimes obscured the quality.

What I would like these selected songs to do is to rehabilitate, to a small degree, this era. Clearly, a song like "Trust Yourself" comes across much stronger here, in a live context, than it did as originally released. Similarly, this live rendition of "Emotionally Yours" is incredible, though of course that song was one of the highlights of Empire Burlesque. "Band Of The Hand," which exists in a studio-recorded cut on the soundtrack to a film of the same name, is performed here with Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers as the backing band. The collaboration between Bob Dylan and Tom Petty from 1985 - 1987 was very fruitful, and will be explored further in next week's release.

The outtakes are just as interesting as the live cuts. "Go 'Way Little Boy" sounds like an updated "Absolutely Sweet Marie," and was originally given to another singer for her record. You might recognize "A Couple More Years" from my earlier post, Still The Same Man, Volume One, but this version is completely different - this Shel Silverstein-penned ballad was recorded acoustically at the sessions for the film Hearts of Fire in 1986, but was not released on that film's soundtrack. "To Fall In Love With You," recorded at the same sessions, is one of the more haunting and mysterious songs in this catalog. A number of these songs would later be rerecorded at sessions for Knocked Out Loaded, including "Driftin' Too Far From Shore" and "New Danville Girl," which was eventually rewritten as the esteemed "Brownsville Girl."

If you enjoy these songs, I encourage you to check out the contemporary official releases:

Though the production is challenging at times, you would be well-served by including the unparalleled "Dark Eyes" from Empire Burlesque in your record collection. Also, The Bootleg Series Volume Three includes a fantastic outtake of "When The Night Comes Falling From The Sky," also from Empire Burlesque. Unfortunately, the film soundtrack for Hearts of Fire is currently out of publication, but you never know when that may change; if you can find that soundtrack, "The Usual" is a pretty great recording not available elsewhere.

Next week we will be dipping back into live performances, documenting the positively fascinating jazzy recordings of Bob Dylan and Tom Petty's 1987 Tour of Europe. Don't miss it. Until then, keep yourself healthy and listen to some good tunes.


March 19, 2015 Update: It has come to my attention while compiling the alphabetical song index that some performances from this compilation date from 1984. I have corrected the title here on the blog, but the artwork dates remain slightly inaccurate. If I have the chance, I will create new artwork. Otherwise, please forgive this error. 
September 17, 2021 Update: The link has been removed due to content being officially released in The Bootleg Series Volume 16.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Faithful: Unreleased Recordings, 1983-1984

Faithful: Unreleased Recordings from the Infidels Era, 1983 - 1984

Don't Fly Unless It's Safe - Outtake
Don't Fall Apart On Me Tonight - Outtake
Man Of Peace - Live: June 11, 1984
Sweetheart Like You #1 - Outtake
Jokerman - David Letterman Show, 1984
Dirty Lie - Tour Rehearsal, 1984
I & I - Outtake
Don't Start Me Talkin' - David Letterman Show, 1984
To Each His Own - Tour Rehearsal, 1984
Treat Her Right - Letterman Rehearsal
This Was My Love #2 - Outtake
Enough Is Enough - Live: June 28, 1984
Someone's Got A Hold Of My Heart - Outtake
Julius And Ethel - Outtake
Tell Me - Outtake
Almost Done #2 - Tour Rehearsal, 1984
Union Sundown - Outtake
Blind Willie McTell - Outtake
License To Kill - David Letterman Show, 1984
Dark Groove - Outtake

[Link Removed - See Below]

Welcome back,

Thank you for sticking with the blog during my October hiatus. There will be plenty more great unreleased recordings being posted here in the months ahead, beginning with this week's exploration of Bob Dylan's unreleased Infidels-era recordings.

The songs here fall primarily into four categories: outtakes from Infidels, live performances from the 1984 Tour of Europe, rehearsals for that tour, and songs from Dylan's appearance with The Plugz on David Letterman's television program.

The outtakes are among the most treasured unreleased songs that you'll hear on this website. This is largely because they are generally considered to equal or surpass the final release of the record. In some cases, the difference between this and the final release is the mix. Mark Knopfler had apparently created an entirely unique mix of the record before it was fully remixed prior to release; "I & I" is one such song. Most of the outtakes here, however, are very different from the tracks released on the album, or have not been released in any form; "Julius and Ethel" and "This Was My Love" are two that remain fully in the vaults. Even the songs that were eventually released on The Bootleg Series, Volumes 1-3, "Someone's Got A Hold Of My Heart," "Tell Me," and the legendary "Blind Willie McTell," are radically different on this compilation.

The live songs and rehearsals are the slimmest selections found on Faithful. Though "Tangled Up In Blue" received an extensive rewrite for the year, you can find it and many other reworkings of old classics on the official release Real Live, a link to which is found below. Instead, I have presented only contemporary songs. "Man Of Peace" benefits tremendously from the energy of a live airing, and "Enough Is Enough" was never recorded in a studio. "Dirty Lie" and "Almost Done" are two songs which could have become extraordinary additions to Dylan's catalog, but are not known to have been played again after these sessions; they remain deeply compelling sketches.

The true gems of this release, in my opinion, are the tracks from the David Letterman Show. This is one of the most passionate, fierce performances that Bob Dylan delivered in the '80s, or at any other time. Each of the tracks has something to say, from the aggressive cover of "Don't Start Me Talkin'," to the wildly impressionist debut of "Jokerman," to the sincere indictment of man's pride in "License To Kill." We are lucky to have this moment preserved in such a high quality recording.

If you enjoy these recordings, please purchase the following official releases from Columbia Records (The Bootleg Series is a particular treat, containing two of the finest outtakes from the Infidels sessions, "Foot of Pride" and an acoustic "Blind Willie McTell"):

I would like to thank you for your patience during the month of October. Devoting the extra time to my wedding was a smart move, and I enjoyed both the wedding and honeymoon tremendously; clearly I married the right person, as they encourage this rather time-consuming hobby!

Next week, we will move on to the next stage in Dylan's 1980s development, with the best outtakes and live tracks surrounding the release of Empire Burlesque. Until then, keep yourself healthy and listen to some good tunes.

Update - September 17, 2021: The link has been removed due to content being officially released in The Bootleg Series Volume 16.

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

Note: Download links removed due to the release of Bob Dylan's Bootleg Series 13: Trouble No More. A revised set of unreleased gospel era content will be published in the future.

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.


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

Note: Download links removed due to the release of Bob Dylan's Bootleg Series 13: Trouble No More. A revised set of unreleased gospel era content will be published in the future.

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!


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

Note: Download links removed due to the release of Bob Dylan's Bootleg Series 13: Trouble No More. A revised set of unreleased gospel era content will be published in the future. 

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, 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!