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

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.



  1. excellent selection as usual ! 89-93 were very interesting days .. Oh Mercy was certainly a new direction ... but where next ? UTRS ... Nursery rhymes ?!!? ... we didnt know it at the time, but there was so much more great stuff around the corner ....

  2. Hi - I'm in the middle of downloading this, very excited to listen to this stuff, but I just wanted to thank you for all of these compilations. While I've been a big Dylan fan for nearly 30 years, I've only this year, for complicated reasons, gotten so involved that I felt the need to delve into unreleased recordings. That this timing just happened to coincide with you starting this blog is simply my good fortune. Your excellent curation has both made for some delightful listening this year, while also whetted my appetite for finding more.

    Thanks again for all your hard work, congratulations on getting married, and have a great holiday season.

  3. Smashing stuff as always. Keep up the good work, it;s really appreciated.

    (That live version of Series of Dreams is the first track that I've had to stop before the end, though).

    1. Hi, sorry to hear that "Series of Dreams" didn't work for you. I have some behind-the-scenes compiling info on this! It was actually a last-minute addition to the CD, which virtually never occurs.

      Those who have followed these compilations as they've been released elsewhere since 2010 will know that it was not on my original one-disc set of this period, but did find its way onto Volume Two of the set when re-released as a lossless collection in 2011 or 2012. I removed it from the second volume for this final update, as I didn't think it was necessarily of equal quality with the surrounding material.

      Unfortunately, upon listening to my seemingly final iteration of Volume One, I found that the outtake of 'Dignity' that I had used sounded remarkably similar to the official release, and was closer than I was comfortable with for the purposes of this blog. "Dignity" was, therefore, cut and replaced with "Series of Dreams (Live)."

      Hopefully the track is enjoyed by others - if there is a more widespread distaste for the song, I can replace it with something else. These compilations always end up having almost a full CD of material that doesn't make the cut! Maybe an outtake of "Disease Of Conceit." Alternately, though I considered the three circulating outtakes of "Series Of Dreams," all of them sounded quite like the two released versions; does anyone have more insight on this?

  4. Are there any outtakes or alternate tracks from under the the red sky featuring jimmie or stevie ray vaughan available?
    thanks for your hard work.

    1. An outtake from next week's release features Jimmie and Stevie Ray Vaughn. It is, I believe, an alternate early version of a song on Under The Red Sky before vocals were re-recorded and other tracks laid on top of it.

  5. Fantastic! Many thanks for sharing your collection.