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

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!


  1. Cheers buddy, Merry Christmas. Looking forward to sneaking away from Christmas family mania to give this a spin!

  2. Great stuff. Thanks again for sharing. All the best this Christmas.

  3. Haven't had a chance to thank you for all your efforts. You've done a terrific job on all of your curated creations. I pretty much own everything you post, but love the way you have put each set together. Keep it up!


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  5. New to your fantastic blog. Thank you for all your work in presenting these recordings in the rich way they deserve. Your notes are really helpful.

  6. Just found your site and it is exactly what I've been looking for. Waiting with anticipation for the next post. Thanks for the time and effort in compiling these tracks and for starting this site. Last but not least, I saw in a recent post that you got married recently so a big congrats on that. Thanks again for all you've done here.

  7. May I make a tiny suggestion/criticism? You have included my favourite take of Born in Time here. On the version that I already have there are a few introductory notes that you have cropped here, and I miss them! Your version comes in part way through the first bar. My version also starts with a 'disk spinning up' effect which I always felt added to the charm of the track.

  8. The photograph on the cover of Bob Dylan walking along Lake Ely is by Antonin Kratochvil
    One of tbe best ever taken of him in my opinion.
    I think he should maybe have gotten some credit ?

    1. You're not wrong, and I appreciate you crediting the photographer here. The photo didn't have a credit when I found it (most of the covers I make lack source identification), so that's why the credit was lacking. Thanks for sharing!

  9. Your collections are nice and topical and great to listen to. I'm new to your blog and trying to catch up. Hope not to appear greedy, but thank you very much for the Great Dylan! Very much appreciated.