Friday, April 1, 2016

High Water Rising: Unreleased Live Recordings, 2001

High Water Rising: Live 2001

High Water - Live - Columbus - November 10, 2001
Sugar Baby - Live - Spokane - October 5, 2001
Tough Mama - Live - Telluride - August 20, 2001
Standing In The Doorway - Live - Perth - March 18, 2001
Drifter's Escape - Live - Spokane - October 5, 2001
Mr. Tambourine Man - Live - Fukuoka - March 9, 2001
Tangled Up In Blue - Live - Perth - March 18, 2001
This World Can't Stand Long - Live - Grand Rapids - November 6, 2001
Cold Irons Bound - Live - Las Vegas - August 24, 2001
Ring Them Bells - Live - Fukuoka - March 9, 2001
Cry A While - Live - Grand Rapids - November 6, 2001
Knockin' On Heaven's Door - Live - Spokane - October 5, 2001
Summer Days - Live - New York - November 19, 2001

On September 11, 2001, Bob Dylan released Love & Theft. Unsurprisingly, due to the significant news events unfolding on that day, the record went largely unnoticed. Happily, the artist himself was on the road in early October, playing songs from the album alongside classic songs from his repertoire.

Like many of his albums, though perhaps even a bit more than was typical, Love & Theft would contribute heavily to the live setlist over the coming decade. One could get the impression that the songs were made to be played live, given their origin being recorded live in-studio. In confirmation of that, virtually all of them were performed beautifully from their on-stage debut; note the presence of four such songs on this live collection alone. Within a year, every track from the album had been played for paying audiences!

While the majority of the songs on this compilation are from the extraordinary Autumn tour, some are from earlier in the year. Dylan's setlist was quite varied throughout the year, with some songs being played only a handful of times. Some of these, like "Standing In The Doorway," are carry-overs from the previous year's touring. Some are rarer, like "Tough Mama" or "Ring Them Bells." A recording of "Where Teardrops Fall" was almost included here, but was replaced with "Ring Them Bells" late in the compiling.

In general, the recordings and performances are of a uniformly high quality. I don't find that the 2001 tours reach the heights of 1997 - 1999 or 2002 - 2005, as the singer and band are fairly conservative. The preceding years had a tightness and precision in their arrangements, while the years to come would be more experimental; 2000 - 2001 sit squarely between these two eras as satisfying, if not overly exciting.

Some songs here, though, would never be played so well again. Listen to the intensity of "Drifter's Escape," or the emotion and harmony of "Knockin' On Heaven's Door." Despite it being newly introduced, this performance of "Summer Days" is one of the best you'll ever hear. Charlie Sexton even produces a 'dog bark' guitar noise on the relevant line! Additionally, one of the bluegrass songs common to Dylan's setlists at the time makes it into the acoustic set here.

Concerning production, very little was altered. The low volume was quite challenging on "Cold Irons Bound," and I shifted "Ring Them Bells" from the acoustic set in which it was originally played to the electric set, as it matched the following songs more effectively. Otherwise, only some volume adjustments were necessary.

I hope you enjoy the compilation. It's not one of the best, but it's a compelling listen. Next month will bring the final addition to the second run of the Thousand Highways Collection: Spring 2005. I've been very excited for that, and it'll be a heck of a note to go out on, since it features unique arrangements enhanced powerfully by Elana James' violin. Look forward to it!

Until then, keep yourself healthy and listen to some good tunes.


UPDATE: So I had a bit of an April Fools prank going this morning with the link. I have since upped the actual files pertinent to this compilation, but I hope the 33 people who downloaded the file enjoyed a healthy dose of Spice Girls!