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Sunday, May 18, 2014

One More Night: Unreleased Live Recordings, 1961 - 2014 (Volume Five)




One More Night: 1961 – 2014
Volume Five

Desolation Row – September 3, 1965
Trouble – August 16, 1989
Mr. Tambourine Man – March 7, 2005
Uranium Rock – June 29, 1986
Shake Sugaree – June 17, 1996
Soon – March 11, 1987
Tough Mama – April 11, 2009
You’re Too Late – January 29, 1999
When First Unto This Country – June 12, 1991
One More Night – September 29, 1995
I Want You – May 18, 1976
Pretty Peggy-O – April 18, 1997
When I Paint My Masterpiece – October 29, 1999
Remember Me – 1961
Dignity – November 13, 2004
Restless Farewell – November 19, 1995

Bonus

Tell Me Mama – May 14, 1966
Visions Of Johanna – April 18, 1976
Vincent Van Gogh – May 16, 1976
With God On Our Side – October 18, 1988
Congratulations – June 6, 1989
I Believe In You – March 30, 1995
House Of The Rising Sun – June 18, 2000

Link


This is the final installment in the five-part One More Night Collection, which compiles excellent live performances from throughout Bob Dylan’s career into a cohesive listening experience.

The first track, “Desolation Row,” is the song's debut. Recorded at an Autumn show in 1965, you can hear the audience laugh at surrealist imagery. The vocals are word-perfect, and reveal a man completely dedicated to his craft. Though some crowds would be hostile to Dylan's artistic evolution, the audience at this show was nothing but engaged.

“Trouble” is a gritty, dirty run-through of this rarely played Shot of Love b-side. The band, as it so frequently was in 1989, is fully engaged with the dystopic tone.

“Mr. Tambourine Man” appears for the second time in this collection in what has been called a funereal arrangement from 2005. It is delicate, and much of the song is very close to acapella. There is an unconfirmed rumor that this song was performed at this show as an unspoken dedication to the recently deceased American author Hunter S. Thompson, for whom it was a favorite.

The fourth song, “Uranium Rock,” is a stark tonal shift from the preceding track. This is Dylan at his rockabilly best of 1986, playing a song that has been controversially attributed to Warren Smith. In fact, much of the song has lyrics unrelated to the original; only the structure and part of the “money money” refrain has been retained from Smith’s 1958 original. This practice was one that Dylan would use a handful of times in the mid-‘80s, as his 1985 “Shake” (played at Farm Aid) was based on the template of Roy Head’s “Treat Her Right.”

“Shake Sugaree” was played with some regularity throughout 1996, but this is the version familiar to most listeners. A traditional-sounding song attributed to Elizabeth Cotton, the lyrics are fairly inscrutable. It may also have been recorded for Dylan’s 1997 record, Time Out of Mind, though no recording has been made available yet.

The fifth track, “Soon,” is a recording held in high esteem among tape collectors. It was played at a Gershwin Tribute Gala in 1987. Featuring some of Dylan’s most tender vocals of that decade, the song is accentuated by some melodic harmonica. This recording is likely derived from a TV feed or similar source, accounting for the less than ideal sound.

“Tough Mama,” from 2009, is my favorite live performance of this song. Appropriately rollicking, it is one of two performances of the song at a three-night Amsterdam residency. It has been almost entirely rewritten! New lyrical highlights include “the dress that your wearing weighs a ton” and “staring at the ceiling/sitting in a chair./Big fire blazing/ashes in the air.”

“You’re Too Late” is a 1999 cover from Daytona Beach. Bob Dylan’s covers during the 1997 – 2001 tours were frequently concert high points, and this is no exception. Larry Campbell adds some extraordinary pedal steel guitar to the recording.

Track eight, “When First Unto This Country,” is not an ideal recording. Though clear, the vocals are sometimes covered by a loudly mixed acoustic guitar. With that caveat, though, the song is magnificent. This is one of the singer’s numerous immigrant songs of a type shared by “Across The Borderline,” “I Pity The Poor Immigrant,” and “Deportees.” To be clear, all except one of these are covers, but Dylan consistently makes them his own.

“One More Night” is one of the best songs of the set. Again, despite the tape’s shortcomings, brilliance shines through. This is one of only two live performances of the Nashville Skyline song, and the only one with Bob Dylan on vocals. He is fully committed to the song, singing it with all the sorrow of a man who lost his sweetheart only yesterday. Allison Krauss is featured on violin.

“I Want You” dates from 1976. The Rolling Thunder Revue featured many songs that had not been played live until that time, and this is one of the most engaging. The band’s jaunty tone contributes significantly.

“Pretty Peggy-O,” which turned up earlier on A Thousand Highways in its 1988 guise, features dramatic vocals putting across all of the pathos possible in this old tale of unrequited love. The recording is sourced from the excellent Bathed in a Stream of Pure Heat 1997 tour compilation, and has long been a favorite of mine.

The twelfth song, “When I Paint My Masterpiece,” is a laid-back performance from 1999. This song has been truncated slightly to fit the runtime of a CD, but I’m sure you can seek out the full version if you enjoy it.

“Remember Me” is, like the recording of “Gypsy Davy” that appeared on an earlier volume of One More Night, among the first recordings we have of Bob Dylan’s performing career. It is on the Gleason tapes, and does not sound similar to the album he would record later in the year. Instead, it has a texture and cadence reminiscent of the great Johnny Cash. It is also one of Dylan’s most compelling performances of 1961.

“Dignity,” is incredible. It’s perhaps even the best live recording of this song. The 2004 arrangement is a passionate, powerfully driven version that’s propelled along by an almost Celtic-rock sound composed of guitar and piano. The vocal highlights include “have you seen… uh, Dignity” and, of course, “somebody showed me a picture and I just laughed, ha ha ha.” This one will get you rocking.

And finally, “Restless Farewell” concludes the set. How could it be any other way? From the singer’s soft croon to the band’s harmonious backing, Dylan’s rarely delivered a greater performance than this. The song was performed at a Sinatra Birthday Tribute in 1995, but it is a fitting farewell to the Thousand Highways Collection.

Concerning the bonus tracks, “Visions of Johanna” is a stunning rare rendition of the song from the Rolling Thunder Revue. “With God On Our Side” features a new verse concerning the Vietnam War written by Neville Brothers, and “Congratulations” is one of only three live performances of this Traveling Wilburys lost-love classic. Lastly, “I Believe In You” is a suitably muscular performance of Dylan’s 1979 hymn.

If you enjoy these songs, be sure to purchase the original studio recordings from Columbia Records:


And so we have come to the end of the series. All things must end, after all. Hopefully you've found something here that enriched your experience of Bob Dylan's performance art. It seems that everyone has enjoyed it, and that's brought me quite a bit of joy. It's great to bring a little bit of happiness into the world; curating this collection of beautiful and unique recordings has been a privilege.

Thanks for listening,
CS

Sunday, May 11, 2014

One More Night: Unreleased Live Recordings, 1961 - 2014 (Volume Four)



One More Night: Volume Four
Unreleased Live Recordings
1961 - 2014 

All Along The Watchtower - June 9, 1998
She Belongs To Me - April 30, 2006
I Don't Believe You - October 31, 1975
Chimes Of Freedom - November 18, 2005
I'll Be Your Baby Tonight - November 12, 1981
I Dreamed I Saw Saint Augustine - November 4, 1975 (Evening)
Shelter From The Storm - March 23, 2010
Baby Please Don't Go - December 22, 1961
It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding) - June 22, 2007
I'm Not Supposed to Care - May 13, 1998
When The Night Comes Falling From The Sky - June 29, 1986
Visions Of Johanna - May 16, 1966
Buckets Of Rain - November 18, 1990
Samson & Delilah - June 11, 2004
Every Grain Of Sand - June 28, 1989

Bonus Tracks

Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues - April 13, 1966
Like A Rolling Stone - April 22, 1976
Tangled Up In Blue - June 11, 1984
In The Garden - March 31, 1995
Man Of Constant Sorrow - April 16, 2002
Return To Me - April 18, 2009
The Weight - August 3, 2013

Link


The songs here represent one of the most cohesive of these five volumes documenting Bob Dylan’s “off the record” performance career.

“All Along The Watchtower” is an esteemed arrangement performed only in 1998. The drums create a cascading pattern that gets the record off to an uptempo start.

“She Belongs To Me,” accented heavily by Donnie Herron’s steel guitar, features a little-used but effective vocal technique popularly known as ‘downsinging.’ In short, the singer draws out the penultimate syllable of a line, then drops to a lower register for the final syllable. That dry definition aside, the song never fails to bring a smile to my face.

“I Don’t Believe You” is an appropriately breezy take on this tale of romantic disappointment. If you’ve heard the acoustic tracks on The Bootleg Series Five – The Rolling Thunder Revue, you’ll have an idea of how this sounds. The rhythm is steady, and gives the singer an opportunity to play around with phrasing. A harmonica solo closes the song.

“Chimes Of Freedom” is, as far as I’ve heard, the most perfect recording of this song. Though folks for whom the ‘upsinging’ of latter years may object, the tight relationship of singer and band here presents an almost flawless rendition of a classic. You can see bolts of lightning and feel the warmth of a summer night in each note.

“I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight” is another track from 1981, one of many found on these five CDs. That was an excellent tour, and though much of it provided substance, this song represents the more playful elements of the Caribbean-influenced concerts.

“I Dreamed I Saw Saint Augustine,” from the Rolling Thunder Revue, is the second appearance of this song on the One More Night collection. Here it is presented as a duet between Dylan and Joan Baez, and is one of their more successful collaboration. The mandolin is a highlight here, as is the strange and appealing turn the vocals take on the line “alive with fiery breath.”

“Shelter From The Storm” is a bit of an oddity. The arrangement was only used briefly, and has been referred to as hip-hop influenced, though I’m not fully convinced. Either way, it reminds this listener of 2009’s “I Feel A Change Comin’ On,” and is a pleasant listen.

“Baby Please Don’t Go” is one of Dylan’s finest early blues recordings. He mixes around lyrics, including a verse referring to Parchment Farm. All acoustic, the song has a powerful drive delivered by the singer’s physical stomp.

“It’s Alright Ma” is a remarkably strong performance of this dense poem. Accompanied by his reliable rhythm section and blazing guitars and violin, the singer puts forth every word with the fire and brimstone necessary to convey the cruelty of a cynical culture.

“I’m Not Supposed To Care” is a Gordon Lightfoot cover. Much like “Early Morning Rain” and “Shadows,” the intersection of Lightfoot’s words and Dylan’s voice is hugely successful. The tale of a man so desperately in love with his ex-lover that he will be willing to drop everything and fulfill her every need should the day come, believing that she’d do the same, is deeply moving.

“When The Night Comes Falling From The Sky” is a song in transition from its steady arrangement on the Empire Burlesque record to the looser one played on the Temple In Flames Tour. The apocalyptic love story builds from a nigh-acapella introduction to a pulse-pounding rhythm reminiscent of the earlier “All Along The Watchtower.”

“Visions Of Johanna” is a classic recording of a classic song from Dylan’s noted 1966 World Tour. This performance comes from Sheffield, though it seems like each version of this tune is special for one reason or another. From 1966 to the present day, you just can’t go wrong with “Visions Of Johanna.”

“Buckets Of Rain” almost got pushed out of the set, as the recording runs a little hot, but it’s just so much fun. This is also, to date, the only live performance of the song. Note the humorous moment at which the band believes the song has ended, but the singer pushes them ahead to one whimsical final verse.

“Samson & Delilah” is a spirited version of the traditional song. Though I’ve not heard The Grateful Dead’s arrangement, I would not be shocked if it functions as the template for this one. I am not fully clear on the lyrics, but everyone’s clearly having such a great time. The earliest version of this song with which I’m familiar with is Blind Willie Johnson’s 1927 recording, presented on Dylan’s own Theme Time Radio Hour. You may hear buzzing at the end of the track; this was apparently related to a power cut that nearly derailed the band’s contribution to the 2004 Bonarroo Festival, but thankfully the show went on.

The final song, “Every Grain Of Sand,” is considered by many to be one of the best performances of this beautiful song. Deeply poetic, the singer conveys new angles in this acoustic rendition from 1989. The harmonica is especially moving.

Among the bonus tracks, several stand out as noteworthy. Though this recording of “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues” is a little harsh on the ears (which precluded its inclusion of my 1965/1966 compilation, Shades of Blue), it includes the delightful discussion of Tom Thumb’s origins as an introduction to the song. “Like A Rolling Stone” is the only Rolling Thunder-era performance of the song, and was part of Dylan’s Hard Rain TV special, which remains unreleased. “Man Of Constant Sorrow” is not the typical arrangement, but is instead an electrified version based on the one that appeared in the Coen Brothers’ film Oh Brother, Where Art Thou. “Return To Me” is a rare live appearance of the Dean Martin classic, which Dylan also recorded in-studio for the Sopranos soundtrack, Pepper & Eggs. Finally, “The Weight” was recorded on 2013’s Americanarama tour, and features Jeff Twitty and Jim James sharing the stage and the microphone.

If you like the tracks, be sure to purchase the original studio recordings available from Columbia Records:


I hope you enjoy the songs, and find that they stand up to the quality of the preceding and following volumes.

Thanks for listening,
CS

Sunday, May 4, 2014

One More Night: Unreleased Live Recordings, 1961 - 2014 (Volume Three)

 
One More Night: Volume Three
Unreleased Live Recordings
1961 - 2014 

Can’t Be Satisfied – November 2, 1992
Something There Is About You – February 20, 1978
Precious Angel – November 12, 1980
One Irish Rover – August 16, 1989
With God On Our Side – November 4, 1975
I Pity The Poor Immigrant – May 16, 1976
Ballad Of A Thin Man – July 25, 1981
Workingman’s Blues #2 – April 17, 2014
Seven Days – June 19, 1996
Moonlight – March 10, 2004
Ain’t Got No Home – December 22, 1961
New Morning – November 27, 2005
Red Cadillac & A Black Moustache – June 29, 1986
Delia – April 15, 1992
Mr. Tambourine Man – May 16, 1966

Bonus

It Ain’t Me, Babe – September 3, 1965
Wild Mountain Thyme – December 2, 1975
Go Down Moses – October 17, 1987
What Was It You Wanted? – February 6, 1990
To Be Alone With You – January 17, 1993
Tough Mama – April 8, 1999
What Good Am I? – June 12, 2010

Link


The third volume of One More Night contains fifteen more classic songs from the span of Bob Dylan’s performing career.

“Can’t Be Satisfied” was one of many electric country and blues covers played by Dylan and his band around 1990. This was an especially spirited performance, with the singer interjecting “baby I’m gone” a couple of times throughout the track, to the audience’s delight. It gets a little shaky by the end, but that’s part of the charm, after all.

The second track, “Something There Is About You” is one of the more intriguing curiosities from this five volume set. It is a unique arrangement of the song, and the only performance after 1974. The sound quality is not the best, but it is the clearest recording I’ve heard yet. The lyrics hew closely to the original, excepting a couple of alterations.

“Precious Angel” is, much like the preceding track, a song’s final performance as of the date of writing. It is also, as Greil Marcus notes in Still On The Road: Volume Two, a very atypical rendition. Though the arrangement is essentially identical to previous incarnations, the singer plays blazing harmonica over the chorus rather than accompanying his backing vocalists.

Track four, “One Irish Rover,” is a Van Morrison cover. It’s a mood piece, and is personally quite meaningful to me. Bob Dylan played this song eighteen times from 1989 to 1993, and this one’s probably the best.

“With God On Our Side” is one of only a handful of performances of this song after 1965, and the only one between 1965 and 1982. The vocals are outstanding, and the enunciation is deeply textured. The crowd’s quite into this one, commenting on and responding to the lyrics. The one significant lyrical alteration is the wonderful expansion of “I’ve learned to hate Russia” to “I’ve learned to hate Russia, and China, and Korea, and Vietnam, and Poland, and Bulgaria, and South America, and Cuba all through my whole life.” This received resounding applause, as you’d suspect.

“I Pity The Poor Immigrant” was a highlight of the 1976 tour, and the recording here is as pristine as can be. The song is rearranged from its original studio recording to an uptempo latin style; T-Bone Burnette is responsible for the incredible piano-playing on this one.

“Ballad Of A Thin Man” is a fairly standard treatment, but the vocals are so incendiary it could not be excluded. This song tended to benefit from the backing vocalists during Dylan’s 1978 and 1981 tours, and the Avignon recording is no exception.

The eighth track, “Workingman’s Blues #2,” is an exemplary performance of one of Bob Dylan’s modern classics. The lyrics have been radically reworked, with only half of the original words remaining. The arrangement, too, is new to the 2014 tour. It’s a sweet and very sympathetic reading, carrying the lyrics with due weight.

“Seven Days” is interesting, as the song was never recorded in studio when it was originally composed in 1976. It went unperformed from 1976 to 1996, when it became a fixture of Dylan’s live set. After that year, it was retired once again. The song is played with gusto, and it lost none of its passion in the two decades it had been shelved. It has been suggested that the song was revived as a result of the singer’s Hyde Park Trust concert of 1996, at which he collaborated with Ron Wood; Wood was given the song in 1976 to record for an album, and played it at Bob Dylan’s 30th Anniversary Celebration in 1992.

“Moonlight” appears here in an uptempo arrangement that was used only briefly. Though the song was played with regularity from its introduction in 2001, I have only heard this arrangement on live recordings of the 2004 tours. It’s very effective, if not as unique as the song’s typical style. Intriguingly, several lyrical rewrites lend credibility to an interpretation of the track as a murder ballad, with the narrator noting that the “bell tolls for you my friend.”

Song eleven, “Ain’t Got No Home,” is a catchy Woody Guthrie cover. It is characteristic of Dylan’s 1961 Guthrie interpretations, with a spirited harmonica solo throughout. Listeners would be advised to look into obtaining the very different arrangement played by Bob Dylan and the Band at the 1968 Tribute to Woody Guthrie.

“New Morning” was played sparingly on the Never-Ending Tour, primarily in the early 1990s. This version is the best of the lot, and dates from 2005. It features a beautiful interplay between violin and piano.

“Red Cadillac & A Black Moustache” is a Warren Smith cover, one of several played by Dylan on his 1986 tour. It would be memorably recorded for Good Rockin’ Tonight: The Legacy of Sun Records in 2000, and apparently also exists as an uncirculating outtake for Dylan’s own Knocked Out Loaded from 1986. If this live rendition is any indication, that outtake must be fantastic.

The penultimate song, “Delia,” is one of the more interesting tracks on this CD. Though Bob Dylan would perform many traditional and cover songs from 1988 to 1992, “Delia” is one of only two that would be among the songs recorded for two cover records in 1992 and 1993. Lyrically, it has more in common with the one performed by Blind Willie McTell than the one recorded for World Gone Wrong would. The arrangement is also unique, and dissimilar to the acoustic renditions after the release of that record.

“Mr. Tambourine Man,” from the noteworthy 1966 tour, has been celebrated as one of the best performances of this monumental song. I agree – the harmonica alone is spine-tingling. Though the song would receive many excellent treatments through the years, this solo rendition from almost fifty years ago remains one of the singer’s finest achievements.

Concerning the bonus tracks, “It Ain’t Me, Babe” was only excised from the third volume’s proper tracklist at the last minute; though it’s a great song in a fascinating electric arrangement from 1965, the distortion made it a little tough to listen to when juxtaposed with surrounding tracks. “Go Down Moses” is incredible, and one of only two known performances of the song, both from Dylan’s 1987 Temples In Flames Tour. “Tough Mama” is a truly noteworthy recording, since this song is performed here in a rare slow tempo. As far as I’m aware, the song would never again be played in this manner.

If these songs do the trick for you, I encourage you to purchase the original studio recordings, available on the following records:

The Times They Are A-Changin'
Bringing It All Back Home
Highway 61 Revisited
John Wesley Harding
New Morning
Planet Waves
Slow Train Coming
World Gone Wrong
"Love & Theft"
Modern Times
The Bootleg Series, Volume 1-3

Thanks for listening, folks. Next week will be the fourth volume of this five-volume conclusion to the Thousand Highways Collection. Until then, keep yourself healthy and listen to some good tunes.

-CS

Note: Another week, another technical hiccup. If you downloaded this set on Sunday, May 4, you were left high and dry without any bonus tracks. The file has since been re-uploaded with the bonus included.