Monday, April 28, 2014

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

One More Night: Unreleased Live Recordings
1961 - 2014
Volume Two
God Knows – April 8, 2006
I Believe In You – July 10, 1981
Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat – May 14, 1966
Hazel – April 29, 2005
Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues – June 16, 2008
Gypsy Davy – 1961
Cry A While – November 27, 2005
Slow Train – July 25, 1981
Huck’s Tune – April 4, 2014
Oxford Town – October 25, 1990
Weary Blues From Waiting – April 18, 1976
Watching The River Flow – September 12, 1993
Pancho & Lefty – June 11, 2004
That Lucky Old Sun – February 24, 1986
Million Miles – February 5, 1999
Answer Me, My Love – October 17, 1991
Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door – July 23, 1981


I Don’t Believe You – September 3, 1965
Tangled Up In Blue – December 10, 1978
Every Grain Of Sand – June 30, 1984
Moon River – August 27, 1990
Absolutely Sweet Marie – April 8, 2006
Heartbreak Hotel – August 16, 2009
Let Your Light Shine On Me – July 19, 2013


As with Volume One, you’ve got a varied and excellent set of songs here strung together by nothing but their common glimpses of poetic beauty and outrageous fun.

“God Knows” opens the collection, and is as fine a rendition of the song as you’ll hear. It’s the last performance to date as well, which is interesting. The reading of “we’ll get all the way from here to there if we have to walk a million miles by candlelight” sounds like the singer means it! An appropriate way to begin this journey through the years.

“I Believe In You” brings the tone down, but the kicking organ and drums keep this from moving into fully laid-back territory. There’s almost a reggae tone to the proceedings, which will be echoed in the compilation’s final song. This performance of “I Believe In You” comes from the period that Paul Williams describes as sounding like the singer was singing as if his life depended on it. Dylan’s truly committed to this one.

A positively raucous “Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat” picks things back up, with Robbie Robertson providing solos. The mic distortion works to this songs advantage, only really presenting on the singer “Yes I” at the start of chorus.

“Hazel” is tender, Dylan wringing out every bit of its torch ballad character – the highlight is clearly the phrase “you got something I want plenty of.” You’ve never heard him sing it like this.

“Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues” appear with the same arrangement you will find on the Rockin’ In Rio cut from the Down The River record. Here, though, the singer and band really get into the groove of the song, as it gets more spirited with each verse. This song has always been a favorite of mine, and the arrangement from 2008 stands up alongside arrangements from years past.

“Gypsy Davy” is among the earliest recordings in this collection, apparently being sung at the home of Sid Gleason in East Orange. It was almost relegated to ‘bonus track’ status, but its connection to Dylan’s career clinched its inclusion – he would revisit the folk standard on 1993’s World Gone Wrong LP, and would rework it into a new creation on 2012’s Tempest. The singer sounds unsure of himself on this one, though even here you can hear him reworking phrases while telling the tale. His voice is quite warm and pleasant as well.

“Cry A While” is, in many ways, the opposite of the preceding track. Loud, in your face, and leaning heavily on an inventive start-stop rhythm for effect, it’s almost surprising that both songs were recorded by the same artist. Yet, as this collection demonstrates, an artist can contain multitudes. This was a song that was edged out of my Thousand Hearts & Eyes compilation, since it was performed a few days after the Brixton Residency.

The next song, “Slow Train,” has long been a cherished unreleased performance. Truly the most fire-and-brimstone performance the song has ever received, it ends abruptly as the power is lost. Despite being fragmentary, the song cries out with all the fury of Dylan’s 1966 heydey, exhorting listeners to keep their eyes on that ‘slow train coming up around the bend.’

One of the most recent songs in this collection, “Huck’s Tune,” could not have been excluded once heard. As beautiful as the breezy studio recording of this song is, the live performance is heartbreaking. The readings of “the river is wider than a mile” and “you're in your girlish prime” are spine-tingling with the presence of love and loss; you really come to understand that what the narrator cherished was beautiful but fleeting, and has been lost for now. We are blessed to live in a time when this kind of performance art is available to us as the click of a button.

“Oxford Town” is a rare one-off rendition from 1990 in, of all places, Oxford, Mississippi. Played as a request, it is surprisingly fully formed and comes across as part of a fairly carnival-like atmosphere. More than simply a rarity, this song is a pleasant surprise.

“Weary Blues From Waiting” is another one-off. It was performed as a duet with Bob Neuwirth on the second Rolling Thunder Revue, and both put themselves fully into this Hank Williams lament.

The next track, “Watching The River Flow,” is not a notable performance. It is, however, absolutely a blast to listen to. The 1973 song has rarely sounded more alive, with its arrangement very reminiscent of Johnny Cash’s great Sun Records recordings. Please note that it has been slightly truncated to fit the run time of the CD; seek out the original recording if you would like to hear the extended fills in the last couple of minutes.

“Pancho & Lefty,” much like “Huck’s Tune,” is just gorgeous. This Townes Van Zandt classic has been performed by Bob Dylan several times over the years, beginning in 1989, but never with the depth of sorrow echoed here. You can see the dusty prairie, feel Cleveland’s cold, and weep alongside the singer.

“That Lucky Old Sun” is another cover, frequently associated with Ray Charles though performed by a vast array of artists. Considered an American standard, Dylan has knocked it out of the park each time he’s performed it. You can find other renditions on the Series of Dreams and Keep Humming compilations in the Thousand Highways Collection.

“Million Miles” is one of my favorite blues songs by Bob Dylan, and he frequently performs it with panache. Though this performance does not match those of 2003, it is excellent in its own right. Note the delightful ad-libbing of “well maybe just a few” after the singer confesses he’s “done so many things [he] never did intend to do.” You just can’t help but crack a smile.

The penultimate song, “Answer Me, My Love,” was a song that the singer would perform several times throughout 1991, sometimes claiming that it would be his next single. You have to wonder if this was just a laugh, or if there is a lost studio take of this sitting in the vault. Regardless, the recording here, though marred with some feedback, is a tender addition to Dylan’s catalog of American standards.

Finally, “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” concludes the set in a jaunty reggae arrangement. It sounds like a more polished, and more lively, take on the 1978 version. It’s got some new lyrics, but the harmonica and guitar really steal the show on a final jam. This closed many nights of the 1981 tours, and I think it does a marvelous job here as well.

Of the bonus tracks, it’s worth remarking that “Tangled Up In Blue” is performed with the biblical re-writes of late 1978, and that “Moon River” was performed as a tribute to Stevie Ray Vaughan in 1990. “Absolutely Sweet Marie” is just great fun, and though the sound quality’s not great on “Let Your Light Shine On Me,” it’s a fine reminder of Dylan’s commitment to country gospel music.

I hope this set is as nice as the last, and those to come. Enjoy, everybody! And until next time, keep yourself healthy and listen to some good tunes.

Ever yours,

Update: Anyone who downloaded this in the first 24 hours is missing the lossless version of Track 5, "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues." The problem in the complete download link has been corrected, but I am including a link here for those who would just like to download that one song.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

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

One More Night
Unreleased Live Recordings, 1961 - 2014
Volume One

Maggie's Farm - September 22, 1985
Going, Going, Gone - May 16, 1976
Fourth Time Around - May 27, 1966
A-11 - March 11, 2005
When You Gonna Wake Up? - October 20, 1989
Saving Grace - November 16, 1979
Born In Time - January 17, 1998
Love Minus Zero/No Limit - May 3, 1976
Under The Red Sky - November 7, 2013
Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues - April 18, 1976
The Times We've Known - November 1, 1998
I Dreamed I Saw Saint Augustine - July 19, 1986
Subterranean Homesick Blues - August 3, 2002
Poor Lazarus - December 22, 1961
It Takes A Lot To Laugh (It Takes A Train To Cry) - February 3, 1990
Visions Of Johanna - November 27, 2005

Bonus Tracks

Handsome Molly - July 29, 1961
Just Like A Woman - May 27, 1966
She's Love Crazy - October 29, 1978
When Did You Leave Heaven? - July 21, 1989
My Blue-Eyed Jane - February 5, 1999
Like A Rolling Stone - June 24, 2004
Jolene - November 15, 2009


Welcome friends,

This set constitutes the first volume of a “best of the rest” compilation. For those who have obtained the many earlier CDs of the Thousand Highways collection, certain periods may have gone under-represented. Conspicuously, 1996-1998 were absent, as were recordings from 2004 outside of the Spring Tour, 2005 outside of the Brixton Residency, 1989 – 1993 outside of the recordings associated with Dylan’s studio output from that era, and Rolling Thunder-period performances which were composed earlier than 1974. I hope this final 5-CD compilation fills in some of those gaps, and expands on the already-extensive Thousand Highways collection.

With that said, I would like to give some brief details on each track. The first, “Maggie’s Farm,” was played by Bob Dylan at the first Farm Aid set, and was highlighted by author Paul Williams as an especially spirited recording. I can’t say I disagree, and it came across as the highlight of an excellent concert.

The second track, “Going, Going, Gone,” remains to me the definitive rendition of this song. The singer is hardly word-perfect, but the song has been re-written to great effect. The final verse in particular is hair-raising.

“Fourth Time Around” is a beautiful rendition made warmer still by the pleasant vinyl transfer. I am unaware of the origin of this recording, but it came to me by way of the consistently great The Bob Dylan and The Hawks British Judas Concerts 1966 collection.

“A-11” is a personal favorite, as I love the old recording by Buck Owens. This recording is high-quality, and represents an aspect of Dylan’s performance art – his country covers from the early years of the 21st century. The violin is dazzling as well.

The fifth song, “When You Gonna Wake Up,” begins a brief suite of faith-based songs. This song has been radically rewritten for the 1989 tour, though it appeared just this once before never being played again (as of Spring 2014). The arrangement is stunning, and consists of Dylan’s piano leading the band into clearly uncharted territory.

“Saving Grace” is the second song in the suite, and is again a definitive performance. While the studio version is wonderful, this is positively inspirational. The singer wrings every ounce of emotion out of the song.

The seventh track, “Born In Time,” was a highlight of the 1998 tours originating with the 1989 Oh Mercy sessions. You can hear demo versions of the song on The Bootleg Series, Volume 8 and the first volume of the Series of Dreams field recordings collection. The live recording is particularly spirited, with beautiful instrumentation.

“Love Minus Zero/No Limit” is a rare performance of the song from 1976 at the well-regarded New Orleans concert. It features some pleasant harmonica and the smoky, textured vocals of that era.

“Under The Red Sky” was performed at the second of two Rome concerts in 2013, and stands out as representative of the high quality from that Autumn Tour. Dylan’s piano-playing is at the forefront, and that makes this even better than the frequently excellent performances of this song over the years. The song didn’t quite make the cut on an earlier compilation, Ivory, but it fits in very well her.

The tenth song, “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues,” is another Rolling Thunder gem. Despite the limitations in the Lackland tape from that year (also featuring a notable “If You See Her, Say Hello”), this track came through loud and clear. The vocals are heads above what was present on the 1976 rehearsal tape, and the singer turns many phrases inside out – see the verse concerning the “sergeant at arms.”

Song eleven, “The Times We’ve Known,” is a favorite in the fan community. Dylan’s performance of this Charles Aznavour classic is deeply touching. Though it often circulates as a soundboard recording originally offered for free download from, this audience recording offers a warmer, fuller sound.

“I Dreamed I Saw Saint Augustine” is one of the greatest performances of this song that I’ve heard, though I may be biased in favor of its inclusion – the song is one of my favorites by this artist. It offers a stark portrayal of one’s humility when faced with the divine, and though I’m not sure this performance conveys those depths, Dylan’s aside (“it’s alright”) cements it as an absolutely committed rendition. Look forward to an recording of this song from the Rolling Thunder Revue on one of the later volumes in this series. As a fun fact, the 1986 performance is noted afterward as being a very special request from a very special person, though she’s apparently not at the show! Funny stuff.

“Subterranean Homesick Blues” is a fun recording from the Newport Folk Festival in 2002. Its rhythm is all over the place in the best possible way, and one wonders if Dylan had been influenced by his own recording of “Cry A While” the previous year.

The fourteenth song, “Poor Lazarus,” is one of the earliest we have a record of him performing, as documented on the Riverside Church tape of early 1961. This performance dates from the end of that year, when the singer’s had the chance to perfect his delivery of a truly tragic, archetypical American tale: the young man gunned down and mourned by his mother while his father laments him as a fool and his sister's poverty keeps her from being at his funeral. The song is deeply powerful, and is reminiscent to me of the old song “Delia.”

“It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry” is a growly blues song from Dylan’s lauded Hammersmith Residency of 1990. This was squeezed out of the compilation “Town Without Pity,” but seemed to accompany the other tracks here quite well. Check out the “whoa!” as the song comes to its conclusion.

The final track, “Visions of Johanna,” is a unique treat. Considered by many to be one of the finest renditions of the song, it was delivered to an adoring audience in Dublin in the autumn of 2005. You can almost hear a different singer in each verse, teasing out every bit of nuance in the lyrics. The band’s light accompaniment is spot-on, particularly Denny Freeman’s sparking guitar.

Concerning the bonus tracks, I'd like to highlight this version of "Like A Rolling Stone" as originating in Glasgow, 2004; it's the version described by author Andrew Muir in his excellent One More Night history of the Never-Ending Tour, and described by Bob Dylan as having "the best singing audience we've ever heard." In addition, this edgy recording of "She's Love Crazy" is from the St. Louis show praised by Paul Williams in Performing Artist Volume Two.

Please enjoy this selection of songs, strung together by nothing besides their excellence. I think that despite their temporal disparity, they offer a cohesive picture of the singer and his worldview.

If you like the tracks, please be sure to download the original studio recordings present on the following records:

It is worth noting that this set has the auspicious distinction of being released on Easter Sunday, the happiest day of the year for a Christian such as myself. In that spirit, I would like to bid everyone a Blessed Easter. I would also like to thank again, though one cannot thank enough, the uploaders at Expecting Rain who have made the acquisition of many of these tracks possible - Lilraven in particular is a hero to the field recording community.

Next week is the second volume in the set. Don't miss it! Until then, keep yourself healthy and listen to some good tunes.

Thanks for listening,

Note: If you downloaded this on 4/20/14 before 11:20 PM EST, your set was missing a lossless recording of "When You Gonna Wake Up?" This has been fixed in a newly linked upload.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

In London: Unreleased Live Recordings, 2013

In London: Royal Albert Hall Residency, 2013

 Things Have Changed - November 28
She Belongs To Me - November 28
Beyond Here Lies Nothing - November 26
Pay In Blood - November 28
Waiting For You - November 26
Duquesne Whistle - November 28
Tangled Up In Blue - November 27
Love Sick - November 27
High Water - November 26
Simple Twist Of Fate - November 26
Forgetful Heart - November 26
Spirit On The Water - November 27
Long & Wasted Years - November 28
Roll On, John - November 26
Blowin' In The Wind - November 27


We were blessed with an extraordinary touring year by Bob Dylan in 2013, culminating in a triumphant residency at London's Royal Albert Hall. The evenings were filled with beautiful music, both joyful and reflective. This single-CD retrospective of those cool November nights will leave the listener with a warmth only found in the finest music.

Highlights include "She Belongs To Me," in a new arrangement, "Pay In Blood," "Waiting For You," perhaps the most perfect performance of "High Water" since 2005, a meditative "Simple Twist Of Fate," the majestic "Long & Wasted Years," and the absolutely radiant "Roll On, John."

Songs not included here are "What Good Am I," which was not as strong as it was on the Spring tour, "Early Roman Kings," "Soon After Midnight" and "Scarlet Town" from 2012's Tempest, and "All Along The Watchtower." None were as strong as the fifteen songs presented here, but all have been included as bonus tracks if you would like to add them to a playlist to complete the setlist.

If you were at these shows, I have no doubt you will be talking about them for years to come. If you weren't there, I hope you can live vicariously through this collection. If one or more of the tracks stand out to you, you can check out the great recordings by Soomlos and Spot, without whom this compilation would not exist. If you like the performance but not the tape, search around - alternate recordings exist for each night, and the alternates are excellent in their own right.

Minimal work has been done on the tracks: harmonizing volume levels and adding necessary unobtrusive fades to transition between songs comprise the majority of my involvement beyond compiling.

If you enjoy these marvelous concert recordings, give a listen to the records on which they appear in their original studio incarnations:

Bringing It All Back Home
Blood On The Tracks
Time Out Of Mind
The Essential Bob Dylan
"Love & Theft"
Modern Times
Together Through Life

And it is with this release that the chronological CDs cease. In the coming five weeks, I will be uploading five overall retrospective sets not strung together by chronology or theme. These will contain tracks found on no other compilations here, and represent the "best of the rest," as it were. Since there were years not covered on my blog (1996 - 1998) and songs which did not fit the theme (pre-Blood On The Tracks songs on my Rolling Thunder set), I had a vast catalog of great songs to pick from. Hopefully these five final CDs will fill in the gaps effectively, completing the sketch of an artist collected on this website.


Sunday, April 6, 2014

Ivory: Unreleased Live Recordings, 2012 - 2013

Ivory: Unreleased Live Recordings, 2012 - 2013

Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues - November 7, 2013
Saving Grace - August 29, 2012
It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding) - October 12, 2013
Simple Twist Of Fate - October 22, 2013
Shadows - October 9, 2012
Joey - October 17, 2012
When The Deal Goes Down - November 7, 2013
Rollin' & Tumblin' - November 19, 2012
Ain't Talkin' - November 7, 2013
Delia - October 27, 2012
Mississippi - November 1, 2012
Highway 61 Revisited - November 19, 2012
Tangled Up In Blue - October 20, 2013

Leopard-Skin Pill Box Hat - November 6, 2013
Dignity - November 1, 2012
Suzie Baby - July 10, 2013
Tryin' To Get To Heaven - July 8, 2012
Beyond Here Lies Nothin' - October 19, 2013

We should count ourselves lucky, because this set is the real deal: thirteen jazzy tracks from Dylan's piano-playing era. This began with 2012's European Tour and has continued to the current time (Spring 2014). It has been rapturously received, and has been a component of Dylan adopting a softer, jazz-like sound. Harder tracks have not been absent, but the piano-driven songs have tended toward a more introspective quality. Dylan can add one more "late-career renaissance" to an already well-populated list.

Even the uptempo songs play out like a painting on canvas, like the ever-reliable "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues," an inventive "Rollin' & Tumblin'," a unique violin-driven arrangement of "It's Alright Ma," a bold "Joey," the adventurous "Mississippi," and a bluesy "Highway 61 Revisited." Perhaps even stronger are the quiet songs, the nostalgic "Simple Twist of Fate," Gordon Lightfoot's "Shadows," an airy "When The Deal Goes Down," and the eerie "Ain't Talkin'." In the middle are the other tracks, gospel throwback "Saving Grace," the old blues "Delia," and an exquisitely beautiful performance of "Tangled Up In Blue."

The piano is the centerpiece of each song. Though the 2012 songs are excellent, Dylan's playing consistently improved during its presence in the set. The 2013 songs showcase the piano at its finest, but among the earlier track "Highway 61" and "Mississippi" are driven almost entirely by this instrument, embellished of course by the band.

From a production standpoint, some of these tracks proved problematic, though I'm proud of the results. Crystal Cat's fine Stockholm 2013 recording sounded great, but the vocals were comparatively muffled when juxtaposed with the surrounding songs; it was re-EQ'd to fit in, and still sounds great. "Shadows" proved tricky as well, as something about the recording makes it a bit indistinct. Though equalization could make it clearer, the overall tone of the recording suffered and I thought it best to leave it as is. None of the other tracks required such drastic alterations.

I hope you enjoy the songs and this peek into the set's production. The recordings are top-notch, and Dylan's performance is consistently engaging. Something about the airy quality produced by the piano creates a texture that runs through the full CD. Set it to play, sip some fine wine and have a lovely time.

If you like the CD, don't forget to purchase the original studio recordings of these songs, found on the following releases:

Bringing It All Back Home
Highway 61 Revisited
Blood On The Tracks
World Gone Wrong
"Love & Theft"
Modern Times

One editorial note concerning the above official releases: though I've not heard it yet, word is that the recently remastered Saved is very good, especially if you were a member of that album's fairly limited fan club (a club in which I count myself).

Next week will be the final chronological release, a review of Bob Dylan's very esteemed residency at the Royal Albert Hall in November 2013. It's really quite beautiful, and presents a compelling bookend when placed alongside the first set in this collection, Shades of Blue. I hope you think so too. Until then, keep yourself healthy and listen to some good tunes.