Posts Tagged ‘Bob Dylan’

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Months before Bob Dylan released “Blood On The Tracks” in early 1975, a small number of test pressings were circulated, consisting entirely of material from sessions at A&R Recording Studios in New York City. (Dylan re-recorded five of these tracks in Minneapolis for inclusion on the final album.) Those original records were soon bootlegged, and the alternate history of one of Dylan’s most acclaimed works was born.

This LP is an exact duplicate of the test pressing, containing unique mixes from the New York session available for the first time. Original New York Test Pressing • Months before Bob Dylan released Blood On The Tracks in early 1975, a small number of test pressings were circulated, consisting entirely of material from sessions at A&R Recording Studios in New York City. (Dylan re-recorded five of these tracks in Minneapolis for inclusion on the final album.) Those original records were soon bootlegged, and the alternate history of one of Dylan’s most acclaimed works was born. This LP is an exact duplicate of the test pressing, containing unique mixes from the New York session, available commercially for the first time

Side One:  1. Tangled Up In Blue 2. Simple Twist of Fate 3. You’re a Big Girl Now 4. Idiot Wind 5. You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go Side Two:  1. Meet Me In The Morning 2. Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts 3. If You See Her, Say Hello 4. Shelter from the Storm 5. Buckets of Rain

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The looming dissolution of the Beatles, after a stirring run of creative genius, signaled that everything would be different in the ’70s. They released their final album in Abbey Road, though the earlier-recorded Let It Be would follow, after some post-session doctoring from Phil Spector. They weren’t the only ones who departed: The original Jimi Hendrix Experience, Eric Burdon and the Animals and the Jeff Beck Group fell apart, even as Rolling Stones co-founder Brian Jones died. The warm feelings of Woodstock were quickly forgotten in the bloody aftermath of Altamont.

The death of Brian Jones, July 3rd , Brian Jones had long since relinquished his role as a major contributor to the band he founded, the Rolling Stones, when he drowned in his swimming pool at his home in Cotchford Farm, the estate formerly owned by A.A. Milnes, author of the ever popular children’s book, Winnie the Pooh. He had been fired by the Stones the month before due to drug use and increasingly erratic behavior, leaving Jones more or less out in the cold as far as any further recording ventures were concerned. Initially ruled “death by misadventure,” the verdict was later questioned when rumors spread that a construction worker named Frank Thorogood actually murdered Jones and had made a deathbed confession to a confidante. In 2008, the Sussex police department declared it was no longer investigating the claim. Nevertheless, Jones became the first member of the so-called 27 club, whose membership now includes Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain, Amy Whitehouse and a number of other artists whose lives ended at the fateful age of 27. His death also ended a prolific and profound era for the Stones, which many still argue, was the most creative period of their collective career.

At the same time, bands appeared that would dominate the decade to come. Led Zeppelin released their acclaimed first and second albums in ’69, laying a sturdy foundation for superstardom. Zeppelin seemed to arrive as a fully formed new blues-rock variant, harder and louder than anything that had come before. In fact, after touring together extensively, the band arrived in the studio with this material so well rehearsed that they only needed 36 hours spread out over two weeks to complete the album. Its influence, however, has endured – not just as a template for their own career, but also for untold legions of soon-to-be-famous heavy-metal purveyors.

In the summer of 1969, Zeppelin was a band on the rise. Its self-titled first album, released in January of that year, reached Number 10 on the Billboard charts in the U.S., and peaked at Number 6 in the U.K. The band’s pairing of blues, folk and psychedelia eventually would make it the biggest band of the 1970s, “as influential in that decade as The Beatles were in the previous one,”  Zeppelin would play more than 40 gigs on their Summer of 69 tour of U.S.A.

Chicago issued the first of what will eventually be four straight multi-album projects, A band with a bright horn section and a scalding guitarist, Chicago was really all about dichotomy back then. Four songs from their introductory double album would enter the charts, through to 1972’s Chicago V. 

Mick Taylor joined The Stones, sparking their most heralded period – though one that was marked by a turn toward darker subject matter. Rolling Stones, ‘Let It Bleed’ was aptly titled, the second in a quartet of genius albums by the Stones echoed all of the very real apprehensions surrounding this era – like a gritty yin to the Beatles’ utopian yang on ‘Abbey Road.’ Mick Taylor’s arrival also ushered in a harder-edged sound, which combined to create one of rock’s most visceral triumphs. It’s sexy, foreboding, topical and dangerous, sometimes all at once.

Altamont – December 6th was one of the darkest days in music history, Altamont sealed the lid on the promise of peace and love that was capped by Woodstock, and did so within mere months following that celebratory event itself. The Stones, who headlined the sprawling festival in the California desert, may have had good intentions to offer a free concert, but enlisting the Hell’s Angels as security was a terrible idea. Though the line-up was stellar—CSNY, Santana and Jefferson Airplane reprised their roles from Woodstock, along with the Flying Burrito Brothers providing an excellent add-on—an aura of violence and uncertainty pervaded the proceedings. Both Jagger and Airplane singer Marty Balin were accosted the former as he left his chopper, the latter onstage and the death of concert goer Meredith Hunter by a pack of Angels who claimed they saw him wielding a gun, ensured the fact that an idyllic utopian era of the ’60s was quickly come to an end.

‘Abbey Road’ was always a far more fitting send off for the Beatles than ‘Let It Be’ could have ever been. It’s among Paul McCartney’s brightest, most artistically satisfying, moments. But John Lennon’s punctuations (and, to a quickly emerging degree, George Harrison’s) undoubtably make it so. Moments away from imploding, they arrived for these sessions as distinct individuals, rather than stylized mop-topped group. Yet, for a moment in time and for this one last time, the Beatles’ separate personalities seemed to work again in service of the whole.

The Beatles Final Concert, January 30th, Although the Beatles’ impromptu performance on the rooftop of their Apple headquarters in London’s central environs was rumored to be a tryout for a return to live concerts, it was in fact part of the band’s final hurrah. The tumultuous sessions for their album Let It Be exposed a group in disarray, and indeed, a mere nine months after this live six song set—all culled from tracks they had been working on at the time The Beatles were officially broken. Filmed to provide a cap on the ill-fated Let It Be film, it’s still an exhilarating experience to watch the four former Fabs giving it a final go for the curious crowds below. “Hope we passed the audition,” John says before vacating the premises on orders from the police. Yes, Mr. Lennon, indeed you did.

Nick Drake, ‘Five Leaves Left’ was an autumnal yearning which surrounds these folk-rock recordings, and that’s likely the reason Drake was overlooked in his time. Even smart assists from Richard Thompson, then of Fairport Convention fame, couldn’t push this delicately conveyed album into the public consciousness back then. Sadly, Drake only had five years left. He died at age 26 in 1974 of an overdose.

This daring debut by prog rock band King Crimson, ‘In the Court of the Crimson King’ still remains prog’s standard bearer, the best example of a then-emerging movement that sought to combine musical concepts with rock. ‘In the Court of the Crimson King’ was also a template for how this seemingly ever-evolving band would operate, as their lineup almost immediately flew apart. The core pair of Robert Fripp and Greg Lake was all that remained by the time King Crimson set about recording a follow-up.

The Kinks ‘Arthur,’ a triumph of rock with a British sensibility subtitled “Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire,” never gets the short-hand praise of contemporary works like the Who’s ‘Tommy.’ That’s likely because it’s less ambitious. But it’s also far more listenable – like a rock musical, rather than a rock opera. Hailed as one of rock’s first great concept albums, ‘Tommy’ – like so many examples in that genre – sometimes suffers creatively at the expense of furthering the plot. But at its best, this represents the Who at their finest. And there’s no questioning how the album opened up new narrative possibilities for pop composers.

The Who Performed Tommy for the First Time, April 22nd Notably, the concert in Devon, England, preceded the album’s official release by a month. Although other offerings can claim to be the first real rock operas—The Pretty Things’ S.F, Sorrow and the Kinks’ Arthur, among them—The Who were the only band to take the unusual step of performing an album in its entirety. They’d later take Tommy to some of the world’s great opera houses, elevating rock in both intellect and intent.

The debut of supergroup Blind Faith, June 7th, Heralded as the first true “super group”—a term that would resurface continuously in the years that followed Blind Faith was based on an all-star union between guitarist Eric Clapton and drummer Ginger Baker of Cream and vocalist/keyboard player Steve Winwood of Traffic, with bassist Ric Grech, formerly of Family, added later on. Although Clapton in particular was wary of the implications involved in such a high profile ensemble and equally concerned about inviting the tempestuous Baker into the fold—he agreed to pursue the possibilities, owing in small part to the fact that he and Winwood had worked together in a short-lived ad hoc outfit called Powerhouse a few years before. The group’s less than spectacular live debut at Hyde Park further exacerbated Clapton’s concerns, and after a single spotty album and tours of Scandinavia and the U.S., the group disbanded later that year.

Dylan Reemerges at the Isle of Wight, August 31st, Dylan had been largely absent from public view since a 1966 motorcycle accident drove him into self-imposed seclusion. Other than his work with the Band at Big Pink, he chose to spend time with his family and record an album, Nashville Skyline, a shocking departure from any album he had offered before. Consequently, the announcement of his appearance at England’s Isle of Wight Festival attracted an extraordinary amount of interest, including the curiosity of various Beatles, a Stone, Eric Clapton, Pink Floyd’s Syd Barrett and a still gestating Elton John. Rumor had it that Lennon, Harrison and Starr might join Dylan onstage, and although that proved false, Dylan alone was enough to mesmerize the masses. Dressed in a beige suit, his hair cut short, he performed a 17-song set with backing from the Band, a concert that included several classics from his catalog as well as tracks from Nashville Skyline and its immediate predecessor, John Wesley Harding. It’s still considered a landmark performance today.

That was probably to be expected for a generation still reeling from shocking assassinations and an ever-escalating war. So, too, was a move toward nostalgia for the old ways. Bob Dylan Having hinted at his intentions on the more rustic ‘John Wesley Harding,’ Dylan definitively left behind protest music for a head-long dive into deep country for the charming, determinedly happy ‘Nashville Skyline.’ In its own way, this was revolutionary too as he went country, even as his old backing musicians in The Band released a determinedly homespun self-titled masterpiece. The Byrds also splintered, with two members Gram Parsons and Chris Hillman left to dive deeper into their passion for country and western music. The resulting album, unfortunately, did little on the charts – but it proved to be a well-spring of inspiration for descendent bands like the Eagles. breaking away to form the Americana-focused Flying Burrito Brothers.

Although there had been several gingerly moves to find common ground between the disparate realms of country music and rock ’n’ roll early rock pioneers Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis, the Everly Brothers and Rick Nelson all had claims on country—in the divided America of the late ’60s, followers of the two styles were decidedly distinct. Nevertheless, the Byrds and the Buffalo Springfield effectively made efforts to narrow that divide, making it only natural that the two groups they spawned, the Flying Burrito Brothers and Poco respectively, would, to paraphrase the title of the latter’s debut album, pick up the pieces. As a result of releases like The Flying Burrito Brothers’ debut, The Gilded Palace of Sin, in February 1969, country-rock blossomed, spearheaded by the influence of “cosmic cowboy” Gram Parsons (a member of both the Byrds and the Burritos) before later finding a permanent bond with the release of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s Will the Circle Be Unbroken, featuring members of both the new guard and the old, two years later.

The Stooges, ‘The Stooges’ This album’s wiry, first-take feel was no put on: Three songs from the Stooges‘ titanic debut were written in a single day, after their label said the album needed more material, then banged them out live. The ferocious results gave the nascent heavy metal genre new fire, presupposed far-off punk, and scared the hell out of parents everywhere.

Creedence Clearwater Revival began to come into their own here, reaching heralded high points with “Born on the Bayou” and “Proud Mary.” The rest of ‘Bayou Country’ doesn’t always reach that level, but the album is nevertheless surrounded by a sense of expectancy. They’re discovering themselves with every revolution of this album, and it’s a fizzy joy to hear. The second of an incredible run of three CCR albums from 1969 codifies every great thing the earlier ‘Bayou Country’ pointed toward. Sharply drawn, ‘Green River’ is just as sharply played – with none of the period-piece noodling that had occasionally seeped into their first two albums. John Fogerty dilated his muse on ageless cuts like “Bad Moon Rising,” the title track and “Lodi,” and Creedence finally found its true voice.

The Allman Brothers Band an accomplished debut as they blended rock, blues, jazz and a distinctly Southern sensibility to came up with something uniquely and forever their own. Taken for granted in today’s multi-cultural melting pot, ‘Santana’ marked the big bang of Latin rock. Within a year, congas and timbales had found their way into the music of the Rolling Stones, Sly Stone, Jimi Hendrix and Miles Davis, among many others. But it all started here, as ‘Santana’ blended mind-blowing, genre-bending musical explorations with more compact songs like the rambunctious Top 10 hit ‘Evil Ways’.

Jimi Hendrix forms the Band of Gypsies, October and with the release of Electric Ladyland, Jimi Hendrix was at the height of his prowess, but the break-up of the Experience left him without a band and bereft of new recordings. His band at Woodstock, ostensively dubbed “Gypsy Sun and Rainbows,” found him expanding his original trio concept and reuniting with his former army buddy, Billy Cox. The aggregate, which Hendrix referred to as “a band of gypsies” when interviewed on The Dick Cavett Show, fell apart soon after, although Cox continued on bass and joined Hendrix for some informal recording dates with Buddy Miles. It was a natural combination; Miles had subbed for Experience drummer Mitch Mitchell on two tracks used for Electric Ladyland, and the trio went on to record a few demos and rehearse for an upcoming concert at the Fillmore East that would span New Year’s Eve. The self-titled album, released on Capitol Records to satisfy a contractual obligation, became the band’s only official recording, but clearly pointed the way to a more racially charged sound Hendrix was working on for the future.

Woodstock, August 15th-18th, If ever there was a single gathering that served to define the spirit of the ’60s, those three days spent in the muddy fields of Yasgur’s farm in upstate New York takes the prize. It wasn’t always pleasant—despite an amazing array of rock’s most influential artists (Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin, CSNY, Santana, Jefferson Airplane, Richie Havens, et. al.), the traffic, the mud and the scarcity of supplies (other than the acid of course) tended to test the resolve of all involved. Still, it was that spirit of love, peace and music that pervaded the proceedings over all, assuring a communal embrace while setting the precedent for festival gatherings, a basic blueprint that remains relevant to this day.

Jefferson Airplane, ‘Volunteers’ was the last album to feature both Marty Balin and Spencer Dryden, ‘Volunteers’ blended a few bucolic moments (featuring guest stars Jerry Garcia and members of CSNY) in with the now-expected psychedelic rock – but that’s not this album’s best-remembered legacy. Instead, it’s a series of molten, occasionally profanity-laced rebukes of the American status quo. They left the ’60s with a bang.

Joining together for the first of what would become a string of free-wheeling, muscular successes alongside his band Crazy Horse, Neil Young blows a hole in the comfy folk-rock conventions of ‘Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere’ in fact, has a lot more in common with the wild eclecticism of his work with Buffalo Springfield, but with a new tone that’s both sharper and looser.

Records in  heavy rotation in my bedroom included the debut album from Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin II, The Beatles Abbey Road , The Who’s Tommy, King Crimson’s In The Court Of The Crimson King a great record,one that for its time was truly unique, The Rolling Stones Beggar’s Banquet which never left my turntable and the follow-up release Let It Bleed, Neil Young’s masterpiece Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, Zappa’s Hot Rats which help change my musical perspective, Fleetwood Mac’s Then Play On, CSN debut, Blind Faith’s one and only official release which is also a very strange record, Nashville Skyline by Bob Dylan, The MC5’s Kick Out The Jams, Isaac Hayes’ Hot Buttered Soul which arrived unexpectedly when I did not respond in time to a record company selection deadline and glad I got this gem,Chicago Transit Authority double set before they shortened their name to Chicago,  Jethro Tull’s Stand Up, Live Dead, The Doors Soft Parade, Pink Floyd’s Live Ummagumma, Jefferson Airplane’s Volunteers, and Procol Harum’s A Salty Dog.

Few events in American history caused as much upheaval as the war in Vietnam. Young people took to streets and college campuses, protesting a conflict that they viewed as little more than an excuse for a murder machine entangling thousands of young draftees. Not surprisingly, musicians supplied the soundtrack against which protest was pursued. With the sound and imagery flashing across television screens night after night, it was only natural that people would find respite in an array of anthems—“Fortunate Son” by Creedence Clearwater Revival, “Street Fighting Man from the Rolling Stones,” “For What It’s Worth (written about the riots on Sunset Strip) by Buffalo Springfield, “Machine Gun” from Jimi Hendrix, Country Joe and the Fish’s “Vietnam Song” and “Volunteers” which came courtesy of Jefferson Airplane. All served to remind the youth of the country that they weren’t alone in their determination to sway some sentiment and avoid the bloodshed overseas.

Image result for BOB DYLAN and JOHNNY CASH - " The Dylan/Cash Sessions "

Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash had been circling each other for the better part of a decade before finally joining forces in the studio. The Man In Black had made the first move, writing the young troubadour a fan letter shortly after Dylan came on the scene in 1962. When they met in person at the Newport Folk Festival two years later, he gave Dylan one of his guitars as a sign of respect.

In February 1969, Dylan was in Cash’s hometown recording his ninth album, the country-imbued “Nashville Skyline”. By chance, Johnny Cash happened to be working in the studio next door. Dylan paid him a visit, and on February 17th and 18th, the pair recorded more than a dozen duets together. Of the bunch, only one of them – an update of the Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan track “Girl From the North Country” – made the finished album. The rest would languish in the tape vaults until being liberated by enterprising bootleggers.

The collection is a fascinating study of two musical heavyweights revisiting their respective legacies. Dylan’s “One Too Many Mornings” is given a run-through, as are Cash’s hits “I Walk the Line,” “Ring of Fire” and “Big River.” Early Sun Records tracks like “That’s All Right” and “Matchbox” are also dusted off, with Carl Perkins himself backing the men on guitar.  Judged as a loose, informal meeting of two giants, it’s very pleasurable listening, though more for Cash’s contributions than Dylan’s. With full band backing (including Carl Perkins on electric guitar), the pair run through easygoing, rockabilly-tinged versions of Dylan songs, Cash songs, old Sun rockabilly chestnuts

“Of course, I knew of him before he ever heard of me,” Dylan wrote shortly after Cash’s death in 2003. “In ’55 or ’56, ‘I Walk the Line’ played all summer on the radio, and it was different than anything else you had ever heard. The record sounded like a voice from the middle of the Earth. It was so powerful and moving.”

A few weeks after the release of Nashville Skyline, Dylan and Cash performed “Girl From the North Country” on The Johnny Cash Television Show. It was taped on May 1st, 1969 at the Ryman Auditorium in downtown Nashville. A rough video clip (around the 30 minute mark) captures the moment. Despite Dylan’s reported nervousness, the performance was well-received. “I didn’t feel anything about it,” Cash said later. “But everybody said it was the most magnetic, powerful thing they ever heard in their life. They were just raving about electricity and magnetism. And all I did was just sit there hitting G chords.”

COLUMBIA Studio’sNashville TN 2-17-1969 1- MOUNTAIN DEW 2- I STILL MISS SOMEONE 3- CARELESS LOVE 4- MATCHBOX 5- THAT’S ALRIGHT MAMA 6- BIG RIVER 7- I WALK THE LINE 8- YOU ARE MY SUNSHINE 9- RING OF FIRE 10- GUESS THINGS HAPPEN THAT WAY 11- JUST, A CLOSER WALK WITH THEE 12- BLUE YODEL 13- BLUE YODEL #5 ~THE JOHNNY CASH SHOW:~ 05-01-69 14- I THREW IT ALL AWAY 15- LIVING THE BLUES 16- GIRL, FROM THE NORTH COUNTRY

bob dylan Oh-Mercy

Oh Mercy is the 26th studio album by American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, released in September 1989 by Columbia Records. Produced by Daniel Lanois, it was hailed by critics as a triumph for Dylan, after a string of weaker-reviewed albums. When Dylan went recording Oh Mercy, his career was at a low-point after two poorly received albums (Knocked Out Loaded and Down In The Groove), and the feeling he lost his spark, according to his own memoir Chronicles Volume One. Bob himself thought he lost his voice back in 1987.

Oh Mercy gave Dylan his best chart showing in years. Standout tracks: ‘Where Teardrops Fall’, ‘Ring Them Bells’, ‘Most of the Time’, ‘What Was It You Wanted?’ Tracks recorded but not selected: ‘Dignity’ and ‘Series of Dreams’.

One of Dylan’s most ambitious compositions, “Series of Dreams” is given a tumultuous production from Daniel Lanois. The lyrics are fairly straightforward, giving a literal description of the turmoil encountered by the narrator during a “Series of Dreams.” However, the descriptions quickly unfold into a set of highly evocative verses.

 “Series of Dreams” was his pick for the opening track, but ultimately, the final decision was Dylan’s. Music critic Tim Riley would echo these sentiments, writing that “‘Series of Dreams’ should have been the working title song to Oh Mercy, not a leftover pendant.”

Another outtake, “Dignity“, was one of the first songs written for Oh Mercy. Dylan viewed “Dignity” as a strong contender for the album, and an extensive amount of work was done on it. However, Dylan was dissatisfied with the recorded results, resulting in his decision to omit it.

The two most celebrated outtakes fromOh Mercy’s sessions, Dylan would not only perform “Dignity” and “Series of Dreams” live, he would eventually release them. “Series of Dreams” was the final track on The Bootleg Series Volumes 1–3 (Rare & Unreleased) 1961–1991, and it was later included on 1994’s Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits Volume 3. “Dignity” was performed live during a 1994 appearance on MTV Unplugged, and the same performance was later issued on the accompanying album. A remixed version of “Dignity” featuring new overdubs was released on Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits Volume 3, while the original Lanois production would not see release until the soundtrack album of the television show, Touched by an Angel.

Two more outtakes, “Born In Time” and “God Knows“, were set aside and later re-written and re-recorded for Dylan’s next album, Under the Red Sky. Versions of both songs from the Oh Mercy sessions were also included on The Bootleg Series Vol. 8: Tell Tale Signs. “The Oh Mercy outtake of ‘Born In Time’ was one of those Dylan performances that so surrendered itself to the moment that to decry the lyrical slips would be to mock sincerity itself”, wrote an enamored Heylin.

The songs were haunting, the songwriting excellent and it proved Dylan wasn’t done yet and relaunched his career. It thusly culminated with the success of his turn of the millenium albums, Time Out Of Mind, Love & Theft, and Modern Times. However, although Oh Mercy is a great album, some outtakes are better than the songs who made the cut. This is also the last albums where you can find several outtakes from the sessions only on bootlegs as for now. The sound is crisp, the performances intense, and Lanois production, although echoey, truly matches the songs.

Oh Mercy can perhaps best be thought of as a collaboration between Dylan and producer Daniel Lanois. Lanois, who most recently produced the Neville Brothers’ extraordinary album Yellow Moon, hooked Dylan up with members of the Nevilles’ band — guitarist Brian Stoltz, bassist Tony Hall, drummer Willie Green and percussionist Cyril Neville — and fashioned evocative, atmospheric soundscapes that elicit every nuance of meaning from Dylan’s songs while never overwhelming them. Dylan’s lyric style on Oh Mercy — a plain-spoken directness with rich folkloric and Biblical shadings — finds an ideal setting in the dark, open textures of Lanois’s sonic weave.

The album opens with “Political World”, a song that Dylan described in Chronicles Volume One as a “catalog of troubles…almost an update on ‘With God on Our Side.'” A cranky tirade against the modern world, it begins with the verse, “We live in a political world/Love don’t have any place/We live in a time where men commit crime/And crime don’t have a face”,  which leaves one to argue, which age does this not apply to?.

In regard to “Everything Is Broken”, Dylan wrote, “Danny didn’t have to swamp it up too much, it was already swamped up pretty good when it came to him. Critics usually didn’t like a song like this coming out of me because it didn’t seem to be autobiographical. Maybe not, “Everything Is Broken,” is a rollicking catalog of psychic dislocation but the stuff I write does come from an autobiographical place.” A propulsive, riff-driven number, it was the first single issued from Oh Mercy

“Ring Them Bells” is one of the more celebrated tracks on Oh Mercy, and also where Lanois’s production is at its most subtle and restrained. The song features some spiritual overtones, invoking St. Peter, St. Catherine and a “Sweet Martha” who may or may not be the biblical Martha. It opens with the verse, “Ring them bells ye heathen/From the city that dreams/Ring them bells from the sanctuaries/’Cross the valleys and streams.”

“Ring Them Bells” may be the only song on the album that was released with its live vocals intact.

“One of my favorites is ‘Man in the Long Black Coat,’ which was written in the studio, and recorded in one take”, recalls Lanois. Praised by author Clinton Heylin as a “powerful reinterpretation of The Daemon Lover motif”, “Man in the Long Black Coat” also contains some prominent use of apocalyptic imagery, evoking a place where the “water is high” and “tree trunks uprooted”. In his own assessment of “Man in the Long Black Coat”, Dylan wrote that “in some kind of weird way, I thought of it as my ‘I Walk the Line,’ a song I’d always considered to be up there at the top, one of the most mysterious and revolutionary of all time, a song that makes an attack on your most vulnerable spots, sharp words from a master”.

The second half of Oh Mercy is notable for its sustained moodiness and resignation, often in relation to romantic dissolution. This is immediately apparent on the atmospheric “Most of the Time”, which features the richest production on the album. the narrator in “Most of the Time” sings of an estranged lover whom the narrator can’t quite shake from his memories. The song addresses an irreconcilable, personal relationship, and this theme would continue through “What Good Am I?”, a frank look at the narrator’s moral worth, and “What Was It You Wanted”.

Though he is still uncertain of its origins, in his autobiography Dylan does write that “Disease of Conceit” may have been inspired by the defrocking of Jimmy Swaggart. Lou Reed selected this song as one of his ‘picks of 1989’.

The album closes with “Shooting Star”.

While recovering from a hand injury in December 1987, Dylan wrote “Political World”, his first new song in a long time. According to his autobiography, the lyrics for “Political World” came to him spontaneously and were easy to write; though no melody was composed, he came up with 20 verses.

The onset of inspiration did not stop there. Days later (during the first week of 1988), he wrote verses for a second song, “What Good Am I?”, over the course of one evening. The next day, he wrote another called “Dignity”. Unlike his previous two songs, “Dignity” was written with the rhythm, tempo, and melody all in Dylan’s head. Completed over the course of an afternoon and evening, Dylan composed the song after hearing of Pete Maravich‘s death.

Over the next month or so, Dylan composed many more songs (20 by his estimate), including “Everything Is Broken”, “Disease of Conceit”, and “What Was It You Wanted?” Melodies were written for only a few of them. In the meantime, Dylan’s injured hand was healing well; he was encouraged by his doctor to play guitar again. Dylan began playing concerts again soon after his recovery.

Clinton Heylin reports, while promoting The Traveling Wilburys in the fall of 1988, George Harrison discussed some of Dylan’s upcoming work. “Harrison enthused about Dylan’s new songs…informing a skeptical world that the experience of recording the Wilburys had given him the urge to write again.”

Bono, lead singer of U2, paid Dylan a visit at his home. When he asked Dylan if he had written any new songs, Dylan showed him the ones stored in his drawer. Bono urged him to record the songs, but Dylan was reluctant. Dylan said, “Bono…suggested that Daniel [Lanois] could really record them right. Daniel came to see me when we were playing in New Orleans last year and…we hit it off. He had an understanding of what my music was all about. It’s very hard to find a producer that can play…and [still] knows how to record with modern facilities. For me, that was lacking (in) the past.”

 

 

“Most of them [the songs on “Oh Mercy” are stream-of-consciousness songs, the kind that come to you in the middle of the night, when you just want to go back to bed. The harder you try to do something, the more it evades you. These weren’t like that.”
~Bob Dylan (to Edna Gundersen, 21 September 1989)

While it would be unfair to compare ‘Oh Mercy’ to Dylan’s Sixties recordings, it sits well alongside his impressive body of work. Heylin countered this remark, arguing that the Oh Mercy sessions had the songs to compete with Dylan’s most celebrated work. A few of these songs were not issued on the album, but they soon found their way into private circulation where they acquired a strong reputation among critics and collectors.
~Clinton Heylin (Behind The Shades)

In 1989, Bob Dylan released Oh Mercy, his twenty-sixth studio album. Watch the official music video of “Most of the Time” now.

Track listing:

  1. “Political World” – 3:43
  2. “Where Teardrops Fall” – 2:30
  3. “Everything Is Broken” – 3:12
  4. “Ring Them Bells” – 3:00
  5. “Man in the Long Black Coat” – 4:30
  6. “Most of the Time” – 5:02
  7. “What Good Am I?” – 4:45
  8. “Disease of Conceit” – 3:41
  9. “What Was It You Wanted” – 5:02
  10. “Shooting Star” – 3:12

Fresh off a two-record stint with Asylum, Bob Dylan returned to Columbia Records in 1975 with one of the most acclaimed records of his career.  Blood on the Tracks found Dylan reinvigorating the “confessional” singer-songwriter genre, even as he repeatedly insisted that the album’s songs had no relation to his own life and then-recent marital turmoil.  Whatever the truth, Blood on the Tracks was painfully raw, vulnerable, and altogether exquisite, boasting such all-time classic compositions as “Tangled Up in Blue,” “Simple Twist of Fate,” and “Shelter from the Storm.”   The making of the album was anything but smooth, however – and now, the full story can be told on the fourteenth volume of Dylan’s long-running Bootleg Series More Blood, More Tracks will be available on November 2nd as a 6-CD box set or 2-LP/1-CD highlights editions, chronicling the album’s original New York sessions and subsequent Minnesota rebirth via all of the extant session material including 75 previously unreleased tracks.

Dylan began recording at New York’s A&R Studios with producer-engineer Phil Ramone on September 16th, 1974. The first group of musicians including Eric Weissberg and his band, Deliverance, only lasted a couple of days before the artist brought in Paul Griffin on organ and Buddy Cage on steel guitar.  (Tony Brown was retained from Weissberg’s group.)  After ten days and four sessions with this group, Dylan had assembled an entire 10-song album which Columbia took to the test pressing stage in November.  But the restless Dylan had second thoughts.  With a new set of musicians, he entered Minneapolis’ Sound 80 studios in December.  In a couple of days, he re-recorded five of the ten songs, and the raw, stark, and powerful Blood on the Tracks as we know it was finished.

Over the years, session material has trickled out.  Only one of the five tracks from the test pressing, “You’re a Big Girl Now,” has ever been officially reissued.  It appeared on the Biograph box set along with a version of the outtake “Up to Me.”  Subsequently, The Bootleg Series Vols. 1-3featured New York alternate takes of “Tangled Up in Blue,” “Idiot Wind,” and “If You See Her, Say Hello.”  “Call Letter Blues,” an embryonic version of “Meet Me in the Morning,” was also included on that set.  An alternate of “Shelter from the Storm” was released on the Jerry Maguire soundtrack, and in 2012, an alternate “Meet Me in the Morning” appeared as the B-side of “Duquesne Whistle” on a Record Store Day single.  That left “Lily, Rosemary, and the Jack of Hearts” as the only song from the New York sessions which had not been released in any take.

More Blood, More Tracks follows the format of The Bootleg Series Vol. 12: The Cutting Edge 1965-1966 in presenting all of the available studio material in chronological order and so every song is heard in multiple versions.  (Alas, it seems much of the Minnesota session material no longer exists.)  The leadoff “single” is the first take of “If You See Her, Say Hello.”The 6-CD box set boasts a lengthy hardcover book featuring new liner notes as well as high-quality reproductions of pages from Dylan’s original notebooks used during the Blood on the Tracks sessions. A 1-CD or 2-LP version will have one alternate version of each song plus one take of “Up to Me.”

The Bootleg Series Vol. 14: More Blood, More Tracks arrives from Columbia/Legacy on November 2nd.

The earlier album sessions that went down in New York City left many more demos and alternate versions on the cutting room than most anyone outside the innermost Dylan camp imagined.

Disc 1 consists entirely of Dylan alone in the studio, accompanying himself on guitar and harmonica, at the very beginning of the process. None of these appeared on the original album. The second disc is made up of Dylan’s initial band sessions with the group Eric Weissberg & Deliverance, whom he quickly grew dissatisfied with and replaced. Only one of those made the finished album. It’s these two discs that may represent the greatest treasure trove for serious fans.

But the remaining four discs are hardly fool’s gold themselves. Disc 3 finds him continuing to work in New York with a mostly different band that was more to his liking and produced more of the eventual album. On Discs 4 and 5 and the first part of Disc 6, he ditches that band and performs the songs solo once again, or with just a bass player, ending the New York portion of the proceedings as intimately as they started, in the creation of what many consider his most intimate album.

Bob DylanMore Blood, More Tracks: The Bootleg Series Vol. 14(Columbia/Legacy, 2018)

BobDylan_hardrain76

Bob Dylan: Hard Rain US TV Broadcast Version – Full Video (May 23rd, 1976)

42 years ago today (9/13/76), Bob Dylan released his true to late 70’s form live album Hard Rain. The album was recorded during the second leg of the Rolling Thunder Revue and was partly recorded on May 23rd, 1976, during a concert at Hughes Stadium in Fort Collins, Colorado. The concert was also filmed and later broadcast by NBC as a one-hour television special in September. The Rolling Thunder tour is most distinguishable by the white face paint Dylan wore and that he chose to play a series of small venues with a revolving cast of musicians that included  Joan Baez, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott and Roger McGuinn. Watch Dylan perform “One More Cup of Coffee” from the Rolling Thunder Revue tour live in ’75.

In pouring rain, Bob Dylan plays the open air Hughes Stadium at Colorado State University in Fort Collins. He has elected to film this show to replace the aborted TV special from Clearwater. In the longest set of the tour, there are several highlights, not all appearing in the TV special. … Included in the TV special, although in a most peculiar order, are second encore “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall,” the entire Dylan/Baez set (“Blowin’ in the Wind,” “Railroad Boy,” “Deportees,” and “I Pity the Poor Immigrant”); three songs from the first set (“Maggie’s Farm,” “One Too Many Mornings,” and “Mozambique”); and three from the last set (two tremendously powerful readings of songs from Blood on the Tracks, “Idiot Wind” and “Shelter from the Storm” and a faded “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door”). Despite the storm clouds raging, the crowd appears to be very enthusiastic, even singing “Happy Birthday” for Dylan before the second encore.
~Clinton Heylin (Bob Dylan: A Life in Stolen Moments Day by Day 1941-1995)

Hughes Stadium
Colorado State University
Fort Collins, Colorado
23 May 1976

  • Bob Dylan (guitar & vocal)
  • Scarlet Rivera (violin)
  • T-bone J. Henry Burnett (guitar & piano)
  • Steven Soles (guitar)
  • Mick Ronson (guitar)
  • Bobby Neuwirth (guitar & vocal)
  • Roger McGuinn (guitar & vocal)
  • David Mansfield (steel guitar, mandolin, violin & dobro)
  • Rob Stoner (bass)
  • Howie Wyeth (drums)
  • Gary Burke (percussion)
  • Joan Baez (shared vocal on 2-5)
  1. A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall
  2. Blowin’ In The Wind (Duet with Joan Baez)
  3. Railroad Boy (Duet with Jaon Baez)
  4. Deportees (Plane Wreck At Los Gatos) (Duet wit Joan Baez)
  5. I Pity The Poor Immigrant (Duet with Joan Baez)
  6. Shelter From The Storm
  7. Maggie’s Farm
  8. One Too Many Mornings
  9. Mozambiqu
  10. Idiot Wind
  11. Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door (Edited)

[cover art]

This was a film that covered Bob Dylan on his 1966 European tour backed up by the Hawks that eventually became The Band minus, Levon Helm. The film was to be shown on ABC television but ABC rejected and saying it was “incomprehensible” because Dylan himself was one of the editors and wanted the film to have more of an artistic feel.  It was shot under Dylan’s direction by D. A. Pennebaker, whose groundbreaking documentary Dont Look Back chronicled Dylan’s tour the previous year 1965 British tour.

It was filmed by D.A. Pennebaker who filmed Dylan’s 65′ European tour when he played acoustically called Don’t Look Back. Don’t Look Back is terrific. This film is very disjointed. This is the Dylan period that probably is my favorite. The Hawks are raw and powerful and Dylan was

There are some highlights to this odd film. A spontaneous piano duet with Dylan and Johnny Cash, John Lennon and Bob Dylan very high riding around in a cab, and the famous concert footage from the  infamous Manchester Free Trade Hall concert, wherein an audience  member yells out “Judas” because of Dylan’s conversion to electric music. After the Judas remark, he proceeds to tell Robbie Robertson to play it loud and they kick off in a vicious “Like a Rolling Stone.” My favorite live version of that song. Those folk music fans were harsh.

The film is disjointed and frustrating to watch because some of the songs you want to see and hear are there…but only partly. You will be seeing Dylan performing something and then flash away to something else. Some of the concert footage and film from this ended up in the Martin Scorsese movie No Direction Home…I would recommend No Direction Home to be seen by everyone. Other scenes include Dylan and Robbie Robertson in hotel rooms writing and working through new songs, most of which remain unreleased and unpublished. Among these songs are “I Can’t Leave Her Behind”, which was later covered by Stephen Malkmus for the I’m Not There soundtrack.

Bob was pale and nervous and there is no secret he was doing drugs heavily through this movie. After the tour, Dylan had his motorcycle wreck heard around the world and after he recovered he didn’t tour for years.

The cab ride with John Lennon is historical now. Both of them in sunglasses and Lennon trying to inject humor into the situation and Dylan is ok at first and then starts getting sick as the filming stops. As Dylan shows signs of fatigue, Lennon urges him to get a grip on himself: “Do you suffer from sore eyes, groovy forehead, or curly hair? Take Zimdawn!…Come, come, boy, it’s only a film. Pull yourself together.”

Lennon would later recall in an interview with Rolling Stone that he and Dylan who were “both in shades, and both on fucking junk, and all these freaks around us.

If you are a Dylan fan it’s worth a watch. I’m glad we have “No Direction Home” to see some clear film segments on that tour. Eat The Document has not been officially released but you can get a bootleg of it or watch most of it on youtube.

 Thanks to PowerPop… An Eclectic Collection of Pop Culture

BOB DYLAN – The Drawn Blank Series

Posted: May 26, 2018 in MUSIC
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The wait is finally over! Fourteen limited edition graphics from The Drawn Blank Series 2018 are now available to view and buy online! You can now browse the new collection here bit.ly/Dylan2018

Bob Dylan’s Gospel years inspired and rankled in unequal measure – with the critical brickbats and audience boos often drowning out the strength and beauty of the impassioned musical ministries delivered by Dylan between 1979 and 1981, gathering around him his five-strong chorus of gospel singers, and a crack band that included Little Feet guitarist Fred Tackett, bassist Tim Drummond, Muscle Shoals keyboardist Spooner Oldham and pianist Terry Young, and veteran drummer Jim Keltner. it’s no great mystery that when Bob Dylan seemed to find new faith around 1979, a lot of fans and Dylanologists lost theirs — in him. it seems clearer that another major impetus for him in heading down the path of spirituality had to be the opportunity to tap into the higher power of a great rock-gospel band.

So what were audiences to think when, with the release of 1979’s “Slow Train Coming” album, he sang that he was “Gonna change my way of thinking / Make myself a different set of rules” and preached that “there’s only one authority / And that’s the authority on high”?.

Roots music aficionado that he’s always been, Dylan has long understood the power gospel music has to move and inspire listeners. In turn, Bob Dylan served up some of his most impassioned, electrifying performances with these gospel-steeped songs.

Bob Dylan — Trouble No More — The Bootleg Series Vol. 13/ 1979-1981.” This one spans the so-called “Christian period” of his trio of albums: “Slow Train Coming,” “Saved” (from 1980) and “Shot of Love” (1981).

Slow Train Coming was at least a challenging and engaging album, with much typical imagery and complexity. A stunning gospel version of the title track features in the current hit play Girl from the North Country at the Old Vic theatre. The follow-up album, though, 1980’s Saved was too close to pure gospel, too devotional, and alienated even more fans. Shot of Love in 1981 continued the religious theme to a degree, but it was intermingled with what one might term secular tracks, and there was evidence that Dylan was once again changing course.

Filmed at Toronto’s Massey Hall and in Buffalo, New York, Dylan’s gospel shows have long been a bootlegger’s holy grail, and it was only on last autumn’s Trouble No More boxed set, the latest volume in the official Bootleg Series, that some of that footage finally found official release. Now that hour-long film has made it The nights of religious fervour and impassioned performances. It intersperses up-close and personal studio rehearsals with exceptionally intimate live footage of some of Dylan’s strongest Gospel songs – the likes of “Solid Rock”, “Slow Train”, “When He Returns” and “Precious Angel” – with slightly contrived but absorbing enough “sermons” written by Luc Sante and performed by Michael Shannon, who plays a lean, mean kind of preacher who wouldn’t be out of place in Girl from the North Country, the hit Dylan musical.

A lot of fans abandoned Bob Dylan during his Gospel [de]tours, largely to their own detriment

The subjects for each “sermon” were apparently suggested by Dylan, but it seems the singer had no further part in shaping their texts. A shame. There was a bit of a disconnect between the tone of these spiritual homilies and the music itself, so intimately captured, and so strong and vivid an expression of Dylan’s spiritual journey at the time. It might have made more sense to, say, use Hank Williams’ Luke the Drifter song-sermons. It was material that certainly chimed with Dylan from an early age (“I could listen to the Luke the Drifter record all day and drift away myself, become totally convinced in the goodness of man…” he wrote in Chronicles).

Director/producer Jennifer LeBeau excelled in choosing the strongest musical performances, all of it prefaced by that remarkable rehearsal footage, and closing with an extremely affecting performance of “Abraham, Martin and John” by Dylan and Clydie King, his then-girlfriend and a Gospel singer whose voice sounds like the female voice of an Old Testament God – tearing the air like paper and raising whatever roof it’s under until it hits the ground.

A lot of fans abandoned Dylan during his Gospel [de]tours, largely to their own detriment, but this was a film that put the music’s undeniable power up front, in your face and centre stage. Plenty of people back in 1979 and 1980 were talking up the “end times” and we’re enjoying a new flavour of “end times” right now, aren’t we, in a more solid, indigestible form? In that light, it’s fascinating to see and hear these spiritually impassioned songs performed under “the darkness that will fall from on high” that Dylan felt pressing down on him during those Gospel years. But let’s leave the last word to one of the men who was there, Fred Tackett. Here’s what he thinks of the film: “I was amazed, man. Everything was just so good. They picked the very best songs. Him and Spooner Oldham playing this harmonica and Hammond organ together at the end of ‘What Can I Do for You’… it was just so cool and hip, and Bob Dylan is playing so great. They found the best stuff and put it in this movie.”

In tracks like ‘Solid Rock’, you can feel his heart bursting with religious passion

That force comes through as well in the best tracks of Bob Dylan’s Trouble No More – The Bootleg Series Vol 13 1979-81, the concert chronicle of his much-maligned “Christian” albums. The fiery gospel fervour delivered here benefits a great deal from being live rather than reproduced in the studio. These two discs are dynamite, containing, I am sure, some of the very most stirring moments of Dylan’s gigantic opus. In tracks like “Solid Rock” from San Diego in 1979, you can feel his heart bursting with religious passion, and everyone else – from the tightest of bands to five red-hot back-up singers – possessed by the spirit. This combination of note-perfect excellence and total letting-go can only be good for the soul, Dylan’s own, but for us the audience as well.

The deluxe set from Columbia Records/Legacy Recordings encompasses eight CDs and one DVD with director Jennifer Lebeau’s new documentary, “Trouble No More: A Musical Film.” An abridged two-CD set and a four-LP vinyl version are also available.

The deluxe set comprises 100 tracks: alternate studio versions, rehearsal takes and live performances. Only one has been previously released: “Ye Shall Be Changed,” which appeared on the first installment from 1991, “The Bootleg Series, Vol. 1-3.”

The first two discs of the “Trouble No More” set are drawn from various tour stops from 1979-81, while discs 3 and 4 collect rare versions of songs from the studio albums along with several that didn’t wind up on any of those releases. The fifth and sixth discs contain his full show from April 18th, 1980 in Toronto, while CDs 7 and 8 offer up another full concert from June 27th, 1981 at Earl’s Court in London. (For Dylan completists, the singer-songwriter’s website is offering two additional discs with yet another complete performance, this one from his Nov. 28th, 1979 tour stop in San Diego.)

Discs 1 through 4 are framed smartly, each of the four opening with markedly different renditions of the same song: “Slow Train Coming,” displaying how Dylan’s restless artistry was always in search of the right feel, tempo and attitude for a given song.

An alternate studio take of one of the “Slow Train Coming” album’s higher profile songs, “Gotta Serve Somebody,” features a livelier bounce in the rhythm section of Drummond and drummer Pick Withers, while keyboardist Barry Beckett pushes the song forward with beat-anticipating piano interlaced with funky clavinet parts. The backing gospel singers on the released version are absent.

The fidelity of the live versions varies noticeably in places, which makes for some compromises. The performance of “Man Gave Names to All the Animals” on the first disc, recorded in 1980 in Portland, Ore., benefits from a more fluid reggae-ized lilt by the band, and is buoyed further by a break where the gospel singers are featured.

But Dylan’s vocal is low in the mix, rendering certain lines difficult to discern, especially to anyone not already intimately familiar with his clever roster of creation stories he cooked up for so many critters.

Bob Dylan's 'Trouble No More' examines the gospel years, 1979-81