Posts Tagged ‘Trouble No More’

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

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Sony have announced the November release of a boxed set devoted to archival material from “the gospel years.” The nine-disc set, titled “Trouble No More – The Bootleg Series Vol. 13 / 1979-1981,” features more than 100 previously unreleased live and studio tracks from the three-year period that found Dylan recording and performing almost exclusively Christian material.

While it stands as the most controversial era of Dylan’s career (yes, even more controversial than the deliberately fan-alienating “Self Portrait”), that three-year period has long fascinated the most hardcore faithful, because of the fiery performances Dylan was turning in with one of the best bands he ever assembled in his five-and-a-half-decade career. The patience of the Dylan die-hards has been rewarded with a collection that includes 15 songs he never officially released in any form.

The main attraction of the set, though — available only as part of the CD package, not the download version — is a DVD of a newly assembled film, also called “Trouble No More.” The hour-long movie, which will have its public premiere October. 3rd at the New York Film Festival, screened for a small invited audience Tuesday night at the Sony lot in Culver City. About three-fourths of the film consists of pro-shot videotape of the gospel material being performed at 1980 tour dates. Between the songs, meanwhile, actor Michael Shannon appears in newly shot scenes playing an evangelical preacher and reading freshly scripted sermons, a curious artistic choice that pays off in thematically contextualizing the vintage concert material.

A few excerpts from the audio discs were played for invitees at the Sony gathering, including a walloping live version of “The Groom’s Still Waiting at the Altar” that features Carlos Santana as the guest guitar soloist. There were also A/B excerpts of live tracks to show how radically some of the “Slow Train Coming” songs evolved between the 1979 and ’80 tours, along with cassette recordings from tour rehearsals demonstrating very different arrangements Dylan tried out before ever taking the songs on the road.

The studio track that may generate the most immediate buzz is “Making a Liar Out of Me,” which a member of the Dylan camp described as so rare, it was “never even whispered about” before the September 1980 recording session was discovered recently. (The existence of the song was mentioned in a Clinton Heylin book, and the lyrics are said to be present in the Dylan archive at the University of Tulsa, but it otherwise has escaped any public notice.) There are 11 other studio versions of previously unreleased tunes that have only been heard on live bootlegs, if at all, including “Ain’t Gonna Go to Hell for Anybody,” “Cover Down, Pray Through,” “Thief on the Cross,” “City of Gold,” “Ain’t No Man Righteous, Not One,” “Stand by Faith,” and “Yonder Comes Sin.”

Guitarist Fred Tackett, a mainstay of Dylan’s band through the “Slow Train” and “Saved” tours, was in attendance at Wednesday’s screening, marveling at the 37-year-old footage. “We shot up in Toronto, and we were up two or three days doing it, and it just disappeared,” Tackett said. “Nobody ever heard about it again. Then Monalisa (Young), one of the singers, sent me a link saying there was a new mastered version of it, and I saw that, just the concert footage, but this is the first time I’ve seen the movie. Actually seeing Bob sing the songs, it’s just the best. I could sit here all night and watch it about three times. The mix is beautiful. I just wish Tim Drummond (the bass player, who died in 2015) could have lived to see it,” Tackett added.

You can now preorder ‘Trouble No More – The Bootleg Series Vol. 13 / 1979-1981’ as a Deluxe 9 Disc Box Set, featuring a DVD of never-before-seen footage from Dylan’s 1980 tours.

EXCLUSIVE BONUS 2-CD SET OF THE FULL LIVE SHOW FROM SAN DIEGO, 1979 WHEN YOU PRE-ORDER THE DELUXE 9 DISC BOX SET FROM BOBDYLAN.COM

LIMITED QUANTITIES WHILE STOCKS LAST…

  • 8CD/1DVD Deluxe Edition box set
  • Premieres 100 previously unreleased live and studio recordings including 14 unreleased songs
  • Exclusive DVD of “Trouble No More: A Musical Film,” a new feature-length film incorporating never-before-seen footage from Dylan’s legendary 1980 tours
  • 120 page photo book
  • Extensive liner notes

Release date: 3rd November 2017

Disc 1: Live
1. Slow Train (Nov. 16, 1979)
2. Gotta Serve Somebody (Nov. 15, 1979)
3. I Believe in You (May 16, 1980)
4. When You Gonna Wake Up? (July 9, 1981)
5. When He Returns (Dec. 5, 1979)
6. Man Gave Names to All the Animals (Jan. 16, 1980)
7. Precious Angel (Nov. 16, 1979)
8. Covenant Woman (Nov. 20, 1979)
9. Gonna Change My Way of Thinking (Jan. 31, 1980)
10. Do Right to Me Baby (Do Unto Others) (Jan. 28, 1980)
11. Solid Rock (Nov. 27, 1979)
12. What Can I Do for You? (Nov. 27, 1979)
13. Saved (Jan. 12, 1980)
14. In the Garden (Jan. 27, 1980)

Disc 2: Live
1. Slow Train (June 29, 1981)
2. Ain’t Gonna Go to Hell for Anybody (Unreleased song – Apr. 24, 1980)
3. Gotta Serve Somebody (July 15, 1981)
4. Ain’t No Man Righteous, No Not One (Unreleased song – Nov. 16, 1979)
5. Saving Grace (Nov. 6, 1979)
6. Blessed Is the Name (Unreleased song – Nov. 20, 1979)
7. Solid Rock (Oct. 23, 1981)
8. Are You Ready? (Apr. 30, 1980)
9. Pressing On (Nov. 6, 1979)
10. Shot of Love (July 25, 1981)
11. Dead Man, Dead Man (June 21, 1981)
12. Watered-Down Love (June 12, 1981)
13. In the Summertime (Oct. 21, 1981)
14. The Groom’s Still Waiting at the Altar (Nov. 13, 1980)
15. Caribbean Wind (Nov. 12, 1980)
16. Every Grain of Sand (Nov. 21, 1981)

Disc 3: Rare and Unreleased
1. Slow Train (Soundcheck – Oct. 5, 1978)
2. Do Right to Me Baby (Do Unto Others) (Soundcheck – Dec. 7, 1978)
3. Help Me Understand (Unreleased song – Oct. 5, 1978)
4. Gonna Change My Way of Thinking (Rehearsal – Oct. 2, 1979)
5. Gotta Serve Somebody (Outtake – May 4, 1979)
6. When He Returns (Outtake – May 4, 1979)
7. Ain’t No Man Righteous, No Not One (Unreleased song – May 1, 1979)
8. Trouble in Mind (Outtake – April 30, 1979)
9. Ye Shall Be Changed (Outtake – May 2, 1979)
10. Covenant Woman (Outtake – February 11, 1980)
11. Stand by Faith (Unreleased song – Sept. 26, 1979)
12. I Will Love Him (Unreleased song -Apr. 19, 1980)
13. Jesus Is the One (Unreleased song – Jul. 17, 1981)
14. City of Gold (Unreleased song – Nov. 22, 1980)
15. Thief on the Cross (Unreleased song – Nov. 10, 1981)
16. Pressing On (Outtake – Feb. 13, 1980)

Disc 4: Rare and Unreleased
1. Slow Train (Rehearsal – Oct. 2, 1979)
2. Gotta Serve Somebody (Rehearsal – Oct. 9, 1979)
3. Making a Liar Out of Me (Unreleased song – Sept. 26, 1980)
4. Yonder Comes Sin (Unreleased song – Oct. 1, 1980)
5. Radio Spot January 1980, Portland, OR show
6. Cover Down, Pray Through (Unreleased song – May 1, 1980)
7. Rise Again (Unreleased song – Oct. 16, 1980)
8. Ain’t Gonna Go to Hell for Anybody (Unreleased song – Dec. 2, 1980)
9. The Groom’s Still Waiting at the Altar (Outtake – May 1, 1981)
10. Caribbean Wind (Rehearsal – Sept. 23, 1980)
11. You Changed My Life (Outtake – April 23, 1981)
12. Shot of Love (Outtake – March 25, 1981)
13. Watered-Down Love (Outtake – May 15, 1981)
14. Dead Man, Dead Man (Outtake – April 24, 1981)
15. Every Grain of Sand (Rehearsal – Sept. 26, 1980)

Disc 5: Live in Toronto 1980
1. Gotta Serve Somebody (April 18, 1980)
2. I Believe In You (April 18, 1980)
3. Covenant Woman (April 19, 1980)
4. When You Gonna Wake Up? (April 18, 1980)
5. When He Returns (April 20, 1980)
6. Ain’t Gonna Go To Hell For Anybody (Unreleased song – April 18, 1980)
7. Cover Down, Pray Through (Unreleased song – April 19, 1980)
8. Man Gave Names To All The Animals (April 19, 1980)
9. Precious Angel (April 19, 1980)

Disc 6: Live in Toronto 1980
1. Slow Train (April 18, 1980)
2. Do Right To Me Baby (Do Unto Others) (April 20, 1980)
3. Solid Rock (April 20, 1980)
4. Saving Grace (April 18, 1980)
5. What Can I Do For You? (April 19, 1980)
6. In The Garden (April 20, 1980)
7. Band Introductions (April 19, 1980)
8. Are You Ready? (April 19, 1980)
9. Pressing On (April 18, 1980)

Disc 7: Live in Earl’s Court, London – June 27, 1981
1. Gotta Serve Somebody
2. I Believe In You
3. Like A Rolling Stone
4. Man Gave Names To All The Animals
5. Maggie’s Farm
6. I Don’t Believe You
7. Dead Man, Dead Man
8. Girl From The North Country
9. Ballad Of A Thin Man

Disc 8: Live in Earl’s Court – London – June 27, 1981
1. Slow Train
2. Let’s Begin
3. Lenny Bruce
4. Mr. Tambourine Man 5. Solid Rock
6. Just Like A Woman
7. Watered-Down Love
8. Forever Young
9. When You Gonna Wake Up
10. In The Garden
11. Band Introductions
12. Blowin’ In The Wind
13. It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue
14. Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door

Disc 9: Bonus DVD
Trouble No More – A Musical Film

DVD EXTRAS:
– Shot of Love
– Cover Down, Pray Through
– Jesus Met the Woman at the Well (Alternate version)
– Ain’t Gonna Go to Hell for Anybody (Complete version)
– Precious Angel (Complete version)
– Slow Train (Complete version)Trouble No More: The Bootleg Series Vol. 13 (1979-1981) - 2CD