Tag Archives: Bob Dylan

When was Blonde on Blonde released? Nobody knows.

Fifty years is not ancient history. And yet mysteries are still possible.

Earlier this week everybody celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the release of two groundbreaking albums: the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds and Bob Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde. Both of them are masterpieces but only one of them was released on May 16, 1966.

Why is there confusion around the release date of Blonde on Blonde? Aren’t these things documented? Especially for an artist with the stature and scrutiny of Bob Dylan! Of course they are, but sometimes we don’t have immediate access to everything.

But we do have enough information to definitively rule out the idea that Blonde on Blonde came out on the same day as Pet Sounds.

On Monday morning when I checked my twitter and started seeing people celebrating this milestone, I wondered how many people were fans of both albums at the time. Can you imagine going into the record store and seeing those two albums side by side on the new release shelf? But in 1966, were the Beach Boys loved by the same people who loved Bob Dylan? It’s a fascinating question but there weren’t many publications at the time that took rock and roll very seriously, so it’s hard to find any contemporary comparisons. Rolling Stone wouldn’t publish its first issue for another year and a half (November 1967).

I busted out my trusty edition of Joel Whitburn’s Top Pop Albums to see how the two albums sold and was surprised that while Pet Sounds debuted on Billboard’s Top LPs chart on May 28, Blonde on Blonde didn’t bow on the chart until July 23. That seemed odd since Dylan was coming off a hit single with “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35.” His new album couldn’t have been that much of a sleeper, could it?

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Five from the Archive: Tedeschi Trucks Band in 2015

It’s been a few years since the last Five from the Archive post, but we haven’t lost touch with the Live Music Archive.  It just keeps growing and getting better. So we’re bringing Five from the Archive back. To start, we’ll be focusing on my favorite form of musical flattery – covers – from a few different bands. For our first go around, it’s the Tedeschi Trucks Band. Tedeschi Trucks became a band when Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks (now married) merged their bands together a few years ago. They are huge on the festival circuit, and growing more popular each year. They do extensive touring, and are currently on their Wheels of Soul Summer Tour, with Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings opening up.

As a band, Tedeschi Trucks is like an old school soul revue meets the Allman Brothers. They’ve got two guitar players (Tedeschi and Trucks), two drummers, a keyboard player, a bass player, plus two back up vocalists and a horn section. A big band that knows how to occupy (and not occupy) the open spaces in a song. They’ve released two of their own albums, and they do a good number of covers. Today we’re highlighting five of the covers they’ve played so far in 2015.

1.  Tedeschi Trucks Band – “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright”. A classic Dylan song. From The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, it’s just Bob and his guitar, but here it becomes a soulful big band ballad in the hands of Tedeschi Trucks. There are great flute and trumpet solos in there, too. Full show: Tedeschi Trucks Band – January 17, 2015 at Vinoy Park in St. Petersburg, Fl.

2. Tedeschi Trucks Band – “Oh! You Pretty Things”. A surprise but welcome choice, and a great cover. This is old school David Bowie, going back to the early 70s and Hunky Dory. It’s mostly just him and the piano on the album, and so it is here – mostly Tedeschi’s vocals and a spare piano accompaniment, that builds to the full band as the song progresses. People have no idea what song they’re playing. I love it. Full Show: Tedeschi Trucks Band – January 18, 2015 at Mizner Park in Boca Raton, Fl.

3. Tedeschi Trucks Band – “Space Captain”. “Space Captain” is practically a standard for Tedeschi Trucks now. It’s a frequent encore selection. It originally comes from Joe Cocker’s Mad Dogs and Englishman record. Full Show: Tedeschi Trucks Band – February 21, 2015 at Warner Theatre in Washington D.C.

4. Tedeschi Trucks Band – “Living Loving Maid -> What Is And What Should Never Be  -> The Storm”. OK, I’ll admit, this one is a bit of a stretch as a full fledged cover. It’s not. The band plays around with the riffs from the two Led Zeppelin songs for a few minutes, but the rest of the clip is their original “The Storm” from Made Up Mind. It’s a solid jam, though. Full show: Tedeschi Trucks Band – April 17, 2015 at Santander Performing Arts Center in Reading, PA.

5. Tedeschi Trucks Band – “I’ve Got A Feeling”. Here’s an example of where the background vocalists get elevated to lead vocal. They both add so much depth to the band’s sound. This version of The Beatles “I’ve Got A Feeling” highlights some of that added depth. Full show: Tedeschi Trucks Band – May 18, 2015 at Central Park Summer Stage.

Not a bad collection of covers, and we’re not even halfway through 2015 yet. I’m going to see these guys again this summer, this time at Meadow Brook Music Festival. Can’t wait to see them and Sharon Jones.

Find more of Mike’s work at MVP Presents. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

[Ed. Note: Image from Wikimedia Commons, courtesy of Michael F. O’Brien]

A Glorious Noise Guide to Bob Dylan

Bob-Dylan-1966-barry-feinstein

I have a favorite era of Dylan, and it’s short: 1965-66. There’s stuff he did before and after that I like a lot, but the bulk of my mix comes from those two years. And I’ll defend that decision to the death; feel free to make your own Dylan playlist that represents his career more thoroughly. These are songs that I love, songs that showcase my favorite themes of Dylan’s catalog: aching love songs, bitter breakup songs, country-fried rock songs with trippy wordplay. That’s my bag.

There aren’t any “protest” songs here (Dylan dismissed them as “finger pointing songs”), but there’s still plenty of finger pointing. Instead of obvious targets such as warmongers and segregationists, my favorite Dylan songs take aim at his fellow Baby Boomers for being a bunch of pretentious phonies. He was prescient like that.

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Bob Dylan – The Original Mono Recordings

Bob Dylan - The Original Mono RecordingsBob DylanThe Original Mono Recordings (Columbia/Legacy)

Cynics will note that there is virtually no difference performance-wise between the mono recordings of his first eight records for Columbia, so why bother? They will then point to the success of the Beatles’ mono box as the financial motivation for Sony (Columbia’s owner) to pull a similar move, a clear attempt at getting Dylanophiles to dig deep in their wallets once again.

But what cynics also need to acknowledge is that these eight records are absolutely essential and probably half of them changed the course of rock music. So if you’re going to exploit a legendary artist like Dylan with some fancy, overpriced packaging, at least you’re doing it with material that’s pretty hard to fuck up.

In looking at it from that perspective, if someone who is just beginning their studies of Rock Music 101 were to approach the Dylan catalog for the first time, they may as well fork over the dough all at once for the format presented here.

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Bob Dylan Mono Box and Demos Due This Fall

Bob DylanAccording to information acquired by the Bob Dylan magazine, Isis, there are a couple of interesting Dylan projects coming up: a mono box set and a new volume of the Bootleg Series are coming this fall.

The mono box will be an eight-disc collection of his earliest albums (Bob Dylan, The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, The Times They Are a-Changin’, Another Side of Bob Dylan, Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited, Blonde on Blonde, John Wesley Harding) in their original monaural mixes which have never been released on CD.

Volume 9 of Dylan’s Bootleg Series will be a 47-song collection of his “Witmark Demos” and “Leeds Demos” that he recorded for his publisher between 1962 and 1964. Some of these were previously released on The Bootleg Series Volumes 1-3.

Bob Dylan: iTunes, Amazon, Insound, wiki

Bob Dylan – Christmas In The Heart

Bob Dylan - Christmas In The HeartBob DylanChristmas In The Heart (Sony)

You will get no bigger supporter of Bob Dylan‘s vocal talent than from me. In fact, I use it as a litmus test for someone’s rock and roll IQ. His voice—regardless of the era—remains one of music’s finest interpreters, its phrasing a huge influence on vocalists even while challenging the notion of what constitutes a beautiful sounding voice.

So imagine how hard it is for me to admit that the main problem with Christmas In The Heart has nothing to do with the idea of Dylan considering an entire album of holiday material, or even with the decision to keep the arrangements close to tradition. No, the problem with Christmas In The Heart is that it sounds like it’s voiced by an inebriated uncle who just happens to be sitting on a large fortune and, because of risking a huge inheritance loss from offending him, no one has the good sense of telling Uncle Bob to sit these numbers out.

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Five from the Archive: Weir Does Dylan

WeirBob Dylan is arguably the greatest modern songwriter, and certainly the most influential. People all over the musical spectrum cover his songs. But there a special few who specialize in covering Dylan. For me, Jerry Garcia has always been the premiere Dylan interpreter. If you don’t believe me – or if you do – you should check out the Garcia Plays Dylan collection. Particularly the “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door.”

But now I have to say that Jerry’s old partner in crime, Bob Weir, is giving Jerry a run for his money these days. Bobby has always been adept with the occasional Dylan cover, but he and RatDog have really embraced it. They play a Dylan cover at well over half their shows.

Below are five of the best from the 2009 RatDog shows available in the Live Music Archive.

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22 Year Old Cop Unaware She Has Bob Dylan in Custody

In GLONO’s early days we had an argument about whether it was possible that a 20-something year old intern could possibly not know who either Kurt Cobain or Mick Jagger were. Never mind the fact that neither had been burning up the charts in recent years, how does someone not know cultural icons like these at least by name and reputation?

That dope has just been vindicated.

The Beast reports that none other than Bob Dylan was picked up by a NJ cop who had no idea who he was, even after he told her and showed identification verifying his story.

On the 40th anniversary of Woodstock, Bob Dylan just wanted to go for a stroll in Long Branch, New Jersey’s Latin quarter when someone called the cops about a “scruffy old man acting suspiciously.” Unfortunately, the wrong cop arrived at the scene; a 22-year-old who had no idea who the legendary singer-songwriter was. Apparently, Dylan was unable to allay the cop’s suspicions, and she drove him back to his hotel to confirm his identity. Upon examining his documents, the cop reported back to headquarters with one question: “Who is Bob Dylan?”

While I think it’s justifiable to question Dylan because he is nothing if not a “scruffy old man acting suspiciously,” but to then not even have that name ring a bell upon hearing it? New Jersey’s finest, indeed!

Rothbury 2009

Rothbury 2009Writing a summary of Rothbury is kind of like explaining the Lord of the Rings trilogy to my 4-year-old daughter. I can give her a broad overview of some of the plot points and make some specific comments about some of the characters, but there’s just no way she’s going to understand without so much extra exposition that it’s pointless to even make the attempt. Not to mention that there’s just some stuff you’re not going to go into regardless.

That said, let’s delve into just a few details that should help set the Rothbury scene:

1. Rothbury is dirty in every way imaginable. (Not to mention literally; showers cost $10.)

2. Everyone is getting fucked up pretty much all the time.

3. I don’t know how you could have more fun at a concert — I never have.

To put that last point in perspective, consider that I am 36 years old and have been to well over 100 big-name touring act shows in the past 23 years since my first (Springsteen). I can’t even begin to estimate how many bar shows I’ve attended in that time. I have seen damn near every classic rock icon, plenty of indie rock, lots of metal shows, and even a handful of legendary jazz artists. So for Rothbury to compare this well to my better-with-age memories of Lollapalooza 2, Clash of the Titans, or some of the old-school Pine Knob shows when nobody cared what you brought in to the show, well, that’s saying something.

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Bob Dylan – Together Through Life

Bob Dylan - Together Through LifeBob DylanTogether Through Life (Columbia)

The worst Bob Dylan album of all time is the one in which he joined up with the Grateful Dead for the Dylan & the Dead release. Twenty years after that disastrous merging, Dylan again looks to the Dead camp and calls up lyricist Robert Hunter to help out with album 33, and not just on a few cuts, but nearly every single one on Together Through Life. It’s an album that may not challenge Dylan & the Dead in terms of sheer blandness, but it comes close and it certainly knocks the wind out of Dylan’s late career winning streak.

Aside from a few unique forays into “Tex-Mex,” there’s little intrigue to be had at all, with everything sounding very much the age of Dylan himself and with none of the lyrics providing any insight to Zimmy’s mindset as he approaches 70. Instead, everything sounds like it was put together in haste with Dylan’s words taking shape as an afterthought.

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