The Genuine Supper Club Soundboards
Several months ago (And It Ain’t) In The Seats Of A Supper Club on the Liberator label made the astounding release of excellent quality recordings of two of Bob Dylan’s four club dates. Although they are called soundboard releases, they sound more like professionally mixed multi-track recordings that sound better than many official releases.
The clarity and balance between the instruments and voice are impressive and the audience reactions to the events on stage are also captured very well. These tapes have quickly become the definitive aural statement of Dylan’s early nineties work. Many collectors loudly complained about the Liberator release because of the click and gaps between tracks. The Genuine Supper Club Soundboards is the second attempt to present these recordings.
The sound quality on these three discs is the same as on the Liberator with the same stunning clarity, but the flaws are not present giving a pristine presentation of these important tapes. Since all four of these sets are also documented by excellent DAT audience recordings, these are the among the most meticulously detailed Dylan concerts.
It seems to be an axiom that the late eighties and early nineties were a dark period, but this can only apply to his marketability which for many sixties and seventies artists wasn’t very good. But these tapes reveal further stretches of artistic imagination and interpretive genius of not only resurrecting obscure blues and folk songs, but of his own material. It does sometimes sound as if his vocals are overemphasizing an American accent with brutal stresses on the final consonants, but on the whole it is what one expects from him.
The Genuine Supper Club Soundboards: 16 November 1993 – First Show (SC-BD-93-1)
The Supper Club, New York, NY – November 16, 1993 (first show)
Absolutely Sweet Marie, Lay Lady Lay, Blood In My Eyes, Queen Jane Approximately, Tight Connection To My Heart, Disease Of Conceit, I Want You, Ring Them Bells, My Back Pages, Forever Young
The first disc contains the complete first of the four on November 16. The first release of any part of this soundboard tape was “Ring Them Bells” on The Supper Club (Thinman-31/32/33/34) as a bonus track to the complete excellent audience recording. The first release of the entire set from this source is found on (And It Ain’t) In The Seats Of A Supper Club (Liberator).
The sound quality on this release is in identical. There is a small cut in the tape after “Lay Lady Lay” but is otherwise flawless. This set has the first live version of his arrangement of the traditional tune “Blood In My Eyes” which was released on World Gone Wrong. This also marks the debut of acoustic “unplugged” versions of “Absolutely Sweet Marie,” “Lay Lady Lay,” “Queen Jane Approximately,” “Tight Connection To My Heart,” “Disease Of Conceit,” and “I Want You.”
The audience sounds somewhat sedate during this set. A story circulates that the management asked the crowd to be quiet, but this lead Dylan to believe the audience were not responding to the performance. They become more vocal in the other three concerts.
The set list places emphasis upon the new album World Gone Wrong released three weeks prior and some of the songs are absolutely gorgeous. “Tight Connection To My Heart” is an early hightlight. Stripped of the mid eighties production, this unplugged arrangement displays the song’s pristine beauty. It is a shame the song has not been performed since. “Ring Them Bells” from Oh Mercy is likewise beautiful. The set ends with “Forever Young” in the same arrangement he would employ two nights later on Late Night With David Letterman.
The Genuine Supper Club Soundboards: 16 November 1993 – Second Show (SC-BD-93-2)
The Supper Club, New York, NY – November 16, 1993 (second show)
Ragged & Dirty, Lay Lady Lay, I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight, Queen Jane Approximately, Jack-A-Roe, One Too Many Mornings, I Want You, Ring Them Bells, My Back Pages, Forever Young. Bonus tracks, November 17, 1993 – second show: Ragged & Dirty, One More Cup Of Coffee, I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight
The second disc contains the complete November 16 late show. The soundboard first surfaced in 2002 and was released on Is This What You Want? (Filou Flu-0012) and Supper Club (Rattlesnake 121). Two tracks, “One Too Many Mornings” and “My Back Pages” are on (And It Ain’t) In The Seats Of A Supper Club (Liberator) and part of “One Too Many Mornings” was released on Highway 61 Interactive (Columbia/Graphix Zone CDAC 085700) in 1995.
The Genuine Supper Club Soundboards: 16 November 1993 – Second Show (SC-BD-93-2) is in the same mind blowing sound quality as the other discs and is a categorical improvement over both Filou and Rattlesnake. This set has the live debuts of “Ragged And Dirty” and “Jack-A-Roe” and includes a similar set to the early show. “I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight,” “Queen Jane Approximately,” and “One Too Many Mornings” are added to the set. This disc contains three bonus tracks from the November 17 early show, “Ragged & Dirty,” “One More Cup Of Coffee,” and “I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight” which are also found on Liberator.
The Genuine Supper Club Soundboards: 17 November 1993 – Second Show (SC-BD-93-3)
The Supper Club, New York, NY – November 17, 1993 (second show)
Ragged & Dirty, Lay Lady Lay, Tight Connection To My Heart, Weeping Willow, Delia, Jim Jones, Queen Jane Approximately, Ring Them Bells, Jack-A-Roe, Forever Young, I Shall Be Released
The third disc contains the complete November 17 late show, the fourth and final Supper Club show. This tape was used on disc two of (And It Ain’t) In The Seats Of A Supper Club (Liberator). Like the others it is a pristine multi-track recording. Of the four sets this one is the most adventurous both in terms of performance and set list.
It contains the first performances of “Weeping Willow,” the unplugged versions of “Delia” and “I Shall Be Released,” and the only performance of “Jim Jones” in these four. This is by far the most impressive performance of the three and if one had to choose only one, it should be this. “Lay Lady Lay” is the most impassioned in these shows and the audience becomes very vocal about halfway through. “Weeping Willow” has an emotional starkness and immediacy which is rare even for Dylan.
“Jack-A-Roe” is a great country romp and the backing band are extremely tight on this and all of the performances. Bythe time he sings “Forever Young” and “I Shall Be Released” the crowd are putty in his hands. Each of the discs is issued separately in a standard jewel case. The inserts are printed on high quality glossy paper, but the photos on the three are identical and the graphic design is very similar to the Liberator release.
Since collectors will want all three, it may have been better to issue all three together in one set. But the bottom line is the Supper Club shows are an essential piece of the collection and these titles stand as definitive for now. Hopefully the entire November 17 early show will surface someday giving collectors all four sets in the best available sound quality.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)