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Bob Dylan – Wear The Fox Hat (Rattlesnake RS 172/173)

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Wear The Fox Hat (Rattlesnake RS 172/173)

Fox Warfield Theater, San Francisco, CA – November 16th, 1980

Disc 1 (58:30):  Got My Ticket, It’s Gonna Rain, Come On In This House, Saved By The Grace Of Your Love, Gotta Serve Somebody, I Believe In You, Like A Rolling Stone, ‘Till I Get It Right, Man Gave Names To All The Animals, To Ramona, Ain’t Gonna Go To Hell For Anybody, Girl Of The North Country, Slow Train

Disc 2 (64:35):  Walkin’ Round Heaven All Day, Abraham Martin And John, Let’s Keep It Between Us, Mary From The Wild Moor, Covenant Woman, Solid Rock, Just Like A Woman, Señor (Tales Of Yankee Power), Simple Twist Of Faith, The Groom’s Still Waiting At The Altar, When You Gonna Wake Up?, In The Garden, Blowin’ In The Wind, City Of Gold, It’s All Over Now Baby Blue

The twelve San Francisco shows in the 1980 “Musical Retrospective” tour have ascended into an important place in Bob Dylan mythology.  By reintroducing some of the older classics into the gospel repertoire, he acknowledged the worth of his songs predating his conversion to faith in Christ and the documents from this era are important because the late seventies to early eighties are one of his most fecund periods of profundity.  The November 16 Fox Warfield show occurs right in the middle of the residency and is notable for being Dylan’s first live collaboration with The Greatful Dead’s Jerry Garcia.  A ten song fragment of the soundboard surfaced soon afterwards with “Gotta Serve Somebody,” “I Believe In You,” “Like A Rolling Stone,” “Man Gave Names To All The Animals,” “To Ramona,” “Let’s Keep It Between Us,” “Covenant Woman,” “Señor,” “Simple Twist Of Fate,” and “Groom’s Still Waiting At The Altar.”

The tape first appeared in 1983 on the German vinyl release Live Adventures of Bob Dylan and Jerry Garcia (Swingin’ Pig TSP 016).  This was copied four years later again on vinyl as Let’s Keep It Between Us (CV 7209 A-1/B) and copied on compact disc on Keep In Touch With The Antichrist (American Concert Series ACS 032), Deep Blue Sea (International Broadcast 2505), Duets (Rock Calendar 2119/20) and Go Ahead With A Dead (Raid 91074).  A longer source was used for Bob And Jerry (BAJ 1 BD01-1/2/3), a three disc set from Japan released in 1995 presenting the first and last time Dylan played with Garcia on stage.  It includes most of this show along with a recording from the June 25th, 1995 concert at RFK Stadium in Washington DC.

Rattlesnake released Wear The Fox Hat in 2004 and gave the silver pressed debut of the almost complete show from the soundboard including the non-Dylan gospel numbers.  Four songs, “Ain’t Gonna Go To Hell For Anybody,” “Girl Of The North Country,” “Slow Train,” and “In The Garden” are still unaccounted for so the label edited in a very good audience recording to produce the complete concert for the first time on disc.  Cut after “Saved By The Grace Of Your Love” and several other songs and there is an unfortunate cut forty-nine seconds into “When You Gonna Wake Up?” eliminating the first part of the chorus.

The show begins with four songs comprising a short “gospel” set, sung by Clydie King, Carolyn Dennis, and Regina Havis with Willie Smith on the piano.  The only other instrument are tambourines played by the women.  The beauty is in the simplicity, for it recalls the social hall in the local church building during a potluck dinner complete with tuna casserole and green jell-o.  The soundboard cuts in some seconds into the first gospel song “Got My Ticket.”  “It’s Gonna Rain” (aka “Fire Next Time”) brings the requisite fire and brimstone and the opening set ends with “Saved By The Grace Of Your Love,” an original written and sung by Willie Smith on piano.

When Dylan comes on stage he plays a three song set with “Gotta Serve Somebody,” “I Believe In You” and “Like A Rolling Stone” before taking a pause, saying “Thank you. We’re gonna slow it down some right now. Mrs. Regina McCreary, gonna sing ‘Keep On Falling In Love Till I Get It Right.'”

Someone lets out a shout when, in the following song “Man Gave Names To All The Animals,” Dylan gets to the end, mentioning the snake.  Afterwards he says, “Thank you. Well, I don’t know exactly what to say here. Different peoples been coming down to the theater every night so far. And this night is no exception I guess. Anyway this is, keep … here’s a young man I know you know who he is. I’ve played with him a few times before. I’m a great admirer and fan of his and support his group all the way.  Jerry Garcia. He’s gonna play with us, key of C.”  Garcia adds his recognizable licks to “To Ramona” and to each of the songs he plays on including “Ain’t Gonna Go To Hell For Anybody,” “Girl From The North Country” and “Slow Train.”

“Ain’t Gonna Go To Hell For Anybody” is a fast paced rocking tune that still has not been released.  When it debuted on the spring tour it began with the backup singers repeating the title, but by the fall an electric guitar riff was the new opening.  The lyrics also had changed to being a vague, expressionistic story about two lovers.  This is a song very much in transition which never, as far as we know, was never completed.  Garcia adds haunting guitar melodies in “Girl Of The North Country” and after “Slow Train” Clydie King sings her solo spot, “Walking Around Heaven All Day.”

Dylan plays the piano on “Abraham Martin And John” and “Can We Keep It Between Us.”  The latter is an unreleased blues and this performance in very good stereo soundboard quality could be considered definitive in lieu of a polished studio recording.  Referring to the “return to the classics,” Dylan slyly notes “alot of people ask me about old songs and new songs. This is a real old song. This song is so old, I’d say it’s about 200 years old. A song I used to sing before I wrote any songs. Anyway, it’s one of those tragic love ballads.”  Dylan and Havis share the vocals while Fred Tackett plays mandolin accompaniment on this old Scottish ballad. 

“Covenant Woman” and “Solid Rock,” two newer songs from Saved which had been in the set list since the gospel tours started, sound tight but lack the enthusiasm they had in 1979 and earlier in 1980.  They sound almost rote and mechanical compared to “Just Like A Woman.”  Beforehand Dylan tells an obscure story, saying, “When I was standing out backstage, and this guy came up to me, he said ‘You remember that woman that came up to you about an hour ago with the long red hair?’ And I said, ‘Yeah I remember that woman.’ And he said, ‘She sure was beautiful, wasn’t she?’ And I said, ‘Yes, she was all right.’ He said ‘That was me.'”

“Señor (Tales Of Yankee Power)” contains the “I ain’t slept in three days” lyric and “Simple Twist Of Fate” is augmented by a pretty piano line weaving around the well known melody.  “We’re gonna play a new song here in the key of A. This is called ‘The Groom Is Still Waiting At The Altar.'”  One of the better songs to come out of this period, Dylan would do a rare second guess when, after it was not included in the first pressings of Shot Of Love, would be included as a bonus track later on.  The encores include the gospel rearrangement of “Blowin’ In The Wind,” the rare “City Of Gold” and Dylan solo on acoustic for the classic “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue.”  Since this is the only complete edition of the show with an edit of the two sources, Rattlesnake produced what could be the definitive version of this concert.  The packaging is up to the label’s high standard (although the Bob Dylan on the sunglasses is a bit much).   

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Bob Dylan - Wear The Fox Hat (Rattlesnake RS 172/173), 2.6 out of 5 based on 8 ratings

1 Comment

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  1. Profile photo of Stuart
    Stuart says
    November 6, 2009, 12:31 pm

    One of my own personal favorite Dylan shows along with “Birds Nest In Your Hair” from the same era. Bob certainly took on the mantle of his new religion with gusto & this shines out in these shows. One for the “must have” list.

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