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Dr. Bob Dylan – If Your Memory Serves You Well (SC-BD-04-14)

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If Your Memory Serves You Well (SC-BD-04-14)

Disc 1 (73:02) Barrowland Ballroom, Glasgow, Scotland – June 24th, 2004:  Introduction, Drifter’s Escape, I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight, Tweedle Dee And Tweedle Dum, Just Like A Woman, It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding), Girl From The North Country, Most Likely You Go Your Way, Ballad Of A Thin Man, Floater, Highway 61 Revisited, It Ain’t Me Babe

Disc 2 (74:36):  Honest With Me, I Believe In You, Summer Days, Don’t Think Twice, Like A Rolling Stone, All Along The Watchtower.  SECC Hall 4, Glasgow, Scotland – June 23rd, 2004:  Wicked Messenger, Times They Are A-Changin’, Cry A While, Tryin’ To Get To Heaven, Memphis Blues Again, Man In The Long Black Coat

Disc 3 (79:51):  Boots Of Spanish Leather, I Don’t Believe You, Forever Young, Every Grain Of Sand.  Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle, England – June 22nd, 2004:  Seeing The Real You At Last, Tell Me That It Isn’t True, Lonesome Day Blues, Under The Red Sky, Cold Irons Bound, Ring Them Bells, This Wheel’s On Fire, Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll, Bye And Bye

Disc 4 (75:21):  Masters Of War.  Odyssey Arena, Belfast, Ireland – June 26th, 2004:  Maggie’s Farm, Watching The River Flow, Moonlight, Love Sick, Tears Of Rage, Ballad Of Hollis Brown.  Pearse Stadium, Galway, Ireland – June 27th, 2004:  If You See Her Say Hello, If Not For You, The Man In Me, Down Along The Cove, God Knows, Not Dark Yet

If Your Memory Serves You Well is a silver pressed version of the title of the same name released on the CDR Doberman Records.  This contains the compete show in Glasgow, Scotland on June 24th, 2004 along with various other tracks from the UK around the same time.  The Glasgow show is significant since the previous day Bob Dylan accepted an honorary docorate degree from the University of St. Andrews in Edinburgh.  The AP report states:

“Bob Dylan’s lyrics have been taught in universities and debated at academic conferences. Not bad for a college dropout who railed, in ‘Tombstone Blues’ against too much ‘useless and pointless knowledge.  Well, the times they are a-changin’.  Dylan, dressed in a black academic gown, was awarded an honorary doctorate Wednesday by Scotland’s oldest university.  The University of St. Andrews said it was making Dylan, 63, an honorary Doctor of Music in recognition of his ‘outstanding contribution to musical and literary culture.’  ‘Many members of my generation can’t separate a sense of our own identity from his music and lyrics,’ said professor of English Neil Corcoran in an awe-struck address.  Dylan’s fusion of folk, blues, country, rock and poetry, Corcoran said, ‘moved everything on to a place it never expected to go and left the deepest imprint on human consciousness.’

“‘His magnificent songs will last as long as song itself does,’ he added.  Dylan, who received his doctorate alongside Harvard philosopher Hilary Putnam and biologist Cheryll Tickle, arrived 50 minutes into the 90-minute ceremony and did not address the audience of 180 graduating students and their relatives. But his silent – and sometimes yawning – presence onstage brought a strong dose of star power to the university’s wood-paneled Younger Hall.  Dylan sat motionless and showed no reaction as a university choir performed a version of his early classic, ‘Blowin’ in the Wind.’  Founded in 1413, St. Andrews, northeast of Edinburgh, is Britain’s third-oldest university and one of its most prestigious. Its current students include Prince William, second in line to the throne.

“Announcing the honorary degree earlier this month, university chancellor Brian Lang called Dylan ‘an iconic figure for the 20th century, particularly for those of us whose formative years were in the 1960s and ’70s.’  The university also cited Dylan’s long-standing interest in Scottish culture. Corcoran said Scottish folk songs and border ballads influenced his early work, while a later song, ‘Highlands,’ is based on a poem by Robert Burns, Scotland’s national poet.  The musician has many fans among postwar and baby boomer academics. Last month Christopher Ricks, author of the critical analysis ‘Dylan’s Visions of Sin,’ was elected Oxford University’s professor of poetry.  Corcoran said Dylan was ‘a supremely interesting and significant figure in modern culture.  I think he’s akin to Pablo Picasso in many ways – his staying power, his resilience, the metamorphoses of a very long career,’ he told BBC radio.

Dylan, who is touring Britain, is due to play the first of two concerts in Glasgow on Wednesday night.  Dylan has accepted only one previous honorary degree, from Princeton in 1970 – a commencement ceremony memorable in part because of a noisy invasion of cicadas.  Dylan seems to have had mixed feelings about the event, which inspired the song ‘Day of the Locusts':  ‘I put down my robe, picked up my diploma, / Took hold of my sweetheart and away we did drive, / Straight for the hills, the black hills of Dakota, / Sure was glad to get out of there alive.'”

This release contains the complete show at Barrowland in Glasgow the day after Dylan received his degree from University Of St. Andrews.  This is sourced from an excellent quality audience recording capturing all of the details from the stage and the audience sing-a-longs scattered throughout the show.  Although some hoped he would pull out “Day Of The Locusts” for the first live performance, it didn’t appear in the set and what follows is a tight but close to standard set for this tour starting with the most common opener “Drifter’s Escape” with the driving “Crossroads” melody.

The audience transform “Just Like A Woman” into a singalong and do it so well that Dylan stops, smiles (to applause) and let them carry the chorus several times.  “It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)” and “Girl from The North Country” are performed acoustically with the band and Larry plays great fiddle on “Floater (Too Much To Ask).”  “It Ain’t Me, Babe” is also played on acoustic guitar and the audience try another singalong with less success than on “Just Like A Woman.”  “I Believe In You” was played only twelve times in 2004 and is one of the highlights of the set and “Summer Days” closes the show.  In later years the band have been bashing that song over the audience’s heads but it sounds soft in this show.  “Don’t Think Twice It’s All Right” is played acoustic with band as the first encore and “Like A Rolling Stone,” and “All Along The Watchtower” close the evening.

The final six tracks on disc two and the first four songs on disc three are all of the songs performed the previous night at SECC in Glasgow minus the seven songs that were played at the June 24th show at Barrowland sourced from another excellent quality tape.  It has been pointed out that Dylan favored pop sounding arrangements for the classics on this tour.  All of the songs come across very light and gentle, even such insidious numbers as “Wicked Messenger” and “Man In The Long Black Coat.” His voice sounds tender on “Forever Young” and Campbell plays a gorgeous guitar line in “Every Grain Of Sand.”

The next ten songs, comprising the rest of disc two and the first track on disc three, come from the June 22nd, show at the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle.  These are the songs that were played that night that were not included in the previous two shows in this collection including except for “If Not For You.”  The first six songs, from “Seeing The Real You At Last” to “Ring Them Bells,” start off the show.  The sound quality for these tracks are more distant than the Glasgow tapes with a significant level of echo.  Dylan plays a rocking arrangement of the “Seeing The Real You” followed by the Nashville Skyline track “Tell Me That It Isn’t True,” two songs about the discovering of truth about the beloved.  Dylan sings “Under The Red Sky” as a cute nursery rhyme and the song is augmented by a dreamy guitar solo.  “This Wheel’s On Fire,” which of course lends a name to this collection, is followed by “Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll” played acoustic with the band.  “Masters Of War,” the final song from Newcastle and the first track on the fourth disc, is also acoustic with the band.

Six songs are taken from the Odyssey Arena in Belfast on June 26th that were not played at the other shows in this collection sourced from a clear, well-balanced and LOUD tape.  “Maggie’s Farm” and “Watching The River Flow” were the two opening songs of the set.  The former is played in the slick hard rock arrangement and the latter is played in the hard hitting, heavy blues which knocks the chords into the audience’s skulls.  The twee “Moonlight” was the fourth song in the set and the audience by the recorder carry on conversations during the song’s duration.  “Tears Of Rage” is a true rarity, only being performed three times in 2004.

The final six songs in this collection come from the June 27th show at Pearse Stadium in Galway, Ireland.  These tracks come from a clear but flat audience recording lacking in dynamics.  This show also contains many more rarities.  “If You See Her, Say Hello” has only five outings that year, “If Not For You” six performances and “The Man In Me” only one.  The arrangement of “If Not For You” is notable for being transformed from a juvenile plea on New Morning into a rollin’ and tumblin’ rocker.  This excellent collection ends with a dark, brooding version of “Not Dark Yet,” one of Dylan’s greatest latter day classics.  This collection is packaged in fatboy jewel case with thick glossy inserts with a photo from the ceremony at the University of St. Andrews on the front cover.  For those who know the Doberman collection are familiar with how strong this collection is, and this is an excellent silver pressed edition of the same.     

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Dr. Bob Dylan - If Your Memory Serves You Well (SC-BD-04-14), 2.5 out of 5 based on 1 rating

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