Bob Dylan – Angel Of Rain (Rattle Snake RS226)

Angel Of Rain (Rattle Snake RS226)

Beverly Theater, Los Angeles, CA – May 23rd, 1984

(77:11)  Maggie’s Farm, All Along The Watchtower, Just Like A Woman, When You Gonna Wake Up, Shelter From The Storm, Watered-Down Love, Masters Of War, Jokerman, Simple Twist Of Fate, Simple Twist Of Fate, Man Of Peace, I And I, It’s All Over Now Baby Blue, Ballad Of A Thin Man, Heart Of Mine, Highway 61 Revisited / Around And Around, Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat, unidentified instrumental, It’s All Over Now Baby Blue, Angel Of Rain (aka Almost Done), Always On My Mind, Every Grain Of Sand, Girl From The North Country

After the proposed tour of South America fell through, Bob Dylan’s first tour in three years was an arena tour in Europe with Santana and Joan Baez.  This tour has been criticized for its stiff recitation of the classics where he was supported by Mick Taylor on guitar, Ian McLagan on keyboards, Gregg Sutton on bass and Colin Allen on drums.  With the tour opening on May 28th in Verona, they rehearsed for a week at Beverly Theater in Los Angeles for several day.  The rehearsal tape for the final day on May 23rd is presented here in it entirety.  It was used before on the 1987 LP release Majestic Bells of Bolts (MW-02- A/B/C/D), a two LP set with the rehearsal on the first three sides and the fourth side devoted to a two the February 1st, 1964 Canadian TV broadcast of the “Quest” show.  Half of the rehearsal also appeared on Dress Rehearsal (Kornyfone TAKRL 1409) in 1988 and on Underdog Soldier – An Epitaph To America (Mighty White Productions LP).

The only CD release is in 1994 on Dirty Lies (Wanted Man WMM 045/046) where only part of it is featured.  According to the liner notes on Angel Of Rain“This tape was only recently discovered amongst a pile of long lost mater-tapes and it sounds fantastic.  All recorded in superb stereo soundboard quality and digitally fine tuned and remastered by The Snake, this album is now a truly legendary document of a tour rehearsal where this setlist looked much more interesting than the actual touring playlist!  Now that’s what I call a keeper for the burning temples in flames!”  It is a very good to excellent but slightly hissy stereo soundboard recording which is a joy to listen to.

The contents of the tape confirm the assessment that they were not really ready for the stage even after five days of rehearsals.  Dylan in particular sounds uninterested in many of the songs and band seems to struggle to find creative arrangements.  The tape begins with a very short fragment that sounds like Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers before the four-square arrangement of “Maggie’s Farm” followed by a very good run through of “All Along The Watchtower.”  A modified version of “When You Gonna Wake Up?” finds them real hard but listening to this is a sad reminder of how the incidentary versions on the first gospel tour five years before were so much more effective.  The song would appear in only ten shows on the up coming tour.      

“Watered-Down Love” from Shot Of Love is rehearsed but would never appear in any of the shows.  Three songs from the latest album, “Jokerman,” “Man Of Peace” and “I And I” sound much better.  “Man Of Peace,” which would be performed only five times in Europe sounds enticing.  A thirty-second fragment of “It’s All Over Now” precedes the rehearsal of “Ballad Of A Thin Man.”  “Heart Of Mine,” which was written during the Shot Of Love sessions, performed regularly in 1981 but would be officially released in 1985 on Biograph is one of the highlights of the tape.  Dylan gives an enthusiastic reading to the self  meditation and it is unfortunate it would be played only twice on the upcoming tour.

By the ending of the tape they play a ninety-second untitled instrumental lead by guitarist Taylor before their second attempt at “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue” which is followed by the unreleased song “Angel Of Rain.”  Regarding this McLagan later stated:  “There was one beautiful song he played occasionally that he’d never recorded and never [fully] rehearsed with us either.  It was a tricky little number, we never knew the title, but he’d launch into it from time to time, leaving us totally in the dark.”  When Dylan gave a press conference the following week in Sirmione, Italy, he handed out a set list for the European tour with “Angel Of Rain” (along with “Dirty Lies” and “Enough Is Enough,” the other new songs) but in a simple twist of fate it was never performed nor recorded.  The tracks lasts less than two minutes and although is interesting doesn’t have much for comment. 

The tape ends with a cover of “Always On My Mind,” a pretty version of “Every Grain Of Sand” and “Girl Of The North Country.”  This rehearsal is interesting to hear what it was like to worth with Dylan and for the unreleased track, but is not something that bears up under repeated plays.  It is good to have the complete tape pressed on disc in improved sound quality surpassing the older titles in both length and sound quality.  Rattle Snake include a thick booklet with an interesting essay summarizing the era along with many photos from the tour and is a very solid release for this label. 

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