Denver 1988 (Scorpio BD-08021)
Fiddler’s Green Amphitheater, Denver, CO – June 15th, 1988
Disc 1 (45:32): Subterranean Homesick Blues, One More Cup Of Coffee (Valley Below), It’s All Over Now Baby Blue, Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again, You’re A Big Girl Now, Ballad Of A Thinman, Mama You Been On My Mind, Eileen Aroon, Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright
Disc 2 (39:30): Just Like A Woman, Seeing The Real You At Last, Simple Twist Of Fate, Like A Rolling Stone, A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall, Maggie’s Farm
After months of waiting and a short hiatus, Scorpio finally release the two Bob Dylan soundboards they announced last fall, Denver 1988 and New Jersey 1988. Both follow on the heals of By The Waterfront Docks (Scorpio BD-07008) with the July 3rd, 1988 Portland Maine show by featuring a clear and musically well balanced document of the entire show. The audience cheering is buried very far away in the mix as is custom for many soundboard recordings, but the clarity of each instrument makes up for any lack of atmosphere in the overall.
Scorpio split the eighty-five minute Denver tape across two discs to present the show in its entirety. “Subterranean Homesick Blues” made its live debut on this tour after twenty years and starts the show off on a pure speed rush with “One More Cup Of Coffee (Valley Below)” played for the first time since 1978. Smith provides unexpected power chords in “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue” in a schizophrenic arrangement and during “Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again” Dylan seems to be playing with his public persona, singing in almost self parody. “Everything’s OK? Yeah… I guess so” Dylan asks afterwards. He asks a variation of that in almost every show on the I88 tour and becomes his rallying cry.
A three song acoustic set is in the middle of the show where Dylan accompanies himself on guitar and is joined by Smith to augment the sound. “Mama You’ve Been On My Mind” is played in Denver for the first time since he sung it as a duet with Joan Baez on the 1975 Rolling Thunder Revue. He follows with the traditional Irish folk song “Eileen Aroon.” “Aroon” means something like “my secret love” or “the secret treasure of my heart” and dates back to the seventeenth century at least. He follows the arrangement of The Clancy Brothers. This is the first of eleven performances of the song played in 1988 and 1989. The short set ends with “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright.”
“Seeing The Real You At Last” is the only acknowledgement of his eighties catalogue, something which will be common in the setlists chosen for these dates. The set closes with a racous version of “Like A Rolling Stone.” The first encore is “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” with Dylan and Smith alone. The rest of the band come back for “Maggie’s Farm” as he second and final encore. For an early Never Ending Tour show the performance is very slick and professional although, like most shows from this period, don’t have much risk involved outside of the cover tune. Scorpio package Denver 1988 in a double slimline jewel case with glossy paper inserts giving an professional appearance to the entire package with a photo from the show on the front cover. Given the sound quality, this is a significant find and a must have.