Bob Dylan – Friends Will Arrive: Studio Sessions (Take 1) (Hollow Horn Recording Artist Vol. 6)

Friends Will Arrive:  Studio Sessions (Take 1) (Hollow Horn Recording Artist Vol. 6)

Disc 1 (75:01):  Lead Vocal Sessions 1972-2002:  Wallflower, Buckets Of Rain, Sign Language,  Band Of The Hand, Pretty Boy Floyd, People Get Ready, This Old Man, Heartland, Ballad Of Hollis Brown, Boogie Woogie Country Girl, My Blue Eyed Jane, Ring Of Fire, The Lonesome River, Chimes Of Freedom, Things Have Changed, A Red Cadillac And A Black Moustache, I Can’t Get You Off Of My Mind, Return To Me, Waitin’ For You, Gonna Change My Way Of Thinking

Disc 2 (78:38):  Cross The Green Mountain, Tell Ol’ Bill, Huck’s Tune.  Sideman Sessions  1961-1972:  I’ll Fly Away, Come Back Baby, Swing And Turn Jubilee, The Midnight Special, Sitting On Top Of The World, Wichita Blues, Big Joe Dylan And Victoria, It’s Dangerous, Glory Glory, You Can Always Tell, Christmas Island, Cocaine, London Waltz, Overseas Stomp, Will The Circle Be Unbroken?, Downtown Blues, Sammy’s Song, Going To San Diego, Somebody Else’s Troubles, Election Year Rag

The previous five volumes of the Bob Dylan Hollow Horn Reference Recording spanned his career from recording publisher’s demos through television appearances and the 1994 Unplugged special.  The sixth volume Friends Will Arrive contains songs and sessions he contributed to other artists. 

The first half, disc one and the first three tracks of disc two feature Dylan on vocals and contain an interesting and varied selection of very rare tunes.  These tracks were collected from rare singles, compilations and movie soundtracks.  The sound quality is uniformly superlative on all since they are gathered from official sources.  The songs are arranged in chronological order beginning with “Wallflower,” recorded in October 1972 for Doug Saim  and Friends.  Dylan provides backing vocals and harp to his own song (which was released twenty years later on The Bootleg Series Vol. 1-3).

“Buckets Of Rain” is interesting for being sourced from Dylan’s sessions with Bette Midler in October 1975.  Dylan contributes backing vocals to “Nuggets Of Rain” and the arrangement is fun with the barrel house piano taking place of the lonely acoustic guitar from Blood On The Tracks.  This song was released on Midler’s now out of print third LP Songs for the New Depression.  “Sign Language” was recorded in March 1976 and Hollow Horn take the recorded version from Clapton’s No Reason To Cry.  

The bulk of the other tracks are from Dylan’s soundtrack work spanning twenty years, between 1986 to 2007.  Dylan’s film soundtrack work dates from the mid sixties with Andy Warhol’s Poor Little Rich Girl, which uses “It Ain’t Me Babe.”  However the earliest intentional writing for the cinema, where Dylan composed original music for the project, is probably Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid in 1973. 

Friends Will Arrive begin the soundtracks  with “Band Of The Hand,” a song written for the film Band Of The Hand in 1986.  The song was recorded with Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers and is good enough to have been included in the live set that summer.  But the film tanked at the box office and the song has essential disappeared from Dylan’s catalogue.  Other soundtrack songs include “People Get Ready” from the 1989 film Flashback, the Oscar-winning “Things Have Changed” from Wonder Boys and “Huck’s Tune” from the 2007 film Lucky You.

Most of the second disc contains tracks from other artists where Dylan appears as a side musician dating from the first in 1961 through 1972.  On most of these songs he is employed for his harmonia.  It begins with his very first sessions in the recording studio on September 29th, 1961.  He plays harp on three songs, “I’ll Fly Away,” “Come Back Baby” and “Swing And Turn Jubilee” for Carolyn Hester’s debut album Dear Companion.  “Midnight Special” dates from the February 2nd, 1962 session for Harry Belefonte, one of Dylan’s more famous contributions.  

Friends Will Arrive concludes with some of his sessions from the early seventies.  He contributes harp for “Sammy’s Song” and it dates from October 5th, 1971 for David Bromberg.  “Going To San Diego” is from Allen Ginsberg  First Blues from November 17th, 1971 and Dylan contributes vocals, guitar, piano and organ.  The final two songs, “Somebody Else’s Troubles” and “Election Year Rag” date from October 1972 for Steve Goodman.  Dylan contributes back up vocals and piano under the pseudonym Robert Milkwood Thomas. 

“Somebody Else’s Troubles” was released on Somebody Else’s Troubles and “Election Year Rag,” recorded just weeks before the presidential election, was issued on The Essentials.  There is a pressing flaw on the disc, however and instead of “Election Year Rag” Hollow Horn press the first two minutes of “Cross The Green Mountain,” the first track on the disc.  This is an oversight that the label might want to correct if there are future pressings.  This is otherwise an excellent sounding, comprehensive collection of fascinating tracks.  It is packaged in the the digipack with excellent artwork inherent in all Hollow Horn releases and with a separate booklet called Recording Artist (1961-1996) with details about all of the volumes in this series.   

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