Bob Dylan, ’Slane 1984 Soundboard’ (Zion-235)
Disk One – introduction / Highway 61 Revisited / Jokerman / All Along The Watchtower / Just Like A Woman / Maggie’s Farm / I And I / Licence To Kill / Just My Imagination (45:10)
Disk Two – A Hard Rain’s A Gonna Fall / Tangled Up In Blue / To Ramona / It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding) / Shelter From The Storm / Masters of War / Ballad Of A Thin Man / Enough is Enough / Every Grain Of Sand / Like A Rolling Stone (58:48)
Disk Three – Applause / Mr. Tambourine Man / With God On Our Side / Girl From The North Country / Simple Twist Of Fate / It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue (W/ Van Morrison) / Tupelo Honey (W/Van Morrison) / Leopard-Skin Pill-Box hat (W/Carlos Santana, Bono, Leslie Dowdell and Steve Wickham) / Tombstone Blues (W/Carlos Santana) / The Times They Are A Changing (W/Carlos Santana) / Blown’ In The Wind (W/ Carlos Santana, Bono and Leslie Dowdell) – Bonus Track – It Ain’t Me, Babe* (64:45)
Live At Slane Castle, Slane, Ireland, 8th July, 1984 except * live at St.James Park, Newcastle, 5th July, 1984.
We really have been spoiled with vintage Dylan soundboard recordings in the past few years, with no sign of this abating, it’s been a glorious time to be a fan. Released just prior to the TOOM official bootleg collection, this show from Slane Castle, Ireland, 1984 captures Dylan on the familial Dylan / Santana tour – See previous releases from this tour on Empress Valley’s ‘How I Spent The Summer’, the same label’s ‘All Roads Lead To Wembley’ and Crystal Cat’s version of the same, ‘Wembley Stadium 1984’. ‘I and I’ and ‘Girl From The North Country’ were recorded at this show and were used as tracks 3 and 9 on the official ‘Real Live’ album, ‘Enough Is Enough’ was released on the official Bootleg series Vol. 16’, lest we forget though with the touch of a professional studio, this recording remains as raw as this remaster will allow. This, the full tape, including Gregg Sutton’s turn, is neatly spread out over three disks with a bonus tracked on for good measure.
We’ve already discussed that, while the ‘Real Live’ LP took a bit of a critical kicking, the results in the charts in both the US and the UK reflective of a change in people’s tastes and an over reliance of checking out the review sections in the music press, the shows themselves, under-rehearsed and ramshackle were actually not what the collection purported to have captured – This, the final show of the tour, has everyone in a last-day-of-term mood – the touring band were 27 shows in, as tight as they were going to get but the “rolling revue” feel was still the edge of the show and towards the encores, Dylan is joined on stage by handfuls of special guests.
The sound in this set is again an exemplary stereo – remastered by Graf Zeppelin presumably to take out a little of the detritus under the fingernails – everything is really nicely laid out. The only instance of an issue I caught was on ‘Highway ..’ as Colin Allen’s drums are recorded a little too hot and start to pop in the mix – Strangley enough, as the band move on to ‘Joker Man’, the pop stops but the mix, very occasionally, brings up some limits of the recording as it sweeps out to an echo effect – listing through speakers, it’s probably very unlikely that you’d notice, over headphones it’s only slightly apparent. The acoustic set has fewer problems, and sounds positively lush. Enough balance in it’s stereo, the audience are clearly audible too but without being distracting. ’Tangled Up In Blue’ should obviously be spotlighted for its multifaceted changes – Mainly curious for its wild changes in chords and vocalisations but for the many diffr’nt lyrics that Dylan rewrites for the show. It’d be suicide to try list them all here but as soon as you think you’re safe enough to sing along, Dylan sidesteps to reveal a new blueprint, unfortunately, ’To Ramona’ that follows it tops new heights of parody and from the free-styling form of the song itself to the rather bewildering harp solo, it’s a stupendous rendering – for all the wrong reasons!
’Shelter From The Storm’, takes on a poppier feel than previous – It really stands out from most of the set for it’s flipped sense of being – It’s a beautiful retelling of the story and yet another highlight of the evening.
After ‘Ballad Of A Thin Man’, Dylan smiles as he greets the audience saying, “Thank you, oh, you’re a pretty decent audience tonight, just like home .. just like home.”
“Mr. Tambourine Man” is met with a large splash of a cheer as it rounds in the last leg of the set and the second acoustic set of the night. It holds it’s definitely 80’s style but still harkens back to it’s 60’s feel – the harp in the middle of it all is just perfect too. Given a soft-rock glean is ‘Simple Twist Of Fate’, a chunky solo by Mick Taylor, a yacht-rock vibe via the profession of the swirling organ, along side the obligatory lyric changes too.
Enter the guests, Van Morrison enters the stage after an announcement by Bob, “We have a very special guest tonight. He left a long time ago and he’s gone a long way and then he’s come back ..”, for a take on ‘It’s All Over Now ..’ Van and Bob take it in turns to take control but, maybe it’s because it’s Bob’s song, Van sounds like he’s merely reciting as opposed to singing, it’s down to Dylan to find the heart – The tables turn 45 degrees on ‘Tupelo Honey’, Van’s in his territory here, Bob plays it cool by singing quieter than it’s author but still sings very well.
‘Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat’ features an announced Bono (Or ‘Boo-Nu’ as Dylan seems to pronounce it), who makes a great point of adding a counter-point harmony to the song. Fluid solos add extra energy to the heft of the track – If I was to try describe it further, it’d sound like a mess, but played out, it sounds like a great amalgam.
The lead off track is announced by Bono, an unlikely end to the night as I may have uttered before, but there we are. Bono blends neatly into the form of the song rather than taking too much cover for himself, though his liberty taking of changing the lyrics may be a bit of a crux to some listeners.
The bonus track comes from St. James’ Park, Newcastle, England just three days before – ‘ It Ain’t Me Babe’, another take from one of the acoustic sets – The sound is slightly more echoing than the main set, though it might be argued that it adds a little extra to the feel. I hope that the full Newcastle show will be added to the release schedule if the full soundboard is available as we only have an audience recording so far.
The covers for this release are very nice indeed – Dylan out in concert, his heavily kohled eyes and zebra print shirt a bracing look, over his shoulder is imposed a drawing of the venue itself. Inside there are many colour shots of Bob and his guests on stage alongside some tour paraphernalia, the rear is really easy to read under any lights and is well annotated with the track listing and the musicians that night. I wholly recommend this set for the performance, the set, the production values too. A very good set indeed.