Someone’s Distant Cry (Thinman-081/82/83)
Disc 1 (73:11): Stabler Arena, Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA – February 18th, 1999: Gotta Serve Somebody, Million Miles, Maggie’s Farm, I Want You, Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again, Masters Of War, Mama You Been On My Mind, Tangled Up In Blue, To Ramona, Can’t Wait, Positively Fourth Street, Highway 61 Revisited
Disc 2 (73:38): Love Sick, Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat, Blowin’ In The Wind, Not Fade Away. Broome Country Arena, Binghamton, NY – February 19, 1999: Gotta Serve Somebody, Million Miles, Watching The River Flow, Make You Feel My Love, Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again, Masters Of War, One Too Many Mornings, Tangled Up In Blue, Friend Of The Devil
Disc 3 (42:26): ‘Til I Fell In Love With You, Every Grain Of Sand, Highway 61 Revisited, Love Sick, Everything Is Broken, Blowin’ In The Wind, Not Fade Away
Someone’s Distant Cry is a three disc set collecting together two consecutive shows from one of Bob Dylan’s busiest years. He played 119 shows spread out over five different legs including two with Paul Simon and one with Phil Lesh. The first tour of the year began on January 26th in Fort Myers, Florida and ended on March 2nd in Las Vegas. The Bethlehem and Binghamton shows occur close to the end. Both are complete and are in excellent sound quality, something we come to expect from the audience recordings from Dylan’s shows in the past twenty years. Thinman use very classy looking inserts and silk screened discs to give it a high-end, collectible look. All of their releases of late are very pretty to look at. The only flaw present are small bumps and clicks between many of the tracks, sounding as if they used a faulty master. This is an issue the label should pay attention to on future releases.
“Gotta Serve Somebody” opens both shows as it would for all except Buffalo, two in Atlantic City and two in Las Vegas. It is interesting how he reintroduces a gospel element to the shows this year, even to the point of cover the gospel standard “Somebody Touched Me” later on. The Slow Train Coming single is notable in these performances for their fidelity to the original track. In the earliest performances he would change the words to “You’re gonna serve somebody,” making the statemement an indicative instead of a hortatory subjunctive. “Million Miles” is the second track and the first new song from Time Out Of Mind.
“Maggie’s Farm” is played in a more pop arrangement including several instrumental passages. According to the written setlist “Shelter From The Storm” was considered next but instead “I Want You” is played for the only time on the tour and is followed by “Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again,” the most popular song from the early nineties NET. “Masters Of War” starts a four song set with Dylan on acoustic guitar with a full band accompaniment. This version is taken at a slower, meditative pace with the fire of the original replaced by wise exhortation. “Mama, You’ve Been On My Mind” is played for the only time on the tour and the audience cheer when they recognize the tune. “Can’t Wait” is the second new song played and the style is a stark contrast to the rest of the set. It summarizes the late nineties Dylan entering into the latter years of life. “Love Sick” starts the four song encore set. “Blowin’ In The Wind” is played on acoustic with backing band and Buddy Holly’s “Not Fade Away” closes the show. This song would serve as opener on the fall tours later that year with Paul Simon.
The Bethlehem show is good, but Binghamton is better. The performance of “Million Miles” was released officially in June year on a four song EP Million Miles Live Recordings 1997-1999 (Columbia CSK 42171). This was given away as a free bonus disc as part of the marketing campaign for the remastered versions of Street Legal and Greatest Hits Volume II. This release also includes “Love Sick” recorded on February 25th, 1998 at Radio City Music Hall for the 40th Annual Grammy Awards, “Can’t Wait” and “Cold Irons Bound” from the El Rey Theater in Los Angeles on December 20th, 1997. It was available for only a limited time and is very rare now.
“Watching The River Flow” is taken at a brisk, country picking pace but ends in a grandiose blues cadence. “Thanks, everybody” Dylan says afterwards before a tender “Make You Feel My Love,” the second new song played. “Masters Of War” and “Tangled Up In Blue” are again played in the acoustic spot, but he adds “One Too Many Mornings” and “Friend Of The Devil” to replace “Mama, You’ve Been On My Mind” and “To Ramona.” The Grateful Dead cover is especially poignant with Baxter and Campbell singing back up vocals. Dylan articulates the words and makes the song his own, making it sound almost like a sequel to “Romance In Durango.” “Every Grain Of Sand” is played for the only time on this tour and is followed by the set closer “Highway 61 Revisited.” The encore set is the same as Bethlehem except “Everything Is Broken” is played instead of “Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat.” Overall this is a very good release of outstanding and well played shows. Except for the small imperfections mentioned above, this is a sterling Bob Dylan release.