This Friday we celebrate live music. For the next few months Scotland will host an amazing line-up of visitors with whom the listener to Another Country will be very familiar. First up we need to mention this ensemble…..
Steve Earle is coming to Glasgow next week. On Friday’s show we’ll bring you some very interesting news about Steve, Glasgow and The AC. Here’s the official blurb…..
After many years of touring solo and acoustically worldwide, Earle will be touring in support of the new album with his electric live band, The Dukes (and Duchesses) featuring Allison Moorer.
Also coming to these parts: Ryan Adams (Edinburgh)
Glen Campbell (All of Scotland), Alison Krauss (Glasgow), Wilco (Glasgow) and our old friend Diana Jones who is coming in to Glasgow to play at the Fallen Angels Club at the CCA on 29th October. Also we’re getting very excited about Other Lives visit to The Captain’s Rest next Tuesday…
However on Friday we will also pause to celebrate this album:
Highway 61 Revisited is a landmark record in so many ways. Firstly seeks to beautifully upset the delicate balance of Bringing It All Back’s home acoustic/electric two sides by dispensing with any attempt to please the folkies. For that reason alone it is worth celebrating Bob Backwards all year. Great folk music listens, adapts and changes. But sadly, in my experience, folk purists often remember the first two rules but forget to change and round on those who do. Rather like the church or the aristocracy, folk music has a habit of pointless resistance to change. At its best of course it is a dynamic force for good but sadly when it comes to poker-faced earnest devotees of folk who harangued Dylan for ‘going electric’ I’m on the side of Bob every time. So let’s go with him and embrace the shock of the new. One of the things I love about this period is that one is often tempted to assume in these God-awful X Factored times that anything massively popular has to be bad. With Highway 61 and Like A Rolling Stone Bob Dylan hit the Zeitgeist perfectly. He made brilliant art and blistering pop music that people bought in droves. It’s worth remembering it can be done.
Finally on a Friday when we celebrate so much live music it is hugely significant that this Dylan album hosted three out of fourteen songs Bob played live a couple of weeks ago in Glasgow. Highway 61, Like A Rolling Stone and Desolation Row. Pretty good huh.!
Had a friend who went to Braehead to see Bob and they sounded less impressed than most Another Country listeners on Bob’s performance, and I quote: “I was at Braehead last week Dougie and let me tell you that his 70 year old rendition of rolling stone and tangled up in blue left (vocally) left a lot to be desired! Maybe somebody could have a word and suggest backing singers ..Just so we can hear the melody? ” I did point out that Bob plus backing singers is not usually a happy mix of talents (excluding Slow Train Coming and the gospel tours of 1979-81) this gave us the patchy albums that are Street Legal, Live at Budokan, Empire Burlesque, Knocked Out Loaded!
From the 2 times i caught Bob live in concert overall I was pleasantly surprised. In 1998 and 2000 he had great bands with people like Bucky Baxter, Larry Campbell and in 2000 Charlie Sexton providing some subtle and skilful backing and for the most part Bob sang very well – I remember great versions of Tangled Up In Blue, Mama You’ve Been On My Mind, Boots of Spanish Leather and Country Pie from those gigs all those years ago… some of the songs I’ve mentioned seemed even more poignant with Bob’s cracked (and at that time nearly 60 year old) voice singing songs from his first albums with some affection. The great thing about a Bob gig is that everything is completely live every night and he can still be true to songs that are almost 50 years old while still making them sound fresh and meaningful and intimate, and the songs are never carbon copies of the studio versions and his tours are never all that focused on shifting copies of his latest album. He gets a lot of stick as a live performer but for the most part a Dylan gig in recent times has usually had a great band, playing fresh arrangements of some amazing songs and in my limited experience, Bob’s vocals have usually been pretty clear and often very good with a few amazing vocal performances at both concerts I saw.
Highway 61 Revisited is sometimes my favourite Dylan album (Freewheelin’, Blonde on Blonde, Blood On The Tracks and Oh Mercy are the others) and I think the band playing on the album blow the Bring It All Back Home band out the water!
While his name has been mentioned, it would be worth revisiting Ryan Adams’ early days with the Whiskeytown back catalogue……(when you have a moment). Ta.