Dylan / Blonde on Blonde: 'That Thin Wild Mercury Sound' (Daryl Sanders book, Oct. 2018)

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by HominyRhodes, Oct 15, 2018.

  1. HominyRhodes

    HominyRhodes Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Chicago
    I came across this weekly survey from one of the Top 40 AM stations in Chicago, and it seems to be a great time capsule of the tunes on the air back in the spring of '66. Dylan's "Rainy Day Women" single had become a major hit, and his producer Bob Johnston must have been feeling pretty good, since another one of "his" records, Simon & Garfunkel's "I Am A Rock," was also headed up the pop charts. It's also interesting to see so many of the songs that Johnston and his studio cohorts covered for the Col. Jubilation Johnston/Moldy Goldies project, recorded in Nashville circa April or May of that year -- eight of the eleven songs on that album are on this chart.

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    The Byrds momentous single "Eight Miles High" was released a week before "Rainy Day Women," and did pretty well on the charts, but it was ultimately surpassed by Dylan's zaniness.
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    (The Columbia art department apparently favored cut-out black & white images in their ads that year, huh?)
     
  2. Percy Song

    Percy Song Tom's Tambourine Man

    Good news for our Italian-speaking friends:-

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  3. Percy Song

    Percy Song Tom's Tambourine Man

    After a long absence....

    Part II: Nashville.

    pp 73 - 91 The Nashville Cats

    Some people around these parts may have an inkling that "Blonde on Blonde" is a record I'm quite fond of. Nonetheless, I can't say I ever did a huge amount of research on the musicians that feature on the record, although some names were more familiar than others, so the nineteen-odd pages of history that starts Part II of Daryl's book may well be my favourite chapter. Without wasting a word Daryl introduces us to first the Nashville Columbia Studios and then to Charlie, Kenny, Wayne, Bill, Mac, Jerry, Hargus, Joe, Henry, et al.

    It's handy to have YouTube open on a separate tab to sample the old songs that are mentioned. Brenda Lee singing "Sweet Nothin's" for example


     
  4. Percy Song

    Percy Song Tom's Tambourine Man

    And Charlie's "Cherry Berry Wine"...


     
  5. Percy Song

    Percy Song Tom's Tambourine Man

    "Rooster Blues"....

     
  6. Percy Song

    Percy Song Tom's Tambourine Man

    ....well, you get the gist of it. Oh, okay, one more for luck.... :)

    "Harpoon Man"




     
  7. HominyRhodes

    HominyRhodes Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Chicago
    A young Nashville Cat in the making there.:thumbsup:

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    Thanks for posting those tracks -- I never get tired of hearing that sound.

    I bought this stereo promo LP awhile ago. It has a couple of the early Escorts tracks, but I'm still hoping to find the mono mixes on vinyl somewhere, especially "I'm Ready" and "Harpoon Man." A download version of this album is now available for streaming or purchase here.

    A few of these songs were cut for Monument Records at the Fred Foster studio in Nashville, and the rest were done at Wayne Moss' home studio, Cinderella Sound, circa 1966-1968.


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    Check out those credits -- a real 'who's who' of the Nashville Cats.
     
  8. Richard--W

    Richard--W Forum Resident

    If those four singles are an example of the music climate at that
    time and place I wanna go back there in a time machine.
     
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  9. Percy Song

    Percy Song Tom's Tambourine Man

    pp 92-100

    Notwithstanding the successful realisation of "One Of Us Must Know (Sooner Or Later)", after all the apparent frustrations Bob experienced in trying to realise his visions for "Blonde on Blonde" in New York (just listen to the "Huh" at the end of Take 16 of "She's Your Lover Now" for the flavour), it seems ironic that it was the first song recorded in Nashville which wound up causing a delay to the release of the record. Not that Bob was dissatisfied with the result at the time - far from it. Al Kooper described the twin guitar work of Wayne Moss and Charlie McCoy thus: "Those guitars playing in harmony, that's pure Nashville. People don't think like that anywhere else." He might have been just as complimentary about Kenny's playing.

    @Daryl Sanders brings plenty of new information to us regarding the start of the Nashville sessions. For example, Bob arrived late so there was no recording carried out in the first booked session on 14 February; indeed, when Bob arrived at 6 p.m. he got straight down to writing (and revising?) lyrics for "4th Time Around" while the Nashville Cats hung around wondering who this weird guy in the polka-dot shirt was. It seemed highly unusual to them that they were being paid top session rates to play ping pong and go to dinner. Perhaps Charlie and Al Kooper put them at ease... (there's a genius at work here, chaps..... :))

    According to all sources available to us there were twenty takes of "4th Time Around" with Take 20, the master take, being slated as "Take 19 again". Only, as presented on "The Cutting Edge", it isn't the master take at all. What we hear on Big Blue is the revised mix with Al's organ removed and with Kenny's re-recorded drums. We may have to accept that the original Take 20 of "4th Time Around" just doesn't exist on tape any more, or at least the only way we'll get to hear it is on one of several early vinyl iterations of "Blonde on Blonde". On the other hand, one can't help wondering if perhaps the compilers of Big Blue didn't try hard enough to find a safety copy - didn't Bob Johnston always record with two tapes running simultaneously?

    @Roger Ford guides us through the "4th Time Around" drums/organ situation on his Electric Dylan site, here:- BoB Part II Note 190

    One has to assume that Bob was satisfied with the song as initially recorded but had second thoughts about the organ during playbacks of the acetates during his world tour or while mixing the mono record after his return. In any case, with the organ inseparable from the drums on the tape, something had to be done. Michael Krogsgaard notes that there was an overdub session held on 16 June during which four attempts were made to record harpsichord (Charlie McCoy) and drums (Kenny Buttrey) onto the song, with the last of these takes being complete.

    At the time it was understood that "Blonde on Blonde" had already been released so this overdub session was dismissed as some kind of anomaly, or a revisiting of an already-released song, but now it seems increasingly likely that this session did yield the new drum track which replaced the original organ/drum track, and the release of the record was (further) held up for this overdub. In any case, such was the apparent rush to release the album that the U.S. mono version of "Blonde on Blonde" (which is widely believed to be the mix that Bob was particularly hands-on with) contained the replacement drum track while the first stereo version contained the original drum/organ track which Bob rejected. Those who purchased the Canada mono and France mono albums will also have heard the original drum/organ track, though in differing mixes.

    Clearly, the presence of a harpsichord is not apparent in any available recording of "4th Time Around". Charlie has no recollection of the session and, unfortunately, no Tape Identification Sheets for the Nashville sessions have been made available for scrutiny, either officially or unofficially. To quote Krogsgaard in a letter to The Telegraph in 1996, "I haven't been assuming anything in my articles, simply presenting information to which I have had access...", so there is little doubt that there is some paperwork that he saw in the Sony archives which describes this session from 16 June. Sure enough, tucked away below CD 3 of the 6 CD version of "The Cutting Edge", like a tiny clue to a 50 year-old conundrum, is this image for a "Talent Payment" which strongly suggests that at least something is happening on 16 June, even if we still don't know exactly what it is:-


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    One can hope that Daryl may get a chance to rummage through the archives at Tulsa sometime and find some more evidence that nails down this overdub session.





    As far as I know, the original drum/organ track is not available on a CD. It is on the Canada mono LP:-

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    And, in a mix that boosts the organ and drums, on the France mono LP:-

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    And on the first stereo mix of the LP:-

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    All of the LPs illustrated above were released after the initial U.S. mono release which does contain the new drum track (no organ, no harpsichord) probably recorded on 16 June.

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    As noted earlier, the U.S. first stereo LP seems to have been released at the same time as the mono LP but it contained the original drum/organ track. It really isn't any wonder that "Blonde on Blonde" is such a fascinating album for some of us.... :agree:
     
    Last edited: May 17, 2019
  10. Percy Song

    Percy Song Tom's Tambourine Man

    Some Many say that "4th Time Around" is a response to Lennon's "Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)", or even a parody of it:-





    For what it's worth, and I'm no expert, I'd say it rings a bell.
     
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  11. Percy Song

    Percy Song Tom's Tambourine Man

    As Sean Wilentz put it: "... like Bob Dylan impersonating John Lennon impersonating Bob Dylan."


     
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  12. Roger Ford

    Roger Ford Forum Resident

    Location:
    Bristol, England
    Daryl, you mentioned a while back that there'd been a second printing of your book, and that you'd managed to get a few updates into it. Do you know whether the Kindle edition is going to be updated in a similar fashion? I'm not seeing any update available on my Kindle account so far.
     
  13. culabula

    culabula One-time Boulevardier.

    Location:
    Belfast, Ireland
    Did it not appear on Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits Vol III (Netherlands/Australia) and thus on the CD issue of this ?
     
  14. Roger Ford

    Roger Ford Forum Resident

    Location:
    Bristol, England
    No, I have both the vinyl and CD of this release, and they both contain the revised stereo vinyl mix, with the overdubbed drum track and no keyboard. This Dutch LP did gain some interest in the late 60s and 70s for having different mixes of both "4th Time Around" and "Pledging My Time"; but that was principally in the UK, because at that time the UK stereo Blonde On Blonde LP still had the original stereo mixes that did include the keyboard. In the US these mixes had been replaced by the revised stereo mixes circa 1968. Of course even the revised mixes on the Dutch Greatest Hits Vol III CD are now rarities, because all CD/SACD editions of Blonde On Blonde have contained even later remixes of the whole album. Confusing.
     
  15. culabula

    culabula One-time Boulevardier.

    Location:
    Belfast, Ireland

    Thanks for clearing that up, Roger.
     
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  16. Percy Song

    Percy Song Tom's Tambourine Man

    Perhaps even more confusing is that the compilation has the words Hits and Greatest in its title .... :)

    ....and that apparently Bob wrote "House of the Rising Sun" and "Man of Constant Sorrow."

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    Last edited: May 19, 2019
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  17. culabula

    culabula One-time Boulevardier.

    Location:
    Belfast, Ireland

    Even on the LP !
     
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  18. Daryl Sanders

    Daryl Sanders Forum Resident

    Location:
    Nashville
    Roger, it is my understanding the eBook editions have been updated with all the corrections I submitted. If you have evidence they haven't been updated, please let me know.

    Daryl
     
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  19. McLover

    McLover Forum Resident

    Location:
    East TN
    And this classic is a long time favorite of mine. I was lucky enough to recently find a nice original copy of this single. Tell Mac that I still enjoy this classic often. And love the old classic Nashville sounds to this day.
     
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  20. McLover

    McLover Forum Resident

    Location:
    East TN
    These musicians worked many hours together. Knew each other's moves and how each other played. And could play any style on demand then, armed with words and a melody (head arrangers). They were loose, casual, and professional. And improvisers. They were the pros pros, the cream of the crop. Nashville at their best, in their best era. This sums up Nashville A and B list session men.
     
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  21. HominyRhodes

    HominyRhodes Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Chicago
    Wonderful post, superbly written (as usual). Thank you for summarizing so much information, and for providing the documentation and those beautiful photos, obviously taken deep inside in the Percy Towers Special Collections vault. :thumbsup:

    I've been trying to remember the source of this image; couldn't find it over at ---> "Searching For A Gem" home page
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    This seems to be an authentic acetate of "4th Time Around," presumably the master take, although the 3:55 length indicates that Dylan's closing harmonica solo has been faded out immediately after the end of the final verse. I wonder if they ever considered using the track as a B-side on one of the singles?

    Or...did this acetate have anything to do with the mysterious June 16th overdub session that you referenced above? Could it have some "harpsichord" on it?

    If anyone knows what's actually on this particular disc, please clue me in.:shrug:
     
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  22. Percy Song

    Percy Song Tom's Tambourine Man

    Thanks, Hominy...

    It is the 10" acetate, sold by Jeff Gold at Recordmecca, which means it is most likely genuine. (I'm not an expert on the Columbia labels, but I know someone who is... :).) The brief description at Recordmecca indicates that it is "...virtually the same as the released version, but fades out at 4:23 as the LP version does (instead of the 4:35 cd version)."

    So it seems either the timing on the label is incorrect, or Jeff's description is erroneous, or both! I'm not aware of a mono LP version fading out at 4:23. Canada mono is shorter than that at about 4:15, and the others run to 4:35, or thereabouts if I remember correctly, so it seems like it is a specific edit, whether faded at 4:23 or 3:55, and possibly, as you say, cut for a potential B-side, or even an A-Side - why not? (The original stereo LP version comes home at about 4:27.)

    I'd say there is no harpsichord on it, but I'd love to hear it to be certain. I wonder if Bob decided to have the organ removed and the drum track replaced after listening to this disc...

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    https://recordmecca.com/item-archives/bob-dylan-10-acetate-of-4th-time-around/

    #
     
  23. HominyRhodes

    HominyRhodes Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Chicago
    Thanks for clueing me in on the provenance of that disc. There's no sale date given for it on the Record Mecca site -- was it one of the Houston Street acetates? I, too, would love to hear what's actually on it.

    Regarding the supposed "late" overdub session: I've been looking for other recording activity at Columbia Nashville on or about the 16th of June in '66, especially anything involving Bob Johnston, Charlie McCoy or Kenny Buttrey, but all I've been able to find so far is a Sara and Maybelle Carter session produced by Don Law and Frank Jones on that date. Neither Charlie or Kenny played on that, so the search continues...
     
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  24. Percy Song

    Percy Song Tom's Tambourine Man

    No, it's annoying there is no sale date. It's definitely not from the West Houston Street acetate haul. They were all from the "Nashville Skyline", "Self Portrait" and "New Morning" sessions. (Let's hope there is a Copyright Collection of those in the pipeline.)
     
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  25. Roger Ford

    Roger Ford Forum Resident

    Location:
    Bristol, England
    Ah, that must be the bass harmonica he played on "4th Time Around", right there on the front cover ;)

    And thanks for the Amazon link. That is some wild drumming from Kenny Buttrey on "Turn On Your Lovelight"!
     
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