The Bob Dylan "Real Live"/1984 European Tour Thread

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by stewedandkeefed, Mar 5, 2017.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. stewedandkeefed

    stewedandkeefed Came Ashore In The Dead Of The Night Thread Starter

    Our story begins on July 26, 1972 and the final show of The Rolling Stones 1972 STP tour of North America. One of the roughly 18,000 attendees for that final show was semi-retired rock n roll star Bob Dylan. The legendary vinyl bootleg Welcome To New York captured roughly 45 minutes of the Stones' set that night from a stolen soundboard tape and anyone who has heard that recording would probably attest to the fact that it captured the Stones near their creative peak as a performing band and, in particular, the recording displays the considerable ability of then Stones guitarist Mick Taylor. No doubt that fact was not lost on Bob Dylan and some eleven years later, Taylor worked on the Bob Dylan album Infidels providing some of his trademark guitar prowess, most notably on slide. A little more than a year after the Infidels sessions, Bob Dylan undertook a 27 date tour of Europe organized by Bill Graham featuring the Graham-managed Santana as the second act at all shows. Joan Baez appeared at some shows and sang with Bob Dylan publicly for what is still currently the last time. This was Bob Dylan's one and only stadium tour (excepting the six shows he did with the Grateful Dead in 1987 which were really six joint shows as part of a larger Dead tour). It played many of the venues the Stones had played two summers before. For this tour, the big name in his band was Mick Taylor. Fellow Britons Ian Maclagan (The Faces, the Stones) and Colin Allen (Macca fans may remember him as the lyricist for the Wings song "Medicine Jar") were in the band and American Greg Sutton completed the lineup but all shows featured a Carlos Santana cameo.

    The live album Real Live was released in the fall of 1984. It consisted of ten performances from the three final shows of the tour (Newcastle, London and Slane) -
    Side 1 - "Highway 61 Revisited", "Maggie's Farm", "License To Kill", "I And I" and "It Ain't Me Babe"
    Side 2 - "Tangled Up In Blue", "Masters Of War", "Ballad Of A Thin Man", "Girl From The North Country" and "Tombstone Blues"

    This was a dream tour in my view in terms that it combined the two great loves of my music life - Bob Dylan and The Rolling Stones. But it turned out to be a dream tour in concept but not execution and as a live album, I find Real Live to be a weak live album.

    Firstly, the shows recorded for the album were not the best shows on the tour. I would choose Cologne and Barcelona as the best shows.

    Secondly, the song selection on the album was not particularly inventive. "Highway 61 Revisited" was the opener at all but the first show of the tour so its inclusion is understandable and the Chuck Berry approach seems like a logical choice but it still sounds pretty pedestrian to me. "Maggie's Farm" gets an unimaginative arrangement but at least Taylor is playing slide on this song. The two Infidels songs at least provide some variety but it's back to 1960s warhorses for the rest of the album except a rewritten "Tangled Up In Blue". I suppose "Tombstone Blues" was at least an interesting choice because it had not been performed live since 1965. All in all it was not a particularly well selected album. I would have included "Jokerman" and the Slane "Shelter From The Storm" where Taylor actually does wail. It was not a very imaginative tour in terms of song selection and I cannot see putting "Every Grain Of Sand" on the album because it became a vehicle for Mick Taylor guitar solos which (and I can't believe I'm saying this) was not a good thing.

    Thirdly, this was not one of Bob Dylan's better bands. Taylor seemed lost following a performer as mercurial as Dylan and the band generally plodded along in a competent, but rarely inspired, manner. Apparently drummer Allen was Taylor's choice but I find him the weakest link.

    Fourthly, this album gets noted for the "Tangled" rewrite. Personally I find it interesting and that's it. The original version is far better in my view.

    Bob Dylan was in crowd-pleasing mode on this tour and listening to complete shows from this tour, I find to be more rewarding. Bob Dylan did not do his best work on this tour but when the spirit came over him, he did deliver. As I said earlier I like Cologne (great version of Willie Nelson's "Why Do I Have To Choose?" especially Taylor's slide solo) and the more widely-loved Barcelona show (a spirited impromptu "Lay Lady Lay" there). If you haven't heard a complete 1984 show, you should just to hear Bob orchestrate the nightly singalong of "Blowin' In The Wind".

    So those are my thoughts. What do you think?
    GAW Jr., Richard--W, Dflow and 5 others like this.
  2. DTK

    DTK Forum Resident

    Which songs are from London?
  3. I've heard far worse live Dylan than this album, but this is one of my least played Dylan releases. Most of the songs we've heard a lot before and often a lot better than here. Looking at the setlists of the 1984 tour it's obvious that they couldn't have come up with a tracklisting a lot more interesting than this though. Even though the band is solid and Dylan's own performance is alright, there's not enough excitement to make it a good listen. So all in all not particularly bad, just a bit of an unnecessary release.
  4. stewedandkeefed

    stewedandkeefed Came Ashore In The Dead Of The Night Thread Starter

    First, second, fifth through eighth songs are all from London.
    footlooseman and DTK like this.
  5. Flaming Torch

    Flaming Torch Forum Resident

    A Dylan tour that in someways is somewhat forgotten. I do remember a lot of old fans who hated the whole born again trio of albums were really pleased that Dylan was back on their side. That horrible old saying that " We've got Dylan back" was much in evidence. Quite a few fans I know rate Newcastle as excellent but rate Slane and Wembley as particularly poor. Awful line up at Wembley - I actually think time stopped during the Santana set.
    For the tour itself I don't know. I have loads of tapes and boots vinyl and cd including Spanish Boot but rarely play them now. Real Live ( what a dull title) was one of the last cds I played from the complete albums cd box. If you are a big fan you need the live album and some recordings as part of the whole Bob story but it is an odd side road you are going down. Not that good and not that bad. As near as Bob comes to being dull in my view.
  6. stewedandkeefed

    stewedandkeefed Came Ashore In The Dead Of The Night Thread Starter

    I have never heard the Newcastle show. Famed British cricket bowler Bob Willis called it the thrill of his life to be on the stage at that show. I think the audience video is on YouTube so I may check it out.
  7. Joey_Corleone

    Joey_Corleone Forum Resident

    Rockford, MI
    You must admit, Taylor smokes on "I and I" though. That may be worth the cost of admission right there.
  8. stewedandkeefed

    stewedandkeefed Came Ashore In The Dead Of The Night Thread Starter

    Definitely his moment on the live album.
  9. Flaming Torch

    Flaming Torch Forum Resident

    Mick Taylor is fine throughout the tour. The lacklustre nature of the whole thing is down to Bob
    John Fell likes this.
  10. Flaming Torch

    Flaming Torch Forum Resident

    I have both shows on cassette tape from audience sources. Can't think of any boot cds from these shows but U tube should be fine. If a song is not from the live album it will be an audience recording.
    stewedandkeefed likes this.
  11. the pope ondine

    the pope ondine Forum Resident

    I used to make compilation tapes for the car and had to pick at least one sing from every album, I really struggled picking something from that album, I think it was Ballad of a Thin Man
    stewedandkeefed likes this.
  12. alchemy

    alchemy Forum Resident

    Sterling, VA
    For me I&I and Tangled Up In Blue are worth the price of admission, the rest ot them, except maybe Girl From The North Country I can pass on.

    Funny how the boots seem more fun than the "Legitimate Product".

    There is a recording of Keith Richards, Bo Dylan & Ronnie Wood are rehearsing for Live Aid where they run the numbers on Mick Taylor.
    Funny when you think of their Live Aid performance.
  13. Joey_Corleone

    Joey_Corleone Forum Resident

    Rockford, MI
    They should totally do a big official box of the '84 tour and release all those shows. Many, as people here have attested to, are far better than the Real Live release. If I remember, Knopfler showed up at some too.

    You know what would be great? Complete Infidels sessions bootleg series with at least one of the 84 tour great shows as bonus content
  14. streetlegal

    streetlegal Forum Resident

    The atmosphere at Wembley was fantastic, and energy levels were high throughout the set. The crowd reaction was full-on, and there was a real singalong quality to the show, heightened by the appearance of several special guests. Dylan seemed to deliver that day. I remember the crowd on one side of the stadium erupting at the first glimpse of him making his way to the stage. I remember the intensity of seeing Dylan solo acoustic for a chunk of the show. I also remember thinking, in a naive way, after experiencing the "religious" concerts at Earls Court a few years earlier, this was the "real" Dylan. A very hot, midsummer's day.

    Well, the evidence would prove me wrong. I loved the concert, cherish the memories, but am the first to admit that the album is mediocre at best and Dylan is lacking in nuance, the band even more so. Classic example, I guess, of "you had to be there."
    timnor and stewedandkeefed like this.
  15. RayS

    RayS A Little Bit Older and a Little Bit Slower

    Out of My Element
    I enjoy listening to every year of live Dylan until 1991 rolls around. But I do like some years better than others. 1984, to me, has some parallels with 1974. Big name band, a bit more of "hit you over the head" than subtlety, and set lists that grow less interesting as the tour progresses. There's a lot more spontaneity to be had in 1975, 1976 or 1981, and there's a lot more fire in 1979 and 1980.

    "Real Live" works okay for me, certainly superior to "Dylan & The Dead" but light years behind the fire of "Hard Rain". I'd much rather listen to an entire show than the album (although I'll admit it's been quite a while since I've listened to one with the Dylan archival releases really eating up most of the Dylan listening time for the past few years).

    "Tangled Up in Blue" is just an unsinkable vehicle for me - consider how broad the spectrum of live interpretations is - studio, '75 solo, '76 band, '78 torch song, '78 torch song with Born Again foreshadowing, '84 lyric rewrite, '87 hybrid between Dylan + Garcia versions .... '92/'93 super-extended "jam" versions ... right up to recent revision. All pretty awesome, happy to have them all, so "TUIB" is the album's highlight for me.
  16. Siegmund

    Siegmund Vinyl Sceptic

    Britain, Europe
    This tour has sour memories for me - not because I attended but because I didn't. I was still at school and some so-called 'friends' (who'd left the previous year) hired a bus and went to the Newcastle gig. They told me about it afterwards. :realmad::(

    Someone upthread alluded to Dylan being in a crowd-pleasing mode on this tour - the bootlegs i've heard bear this out. I don't think he's been in this mode since.

    Real Live is a dull album with a dull title and it is a dispensable item in the Dylan discography, apart from the (mild) interest provided by a new version of TUIB.

    There was no reason for its release.
    streetlegal and stewedandkeefed like this.
  17. stewedandkeefed

    stewedandkeefed Came Ashore In The Dead Of The Night Thread Starter

    Excellent analysis as usual RayS. I agree with you about "Tangled". It's such an iconic song with such a varied performance history. I also agree that Real Live lacks the bite of a truly interesting live album like Hard Rain.
    RayS likes this.
  18. babyblue

    babyblue Pactches Pal!

    Pacific NW
    I think I remember reading in the Glyn Johns book that he compiled a completely different album, but Dylan vetoed his choices and picked weaker performances in almost every case. I guess that's our Bob!
    DTK and stewedandkeefed like this.
  19. Blue Plate Special

    Blue Plate Special Well-Known Member

    I really like what he was doing with Tangled Up In Blue at that time...very nice lilt to the melody!
    Carserguev and stewedandkeefed like this.
  20. Brian Doherty

    Brian Doherty Forum Resident

    Los Angeles CA
    Johns also said in his memoir that he invited Bob to the actual mastering of the LP, and that apparently Bob had never sat thru a mastering session before, and he was quite fascinated with the whole thing. Who knows if that's true. Watching him drive away in a beat up old car from that session was, said Glyn, the last time he laid eyes on the elusive Mr. Dylan.

    I agree it's a dud of a live LP, I only ever want to hear the acoustic tracks from it. Not well-listened in boots from the tour. I suppose if we live long enough we'll hear every note Bob recorded that Sony has their hands on.
  21. cublowell

    cublowell Forum Resident

    Pittsburgh, PA
    I've always liked Real Live. It works for me as a sampler from a tour that I don't really want to hear the whole shows, since too much of that band is not a good thing.
  22. babyblue

    babyblue Pactches Pal!

    Pacific NW
    The 84 tour isn't my favorite, but there are aspects of it I really do like. Having Ian McLagan on keyboards is a definite plus. It might be the last time he had such an excellent keyboard player in the band (oh well, after this was the Petty tours and his keyboards were certainly fine). Taylor is good too, although if you listen to a complete show, sometimes he starts relying on his Stones rhythm riff a bit too much.
    stewedandkeefed likes this.
  23. keef285

    keef285 Forum Resident

    I quite enjoy the boots of the 84 tour........the official release is a dud, I enjoy Taylor and Ian Mclagans playing.
    stewedandkeefed likes this.
  24. Beeb Fader

    Beeb Fader Forum Resident

    I was at the Newcastle show. What a sweltering hot day it was ! Great experience and a mighty fine set which I would love to hear officially one of these days. My first (and last!) stadium gig.
    stewedandkeefed likes this.
  25. stewedandkeefed

    stewedandkeefed Came Ashore In The Dead Of The Night Thread Starter

    You may have to wait until 2034 for an official release.
    keef285 and Beeb Fader like this.
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page