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?