Audio: Is ‘Dylan & The Dead’ Bob Dylan’s Most Underrated Album?

On February 6, 1989, 25 years ago, the album Dylan and the Dead was released.

Rock critics hated the album.

Rolling Stone: [The record] “makes you wonder what the fuss [over the tour] was about…”

The Village Voice, Robert Christgau: [What Dylan] “makes of his catalogue here is exactly what he’s been making of it for years—money.”

Amazon.com, Steve Appleford: “If these were the stadium tour’s best performances, pity anyone who actually sat through one of these concerts with a clear head.”

Listening to the album now, I think it sounds pretty good. No, it’s not among Dylan’s best, but the combo of Dylan and the Dead is a good one. Garcia’s guitar work is, often enough, the perfect compliment to Dylan’s songs, and the Dead’s harmony vocals are just right.

“Queen Jane Approximately” is a standout with outstanding guitar playing from Garcia, a strong performance from the whole band and strong vocals from Dylan.

“Knocking On Heaven’s Door” is a solid performance — it’s great to hear how the Dead handle backing Dylan.

Also quite strong is “All Along the Watchtower.” And, really, “Slow Train” and “Gotta Serve Somebody” aren’t bad either.

The only track I could really do without is “Joey.”

Of course a much better album could have been pulled together if other songs from the tour had been included, as well as some of the songs Dylan and the Dead rehearsed at Club Front in San Rafael, June 1, 1987, before the tour began.

What’s so weird is that there are times during the rehearsals when Dylan’s voice sounds fantastic — like he was more into just jamming on songs with the Dead than when they were actually out on the road.

Here are some performance from the tour and the rehearsals that I like.

“Queen Jane Approximately”:

Queen Jane Approximately (Eugene, July 19, 1987) by Bob Dylan & the Grateful Dead on Grooveshark

“It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue,” Eugene, July 19, 1987:

It's All Over Now, Baby Blue (Eugene, July 19, 1987) by Bob Dylan & the Grateful Dead on Grooveshark

“The Wicked Messenger,” East Rutherford, July 12, 1987:

The Wicked Messenger (East Rutherford, July 12, 1987) by Bob Dylan & the Grateful Dead on Grooveshark

“The French Girl,” rehearsal:

The French Girl by Bob Dylan & the Grateful Dead on Grooveshark

“When I Paint My Masterpiece,” rehearsal:

When I Paint My Masterpiece by Bob Dylan & the Grateful Dead on Grooveshark

“Tomorrow Is A Long Time,” rehearsal with the Dead, 1987:

Tomorrow Is A Long Time by Bob Dylan & the Grateful Dead on Grooveshark

“Rainy Day Women #12 & 35,” Eugene, July 19, 1987:

Rainy Day Women #12 & 35 (Eugene, July 19, 1987) by Bob Dylan & the Grateful Dead on Grooveshark

“Pledging My Time,’ rehearsal:

Pledging My Time 1 by Bob Dylan & the Grateful Dead on Grooveshark

“I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight,” rehearsal:

I'll Be Your Baby Tonight 2 by Bob Dylan & the Grateful Dead on Grooveshark

Bob Dylan and Jerry Garcia (vocals), “Señor (Tales Of Yankee Power), first take, rehearsal:

Señor (Tales Of Yankee Power) 1 by Bob Dylan & the Grateful Dead on Grooveshark

-– A Days of the Crazy-Wild blog post: sounds, visuals and/or news –-

About Michael Goldberg

Michael Goldberg is a distinguished pioneer in the online music space; Newsweek magazine called him an ‘Internet visionary.’ In 1994 he founded Addicted To Noise (ATN), the highly influential music web site. He was a senior vice-president and editor in chief at SonicNet from March 1997 through May 2000. In 1997, Addicted To Noise won Webby awards for best music site in 1998 and 1999, and also won Yahoo Internet Life! awards for three years running as best music site in 1998, 1999 and 2000. Prior to starting Addicted To Noise, Goldberg was an editor and senior writer at Rolling Stone magazine for 10 years. His writing has also appeared in Wired, Esquire, Vibe, Details, Downbeat, NME and numerous other publications. Michael recently completed his first novel, Days of the Crazy-Wild, and is currently writing a second novel.

3 thoughts on “Audio: Is ‘Dylan & The Dead’ Bob Dylan’s Most Underrated Album?

  1. Some of these versions make me think that Dylan with the Jerry Garcia Band would have been a better vehicle for a lot of these tunes.

  2. The Dead always did a nice version of “Queen Jane” and, in fact, did good versions of most Dylan songs they covered. Jerry, in particular, had a real feel for them (though Bob would sing “Queen Jane”).

  3. I was at one of the shows….it was my first Dylan show and 20th or so Dead show.
    Dylan with the Dead was a gigantic dissapointment. Sounded horrible and Bob seemed like he couldn’t care less. This album sounds exactly like that horrible experience. The rehearsal stuff actually sounds good – the promise of what could have been. That was what? 86? I didn’t see Bob again until 98… and was blown away! and have seen him at least a couple of dozen times since.

Leave a Reply