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”:
“It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue,” Eugene, July 19, 1987:
“The Wicked Messenger,” East Rutherford, July 12, 1987:
“The French Girl,” rehearsal:
“When I Paint My Masterpiece,” rehearsal:
“Tomorrow Is A Long Time,” rehearsal with the Dead, 1987:
“Rainy Day Women #12 & 35,” Eugene, July 19, 1987:
“Pledging My Time,’ rehearsal:
“I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight,” rehearsal:
Bob Dylan and Jerry Garcia (vocals), “Señor (Tales Of Yankee Power), first take, rehearsal:
-– A Days of the Crazy-Wild blog post: sounds, visuals and/or news –-
One of the songs Bob Dylan and the group that would soon call itself The Band recorded during the “Basement Tapes” sessions in 1967 was an Ian Tyson (of Ian and Sylvia) composition, “The French Girl.”
Was Dylan thinking of Françoise Hardy, who he met in Paris the year before, when he chose to record the song?
During the “Basement Tapes” sessions Dylan and his band did two takes. And then the song was dropped for 20 years until Dylan resurrected it in 1987 during rehearsals with the Grateful Dead in San Rafael, Ca.
I particularly love the “Basement Tapes” version. Dylan’s interpretation of the song is amazing — he turns it into a Bob Dylan song. But the version with the Grateful Dead is a good one too. Jerry Garcia on pedal steel!
Below are a version of the song played with The Band, and a version with the Dead.
Bob Dylan and The Band play “The French Girl,” “Basement Tapes” sessions, 1967:
Video about Bob Dylan rehearsing “The French Girl” with The Band and the Grateful Dead with portions of both versions:
Bob Dylan and the Grateful Dead play “The French Girl,” 1987: