August 17, 2009

Off-Day Outtakes: Bob Dylan

Infidels was the first Bob Dylan album I bought in "real time".

I was 15 when Slow Train Coming was on the radio in 1979 and while I liked the title song, I avoided his Christian albums completely. Four years later, Infidels -- which featured guitarists Mark Knopfler and Mick Taylor, bassist Robbie Shakespeare and drummer Sly Dunbar -- was hailed as a return to more secular themes (though it has plenty of Biblical and religious references).

Infidels is controversial, in that Dylan decided late in the process to remove two of the strongest songs -- "Blind Willie McTell" and "Foot Of Pride" -- and substitute the far weaker "Union Sundown". (He also had left several amazing songs off his previous album, 1981's Shot Of Love.)

The album was released in October 1983. It closed the door on a decade of brilliant songwriting and performing (beginning with Planet Waves) that I find more compelling and fascinating than Dylan's first decade of work. I'm looking forward to when FoJoS Tony Ling gets to this era on his Every Bob Dylan Song blog (he's wrasslin' with 1970's Self-Portrait right now.)

Notes: Each track is not a unique take; some are different mixes of a previous track. The tracks in italics are the official versions of the songs and are not included here. "Blind Willie McTell", "Foot Of Pride", "Lord Protect My Child" and "Tell Me" were released on The Bootleg Series: Volumes 1-3. Song details are in this text file (notes not written by me).
The Complete Infidels Sessions

Disk 1
01 Angel Falling Too Close To The Ground
02 Angel Falling Too Close To The Ground
03 Angel Falling Too Close To The Ground
04 Blind Willie McTell
05 Blind Willie McTell
06 Blind Willie McTell
07 Neigbourhood Bully
08 Neigbourhood Bully
09 Neigbourhood Bully
10 Neigbourhood Bully
11 Neigbourhood Bully
12 Neigbourhood Bully
13 Clean Cut Kid
14 Dark Groove
15 Dark Groove
16 Don't Fly Unless It's Safe
17 Don't Fly Unless It's Safe

Disk 2
01 Death Is Not The End
02 Death Is Not The End
03 Death Is Not The End
04 Don't Fall Apart On Me Tonight
05 Don't Fall Apart On Me Tonight
06 Don't Fall Apart On Me Tonight
07 Don't Fall Apart On Me Tonight
08 Don't Fall Apart On Me Tonight
09 Don't Fall Apart On Me Tonight
10 Don't Fall Apart On Me Tonight
11 Foot Of Pride
12 Foot Of Pride
13 Julius & Ethel
14 Julius & Ethel

Disk 3
01 I & I
02 I & I
03 I & I
04 I & I
05 I & I
06 Jokerman
07 Jokerman
08 Jokerman
09 Jokerman
10 Jokerman
11 License To Kill
12 License To Kill
13 License To Kill
14 License To Kill
15 License To Kill

Disk 4
01 Lord Protect My Child
02 Lord Protect My Child
03 Man Of Peace
04 Man Of Peace
05 Man Of Peace
06 Man Of Peace
07 Man Of Peace
08 Someone's Got A Hold Of My Heart
09 Someone's Got A Hold Of My Heart
10 Sweetheart Like You
11 Sweetheart Like You
12 Sweetheart Like You
13 Sweetheart Like You
14 Sweetheart Like You

Disk 5
01 Tell Me
02 Tell Me
03 This Was My Love
04 This Was My Love
05 Union Sundown
06 Union Sundown
07 Union Sundown
08 Union Sundown
09 Union Sundown

Disk 6
01 Sweetheart Like You (Rehearsals 1)
02 Sweetheart Like You (Rehearsals 2)

Disk 7
Sweetheart Like You (Rehearsals 3)
In March 1984, Dylan appeared on the David Letterman show with a trio of punky musicians from Los Angeles. They had rehearsed for a couple of days, but when they hit the stage, Dylan (being Dylan) called out for a Sonny Boy Williamson song -- which had never even been mentioned at rehearsal! This performance of "Jokerman" is superb, complete with harmonica eff-up.

More from that show here.


johngoldfine said...

Dja see the piece in today's paper about the cops in NJ who stopped him, made nothing of his name so demanded ID, and when he couldn't produce it whisked him off to the concert venue for verification?

redsock said...


When Dylan wandered into the yard of a home that had a "For Sale" sign on it, the home's occupants became spooked by his appearance and called police with a report of an "eccentric-looking old man" in their yard, Long Branch Police said. One of the occupants even went so far as to follow Dylan as he continued on down the street. ...

"I asked him what his name was and he said, 'Bob Dylan,' Buble said. "Now, I've seen pictures of Bob Dylan from a long time ago and he didn't look like Bob Dylan to me at all. He was wearing black sweatpants tucked into black rain boots, and two raincoats with the hood pulled down over his head. ...

"We see a lot of people on our beat, and I wasn't sure if he came from one of our hospitals or something," Buble said. ...

"He was acting very suspicious," Buble said. "Not delusional, just suspicious. You know, it was pouring rain and everything." ...

"I got out of my car and said, "Sarg, this guy says he's Bob Dylan,'" Buble said. "He opened the car door, looked in, and said, 'That's not Bob Dylan.'"

He's not there.

L-girl said...

Great choice, thanks.

Pepe Lepew said...

I saw Bob Dylan in the first-ever concert at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, Calif. His band was Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. I'm guessing it was about 1986.

redsock said...

I believe L saw them that year also.


So, no one has an opinion about this album ..... :~/

SoSock said...

I love the clip!

Oddly enough, the night we were at JoS1 in Boston, my son was watching Bob, along with John Mellencamp and Willie Nelson in Raleigh. I won tickets to the show by having a horrendous round of r&r trivia vs. the morning expert on our local rock station. My personal worst against him. The tickets were the "just for playing" prize. I would have loved to go to the show myself, but I had a prior engagement, ya know. In Boston, ya know.
Timmy said it was a great show, but he couldn't understand a word Bob said. I said "oh, sounds like he was in perfect form" :)
PS - BDL had a guest guitarist with them tonight - a slide blues virtuoso. Killer!
His regular band is opening for Hot Tuna next week in Charlotte, and IF the opening act gets a guest list - I'm on it! I'll know Monday. If so I'll probably get to meet Jorma. Kinda cool.

wardo said...

I was waiting to comment till I posted this:

But yes -- Infidels is his second best album of the '80s.

Thanks for the links!

Tony said...

I was out of commission until last night moving into my new place in SD, so I wasn't able to see this post and give props for the plug until today. So thank you, Allan; I totally appreciate your support and readership.

Lord knows I wish Bob had put the Bootleg Series outtakes on here, but this album still has some great stuff on it (I agree with Allan that it basically ended Dylan's 2nd peak). Jokerman, License to Kill, and I & I are classics, IMO. I urge all of you to check out the Letterman performance Allan linked to - simply awesome takes on the two best Infidels songs. It'll make you hate Real Live that much more, I'll tell you that.

BTW, that news story is hilarious - I used to read about Bob just wandering around in fields and biking around and shit during the Never Ending Tour, off by his lonesome. It's actually kinda surprising that he hasn't been picked up by the law more often.

If any of you listen to any of these songs, please let it be Blind Willie McTell. It's one of Bob's five best songs, without question. And if any phrase has ever said a lot, that one says a lot.

redsock said...

I knew you'd show up eventually, Tony!

However -- if License to Kill is a classic, then isn't Man Of Peace one also? (I greatly prefer MoP.)


Dylan could have made a nice double album with what he recorded at these sessions. Of course, then the argument would have been: "if he had only cut it down to a single record, it would have been a gem"!

Blind Willie McTell is amazing, but Lord Protect My Child impresses me every time I hear it. Dylan's voice is (err, was) amazingly expressive, but someone with some serious gospel pipes could sent that song into the stratosphere.

And while the lyrics to Neighbourhood Bully are annoying at best and offensive and ignorant at worst, the outtakes rock like a motherfucker.

Tony said...

Man of Peace is a pretty damn great song. To be honest, I think what sways me more towards LtK's camp is that killer Letterman performance. It really is something else.

Agreed with Lord Protect My Child. I can't remember who did that album of Dylan gospel songs in a more gospelly vein, but they do translate incredibly well. The man wrote some damn good songs about God.

AVOL said...

This must be the most complete collection of "Infidels" outtakes circulating. Thanks a lot! Love that alternative version of "Union Sundown" with the additional "man in a mask in the White House" verse! Btw the story that Dylan did not rehearse "Don't Start Me Talking" for the Letterman Show appearance is a myth. There is a tape of Dylan and his band (LA punk band The Plugz) rehearsing at Dylan's home studio before the show. They run through that song several times. And do you know that The Plugz' drummer Charlie Quintana joined Dylan's band for most of the 1992 shows?