New Pony Records
Title for dec1997
cd pic for dec1997
  • June 21, 1995 Theater of the Living Arts, Philadelphia, PA
  • December 19, 1997 El Rey Theater, Los Angeles, CA
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Liner Notes

1997 was an unusually tumultuous year for Dylan. He began 1997 in a Miami studio with Daniel Lanois recording what would become Time Out Of Mind, his first album of original songs since Under The Red Sky from 1990. In February, Dylan and his band toured Japan. In March, Dylan replaced guitarist J.J. Jackson – a mainstay of his touring band since 1991 – with Larry Campbell, another accomplished studio musician. April and May they toured the Canadian Maritimes, New England, and the Appalachians. In late May, Dylan was hospitalized with a serious respiratory infection which required the cancellation of a planned joint tour of Europe with Van Morrison. Dylan recuperated during the summer months, resuming his North American tour in August with a brief set of shows that autumn in the UK and, notably, a one-off concert for the Pope in Bologna, Italy towards the end of September.

On September 30th, Time Out Of Mind hit the stores to immediate critical acclaim. The glowing reviews, booming sales, and talk of Grammy’s followed Dylan and his band out on the road for a series of club dates, culminating in a five-show stint at the El Rey. All five El Rey shows are superb and Sony has since mined recordings from some of these shows for promotional discs to back Time Out Of Mind.



This evening, as-yet unplumbed by Sony, features another buoyant performance by Dylan and his band in top form, sweeping along the audience before them. Larry Campbell’s lead guitar meshes smoothly with Bucky Baxter’s masterful pedal steel and mandolin playing, embracing Dylan’s unique pawing guitar style without being subservient to it. Tony Garnier and recent addition David Kemper anchor the band on bass and drums respectively. Within days of the release of Time Out Of Mind, songs from the album begin to figure prominently in concerts, including four of the sixteen songs this evening.

The concert opens with Maggie’s Farm a performance which makes clear there would be no tentative efforts this night. Man In The Long Black Coat follows, propelled by Baxter’s swooping pedal steel and Larry Campbell’s jangling arpeggios. The brilliant coordination of their guitars transports the third song, Cold Irons Bound, which flowers in live performance and has become a mainstay in Dylan’s performances since Time Out Of Mind’s release. Cold Irons Bound replaces All Along The Watchtower as one of the few anchor songs in Dylan’s otherwise ever-changing set lists during this period.

Unlike so many of Dylan’s compositions which lend themselves easily to a variety of arrangements and instrumentation, the Time Out Of Mind songs arrive ready-made, with the integrated sound of three guitars and prominent melodic bass lines integral to the overall feel of the songs. Nevertheless, several catch fire performed live. Can’t Wait is one, it’s wonderful interplay of instruments again raising the song from the deliberate, spooky tone of the studio recording to a livelier, tougher sound on stage. The three-guitar attack culminates with Silvio. After years of tinkering with alternate arrangements, this band raises the Robert Hunter composition to its showstopper potential with fluid, coordinated solos and Dylan’s boastful vocals.

A three-song acoustic set follows, showcasing Dylan’s affecting vocals and circuitous solos on acoustic guitar. Often discounted for his increasingly limited vocal range, Dylan’s easy way with Babe It Ain’t No Lie and his taut performance of Love Minus Zero/No Limit belie the perception that his expressiveness is limited by his tools, as his singing, yet again, finds one of those seams he mines every now and then to such astonishing effect. Tangled Up In Blue anchors the acoustic set as it does most nights during this tour, showing this band can get plenty loud without amplification.

Joey, another rare performance, receives a spare, sinuous interpretation, full of confidence and bluster to equal its namesake. The second electric set concludes with another anchor drawn from Time Out Of Mind, Til I Fell In Love With You, here a chunky, snarling blues only hinted at on the album.

Sheryl Crow joins Dylan for encores of Highway 61 and a classic performance of Knockin On Heaven’s Door featuring her fine accordion accompaniment on the latter. Love Sick kicks off a second encore; a sudden scream of recognition from a woman in the audience confirming its status mere months after its first appearance.

Another treasure — spared obscurity through a bit of enlightened infringement that would make Robin Hood proud – here for your edification.

Disc One
maggie’s farm
man in a long black coat
cold irons bound
just like a woman
can’t wait
oh babe, it ain’t no lie
love minus zero/no limit
tangled up in blue
when i paint my masterpiece
Disc Two
’til i fell in love with you
highway 61 revisited
knockin on heavens door
love sick
rainy day women 12 & 35

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