New Pony Records
Title for oct1787
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  • November 16, 1979 Warfield Theater San Francisco, CA
  • December 3, 1980 Paramount Theater Portland, OR
  • July 25, 1981 Earls Court London, England
  • October 17, 1987 Wembley Arena London, England
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Liner Notes

Following his 1986 world tour with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and the release of Knocked Out Loaded, Dylan returned to the studio, recording the soundtrack for the “Hearts Of Fire” film and tracks for what would become Down In The Groove. In July 1987, Dylan played six stadium concerts with the Grateful Dead, resulting in the live album, Dylan And The Dead.

By September, Dylan was back on the road for a six-week, thirty concert tour of Europe, again fronting Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, dubbed the “Temples In Flames” Tour. Much has been made of this tour since Dylan suggested, in a 2001 interview, that a concert in Locarno, Switzerland was a turning point in his performing career. Whatever happened on stage in Locarno, the entire tour is highly regarded among Dylan fans.

This show, the final concert of the tour and the last of four played at London’s Wembley Arena, is a standout. The recording begins with a tentative bass tuning up, soon followed by Dylan’s harp outlining the tune to The Times They Are A-Changin. Dylan’s singing immediately establishes the territory for the evening; a restless, insistent tone challenging the iconic structure of this song as an anthem; exploring within the melody and restructuring cadences, bringing new energy and perspective to a song we’d otherwise know too well.

Towards the end of Times They Are A-Changin, Dylan strums a chord several times in quick succession as though urging the band to alter the song’s rhythm. Dylan’s purpose here, as the song is ending, is unclear, but alerts us to the musical dialogue occurring on stage between Dylan’s notoriously improvisational approach and the highly polished professionalism of the Heartbreakers. The Heartbreaker’s sound during both the 1986 and 1987 tours tend towards very conventional, clean arrangements of Dylan’s songs. The juxtaposition of this pop sound with Dylan’s iconoclastic moods made for some uneasy concerts in 1986. By this tour, the tension has become complementary, giving Dylan more room to roam within the melody of each song, sounding determined to push these songs to places unknown.

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For the musicians, particularly Benmont Tench on keyboards, Dylan’s efforts pose a series of challenges they rise to with relish. Consider the melodic interplay between Dylan’s harp and Tench’s piano beginning Forever Young, then the way Dylan assaults the melody itself, spitting out staccato phrases, much like those stern chords in the first song. This dialogue plays out again and again as Dylan finds a way to rephrase the pathos of Simple Twist Of Fate within Tench’s jaunty arrangement; restructures I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine into a sober meditation lacking a chorus, far from the standard folk influences which animate the original and are echoed in Tench’s churchy introduction. Seldom, in Dylan’s long performing career, has a single musician held such prominence and defining character to the overall sound. The creative collaboration between Dylan’s voice and Tench’s clean, rolling piano phrasing is highly successful both this evening and throughout the tour.

The riches arrive in bundles. Gotta Serve Somebody, Man Of Peace, and I and I create a brilliant, growling trio at the heart of the concert; the former two played to an almost identical arrangement with utterly different effects. For those less than enamored with the studio version of Man Of Peace presented on Infidels, this performance should open some ears. I and I is served up as a reggae shuffle, odd as that may sound. Dylan’s vocals are ominous and the song is underscored by a heavy, repeated emphasis on the frightening chorus, sung as a coda, in three-part harmony, by Madelyn Quebec, Carolyn Dennis, and Queen Esther Marrow.

Don’t Think Twice and Tomorrow Is A Long Time follow immediately, both beautifully rendered as stripped down arrangements, showcasing Dylan’s considerable vocal gifts against Mike Campbell’s understated guitar and Tench’s keyboards. The full band returns to deliver two show stoppers — a wonderful rave-up arrangement of In The Garden, carried forward from the 1986 shows, and a majestic version of Knockin On Heaven’s Door — to end the show.

Dylan and the band return for an encore, accompanied by Roger McGuinn on Chimes of Freedom and a surprise guest, George Harrison, on a joyous but chaotic Rainy Day Women. Dylan then concludes the concert, as he did in their first concert of the tour in Tel Aviv, Israel, with the spiritual, Go Down Moses.

Another wonderful concert, lost to the ages but for enterprising tapers and a legion of fans who have shared and treasured these recordings through the intervening years, copyright laws be damned.

Disc One
the times they are a’changin
like a rolling stone
maggie’s farm
forever young
dead man, dead man
i dreamed i saw st. augustine
simple twist of fate
i’ll be your baby tonight
watching the river flow
gotta serve somebody
Disc Two
man of peace
i and i
don’t think twice, it’s alright
tomorrow is a long time
heart of mine
in the garden
knockin on heaven’s door
chimes of freedom
rainy day women 12 & 35
go down moses

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