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CD-Rchive: Between Saved and Shot
Bonus Boot: Ron Wood and Bo Diddley at the Ritz, 1987
Today, the second installment in our new occasional series CD-Rchive. Short description if you missed the first installment: I recently found two giant boxes of Bob Dylan-and-more bootleg CDs I burned in high school and college. So I’m selecting one of these dusty discs at random - and one non-Bob show as well - and investigating.
Note: I intended to make that first one free to all, but hit the wrong button when I sent it - sorry - so this second one’s free instead! But as with my other semi-regular series (One Random Song, This Date in Dylan, the forthcoming Compilation Corner), CD-Rchive installments will generally be for paid subscribers only going forward. If you're mostly here for the interviews or whatnot, you'll be just as glad; this series is real esoteric, even for us! But if this intrigues you, consider signing up:
And today’s randomly selected CD-R is (Jim Keltner drumroll please…)
Between Saved and Shot
Most of my old CD-R bootlegs are live shows, but there is some studio-outtakes type stuff in there. And when this series lands on one, it will be the rare occasion where we discuss studio recordings in the newsletter. And today's is a doozy.
Called Between Saved and Shot, this set came out in 1999 on the bootleg label Dandelion, showcasing outtakes from the Shot of Love sessions in the Spring of 1981.
If that concept sounds familiar, it’s because four of the songs on this got officially released last fall on Springtime in New York:"Is It Worth It," "Yes Sir No Sir" (here titled "Hallelujah"), "Borrowed Time," and "Don't Ever Take Yourself Away." If you’d gotten this bootleg in 1999, you would have had them for two decades prior to the Bootleg Series release.
That leaves ten songs that still haven't seen any official release, even though, chronologically, they would have slotted in perfectly on Springtime's first disc. So I thought I'd give all ten a listen and ask the same question of each: Was it a mistake to leave this song off the latest Bootleg Series?
1. High Away
I love this song despite it not really being an actual, you know, song. It's basically eight minutes of vamping. Bob, the band, and the backing singers repeat the same vocal riff over and over again. This would grow annoying if that vocal riff wasn't so damn infectious. A couple times, the band brings it down so that Bob can sing a verse. But Bob doesn't have any verses, so he basically improvises some mumbled sorta-words until he sings a descending "doo-doo-doo" that signals the riff to kick back in
Should it have been on Springtime? Hell yes! Who cares if it's not a "real song"?
Unlike "High Away," "Magic" does have lyrics. And they are… ???
Indeed, Clinton Heylin notes that the song wasn't copyrighted until four years later, possibly because the person filing the paperwork for the 1981 material couldn't understand what any of the words were. How do you copyright enthusiastic mumbling?
Dylan must have liked the song, though, as "Magic" almost made it onto Shot of Love. At the 11th hour, he dropped this and "Angelina," which was included on Springtime in New York. “Magic” strikes me as a fairly forgettable blues-rock song, and maybe Bob belatedly agrees. Though I do like hearing him yelp “she’s a shady lady!” at the end of an otherwise difficult-to-understand verse.
Should it have been on Springtime? For historical purposes as a song that very nearly made Shot of Love, maybe, but it wouldn't have been anyone's favorite song on disc one.
3. You're Still a Child to Me
For most of its runtime, "You're Still a Child to Me" is just an instrumental riff, and a pretty boring one at that. And is that some Bob guitar-noodling I hear in the mix? Surely Fred Tackett couldn't get away with that aimless nonsense. Then in the last thirty seconds, Bob and the backing singers start singing a super catchy riff about a "whole lot of running." But just as soon as it starts to get good, it ends. Bummer.
Should it have been on Springtime? The ratio of good-part-to-boring-part is way off, at least in this take. Were there others that built on the ideas in those last thirty seconds?
4. Wind Blows On the Water
There's a killer Shot of Love outtake about wind blowing, but it sure ain't this one.
The answer, my friend, is "Caribbean Wind."
Should it have been on Springtime? No. But, speaking of which, would it have killed them to give us a second version of "Caribbean Wind" last year? Olof's Files lists at least nine different takes other than the one on Biograph, and there could be more.
5. All the Way Down
Note: Some of these aren’t on YouTube. The full set download is at the bottom.
I mean, is this even a song? It's the band playing sort of ambient, rhythm-less music with Bob and the singers repeating the title line. Unlike some of the other barely-there tracks, it's hard to even see how this could have turned into a real song. But strangely, after three endless minutes, a funky guitar riff leads them into what sounds like a totally different (and vastly superior) song using the same line.
Should it have been on Springtime? Similar answer to “You’re Still a Child to Me”: If they could include only the last sixty seconds—or, even better, have another version that develops this part more—definitely. Otherwise, no.
6. My Oriental Home (Instrumental)
Specifying "My Oriental Home" as an instrumental is funny. Though Bob technically sings on the rest of these songs, he has very little of what you'd call actual lyrics. But this one doesn't even have Bob mumbling, or repeating a title line over and over. It's basically a jam session, Bob playing a guitar riff and the band, I’d guess spontaneously, creating a whole piece around it.
A couple quotes from Heylin's book Trouble in Mind that seem to apply here:
Jim Keltner (drums): He was looking for a vibe. He went to more length to find one than a lot of people. Some people will go to a studio and settle for it. He tried out quite a few different [ones] . . . He didn’t want to fall into that trap he got trapped into with Saved. So he was looking to do something more alive than that.
Fred Tackett (guitar): We were jamming a lot. Bob was looking for a studio, so we were [just] going around . . . Bob was always looking for . . . old studios and guys that knew how to record [in the] old style . . . He would just start singing a song and we’d just follow him along. Musically, they weren’t so complicated that you couldn’t figure out what he was doing.”
Should it have been on Springtime? Sure! There's not much to it, but it's a great example of this killer band at work. They take a barely-there thread Bob is giving them and, totally in the moment, craft a cool piece of music around it.
7. I Want You To Know I Love You
The cumbersome title "I Want You To Know I Love You" seems like a trial run for "I've Made Up My Mind to Give Myself to You." You can't even easily use shorthand here; there's already an "I Want You" in the Dylan catalog.
This seems like one of the most promising tracks here, super high-energy gospel with plenty of organ and hollers from the backing singers. No verses, as is becoming the norm on this set.
Should it have been on Springtime? Yes…though, even better, he should have actually finished the song. I'm not sure whether it would have fit on Shot of Love, but could have been an absolute showstopper live.
8. On a Rockin' Boat
This sounds like the closest since "Magic" to a proper, finished, real song. Verse, chorus, music - it’s all there, if a little sloppily executed. The site Untold Dylan makes the connection that this was written around the period where Dylan was indeed on a "rockin' boat," sailing his Water Pearl around the Caribbean in the early '80s.
Should it have been on Springtime? Given that the box set’s compilers seemed to prefer more finished songs, I can see why many of these weren't (even my beloved "High Away"). But this one was all ready to go!
9. Movin' (On the Water)
Damn, he did to a lot of boat and sailing songs in the early '80s huh? Literal yacht rock. This song is also sometimes called "Wait and See." Funny for a song with basically no lyrics to have two separate titles. Even one title seems too many. This feels more like two minutes of spontaneous studio experimentation someone cropped out and called a song.
Should it have been on Springtime? This one seems born to live on the eventual 1981 copyright collection dump of everything not good enough to have been released earlier. See you in 2031.
And we close with one more to file under "Hey look, it's an actual song, not just some riffing on a very loose idea in the studio!" A terrific song too, one elsewhere labeled "Almost Persuaded." Beautiful melody, what sounds like some real lyrics (albeit, as is par for the course here, mumbled), a nice part for the backing singers. There's even a guitar solo that sounds planned, like this might have been one they got fairly far along on.
Should it have been on Springtime? No-brainer. So I guess they had no brains.
And that wraps up the main part of the disc. There are four bonus track too, alternate takes of "Heart Of Mine," "Watered Down Love," "Shot Of Love," plus a "Mystery Train" cover that sounds a different take than the one on Springtime in New York. This one is slower, with wailing saxophone and a killer guitar solo rather than Springtime version’s piano solo.
Hey Columbia, let me know if you need a consultant for Bootleg Series 17, High Away: The Shot of Love Sessions…
Bonus Boot: Ron Wood at the Ritz, November 25 1987
“Why in god’s name did I trade for a Ron Wood solo show?” I wondered when this one came up. I mean, I like the Stones as much as anyone, but I certainly am not a big enough superfan to be listening to solo recordings by the band’s least-essential member (sorry Ron… though he seems cool, so he’d probably agree with me).
A quick Google of “Ron Wood November 25 1986” answered my question before I even pressed play. I did a poor job labeling this envelope. It’s not just Ron Wood; it’s Ron Wood and Bo Diddley.
Also, the year is wrong - it was 1987. It took me a minute to figure that out though, as the first results for “Ron Wood November 25 1986” were a similar show he played on June 15 1986 at the same venue, with Chuck Berry! Apparently Wood made a habit of playing the Ritz with a founding father of rock and roll on the 25th day of the month.
This Diddley date seemed like an event Rolling Stone (the magazine) would be all over, so I pulled up the next issue. Nothing about this, but look what I did spot:
Hmm, was there a bit of jealousy from the other Rolling Stone (the band) seeing all the press that movie got? “If Keith can play with Berry, I’m gonna play with Diddley!” Ron might have gotten the better end of the stick there; Bo must have been a better hang than Berry! (If you’ve seen Keith’s movie, you know what I mean).
Ron and Bo released a live album taken from this show in 1988, but this bootleg is the full thing. I’d assumed this was a one-off guest sit-in, but apparently the unlikely duo had done a whole tour leading up to it, probably to warm up to recording the live set. They also filmed this gig, so I’m assuming they released that on VHS or laserdisc or whatever the thing was back then. Some songs are available on what the thing is now: YouTube:
They toured together again in 1988, and there’s a video from a Japan show online. There are plenty of behind-the-scenes clips and interviews, so this definitely seems like a ripoff of Keith and Chuck’s movie. And those clips also confirm my guess that Diddley seems like a better hang than Berry. In an interview, Wood says he actually met Diddley two years prior at a show with Chuck. And Ron goes on to say, “I saw that Bo was much easier to get along with than Chuck [called it!]. He’s got a good sense of humor and is a real gentlemen. I owe a lot to him, as do a lot of British bands when the first started.”
I have no idea if I listened to this CD-R at the time, but all these years later I’m going all-in on the Ron Wood and Bo Diddley alliance. At the end of the Japan video, Diddley takes over the drum kit and crushes it. Who knew he could play like that? Though I guess I shouldn’t be surprised the man who gave us the Diddley Beat knew his way around the skins.
You all mind if I pivot this newsletter to just cover Ron Wood shows going forward? Okay cool. Maybe I’ll start with this one:
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