Bob Dylan – Springtime in New York- The Bootleg Series, Vol. 16 – 1980-1985 (2021) [FLAC 24bit/44,1kHz]

Bob Dylan – Springtime in New York- The Bootleg Series, Vol. 16 – 1980-1985 (2021)
FLAC (tracks) 24bit/44,1kHz | Time – 02:04:10 minutes | 1,35 GB | Genre: Folk Rock
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Front Cover | © Columbia – Legacy

It’s accepted wisdom among a faction of Dylan devotees that causing controversy, stirring emotions, and deliberately ruffling feathers-as happened when he went electric-secretly makes their hero very happy. Nothing (so far) in his career though has caused the ruckus that his late ’70s conversion to Christianity and subsequent gospel albums incited. For the second time in his career, he heard boos from a live audience as he stubbornly performed his new evangelical music on the tumultuous 1979-80 Gospel tour. Although it contained hints that perhaps a secular revival was at hand, the last religious album, 1981’s Shot of Love was savaged by the press and public alike. With the uproar in full swing, Dylan retreated from public view to refresh and regroup. In the spring of 1983, Dylan, who’d by then veered away from religion back to secular subjects, began tracking at the Power Station in New York City with a band that included former Rolling Stones guitar player Mick Taylor, singer Clydie King, and a rhythm section of reggae demigods Robbie Shakespeare (bass) and Sly Dunbar (drums). The resulting album, Infidels, and its closely related follow-up, 1985’s Empire Burlesque, marked a welcome return to relevance and success.

Springtime in New York, the latest volume in the extraordinary Bootleg Series, explores this period, collecting outtakes and alternates from the sessions for these albums-all but three of which are previously unreleased. If there’s a simple explanation for his religious period it lies in the first lines of opener (and Shot of Love outtake) “Angelina”: “Well, it’s always been my nature/ To take chances.” While each addition to the Bootleg series contains its share of revelations, this entry is particularly overflowing with surprises. The opportunity to hear a master musical creator working through songs, trying different tempos, rewriting lyrics on the fly, is fascinating and powerful. Debates over quality aside, the sheer volume of material that Dylan either wrote or covered in these sessions is absolutely astonishing. And longtime fans will particularly treasure the plethora of tracks where Dylan indulges his weakness for pop tunes by covering Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline,” the Michael Johnson hit “This Night Won’t Last Forever” and Dave Mason’s “We Just Disagree.”

Although the final album contained only eight cuts, over 70 outtakes exist from the Infidels sessions. The most famous are the two tracks that were mixed but left off the album at the last minute: “Blind Willie McTell” and “Foot of Pride.” Set to the melody of “St. James Infirmary,” the former, a salute to the bluesman and the racism and hardships he endured, was recorded on the first and last days of recording and yet did not appear on an album until 1991’s Bootlegs Vol. III. “Too Late,” which would evolve into “Foot of Pride” is presented here in two outtakes, the first reminiscent of the voice and acoustic guitar approach of Blood on the Tracks and the second a “band version.” With changed lyrics, and a harder, electric arrangement, the now-titled “Foot of Pride” shows itself in another outtake to be one of Dylan’s densest songs, with lyrics laced with references to death, the Bible and coconut bread. Full tilt rocker “Julius and Ethel,” about the Rosenbergs, is riotous fun and hilariously disrespectful. A laid-back outtake of “Sweetheart Like You,” one of the most fully realized tunes on Infidels-with its classic line “What’s a sweetheart like you/ Doing in a dump like this”-highlights the magical pairing of Dylan’s vocals over Alan Clark’s organ. The covers among the Infidels outtakes include a slow pass through Willie Nelson’s “Angel Flying too Close to the Ground,” and a version of Jimmy Reed’s “Baby What You Want Me to Do” that benefits from rollicking barrelhouse piano and Taylor’s deft slide work.

The making of Empire Burlesque was a looser arrangement with over 25 musicians contributing including three-fifths of Tom Petty’s Heartbreakers, Ron Wood, and the return of the Sly and Robbie rhythm section. While there are fewer outtakes from this album included here, a highlight is one of Dylan’s most storied outtakes, “New Danville Girl,” a tune about imagination and reality co-written with playwright Sam Shepard, which was reworked on his next album, Knocked Out Loaded into the exultant classic “Brownsville Girl.” Another knockout is the outtake of acoustic album closer “Dark Eyes,” a tune written after seeing a heavily made-up call girl who harks back to the days when Dylan the solo troubadour astonished the world: “Oh, the French girl, she’s in paradise and a drunken man is at the wheel/ Hunger pays a heavy price to the falling gods of speed and steel/ Oh, time is short and the days are sweet and passion rules the arrow that flies/ A million faces at my feet but all I see are dark eyes.” Ridiculously essential and displaying breathtaking creativity and drive, Springtime in New York documents a pivotal chapter in popular music’s most irreplaceable and still-running story. – Robert Baird

1. Bob Dylan – Angelina (Shot of Love Outtake)
2. Bob Dylan – Need a Woman (Rehearsal)
3. Bob Dylan – Let’s Keep It Between Us (Rehearsal)
4. Bob Dylan – Price of Love (Shot of Love Outtake)
5. Bob Dylan – Don’t Ever Take Yourself Away (Shot of Love Outtake)
6. Bob Dylan – Fur Slippers (Shot of Love Outtake)
7. Bob Dylan – Yes Sir, No Sir (Shot of Love Outtake)
8. Bob Dylan – Jokerman (Infidels Alternate Take)
9. Bob Dylan – Lord Protect My Child (Infidels Outtake)
10. Bob Dylan – Blind Willie McTell (Take 5 – Infidels Outtake)
11. Bob Dylan – Don’t Fall Apart on Me Tonight (Version 2) (Infidels Alternate Take)
12. Bob Dylan – Neighborhood Bully (Infidels Alternate Take)
13. Bob Dylan – Too Late (Band Version) (Infidels Outtake)
14. Bob Dylan – Foot of Pride (Infidels Outtake)
15. Bob Dylan – Sweetheart Like You (Infidels Alternate Take)
16. Bob Dylan – Someone’s Got a Hold of My Heart (Infidels Outtake)
17. Bob Dylan – I and I (Infidels Alternate Take)
18. Bob Dylan – Tell Me (Infidels Outtake)
19. Bob Dylan – Enough is Enough (Live from Slane Castle, Ireland)
20. Bob Dylan – Tight Connection to My Heart (Has Anyone Seen My Love) (Empire Burlesque Alternate Mix)
21. Bob Dylan – Seeing the Real You at Last (Empire Burlesque Alternate Take)
22. Bob Dylan – Emotionally Yours (Empire Burlesque Alternate Take)
23. Bob Dylan – Clean Cut Kid (Empire Burlesque Alternate Take)
24. Bob Dylan – New Danville Girl (Empire Burlesque Outtake)
25. Bob Dylan – Dark Eyes (Empire Burlesque Alternate Take)