TOM PETTY AND BOB DYLAN – New York 1986 (Rox Vox RV2CD2128)

New York 1986In the mid-80s and in the midst of his own musical wasteland, Bob Dylan went down a number of different angles in a bid to rejuvenate his career. While some of these efforts were more successful than others, one of the more favourable endeavours from this time was his work with the late Tom Petty. Prior to their work with The Travelling Wilburys super group, Dylan and Petty took to the road, with the extensive True Confessions tour, beginning in February 1986. This double disc, New York 1986, released on the ‘Rox Vox’ label presents an entire concert recording, from a rainy night in Saratoga Springs, New York, from July of that year.

Opening with Dylan’s onstage entrance, it is immediately clear that this is not a recording, originally intended for release, and indeed there are several, similar cuts throughout the duration of the 32 song double album. With the backing of Petty’s Heartbreakers, the lion’s share of the set comes from Dylan, who draws from his own extensive catalogue; fusing solid gold classics, with some of his lesser remembered 1980s works.

Decent live versions of ‘I’ll Remember You’ and ‘When The Night Comes Falling From The Sky’ from 1985’s ‘Empire Burlesque’ are worth a listen, as are Tom Petty’s contributions; particularly ‘Straight Into The Darkness’, ‘Even The Losers’, ‘Spike’ and ‘Waiting’ – even if on-stage sound issues detract from the audio quality of this particular version. From the Dylan camp, there are re-workings of 60s classics; including a punchy version of ‘Positively 4th Street’, an enjoyable guitar and harmonica led rendition of ‘Mr Tambourine Man’, a rock n roll styled ‘Rainy Day Woman #12 & 35’ as well as alternative, electric delivery of ‘House Of The Rising Sun’. Some songs don’t translate as well however, ‘Masters Of War’, for example, doesn’t need a minute long guitar solo. What makes the recording most interesting, however, is the handful of covers, performed and confined by Dylan to his 1980s tours. ‘Unchain My Heart’ which opens the album is a good example of this, as is ‘Lonesome Town’ by Ricky Nelson which kicks off disc two – although it does take so long to start you may find yourself double checking that you actually pressed ‘play’. Renditions of Ry Cooder’s ‘Across The Borderline’ and ‘We Had It All’ (by Donny Fritts and Troy Seals) are also worthwhile inclusions.

While I do like Tom Petty, I’m generally really not a fan of mid-80s Bob, but overlooking some of this recording’s audio inconsistencies, this is actually a very enjoyable album. It is a live document of a curious partnership which failed to produce an official studio album. The song selection is relatively unusual and true to Dylan form, for better or worse, the live versions of the live standards are unique to their own time and place.

Christopher James Sheridan

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‘Positively 4th Street’ live from 1986:

A Crooked Mile – by Society

Following on from their hugely successful release SONGS FROM THE BRICKHOUSE, Society are back in 2011 with A CROOKED MILE. This stunning new release is guaranteed to bring the trio even more praise from media and audiences alike. For those that don’t know Society are a three piece country rock band from West Sussex who specialise in gorgeous three part harmonies that set them apart from the current crop of Americana or country rock wanabees in the UK. The band comprise guitarist Matt Wise, bassist Ben Lancaster and holding down the beat, F.Scott Kenny on drums. Their recorded and live sound has echoes of C.S.N.Y, The BandThe Heartbreakers, The Jayhawks and the late great Ronnie Lane and Slim Chance. Matt Wise composes most if not all of their material and when all three sing in harmony the result is simply stunning, this shown perfectly at the 2011 Maverick Festival where they had the audience spellbound listening to their live performance.

Since forming in 2004 Society have supported many great artistes including Eve Selis, Deadstring Brothers, Corb Lund, Luke Doucet and The Wailin’ Jennys. Apart from their own UK headline shows, Society have completed two tours of Canada along with a string of dates in the American mid-west gaining a whole new legion of fans in the USA.

This constant touring has honed both their musical and vocal chops and in the summer of 2011 Society returned to the studio to produce A CROOKED MILE, recorded both at the Brickhouse Studios near Brighton and the bands own Downland Studios located near Gatwick. Matt Wise was in the producers’ chair, ably assisted by engineer James Gasson.

The album is once again a collection of eleven original songs from the pen of Matt Wise and arranged by all three band members. Guest musicians featured on the album include Spencer Cullum who is one of the foremost young pedal steel players around today, Ben Davies and James Batchelar on keyboards, Pat Kenneally on melodica/piano and added pedal steel is supplied by Chris Pritchard.

The songs on A CROOKED MILE once again echo their love and passion for all things West Coast USA, Laurel Canyon and the great country rock music produced in the late 1960s/early 70s, yet their sound is brought into the 21st century with a distinctly indie feel. Stand out tracks include 40 Days, a stunning and anthemic crowd pleaser, Blues Flag, reminiscent of The Band at their finest, the bluegrass influenced Davey and the perfect opening track Wheels A’ Turning, country rock at its very best.

2011/2012 will see Society touring the UK to support the release of A CROOKED MILE and already the band are confirmed for several festival appearances in 2012.

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.