“All Along the Watchtower” (A Bob Dylan Cover)

Originally posted 2008-07-12 11:54:14. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Chris Moore:

Now, this is truly a day of firsts for me. Three firsts, if I count them accurately. In order of occurrence: (1) I woke up on my own, on a Saturday, at a decent hour, and got right out of bed. Anyone who knows me on any personal level to any degree knows how amazing that truly is. (2) Then, I recorded my Saturday cover video in one take, including rehearsals. When it comes to these cover song sessions, I am probably more of a perfectionist than I should be. Thus, I repeatedly practice and record the music videos until I’m satisfied I could not do any better. Suffice it to say that usually takes anywhere between five and twenty-five takes. Today, one!! And, finally (3) I came upstairs from FMP Studios to find Jim, having just woken up, in an excellent mood. This is nothing against Jim — and I’m admittedly a bear (not one of those friendly, cuddly ones you might see at a show with a trainer, but one of those angry, blood thirsty ones that attack campers and hikers without provocation ala the John Candy movie The Great Outdoors) if you try to wake me from nodding off during a movie, etc. — but Jim’s just not a morning person. We sat and talked about the music blog, brainstormed some new ways to improve our views and content, and then laughed quite heartily about bathroom humor, the details of which I’ll spare you.

All told, really not a bad way to start a beautiful, sunny summer day!

But let’s get down to business. My acoustic cover song for today is Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower.” Ironically, you are probably more familiar with the Jimi Henrix’s cover version than you are of Dylan’s original music. And, even as a HUGE Dylan fan, I have to admit that Hendrix’s cover song is the definitive version. Even Dylan admitted as much — his live performances of the song still reflect Hendrix’s arrangement. That being said, Dylan’s original is heavily acoustic, so I felt that would be a better version for this acoustic guitar music video. So, I grabbed my acoustic guitar, dusted off my harmonica rack, and gave it my all. One take. Could it have been better, more polished? Yes, I suppose. But this is what the Laptop Sessions are all about — this is a snapshot in time, as though you sat down with me in my living room and I just played it for you, on a whim. I hope you enjoy it!

And, of course, don’t miss the unveiling of an all-new acoustic cover song from Jeff Copperthite — his next quality cover video will be posted here tomorrow…

See you next session!

**EDITOR’S NOTE: This video is no longer on YouTube, but please check out our other Bob Dylan cover songs here on the music video blog!

“Lay Lady Lay” (Bob Dylan Cover)

Originally posted 2007-12-16 18:28:07. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Jim Fusco:

Back again for more Laptop Sessions! It’s been a while, but now that the planning is finally done for our annual Christmas/New Year’s party, I’ll be back doing more sessions more often! So, today, I’m actually putting four new videos online, as these were salvaged from my last laptop’s hard drive before it died. Props to me, though, because I uploaded these to my web space before the hard drive crashed! :-)

“Lay Lady Lay” is an oddity. If you listen to Dylan’s Greatest Hits/Best Of compilations, you’ll notice that this song stands out from the rest because of, dare I say it, his good voice! For the album “Nashville Skyline” (one of my favorites), he decided to try a new style of singing and playing. Chris and I put a new spin on this song with a guitar solo, and I hope everyone likes what we’ve done with it, especially because it took about 34 takes!

Stay tuned for part 2 of today’s 4 part Laptop Sessions extravaganza!



“Tangled Up in Blue” (Bob Dylan Cover)

Originally posted 2008-02-16 12:36:30. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Chris Moore:

I’ve recorded a series of Bob Dylan songs for the Laptop Sessions, and yet I haven’t recorded any songs from one of his best albums, Blood on the Tracks. From the moment I heard “Tangled Up in Blue,” I’ve always loved this song. I think it’s the story and how — even though it’s a classic structure of verse, bridge, chorus (repeat seven times) — the story shifts after every chorus. My favorite alternate version of this song is from his 1984 live album Real Live. I was caught off guard by this version, as Dylan changes a good portion of the lyrics and shifts the perspective of the narrator.

When Jim and I went to see Dylan a couple years ago in the rain in an open field (which was a less than pleasant way to spend $60!), the highlight of the show was probably when one of the band members broke out an acoustic guitar and Dylan sang a rockin’ “Tangled Up in Blue.” We were still soaked, but it helped make up for it…

I hope you enjoy tonight’s Bob Dylan acoustic cover song version of “Tangled Up In Blue” here on the Laptop Sessions music video blog. Stay tuned for even more music videos of your favorite songs from your favorite songwriters- all done acoustically!



Reflections on Rock Music: Remasters, Reissues, and Bootleg Releases…

Originally posted 2009-03-16 23:51:12. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Chris Moore:

In lieu of a video tonight, I’d like to take a moment and review one of the music industry’s favorite ways to make an extra dime on previously released material — also known as “remastered” and/or “reissued” albums.  And, just because it feels right, I’d like to incorporate some thoughts on the release of previously unreleased material, or “bootleg,” “b-side,” and/or “rarity” collections.

Remastered Recordings

What is a remastered recording, really?  Now, in some cases, a remastered recording can be the most exciting release in an artist’s catalog, particularly for longtime fans and audiophiles.  For instance, there really is no substitute for the fully stereo-version of the Beach Boys Pet Sounds.  This remastered disc created quite a controversy when it first came out, as you had purists who claimed it should remain mono, as it was originally intended and released by Brian Wilson and the boys.  Others embraced the all-new expansion of the sound on this classic album.  As for me, I cannot understand how anyone in possession of the Pet Sounds CD could refrain from skipping to track 14 every time to begin with the stereo recording of “Wouldn’t It Be Nice.”  Compared to the mono recordings, the second set of stereo-mixed tracks are crisp and clear as they pop out around your ears.  You can hear each instrument and truly appreciate the minute instrumental and harmonic details that are present in this Beach Boys masterpiece, as compared to the mono versions which have a tendency to crackle and feel claustrophobic when turned up to any reasonable volume.

This, unfortunately, is probably the exception in the world of “remasters.”

Beware music fans when you pick up a CD or read online that a disc has been “remastered.”  The trick here is to read into the fine print and ascertain to what degree the recording has actually been altered.  For instance, the classic packaging/marketing trick has been for a sticker on a CD case to read “Digitally Remastered.”  That sounds great!  I have to have this new and improved recording for my collection!…

Well, perhaps so, but half the time all this means is that someone converted the analog tracks into a digital format.  Depending on the artist, producer, remixer, and age of original recording, there has often been no real improvement to the sound of the recording.  I’ve certainly been burned a few times by this “Digitally Remastered” marketing…

That being said, there really are some truly great remastered recordings out there if you’re careful to ascertain the degree of thought and effort that has gone into the apparent “remastering” (Like the re-issue of the main albums in Bob Dylan’s catalog a few years ago — and you better appreciate the improvement in sound quality, because there’s no booklet or bonus tracks to speak of!)

Reissues

Not to sound bitter here or anything, but reissues can also be just another waste of money.  Or they can offer any amazing addition to your collection.  How can you tell the difference?  Well, here are a few tips:

  • If it is a reissue of a recently released album, it’s probably just the same old material with a couple of shoddily recorded demos or tracks that didn’t make it to the album (usually for a reason) attached;
  • If it is an album that never made it to CD, then you must ask yourself: How much do I love this artist? If the answer is anything other than “very much,” then stay far, far away from this type of reissue!!  On the other hand, if the answer is “very much,” then what are you waiting for?  Some of my favorite CD purchases have fallen under this category, most notably Warren Zevon’s The Envoy.  I can’t believe that, previous to the reissue of this album in 2003, I wouldn’t have been able to hear such songs as “The Overdraft” or “Hula Hula Boys.”
  • If it is a reissue of a live album, you need to seriously question what has been improved since the initial release.  After all, what level of improvement can there really be in terms of sound quality?  It’s a live album.  It better have lots of additional tracks or an amazing, detailed booklet with updated interviews, etc.  Johnny Cash’s Live at Folsom Prison reissue is an excellent example of a worthwhile purchase in this category.
  • If it is an anniversary edition of a studio recording, some of the same criteria apply as above.  For instance, have the tracks been remastered?  (I mean, really remastered!)  Is there a decent array of bonus tracks added for the collector who already has the original album?  Is there a seriously detailed booklet with a decent number of pages?  I mean, after all, if this is an album worthy of a reissue, there must be a good deal of back story, historical importance, and/or artists from that band or other bands that are excited and willing to talk about it!
  • Finally, there is the enigmatic multiple format reissue.  What is this, you may ask?  This is when an album or collection of tracks is released and there are multiple options for the consumer.  For instance, when Pearl Jam re-releases their debut album Ten later this month, there will be three different packages available.  There’s the “Legacy Edition” with two discs — one with the original tracks, one with a newly remixed version of the album by original producer Brendan O’Brien and six bonus tracks.  There’s the “Deluxe Edition” with the aforementioned two discs and a DVD of Pearl Jam’s MTV Unplugged performance from 1992.  Then, there’s the “Collector’s Edition” with the aforementioned two CDs and one DVD, four vinyl discs (one with the original album, one with the remixed and bonus tracks, two with a live concert), a cassette version of Pearl Jam’s original “Momma-Son” demo, and “Package also includes an Eddie Vedder-style composition notebook filled with replica personal notes, images and mementos from the collections of Eddie Vedder and Jeff Ament, a vellum envelope with replicated era-specific ephemera from Pearl Jam’s early work and a two-sided print commemorating the Drop in the Park concert.”  Wow.  Now that’s some selection.  For most people, the “Legacy Edition” really should be enough.  For me, the intermediate Pearl Jam fan (and the ultimate fan of CD packaging), I will consider the “Deluxe Edition” based on the price difference.  If it’s a reasonable amount more, I would really be interested to watch the unplugged performance.  As for the “Collector’s Edition” (valued on Amazon.com at $124.99), you truly need to be a Collector with a capital “C.”  Now, don’t get me wrong; they have really done it up with some amazing elements, but as much as I love and appreciate CD packaging, I’m not about to drop that much money on a single album reissue.  If my memory serves me well, this was the price for buying all the Dylan reissues at one point (again, admittedly without any booklet, bonus tracks, or memorabilia to speak of).

Bootlegs (and B-sides and Rarities)

A final category in this collection of corporate cash cows (and music lovers’ delights!) are officially released bootleg recordings.  For convenience, I’ll lump in B-sides and rarities.  Bootlegs, of course, are tracks that have not been officially released but are circulated underground among fans.  Perhaps the most famous release of a bootleg was Bob Dylan and the Band’s Basement Tapes.  Worth every crazy, weird minute of sound, my friends!  Dylan’s celebrated Bootleg Series is dedicated to releasing unheard tracks and live concerts that have been — almost without exception — wonderful and worthwhile purchases.  Again, I would ask that you apply that aforementioned question to the purchase laid out before you:  “How much do you like this band/artist?”

Most bands, at some point or another, release a collection of unreleased tracks, b-sides, and rarities.  These are sometimes mediocre at best (Hootie and the Blowfish’s Scattered, Covered, and Smothered) with a minimum of only somewhat interesting liner notes.  However, these are sometimes wildly fascinating and rewarding, such as the Beach Boys’ Endless Harmony soundtrack, Warren Zevon’s Preludes, or Pearl Jam’s Lost Dogs (the latter incorporating a detailed and interesting read of a booklet).

The trick here, to be repeated once and only once more, is to evaluate how much you like the artist or band, and then to take a calculated risk.  In this writer’s opinion, half the fun of surfing the racks (or the web) and buying new albums — whether they be standard releases, remasters, reissues, or bootlegs — is the risk involved.  You may be — and perhaps most often will be — unimpressed or only somewhat entertained.  But it’s all worth it when you have those moments of revelation as you discover a truly worthwhile addition to your music library!