“How Good It Can Get” (Wallflowers Cover)

Originally posted 2008-04-12 15:44:16. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Jim Fusco:

Welcome to your Saturday edition of The Laptop Sessions with me, Jim Fusco!

Today, I join the Wallflowers group with Chris and Jeff (who’ve done quite a few already) and do one of my favorite tunes, “How Good It Can Get”.

This song has one of the best hooks I’ve ever heard, plus it was my “anthem” song during my trip to Italy last year. I remember one night, after an amazing Tuscan dinner, walking through the streets back to the hotel. I was singing this song at the top of my lungs. Clearly less-than-level-headed, I kept also yelling out that I was still on key!

Well, this was recorded long after that night and I was STILL on key! I hope you enjoy today’s Session and make sure to keep checking the blog at LaptopSessions.com for exclusive videos from our first ever LIVE concert tonight!



Bob Dylan – CONCERT REVIEW!- 8/15/2008 at the MGM Grand in Mashantucket, CT

Originally posted 2008-08-16 10:44:49. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Chris Moore:

Click HERE to view the SET LIST!

Okay, so I had what was potentially (literally) the worst seat in the house, a position so high as to be unreachable by today’s best air conditioning systems. And I may have walked in late, after having sat in stop-and-stop traffic for half an hour, just as the familiar voice-over finished — “Ladies and gentlemen… Columbia recording artist… Bob Dylan.”  It doesn’t sound like the ideal way to begin a live concert experience…

But this was the MGM Grand in Mashantucket, CT.  Even a bad seat — the worst seat, in my case — is a good seat with a great view of the stage and excellent acoustics.  I could hear every word Dylan said… when it was possible, of course!

Seriously, though, aside from the first song (when I couldn’t figure out what he and his band were playing until the very last line when he annunciated and almost shouted “your Leopard-skin Pill-box Haaaat!”), the set list of songs was amazing and the performances were exciting and entertaining.

After starting with a track from 1966’s Blonde on Blonde, Dylan went on to reach as far back as his acoustic folk records and as recently as his 2006 album Modern Times.  And he presented a healthy variety of songs from every phase in between.  Some highlights were — “Things Have Changed” from the Wonder Boys soundtrack, a rocking version of the Time Out of Mind track “Can’t Wait,” and a passionate version of “Just Like a Woman.”  The latter was perhaps the most impressive, if only for the fact that he still gives this mild hit (still played on oldies stations) his complete attention, even after performing it live for over four decades.

There were some absolute gems in song choice.  The one that nearly knocked me off my seat (which would have been dangerous, considering how high up I was!) was “I Believe in You.”  This is my favorite — and obscure — track off of his 1979 “Christian album” Slow Train Coming.  The album, of course, netted Dylan his first Grammy award, and this performance is most likely a tribute to his producer for the album, Jerry Wexler, who recently passed away.

And then there was “Nettie Moore,” a deep track from his most recent album — this is where I felt my friend Jim’s absence most profoundly, as it was one of his favorite tracks when he first heard Modern Times.  Now I may be biased (sharing the same last name and all), but this is a great track that was more upbeat than the studio recording.  It drew quite the applause from the first few chords, and this is not to be understated; so unique are his concert arrangements that it often takes the audience until well into the second verse if not the chorus to figure out which song is being performed.  Indeed, it was hard to shake the feeling that there is some connection between his line in “Nettie Moore” — “I’m beginning to believe what the scriptures tell” — and the themes of “I Believe in You.”

But, I’ll leave that for others to theorize on.

Overall, what makes Dylan’s show such an exciting one is not his faithful reproduction of classic hits and fan favorites.  Rather, this Dylan set list combined with the musicianship of his formidable band make for great entertainment.  They may not be a showy band, but he and his current band impress subtly at every turn — Dylan’s organ sound was clear and classic, the violin solo in “Things Have Changed” was cooler than I should admit to thinking, the riff I heard for the first time in “Can’t Wait” was infectious, the guitar solo in “High Water” was great and the one in “Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum” was scorching, and the drumming continues to be one of my favorite aspects of this band — George Recile redefines the terms “driving beat” (on “Honest with Me”) and “machine gun drumming” (on “All Along the Watchtower”).

Thankfully, I wasn’t alone in my excitement.  There wasn’t a still body in the place as Bob Dylan and his band returned to the stage for an encore — after several long minutes that almost made me question whether he was returning — and thundered into “Like a Rolling Stone.”

Compared even to last year’s show, I have to say that I was perhaps more excited last year, probably due to Dylan starting off the show on electric guitar as the lights came up — oh, the applause that brought on! — and his set list last year including some of my favorite tracks.  Still, after the encore, I couldn’t feel my arms from clapping so hard for so long (and, of course, from not visiting a gym anytime in my adult life) and my throat was sore for having cheered so loudly throughout the night, wishing desperately that the show wouldn’t end, making me wait another entire year before he comes around again.

If these aren’t signs of a great show, then I don’t know what are!

“This Wheel’s on Fire” (Bob Dylan/Byrds Cover)

Originally posted 2008-10-07 11:28:14. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Chris Moore:

I’ve been so excited recently to see what new bands Jim is going to introduce to the blog — I mean, you really have no idea from one day to the next which band he’ll tap in to.  At this point, he’s done so many different bands that it would actually be just as much a surprise to see him break out a classic standby, such as the Beach Boys.  And, to prove how excited I am about these new bands…

…I’m going to contribute a Bob Dylan song!

Big surprise, I realize.  (For those of you who don’t watch regularly, I’m a big Dylan fan and have recorded more Dylan covers than any other band!)  But I have my reasons, I promise.  First and foremost, today is the official release date of The Bootleg Series, Vol. 8: Rare and Unreleased: 1989-2006.  I’ve only had time to listen to the first two thirds of the first disc, but already I’m really enjoying it.  I’ve been concentrating so much on the new Ben Folds album, Way to Normal, that I was loath to take it out of my CD player.  But I’ve already fallen in love with Dylan’s work, even after hearing the first four tracks.  The version of “Mississippi,” one of my favorite songs of all time, is entirely different.  Then, the version of “Most of the Time” sounds less like the 1989 track I know and love and more like a track out of 1963; it’s entirely different, and yet in typical Dylan fashion, it’s entirely amazing.  Following an interesting little piano demo of “Dignity,” Dylan’s first take of “Born in Time” is — as the liner notes suggest — really the definitive version.

To be honest, I think the set might be worth the purchase if only for the “Born in Time” take and the new single “Dreamin’ of You,” an unreleased song from the Time Out of Mind sessions.  When I got home from a meeting late tonight, my first inclination was to record a song that was (a) comfortable for me to play, so I could get to bed on time, and (b) a Dylan song.

This fits both criteria!

That’s all for me for now, but you can fill your Laptop Sessions cavity with Jeff Copperthite’s offering tomorrow, Jim Fusco’s video on Thursday, and then I’ll be back.

See you next session!

Together Through Life: A Look Back at Ten (Officially Released) Bob Dylan Rarities – PART TWO

Originally posted 2009-04-11 22:07:07. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Chris Moore:

With just over three weeks to go before the release of Bob Dylan’s thirty-third studio album, Together Through Life, anticipation is high.  A couple weeks ago, a free download of the lead track “Beyond Here Lies Nothin'” was released as a temporary free download at bobdylan.com.  In typical Dylan fashion, his music remains enigmatic, even in the age of digital music and online samples.

Even iTunes does not provide the standard 30-second preview tracks for any of the songs on Together Through Life — aside from the aforementioned first song, of course.

What we do have — and what is somewhat surprising — is Dylan’s own words about the upcoming release.  In Bill Flanagan’s ten page interview, Dylan reflected on some of the new songs and upon the overall ideas and themes of the upcoming album.  When asking about the lack of guitar solos, Flanagan referred to the integral aspect of solos in Aerosmith recordings.  I had to laugh at Dylan’s response.  He said, “What can I say?  If I had Joe Perry with me, everything would obviously be different. As it is though, he wasn’t there. Soloing is not a big part of my records anyway. Nobody buys them to hear solos. What I try to do is to make sure that the instrumental sections are dynamic and are extensions of the overall feeling of the song.”

While this was an interesting response, I most enjoyed reading about his take on dreams.  He said, “Dreams can lead us up a blind alley. Everybody has dreams. We go to sleep and we dream. I’ve always thought of them as coming out of the subconscious. I guess you can interpret them. Dreams can tell us a lot about ourselves, if we can remember them. We can see what’s coming around the corner sometimes without actually going to the corner.”

In a lot of ways, that’s what Dylan’s songs have always done for me and what they seem to have done for many of his fans — lead us to corners that we couldn’t even dream of and take us around them, if only for the duration of the performance.

So, what is a person to do while waiting for this new release?  In my case, I decided to listen to all 678 Bob Dylan tracks on my iPod.  This included all seven tracks of Dylan and the Dead, so you know I’m serious!  The only rules to this little game are that I couldn’t skip any tracks, even if I ended up listening to fifteen versions of “It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)” in one day.

Three weeks ago, I brought you the first five in my list of ten Bob Dylan rarities that I had either forgotten about or hadn’t listened to in a long time.  Today, I bring you the final five in my list.  I hope you enjoy this trip down Obscurity Lane, and I hope this helps you cope with the wait until April 28th…

Ten (Officially Released) Bob Dylan Rarities:

6) “Gonna Change My Way of Thinking” (with Mavis Staples) – Okay, I know what you may be thinking.  Yes, this is the version from the compilation album Gotta Serve Somebody: The Gospel Songs of Bob Dylan.  While I’m not a gospel enthusiast, I had to hear this new recording by the man himself.  I don’t know what I expected, but it certainly wasn’t what I got.  This version of “Gonna Change My Way of Thinking” is no more gospel than it is hip hop.  It is 100%, pure rock’n roll with a driving beat, ragged vocals from Dylan, and a heavy-handed drum beat from George Receli. The most soulful part of the song is the guitar solo.  Not only is it an amazing track, but it has an unprecedented breakd0wn 30 seconds in, complete with Dylan inviting Mavis Staples onto the recording, admitting to her that he’s been reading “Snooze-Week” with the blues, and Mavis telling him that he’s got to sing!  Then, they proceed to duet for the remainder of the track.  (Some may disagree with me on this choice, but it has a soft spot in my heart — what a great rarity!)

7) “Goin’ to Acapulco” – I hadn’t listened to The Basement Tapes in full for a few years.  I had sort of forgotten about this simple, but wonderful track.  “Goin’ to Acapulco” is one of the first songs I learned to play on guitar.  I always loved how it (along with many other songs from the sessions) appeared non-sensical at first and yet offered so much after a close listening.  I mean, come on.  There is certainly a double meaning to lines like “She gives it to me for a song” and “Rose Marie, she likes to go to big places and just set there waitin’ for me to come…”  Classic Dylan.

8 ) “Country Pie” (Live) Bob Dylan Live 1961-2000: Thirty-nine years of great concert performances, the compilation from which this track hails, was my initiation into the world of Bob Dylan bootlegs.  Or, so I thought at the time.  It turns out it’s just an import and therefore a semi-official release…  Regardless, this is a great track for anyone who enjoys seeing Dylan play live these days.  Recorded in 2000 in Portsmouth, England, this track is a nice example of why I’ve been anxiously waiting for a live Dylan release based in the new millennium.  And, of all tracks to dust off, “Country Pie” is an interesting choice.  As per usual, Dylan reinvents and reinvigorates this Nashville Skyline classic and made me love it all over again.

9) “I Was Young When I Left Home” – A traditional song that Dylan recorded on the “Minnesota Hotel Tape” in December 1961, I first heard this track when it was released in the limited edition packaging of Love & Theft.  Aside from presenting such a stark contrast — both vocally and instrumentally — to the material on his 2001 album, this song immediately stood out to me.  It has a warm quality, probably due to the fact that the recording quality is limited.  There is something fitting about releasing this early track so late in his career.  The main focus of the song is leaving home and heading out to the world at large, only to find that things are not going well at home.  Still, the singer is broke and feels he “can’t go home this a-way.”  There are some great lines, such as the double meaning in “I’m playin’ on a track…” (he means a railroad track, but it also carries the musical reference of recording a song).  Fortunately, this song was released on the No Direction Home soundtrack, so much more of Dylan’s fanbase has been able to hear this little gem.

10) “Maggie’s Farm” (Live at the Newport Folk Festival, July 1965) – Last but certainly not least — and also from the No Direction Home “Bootleg Series” release — this version of “Maggie’s Farm” finally, officially presented we latter-day Dylan fans with a primary document of sorts.  From all the stories that have been told about that year’s Newport Folk Festival (the Pete Seeger ax story being my personal favorite legend), I think I honestly expected more.  This performance is fairly straightforward, complete with a Tennessee Three-esque static bass line.  And yet, I can understand from hearing this track what a shock it must have been to have the typically solo Dylan appear with a full band and with amplifiers cranked to the maximum to boot.  This is truly a historic track that I was thrilled to finally hear — and in those terms, it’s really second only to the “Judas!” 1966 Royal Albert Hall performance of “Like A Rolling Stone.”

** Even as I type the final words of this post, I realize just how many other amazing tracks that I have omitted from this list.  I hope you’ve enjoyed my choices, and please feel free to share any other tracks you think should have made the cut! **