By Aaron Galbraith and Tony Attwood
Just recently we’ve been engaged in a project listening back to some of the outtakes from the 1986 and 1987 sessions that produced the majority of Bob Dylan’s “Down In The Groove” album, as well as some of the live shows from the era.
And between us we reached the conclusion that, as many people said at the time, the album is, to be fair, not very good. Robert Christgau called the album “horrendous product”.
So we decided to see if we could compile a better album ourselves from the outtakes and live shows from the period. Just in case the guys upstairs fancy issuing a new version when they run out of materials for the Bootleg series.
In doing this we decided to focus on just the cover versions from these sources, and with the exception of just one track, all the items we have found are previously unreleased and as far as we can remember, none have been mentioned on the site before.
We decided to call the album “Sheep In Wolves’ Clothing” as that was the original proposed title for “Down In The Groove”. On the left is the original artwork by Rick Griffin.
The album we have complied will have 10 tracks on the vinyl with two bonus tracks on the CD.
So first up side 1, track 1 is Dylan’s version of “Twist and Shout.”
Listening to the way this version fades in it made us think that Dylan could turn the Beatles template on its head and instead of closing the album this track would make for a suitably rocking opener, and would replace the awful “Let’s Stick Together” from the original album nicely.
Of course, everyone already knows the song, so just a little background this time. It was written by Phil Medley and Bert Berns in 1961. It was originally released as a single by The Top Notes, with Phil Spector producing, then the year later in 1962 The Isley Brothers had a hit with it. The following year The Beatles version closed their debut album Please, Please Me with the most famous version.
Here’s the very first, (and these days rarely heard) original version, complete with its unexpected key change:
Whilst the version we have from Dylan is a bit rough and ready it does have a lot of energy and really builds as it progresses. With a little bit of work and a clearer vocal Bob could have turned the Beatles template on its head and thus as we suggest, opened the album with this rather than closed it. This would be a much better opener than “Let’s Stick Together.”
Now of course it might be argued that sort of song with its minimal lyrics and celebration of a simplistic dance movement is somehow below Bob Dylan, but the fact is that virtually any song can be developed to suit a performer, and it may be there is an outtake that we can use to replace this version. If the guys with access to the hidden recordings from the sessions have one, we look forward to bringing that onto the album.
And just to prove our point that any song can be manipulated to suit any artist, you might like to listen to this: Twist and Shout by the Boss.
What else is on the site?
We have a very lively discussion group “Untold Dylan” on Facebook with over 3400 active members. (Try imagining a place where it is always safe and warm). Just type the phrase “Untold Dylan” in, on your Facebook page or follow this link
You’ll find some notes about our latest posts arranged by themes and subjects on the home page of this site. You can also see details of our main sections on this site at the top of this page under the picture.
The index to all the 602 Dylan compositions and co-compositions that we have found on the A to Z page.
If you are interested in Dylan’s work from a particular year or era, your best place to start is Bob Dylan year by year.
On the other hand if you would like to write for this website, or indeed have an idea for a series of articles that the regular writers might want to have a go at, please do drop a line with details of your idea, or if you prefer, a whole article to Tony@schools.co.uk
And please do note our friends at The Bob Dylan Project, which lists every Dylan song in alphabetical order, and has links to licensed recordings and performances by Dylan and by other artists, plus links back to our reviews (which we do appreciate).