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By Aaron Galbraith
For this episode in the series in which we look at Dylan supporting other artists, we’ll take a look at Dylan’s work on Barry Goldberg’s self titled album from 1974.
Barry Goldberg was part of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band and indeed played keyboards for Dylan at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965 when he first went “electric”. Besides his own solo work he has played on a number of classic albums including those by the Flying Burrito Brothers, Leonard Cohen and The Ramones. Nowadays he is a member of Stephen Stills’ excellent new band The Rides.
Now onto this album, which is, in my opinion, the one “Dylan As Session Man” that every Dylan fan should own. Now that’s not because it has Dylan’s best performance (for my money that would be Carolyn Hester’s Come Back Baby) or indeed the best song (maybe Sammy’s Song by David Bromberg). No, the reason to own this one is because for the first and only time Dylan produced another artist’s album.
Dylan co-produced the entire album with Jerry Wexler and played some percussion and sang backing vocals on five tracks on the album. He worked closely with Goldberg on the vocal tracks and mixes. And then Wexler came in and made Goldberg redo several of his lead vocals and remixed the whole thing. So it would seem to me Dylan produced the album and then Wexler came in at the last minute and suggested they change some things, unnecessarily.
“Bob told me, ‘Leave the vocals just like they are, they’re fine. Don’t let anybody mess with them.’ They had a vibe to them,” Goldberg recalled.
But Wexler came in and told Goldberg they had to re-work the vocal tracks, and that’s where things went wrong. “It’s bothered me all these years,” Barry said. “Here I had this great opportunity to work with Bob, to have him produce me–which he never did for anybody, ever–and it just didn’t turn out right.”
Then in 2009, in preparation for the CD reissue, he was able to revisit the album and use Dylan’s original mixes and vocal tracks.
The original “Dylan” mixes are a revelation. How could they not be? What with those fine Muscle Shoals musicians, Goldberg himself along with Dylan’s excellent production.
Here are the five tracks with Dylan’s percussion and backing vocals :
Stormy Weather Cowboys
It’s Not The Spotlight – co-written by Gerry Goffin and later covered by Rod Stewart, Bobby Bland and Beth Orton amongst many others.
Big City Woman
Jerry Wexler went on to produce Dylan’s Slow Train Coming album. In 1989, Barry Goldberg returned the favour to Bob and produced his version of “People Get Ready” for the movie Flashback.
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