Bromberg and Dylan – the missing album, part 5

by Jochen Markhorst

We are continuing looking at songs that might have made it onto the Dylan / Bromberg album had it ever been completed and released.

  1. Young Westley 

First release by Mary McCaslin (1974), but moreover another song from Bromberg’s repertoire – like “New Lee Highway Blues”, “The Main Street Moan”, “Kaatskill Serenade”, “Sloppy Drunk” and “Summer wages” to be found on Bromberg’s How Late’ll Ya Play ‘Til? from 1976. The Dylan/Bromberg session presumably uses Bromberg’s version as a template, which is nice enough – but the McCaslin original is truly enchanting.

  1. The Lady Came From Baltimore 

Scott Walker, Joan Baez, Ricky Nelson, Cliff Richard… half the Premier League has this evergreen from the unforgettable Tim Hardin in their repertoire. As does Dylan himself – he performs the song a couple of times in ’94. The best known version is probably the one by Johnny Cash, who had a hit with the song in 1974. Still, it’s hard to beat the original.

  1. New Lee Highway Blues 

Bromberg’s third LP, 1974’s Wanted Dead or Alive, is one of the purveyors of the Bromberg/Dylan session. Understandably so; it is one of Bromberg’s most infectious, colourful records.

It’s the album that opens with the George Harrison/Bromberg collaboration “The Holdup”, the album that features the Dylan song “Wallflower” (at the time an obscurity known only through Doug Sahm’s premiere), and the album that features a brilliant live version of one of Dylan’s favourite songs, “Kansas City” – and the album that provides three songs for this 1992 session. In addition to “Send Me to the ‘Lectric Chair” and “The Main Street Moan”, this “New Lee Highway Blues”. A derivative of the old bluegrass standard “Goin’ Down the Lee Highway”, and embellished and provided with lyrics by Bromberg, with an exciting acceleration halfway through – a worthy album finale.

  1. Rise Again https://youtu.be/r6s6VJIKss8

One of the few songs on the list that doesn’t seem to have any Bromberg link. Dylan is a fan of the Dallas Holm song – he plays it a few times in his gospel years, in 1980 and 1981. And then abandons the song, but takes one of its strongholds, the remarkable, unusual G+ chord, to “God Knows” in 1990.

“Rise Again” is a beautiful song from 1977 that CCM Magazine considers to be one of the 100 Greatest Songs In Christian Music. When Dylan performs the song, Clydie King sings along, and those performances are all utterly beautiful (Portland, December 3, 1980 is a very successful one).

For The Bootleg Series 13 – Trouble No More 1979-1981 (2017) unfortunately only a rehearsal is selected. That is a wonderful, sober version, with excellent vocals of King and Dylan, merely accompanied by Dylan’s acoustic guitar – illuminating that heavenly, “lost” chord all the better (it is the second chord, on “drive the nails”, for instance, and on “say it isn’t me”).

  1. Duncan & Brady 

The old murder ballad (first recorded in 1929) that we know from Leadbelly, Dave Van Ronk, Jerry Garcia and dozens of others, but now also from Dylan himself – the 1992 Dylan/Bromberg recording is on the bonus disc from Tell Tale Signs (2008).

  1. The Main Street Moan 

Jerry Garcia plays on the original 1974 Bromberg version. On the “Dead side” (the four songs on the A-side were recorded in the studio with members of the Grateful Dead, the four songs on the B-side are live recordings – hence the title Wanted Dead Or Alive). “The Main Street Moan” is a nice little tune, as Dylan would say, and has a sympathetic Self Portrait vibe. But still seems a less exciting choice than, say, the brilliantly arranged “Someone Else’s Blues”, another Bromberg original on the Dead side.

  1. Nobody’s Fault But Mine 

Blind Willie Johnson’s pièce de résistance, the A-side of the song that as of 2021 is past the outer boundary of the heliosphere in interstellar space: “Dark Was The Night”, one of the 27 samples of music included on the Voyager Golden Record.
In our solar system, the A-side “Nobody’s Fault But Mine” is equally celestial. In any version; Led Zeppelin’s overblown, Ry Cooder’s terrifying, Grateful Dead’s intimate or Nina Simone’s heartbreakingly lonely… let’s hope one day we can add Dylan/Bromberg’s version to that list.

  1. Miss The Mississippi And You 

The old Jimmie Rodgers song (1932), just like “Duncan & Brady” eventually released, on the bonus disc of Tell Tale Signs.

 

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