Subject: DEEP BENEATH THE WAVES vol 60 (Long)
Date: Fri, 25 Jul 1997 21:13:14 -0400

A much-welcome beehive of activity lately from the underground, 
no? Seems like one label is attempting to single-handedly make 
up for the (apparent?) demise of Dylan labels Red Sky & Wanted 
Man by releasing four, count 'em, four doubles simultaneously, 
albeit in supposedly very limited quantities. Problems abound 
on all four, however, these ranging from mislabeling and errors 
of omission to erroneous dates and, worst of all, questionable 
judgment on selection. Many positives to weigh against the 
negatives, though, so let's examine further and, at the end,
you'll be able to make an informed decision whether to purchase 
or not to purchase, that  is the question........
FYI, the first Watchtower release (001/2) was "Ancient Odes" some
time back. New from that label are the following four doubles:

DALLAS, TEXAS   (Watchtower 003/4) 25 Oct 96 Dallas, TX 
   Tracks: 15 Times: 60/59    Source: Audience   Quality:  Very Good

BEST WISHES (Watchtower 005/6) 7 June 78   Los Angeles, CA**
   Tracks: 27(+2#) Times: 71/71  Source:  Audience  Quality: Decent
   Note: **/+  Contains (mistakenly) two tracks from Kiel, GER 17 May 94

JUST THE GIRLS  (Watchtower 007/8) 13 Jun 84  Berlin, Germany
   Tracks: 21      Times: 61/61     Source: Audience   Quality: Decent
ON A NIGHT LIKE THIS  (Watchtower 009/10) 17 May 94  Kiel, Germany (inc)
   (12 tracks**) & Rotterdam, NETH (inc)  19 Sept 1987  (12 tracks)
   Tracks: 24    Times: 70/72     Source: Audience     Quality: Very Good
   Note:**two tracks omitted here are the final 2 tracks on BEST WISHES

First, some general comments. All four titles have the same 
generic cover design (an early 60s b&w shot of Bob w/cap, guitar 
and harp), with the titles being the only distinguishing 
characteristic on the very ordinary looking sets. The back 
covers supply the date, city & track listing (save for the 
Kiel/ Rotterdam set, which says the tracks are listed on the 
inlay card inside.  Problem is, there is no inlay card so you 
don't get a track list on this one).

   The disks are identified as limited editions in the following 
(unusual) quantities: Dallas: 315,  LA: 317, Kiel/Rotterdam: 320, 
Berlin: 325.  A friend  of mine in Germany has heard rumors that 
these will not be re-pressed, so in these quantities they will 
not be around long.

    Some things you may want to know.....Dallas is the only one 
of the four w/out a major fuck-up, unless you consider labeling  
track 5 Tombstone Blues instead of JLTomThumb's Blues, major. 
Berlin is not only mislabeled but omits one track from the show 
- It Ain't Me Babe is listed but has been omitted in favor of 
the unlisted JustMyImagination by Greg Sutton. This is an 
unforgivable oversight, being that there was plenty of room to 
include both. LA 78 fails to list RDW#12&35 as the last track on 
disk one, but it is there. OneOfUsMustKnow was played that night
- it is neither listed nor included. Forever Young & Times are 
listed as the concluding tracks but are not included. In their 
places are ThinMan & GirlFromNC from Kiel '94, so if you want 
Kiel complete on CD, you must own this one also.  You'd never
know you were missing these 2 tracks from the Kiel/Rotterdam 
set because there is no track listing. The other obvious problem 
is the unlikely pairing of '94 and '87 shows, not to mention 
that the entire Rotterdam show was previously released on a CD 
called "Live" in fine quality. This CD contains 12 of 14 tracks 
performed at Rotterdam, omitting Chimes & Slow Train Coming.

   Two other nitpickin' thoughts - the CDs are housed in lame, 
bulky double jewel cases and all the recordings are indexed 
w/silence between tracks, hence they are not continuous. This 
may bother some people (me excluded). Disks themselves are black 
w/only the titles printed, along with the Watchtower logo (WTP). 
This eliminates any doubt that they are CD-Rs, which I must admit 
I suspected for several brief moments.

Dallas is a fine recording, with just the right balance and range 
and separation. Dylan's vocals are clear and upfront and ride 
nicely above the music, as they should. He sounds particularly 
inspired and energetic in his vocal delivery this evening, as 
upbeat and spunkier than normal versions of IfYouSeeHer & 
TomThumbs will attest. Of particular note is the funkiest 
ShelterFromTheStorm this side of Roseland '94 - though it is 
doubtful the Roseland version will ever be topped, this is 
easily #2 on the "can you dance to it" meter. I imagine Bob had 
a few nice grins during this one. A jewel of an acoustic set 
(Tangled/Baby Blue/Boots) precedes a nicely raucous GodKnows 
and a somewhat perfunctory and incomplete Joey (he never goes 
to jail :-)  . Forever Young is given an inspired reading, 
though more vocals would have been nice. Still, it is sung with 
such precision and feeling that I should'nt complain. What a 
tune. Remaining tunes not discussed are DownInTheFlood/Watch-
tower/Silvio/H61/Alabama/RDW. Overall, a nice effort quality-wise 
that would have been enormously improved with the addition of 
bonus track material. Don't they get it??

I admit I'm not a frequent listener of the '78 tour but I decided 
to give the LA '78 BEST WISHES my full attention. I'd heard it 
sounded arena-like and a tad distant. Much to my surprise, I 
find it anything but. Granted, it's not upfront and in your 
face but Dylan's vocals shine through very clear and the 
instruments are all there, if not full-bodied. I've always 
found the drastically re-arranged tunes interesting, to say 
the least, and Dylan sings them with a certain gusto and the 
Band performs with equal aplomb. If you can get by the flute 
and the saxes (supposedly the reason for the "disco" criticism 
of this tour), there is much to offer from this performance.
Dylan's singing,  phrasing, the guitar playing, the back-up 
singers, blues, reggae backbeats are all on fine display. 
GoingGoingGone is totally redone lyrically and a real treat, 
while you have to marvel at the enthusiastic way Dylan sings 
the re-arranged OneMoreCup & OhSister. The unadorned and 
stripped-naked vocal of IWantYou is truly magnificent and a 
similarly bare-boned TangledUpInBlue is also noteworthy. 
Despite the problems noted above, this set is a fine addition 
to the few '78s in circulation and one that will put more 
'78 performances in my playlist rotation. For full track list
see Olof's files.

Berlin's BEST WISHES ('84) is similar to other documents of 
the '84 tour- Les Temps Changent & Mountains of Madrid come to 
mind - decent enough quality though not exceptional. In fact, 
I'd put this a bit behind those 2 in that department. It's 
clear and distinct vocally and instrumentally but a bit thin 
and tinny, though this can be fleshed out with a bit of the eq. 
This is a nice performance, however, the '84 shows are all 
very similar so what's the point, methinks. I could wax poetic 
about several tunes, particularly the acoustic numbers, but I 
won't. Suffice it to say you've heard it all before- of course, 
you may not have.....and being that the previously mentioned
'84 disks are nigh impossible to get (and add "Oh The Streets 
of Rome" to that list) - you may consider picking this one up 
if you don't own any of those. You won't be disappointed. 
Of course, if you do own those then this becomes a tricky 
purchase decision. I'd say pass if you got 'em..........see
Olof's file for the full track list.

ON A NIGHT LIKE THIS is the most befuddling of the four. 
Combining Kiel '94 and Rotterdam '87 is a decision that was 
obviously made by someone who just doesn't get it. 
Hey, Watchtower, your efforts are noble but get some common
sense in your "new release" department.  Anyway, the Kiel is 
a nice show in very good quality, though not as distinctively 
crisp and clear, on the whole, as the best audience recordings. 
The vocals are upfront and in your face, instruments are well 
balanced and sharp, but I have a nagging feeling that we're 
talking a couple of generations below the master here. 
Nevertheless, it is a fine show with an acoustic set that will  
leave you slack jawed. The only terms I can use to describe it
are thus: Stately & divinely elegant. How about magnificently 
dignified and beautiful. If these 3 tracks were a person, they 
would be Grace Kelly (or perhaps Carolyn Bessette Kennedy  :-)  
Sorry, girls, I could'nt resist. Baby Blue/Masters/Love-0 are 
softly sung with such grace and skill as to be mind-blowing. 
The band plays with a certain tenderness and Bob's vocals 
softly caress and stroke the lyrics which, amazingly, gives 
them even more power. An unbelievable stretch of genius here. 
Bob also shines on strong renditions of DiseaseOfConceit & 
Pos4thStreet, his unique phrasing and crackling pipes providing 
a world weary kingdom of experience to these tunes.  The same 
care is given to Girl From the North Country but, regrettably,
this track (along with Thin Man to complete the show) is not 
included but can be found on Best Wishes.  

Remaining tracks:Jokerman/JustLike/Watchtower/H61 and (almost 
forgot) a truly  haunting rendition of ManInTheLongBlack Coat 
that is oh so "out there," with some amazing guitar work. You 
gotta hear that one - only Dylan can do these things to you!!!!
Previously, I slagged off the inclusion of the Rotterdam show. 
After just playing it in the car, my current position is that 
I'm glad they included it because it reminded me of just how 
good this show was. Dylan and the HBs steamroll through 12 
tracks with a fiery gusto, most driven by some sweet keyboard 
tinkling by Benmont Tench and Dylan's no-nonsense vocals.
The '87 tour of Europe is often overlooked but contains some 
incredible performances. On this show, Queen Jane, John Brown 
and an ebullient and rollicking WatchingThe RiverFlow are the 
clear standouts. Everyone shines, from the Queens of Rhythm on 
down, and I have to mention Tench's piano once again - he really 
GETS it. An incredibly fun show to listen to, despite the fact 
that the final two tracks are missing. Once again, consult 
Olof's for the complete track list.

Hope that helps all you CD nuts out there. Glad to see another 
label picking up the ball,  oh yes.  An overall thumbs up but 
let's hope the future brings a better selection process and a 
bit more care with the details from Watchtower.

1995 1996 1997 1998 T-list CDs