Abandoned Love

Willie Nile covers Dylan’s great “Abandoned Love,” on his album Positively Bob.
I first heard this last summer in Coda Music, walking in just as the verse starting “I march in the parade of liberty…” came on. And confidently walked up to the counter and asked Mark what album was playing with this Mike Scott cover of Dylan.
Ah well, I still think it sounds like Mike from that verse until the end.
Here’s a much better picture of the “Dylan windows” in Princes Street, Edinburgh, from 2007 when the premises were used by The Gap for trading.

Dylan windows The Gap Princes Street Edinburgh



Here are some pictures of the demolition of the unloved St James Centre at the top of Leith Street.  Built the end of the 1960s, it was always more Altamont than Woodstock, nobody seemed to have a good word for it.

St James Centre demolition - Altamont or Edinburgh?

Toward the left of this picture was where the HMV Shop was.  It was so small it had no staffroom and so staff used to be given an allowance to go out and buy lunch.  Even into the 1990s it had the highest takings per square foot of any store in the chain.

Demolition of St James Centre - the old HMV

Demolition in Edinburgh - The King James hotel pleading stop

The King James hotel seems to be pleading…

St James Centre demolition Edinburgh

I worked in “the Centre” for a couple of years and it was indeed a joyless bunker from the outside.  But I once got an almost complete catalogue of Graham Central Station albums from one of the frequent sales of US cut-outs in the aforementioned HMV.

As seen below, there is no restraint in building the new hotel/retail complex which will replace the old centre.  It doesn’t look too much like an improvement on the red-headed stepchild it replaces so far.

St James Centre building work

Here is an artist’s impression of what “Edinburgh St James” should eventually look like, with the new hotel complex on the left, the design of which is reminding people of either an unpeeling orange, an unspooling tape or what dog owners might find in tightly coiled piles on the lawn.

Edinburgh, the new St James Centre - artist's impression


Bob Dylan – The 1966 Live Recordings

Bob Dylan The 1966 live recordings

Bob Dylan – the 1966 live recordings

It’s been there since last November, but now is the time for this baby to be moved from the battlefield of “beside the CD player” to the Valhalla of “filed away/never seen again.” Which must mean that I’ve finished listening to it almost every day.
36 CDs covering 23 shows of Bob Dylan’s 1966 world tour might seem excessive and I guess it probably is. If Dylan’s people had stuck to their pricing policy for The Bootleg Series issues, this would have come in about three grand. But this is pointedly not referred to as part of The Bootleg Series and the recordings are also that magical copyright age of 50…so I guess maybe Bob and Jeff generously decided to take only 100 quid for it as a early Christmas 2016 present.
It was a wee bit difficult explaining the necessity of this purchase to my colleagues at the time, but as the lingua franca of that environment was Lego and Star Wars, it shouldn’t have been too surprising…we all know who is right here.
The product is well presented in a nice chunky box, a bit like the Borg’s wheels in Star Trek. Like the Borg, it is futile to resist assimilation – here are four full, professionally recorded, shows from the UK leg of the tour and another nineteen shows which are presented in full or in part from (mostly) soundboard recordings or (a few) audience tapes.
The professional, stereo, recordings are immaculate, the mono soundboards, even when there are incomplete, are nearly as good and the audience tapes are pretty much what you’d expect from 1966 – it is good that they exist, but they can be a hard, if enlightening listen.
Enlightening because, as the audience bootlegs from the 1966 tour have shown, a loud rock band in some of these small theatres sounded terrible, no matter what the expectation of the audiences. Dylan famously was booed and got a lot of bad audience reaction on this tour, but it needs to be remembered that what we have heard over the years (and on this set) are professional recordings and/or soundboards. Even the earliest bootlegs of the Manchester show were from a Columbia professional recording.
So it may be that the audiences of the 1966 shows have been judged harshly for their negative reactions (and as this set shows, there were also positive reactions, the Edinburgh show for one.)
Here’s Bob probably on his way to that show and the same bit of Princes Street fifty years later…the windows at the top right of the Dylan picture are the giveaway.

Bob Dylan Edinburgh Princes Street 1966

Starbucks Princes Street Edinburgh

The sticking point for some buyers, who will be big Dylan fans anyway (a product like this is unlikely to have casual purchasers) is the repetition involved. There are maybe half a dozen variations to the setlist over the 23 shows documented, and certainly the bulk of it is exactly the same setlist every night.
So, what nutter has been listening to this for the last three months?
I’ve rationalised it.
A few years ago, I had a friend who moved house with his family, to the house next door. I thought this was weird, but it was utterly rational; the bloke next door had a conservatory; my friend wanted a conservatory and had worked out it would be cheaper on balance to sell his house and buy his neighbour’s than to build a conservatory.
I loved the logic of this and the parallel to the Dylan set is this; my friend mentioned that although the move was easy, passing stuff over the garden fence, it was weird to look out the windows of the new house and see the same vista, but with a slightly different perspective, as he saw from the old house.
That is what listening to Bob and The Band doing the same setlist over and over again is like; the tiny differences between each night’s vibe become clear (especially on the soundboard recordings, adjusted for room ambience.) Every show is seen through a different “window” and if you have the time and inclination, it is a fascinating thing to do.

Bob Dylan live recordings 1966

Bob Dylan live recordings 1966 revisited

Demolition · Gigs · Music

There goes the Palais…



Palais demolition Fountainbridge Edinburgh

This was the front of The Palais at Fountainbridge on Saturday 8th October – the final demolition commenced on Wednesday.

I thought they may have been keeping the front as a feature of whatever is knocked up in that space next, but it would appear not.

Here’s the back view:


Palais Dancehall Edinburgh demolished

I only remember it as a bingo hall and that closed down many years ago, but in its day it was one of Edinburgh’s many dancehalls, where live orchestras would play for dancing.  It was the thing for the kids to do.

I wonder how many of my generation of Edinburgh people are here today because of relationships which started in dancehalls like this.


Demolition of the Edinburgh Palais


This is how we do it in Edinburgh…part 2.

Everybody’s heard about Greyfriars Bobby, the wee dug that visited his dead master’s grave in Greyfriars Kirk churchyard for fourteen years. Walt Disney made a film about it and the wee guy’s got his own statue next to the churchyard, which when I was a teenager used to face the churchyard rather than looking toward Chambers Street as it does now. I think the statue has changed orientation a few times over the years. He’s not actually depicted caked in snot, but the last iteration of the statue was manufactured in such a way that the constant rubbing of his nose by tourists has worn away the finish.

Greyfriars Bobby

There are a pub and a snack bar nearby which use his name…

Bobby's Cafe Edinburgh

And Greyfriars Kirk also commemorates the tale just after you are inside its gates.

Greyfriars Bobby Edinburgh's best friend

Bobby himself would never know this however, as this sign is just before the entrance gates.

No dogs in Greyfriars churchyard

Woof woof.