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Syndicated Dreams - Volume 2 - Den Bosch, Feb. 8 1998

  • Cover by Didier Georgieff (dgieff@sdv.fr)
  • Liner notes by Pat Thomas (normalsf@grin.net), Geoff Ginsberg (notorezg@earthlink.net) and Stephen Halpern.
  • Tape provided by Geoff Ginsberg

    Pat Thomas' Liner Notes :

    I was really disappointed when Rich Gilbert left Steve�s band to play with someone else. I really felt that Rich was the most original and most �out there� guitar player that Steve had played with since Paul Cutler. I have a tasty 8-track ADAT tape from Rich�s time with Steve that might be a future release in this series......

    Sometime at the end of last year, Steve contacted me and asked if I had some ideas about new band members. I was happy to turn him onto my friend Kurt Statham, a 21 year old wizz kid bass player that I used on my Valium CD last year - I had also heard him play with Mushroom, a psychedelic / fusion / Krautrock band from San Francisco. So I knew that Steve�s bottom end would be covered just fine.

    Steve hooked up with Kirk Swan for guitar duties, who had toured with Steve in the past. Kirk is forever in my hall of fame for his membership in Dumptruck in the early 1980�s. With Linda still on the drum throne, Steve whipped together a set of tunes and debuted the new band in San Francisco last December. I was impressed.

    As word got back via the daily reports on the Wynn Web during the band�s winter European tour, I was curious if all the hype was true. Now that we have this 2 CD set in our hands, you can judge for yourself. I know I�m convinced.

    For my taste, the show starts to get interesting around song #8; Carelessly, followed by Layer By Layer. Fluorescent remains my favorite of Steve�s solo albums and it�s great to hear two songs from this album in a row. Then with Motorcycle Boy coming next, I�m in love at this point. That first Gutterball album is another major peak in Steve�s solo career. Skipping ahead a few songs, we find 14 minutes of bliss spread across two songs with and Merrittville. I guess I have a soft spot for the moodier stuff, at least today while I write these liner notes.

    Hot off the heels of Merrittville, comes a 1-2 punch of rockers with Halloween and Boston. Boston pays tribute to a young Van Morrison living in Boston during the Brown Eyed Girl period and preparing himself for Astral Weeks. About 10 years later, I wrote a post script to this song called St. Katharine, celebrating Van�s life in the Bay Area�s Marin County during the 1970�s & 80�s. I recorded that song on the Fresh CD with Steve playing a blistering lead guitar on it.

    The next song, Blood From A Stone also has a tie in with the Fresh project. Blood From A Stone was a demo sitting around Steve�s place that he had shelved for awhile. He gave it me and I changed some of the words and added some others and we recorded it in more of a ballad style on Fresh. Later, Steve dug up the original words and did the song himself on the Sweetness And Light CD. It�s an understated Wynn classic.

    Blind Willie McTell was written by Dylan and was an out-take from the Infidels album. Steve heard the song on a bootleg and was smarter than Dylan......Steve decided to do his own version and release it !! It first appeared on a Bucketful Of Brains single and later on a compilation of songs by various artists that Dylan never released himself. It�s great to hear this back in the set. Why Dylan decided to leave it in the vaults until his Bootleg Series compilation was released many years later is beyond me. Good choice Steve !

    The acoustic Sweetness And Light is a treat and the bonus track of Carry A Torch (another Fluorescent gem) is wonderful. I just had an idea, why don�t we start putting together complete live versions of Steve�s studio albums? Wouldn�t it be great to hear all the songs from Fluorescent in order in a live setting? I think there�s enough tapes floating out there to do this.....

    Back to the subject of song sequels, how many of you know that Michael Nesmith (ex-Monkee) recorded a song called Some Of Shelly�s Blues in 1973? Regardless of that fact, Shelly�s Blues Part 2 is one of Steve�s strongest and best pop songs ever, even better than (which is also a fantastic pop song) and a million times better than the pop trash of Tuesday (my least favorite Steve song ever).

    Grace works wonderfully in this stop / start version with full audience participation. Reminds me of those old Melody Maker advertisements that said: The Plastic Ono Band Is You ! The audience was the band on this song. One of the biggest surprises on this disc is Bonnie And Clyde. This version is much better than the one recorded for the Dazzling Display album. The energy and power of this live version is a real treat.

    So there you have it folks, over two hours of a Souvenir From A Dream. My only real compliant, there�s no John Coltrane Stereo Blues on here. Rumor has it that this band played some wicked versions. I want one on CD.

    Pat Thomas - San Francisco - July 7th 1998

    Geoff Ginsberg and Stephen Halpern's Liner Notes :

    A few words about 8 February 1998.

    Anticipation was high for the first date of our European jaunt. After the trans Atlantic flight and a brief stop in Amsterdam to visit our favorite local coffee shop, we continued the journey via train to Den Bosch. Following the cab ride from hell, we arrived at the club in time to say hi to Steve and meet some of the entourage and friends of the band, including "the keeper of the archive."

    Almost immediately we noticed that the Willem II is a perfect concert venue. A powerful sound system delivers the goods aurally. The high stage and multileveled floor provide great sightlines. And the bar is all the way in the back, where the talkers can do their thing wi thout ruining it for the faithful. John Wesley Harding even commented during his opening set that this idea (a well designed club) hasn't caught on outside of the Netherlands.

    As for the show itself, well, let the music do the talking. We can tell you that this lineup of the Quartet is well-suited to bring out the best in Steve's songs. Linda is pure rock'n'roll energy yet plays the songs as sympathetically as could be hoped for. Kirk has that noisy thing going on, as all Steve Wynn guitarists must, but he mostly plays *notes*, which is key when the tunes call for melodic sensitivity, as they so often do. Kurt, as Pat Thomas opined when the young bassist joined the group, "could be the Jack Bruce or John Wetton of the 1990s." He definitely has the chops, but his playing is subtle and supportive, blending well with the other musicians. And let us not forget secret weapon John Wesley Harding. His humor, presence and overall vibe add an extra dimension to the proceedings. Having witnessed one of the few pre-European tour, stateside performances of the band, the majestic heights reached on this night did not come as a complete surprise. But a month on the road, to this point in time, sure had a noticeable effect, resulting in a sound tougher and tighter than before. Crank it up and immerse yourself in its glorious noise.

    Geoff Ginsberg & Stephen Halpern
    28 May 1998

    The Quartet

    • Steve Wynn
    • Kirk Swan
    • Kirk Statham
    • Linda Pitmon
    • John Wesley Harding

    The Tracks

      Disc 1:
    1. Transparancy
    2. Tears Wont Help
    3. Epilogue
    4. This Strange Effect
    5. This Deadly Game
    6. Nothing But The Shell
    7. In Love With Everyone
    8. Carelessly
    9. Layer By Layer
    10. Motorcycle Boy
    11. Silver Lining
    12. Black Magic
    13. Why
    14. The Blue Drifter
    15. Merrittville
      Disc 2:
    1. Halloween
    2. Boston
    3. Blood From A Stone
    4. The Devil In Me
    5. Blind
    6. Willie McTell
    7. Sweetness And Light
    8. Carolyn
    9. Carry A Torch
    10. Tuesday
    11. Shelley's Blues, pt. 2
    12. Grace
    13. When You Smile
    14. Bonnie And Clyde
    15. Black
    tracks 9-11 : Fillers from K�benhavn, Feb, 12, 1998.
    tracks 12-15 : Fillers from �rhus, Feb, 13, 1998.

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