Dylan Dropped First ‘Fallen Angels’ Single, ‘Melancholy Mood,’ as Download and on 4-Song Import 7″ Vinyl EP
UPDATED to include more information about the Capitol sessions
Like Act II of a two-act play, Bob Dylan‘s 37th studio album – titled “Fallen Angels” and released May 20 on Columbia/Sony (four days before he turned 75) – features another dozen classics from the Great American Songbook, many associated with iconic saloon-swing-pop singer and longtime Dylan hero Frank Sinatra.
UPDATED June 22: Dylan and his “Never Ending Tour” road band recorded the Act II tracks with 23-time Grammy winner Al Schmitt at Capitol Studios’ Studio B in Hollywood, during the same fall 2014 sessions with Schmitt that produced Act I, “Shadows in the Night,” released on what would have been Sinatra’s 100th birthday on Feb. 3, 2015.
Dylan recorded 23 tracks during those 2014 sessions, according to Schmitt, 10 of which were released on “Shadows in the Night” and 12 on “Fallen Angels,” leaving one track from those sessions unreleased.
Schmitt also confirmed that Dylan recorded another 30 different standards in a second round of Capitol sessions in early 2016. Those tracks remain unreleased; Dylan’s plans for them remain to be seen.
“Shadows in the Night” peaked in the U.S. Top 10 in 2015 and was an international hit with many Dylan fans as well as more than a few major music critics.
A few weeks before he released “Fallen Angels,” Dylan went public with a few details about the album, released the preview single “Melancholy Mood” and announced dates for his summer 2016 tour of the United States, with renowned soul-gospel-R&B singer and onetime crush Mavis Staples the opening act.
As on “Shadows in the Night,” Dylan pays tribute to Sinatra on “Fallen Angels,” penned by celebrated and influential 20th Century songwriters like Sammy Cahn, Harold Arlen, Johnny Mercer, Carolyn Leigh and others.
Sinatra recorded and/or performed live most of the songs on both Dylan albums during roughly the first half of The Voice’s storied, tremendously influential half-century-plus career.
“He picked some obscure songs that are great songs,” Schmitt said in an exclusive conversation with this reporter at Capitol Studios in early December 2014, shortly after the first sessions there wrapped, and a couple months before “Shadows in the Night” was released.
Rather than rote covers, those 10 tracks were Dylan’s versions of these traditional pop songs, his musical and vocal reinterpretations. They reflected his deep affinity and respect for the material, the composers, and in particular Sinatra’s singular voice and jazzy phrasing — so deep that he revisted the homage a second time with the 12-track “Fallen Angels” a year later.
‘Fallen Angels’ Advance Single Sets a ‘Melancholy Mood’
The first “Fallen Angels” single, “Melancholy Mood,” popped up on iTunes the first week of April as an Instant Gratification track. Vick R. Knight wrote the song, and Sinatra recorded it for the flip-side of “From the Bottom of My Heart,” his debut single, in 1939.
Dylan’s advance single also surfaced as a track on a limited-edition (7,000 copies) 7″ vinyl EP, also titled “Melancholy Mood,” as part of the nationwide Record Store Day on April 16.
The EP, otherwise released only in Japan to coincide with Dylan’s major tour there in April, includes four “Fallen Angels” tracks – the title song, “All or Nothing at All,” “Come Rain or Come Shine” and “That Old Black Magic.”
‘Fallen Angels’ Complete Track List
10). “Melancholy Mood” – Written by Vick R. Knight and the flip-side of “From the Bottom of My Heart,” Sinatra’s debut single, in 1939.
Inside Dylan’s Sessions for ‘Shadows in the Night’ and ‘Fallen Angels’
Dylan’s fall 2014 Capitol sessions were his first with Schmitt, who’d wanted to work with Dylan about as long as Dylan wanted to record these classic songs – about 40 years.
“It was on my bucket list,” said Schmitt, 85.
Among six decades-plus of A-list studio credits (with Duke Ellington, Henry Mancini, Sam Cooke, Ray Charles, George Benson, Jefferson Airplane, Dave Mason, Ray Charles, Diana Krall, and Neil Young, for starters), Schmitt engineered Sinatra’s “Duets” and “Duets II” sessions in 1993 and 1994.
They turned out to be The Voice’s final studio recordings.
When Dylan contacted Schmitt earlier in 2014, they lined up their schedules; the project got off to a good start later in the fall.
Backing Dylan on the Capitol sessions were his longtime “Never Ending Tour” tour-mates – Charlie Sexton and Stu Kimball (guitars), Tony Garnier (bass), Donny Herron (pedal steel) and George Receli (percussion).
(Also credited on “Shadows in the Night” are trumpet players Daniel Fornero and Larry G. Hall; French horn players Dylan Hart and Joseph Meyer; and trombonists Alan Kaplan, Andrew Martin and Francisco Torres. The final track-by-track credits for the 12 “Fallen Angels” tracks was not available at post time.)
“(Dylan) came in (to Studio B), looked around and we started talking,” Schmitt said. “He liked the acoustics in the room. He said, ‘Boy, this room sounds really nice. Where would I be standing?’ And we said, ‘Right where you’re standing.’ That’s where the vocal mike went.
“Then there was his band,” Schmitt said. “No headphones, and everybody around him. When he couldn’t hear enough of the rhythm guitar, we just moved him closer. And everything was live.”
Adding a bit more to the engineering challenge was Dylan’s request to keep the rest of the instruments’ mikes out of his sight, so the only one he’d see was his vocal mike.
Schmitt admitted he wasn’t sure how the sound would turn out, and whether he and Dylan would like it, until they had their first session in the can and heard the playbacks in the control room.
“That first day…he came in and heard his vocals, he said, ‘I’ve never heard my voice sound this good before,'” Schmitt said. “That was a great thing. After he knew I was on his side, it was kind of a nice collaboration between us.
During the fall 2014 sessions, Schmitt said, “Overall we did 23 songs. Only 10 are on the first album.”
Watch the complete Q&A with Schmitt below, and read the story and Q&A transcript here.
Exclusive Q&A: Inside Bob Dylan’s Capitol Sessions with Al Schmitt
(Please note: Video and text are copyrighted 2014/2015 by the author and not to be used in part or whole without his permission. Please attribute when linking.)
Dylan’s ‘Never Ending Tour’ Lands in Japan
Dylan and band landed in Japan in April for a 13-date tour that included six nights in Tokyo between April 15-April 26.
Here’s the set list from April 5, the second of three nights at Osaka Orchard Hall, courtesy the Bob Dylan website at http://www.bobdylan.com (click on the song title for lyrics and more info; asterisk indicates track from “Fallen Angels”):
1). “Things Have Changed”
2). “She Belongs to Me”
3). “Beyond Here Lies Nothin’”
4). “What’ll I Do”
5). “Duquesne Whistle”
*6). “Melancholy Mood”
7). “Pay in Blood”
8). “I’m a Fool to Want You”
*9). “That Old Black Magic”
10). “Tangled Up in Blue”
11). “High Water (For Charley Patton)”
12). “Why Try to Change Me Now”
13). “Early Roman Kings”
14). “The Night We Called it a Day”
15). “Spirit on the Water”
16). “Scarlet Town”
*17). “All or Nothing at All”
18). “Long and Wasted Years”
19). “Autumn Leaves”
20). “Blowin’ in the Wind”
21). “Love Sick”
Mavis Staples Joins Dylan’s Never Ending U.S. Tour in June
After taking a break in May to recover and recharge, and to celebrate his 75th birthday on May 24, Dylan kicked off the umpteenth U.S. leg of his “Never Ending Tour” June 4 in Washington State, and at post time was scheduled to wind up the roadtrip in New Hampshire July 17.
Opening for Dylan on the U.S. dates is renowned gospel, soul and rock ’n’ roll singer Mavis Staples – 53 years after their first encounter in New York City during a TV taping in 1963.
Dylan made a play for Staples back then, in a fashion, but she ultimately declined his boisterous marriage proposal because she thought herself too young to get tied down. The next year, she married Spencer Leak.
Staples has recorded several Dylan songs in the half-century since, and was a featured vocalist on his “Gotta Serve Somebody” gospel album in 2003.
Still brassy and sassy at 76, she released her latest album, “Livin’ on a High Note,” Feb. 19 on Anti Records. She performed “Take it Back” from the album on “The Late Show” with Stephen Colbert Feb. 22, and HBO a week later premiered her “Mavis!” documentary special. Watch the “Mavis!” promo video and stream the title song, “High Note.”
Staples and British singer-songwriter-producer-ex-pop star Nick Lowe are touring the U.S. together right now. Her road band lineup: Rick Holmstrom (guitar, vocals); Jeff Turmes (bass, guitar, vocals); Stephen Hodges (drums); and Donny Gerrard and Vicki Randle (vocals). See the Staples-Lowe dates here.
Summer Tour Dates: Tix Include Free Copy of ‘Fallen Angels’
Concertgoers who buy two tickets to concerts on Dylan’s summer 2016 tour will get a redemption code good for a copy of “Fallen Angels,” according to Dylan’s website (which notes the offer’s not available in Indianapolis and Boston).
Here’s the itinerary as of April 9 (click on the date for more info and tickets):
4 June – Woodinville, WA, Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery
5 June – Woodinville, WA, Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery
7 June – Eugene, OR, Cuthbert Amphitheater
9 June – Berkeley, CA, Greek Theatre
10 June – Berkeley, CA, Greek Theatre
11 June – Santa Barbara, CA, Santa Barbara Bowl
13 June – San Diego, CA, Humphrey’s Concerts by the Sea
14 June – San Diego, CA, Humphrey’s Concerts by the Sea
16 June – Los Angeles, CA, Shrine Auditorium
19 June – Morrison, CO, Red Rocks Amphitheatre
21 June – Kansas City, MO, Starlight Theatre
22 June – Lincoln, NE, Pinewood Bowl Theater
24 June – Highland Park, IL, Ravinia Festival
25 June – Indianapolis, IN, Far, Bureau Insurance Lawn at White River State Park
26 June – Nashville, TN, Carl Black Chevy Woods Amphitheater
28 June – Kettering, OH, Fraze Pavilion
29 June – Toledo, OH, Toledo Zoo Amphitheatre
30 June – Lewiston, NY, Artpark
2 July – Lenox, MA, Tanglewood
3 July – Mashantucket, CT, Foxwoods Resort Casino
5 July – Vienna, VA, Wolf Trap
6 July – Vienna, VA, Wolf Trap
8 July – Queens, NY, Forest Hills Stadium
12 July – Canandaigua, NY, CMAC
13 July – Philadelphia, PA, The Mann Center
14 July – Boston, MA, Blue Hills Bank Pavilion
16 July – Portland, ME, Thompson’s Point
17 July – Gilford, NH, Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion
Photo (c) Stephen K. Peeples unless otherwise attributed. Dylan album cover images courtesy Sony/Columbia Records.
Special thanks to Al Schmitt, Paula Salvatore, Mike McAteer, Paige Hagen and Marcus Rigsby.
Santa Clarita journalist Stephen K. Peeples, a Grammy-nominated record producer, award-winning radio producer and website editor, was Capitol Records’ Editorial Director at the Tower in Hollywood from 1977-1980. He is VP/New Media Emeritus for Rare Cool Stuff Unltd. For more exclusive behind-the-scenes interviews, subscribe to Stephen K. Peeples’ YouTube channel. For more stories and info, visit http://www.stephenkpeeples.com/.
Article: UPDATED: Bob Dylan ‘Fallen Angels’ Follows ‘Shadows in the Night’
Category: News & Reviews
Author: Stephen K. Peeples