June 10: Empire Burlesque by Bob Dylan was released in 1985
Empire Burlesque is singer-songwriter Bob Dylan’s 23rd studio album, it was released by Columbia Records 10 June 1985. The album peaked at #33 in the US and #11 in the UK.
“Say what you want about Empire Burlesque — at the very least, it’s the most consistent record Bob Dylan has made since Blood on the Tracks, even if it isn’t quite as interesting as Desire. However, it is a better set of songs, all deriving from the same place and filled with subtle gems — the most obvious being “Tight Connection to My Heart (Has Anybody Seen My Love?),” but also “Emotionally Yours” and “Dark Eyes” — proving that his powers are still there.”
I’ll Remember You (my favorite version from the movie Masked and Anonymous):
Bob Dylan fans and music critics continue to debate the album’s merits, especially when compared to the styles he pioneered in the 1960s and 1970s. It is one of Dylan’s most discussed albums in terms of quality, having a distinct “80s style” production to the songs. There are some really great songs on this album, but they seem hidden under the “80s sound”.
The sessions for Empire Burlesque were held in New York and Hollywood from July 1984 to April 1985.
Emotionally Yours (official video):
The most often voiced complaint against Bob Dylan’s 1985 album, Empire Burlesque is the over produced synth sound , the “horns” and that characteristic 80s drum sound. A lot of us have wondered how it sounded before they ran it through the 80s “hit-maker” mixer?
Therefore it’s one of those albums that’s been bootlegged extensively, there are many “releases”. Clean Cuts was the first, but it had the wrong tempo. Then came Outside the Empire, Tempest Storm , Tempest Storm ( yes there were two releases with the same name), Real Cuts at last, Empire Burlesque Originals & Outtakes, Empire Burlesque Sessions and The Naked Empire. These are the ones I know of, there might be more. Some of the songs are on a lot of bootleg compilations as well.
I like The Naked Empire best, it doesn’t have most songs, but the sound is great (best I’ve heard on these alternative takes and outtakes) and it has the best songs (in the correct tempo). Seek it out.
…and it has a very fine version of New Danville Girl (the song that became Brownsville Girl). To hear the songs in a more stripped down form is a revelation and we see more clearly how good the songs really are (and that one outtake, New Danville Girl, My God!). The 80s sound seep through on some of the songs, even on these early versions, but it is not as annoying and as prominent.
Some of the songs started in the Infidels sessions but ended up on Empire Burlesque. There are also 5 unreleased tracks on this bootleg. If you cannot find it, your second best option is The Real Cuts at Last.
Let’s end this post with a very fine, Seeing The Real You At Last (1986-07-04):
Sources: Allmusic, Wikipedia