Another Self Portrait (1969-1971):The Bootleg Series, Volume 10 (2013)


 
Disc One 1. Went To See the Gypsy 2. Little Sadie 3. Pretty Saro 4. Alberta #3 5. Spanish is the Loving Tongue 6. Annie's Going To Sing Her Song 7. Time Passes Slowly #1 8. Only a Hobo 9. Minstrel Boy 10.I Threw It All Away 11.Railroad Bill 12.Thirsty Boots 13.This Evening So Soon 14.These Hands 15.In Search of Little Sadie 16.House Carpenter 17.All the Tired Horses Disc Two 1. If Not For You 2. Wallflower 3. Wigwam 4. Days of '49 5. Working on a Guru 6. Country Pie 7. I'll Be Your Baby Tonight 8. Highway 61 Revisited 9. Copper Kettle 10.Bring Me a Little Water 11.Sign on the Window 12.Tattle O'Day 13.If Dogs Run Free 14.New Morning 15.Went To See the Gypsy 16.Belle Isle 17.Time Passes Slowly #2 18.When I Paint My Masterpiece

 

Not only is it the consensus the Bob Dylan's 1970 release Self Portrait was his worst album, it's also widely accepted by many that he purposely made the record awful. Why any artist would do such a thing is a mystery, but the word "mystery" and the name "Bob Dylan" have always been somewhat synonymous. So when this "bootleg" came out with a similar title, similar artwork, and featuring music from the same approximate span of time as the original fiasco, it made some skeptics want to hide under a table.

After listening to this 35 song compilation, I am now convinced that Dylan, did in fact, purposely screw up the original recording that was heaped on an unsuspecting audience over 40 years ago. That's actually a good thing. A very good thing. In other words, the music here is better. Much better.

Make a note, however, that this record is not exclusively alternate takes from that original double album. This release covers the time frame from John Wesley Harding through New Morning. There are a few live tracks thrown in as well as a large handful of unreleased songs. What makes this record peculiar is that it doesn't really sound like a bootleg, most of the music here, although sparse in many instances, sounds like a legitimate effort to make strong music. That's been the case for many of Dylan's "bootlegs" however, so maybe it's just more noticeable here since a lot of the material sounds so much better than the original.

Like Dylan's phase from 1968-1972, this is mostly a "country-ish" album. Many of the songs are only accompanied by an acoustic guitar or two, with an odd piano thrown in here and there, and you can't help but wonder if after he completed all of these great cuts, he simply overdubbed some of them to death when he put out the Self Portrait album - hence "purposely" making it bad. Had he left these songs alone, as we hear them here, they would have been received much better from the masses.

This album does sound uneven, but I guess that's understandable since this is a bootleg. You have to wonder if there are some huge fans of this man, who will go through these 35 tracks, and carefully arrange the songs a bit better for a better overall flow. Like all bootlegs, there are a few "throwaways" here. Most notably is the "bare" version of the original album's opener All The Tired Horses. No overdubs, but it's still bad…..and out of place. Then, there are several songs featured here in more than one version, but overall you don't necessarily feel discouraged by that since there are enough differences to justify more than one version.

This is what the original album should have sounded like.

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