The Bootleg Series, Vol. 7: No Direction Home - The Soundtrack (2005)


 
Disc One 1. When I Got Troubles 2. Rambler, Gambler 3. This Land is Your Land 4. Song to Woody 5. Dink's Song 6. I Was Young When I Left Home 7. Sally Gal 8. Don't Think Twice, It's All Right 9. Man of Constant Sorrow 10.Blowin' in the Wind 11.Masters of War 12.A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall 13.When the Ship Comes In 14.Mr. Tambourine Man 15.Chimes of Freedom 16.It's All Over Now, Baby Blue Disc Two 1. She Belongs To Me 2. Maggie's Farm 3. It Takes a Lot To Laugh, It Takes a Train To Cry 4. Tombstone Blues 5. Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues 6. Desolation Row 7. Highway 61 Revisited 8. Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat 9. Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again 10.Visions of Johanna 11.Ballad of a Thin Man 12.Like a Rolling Stone

 

By the time we get to the seventh installment of Bob Dylan's "Bootleg" series, I must admit that the novelty had worn off quite a bit, and these types of releases just weren't warranting the same levels of excitement. Not for me anyway. He was putting out these types of recordings much more frequently than he was original material, and unless you were a diehard fan, you really just stopped giving a care.

The background of this disc is that it's a "soundtrack" to a PBS documentary directed by the great Martin Scorsese. It's been awhile since I watched the documentary, but to group this release with the documentary seems stretching it a bit thin. The Scorsese project focused mainly on the earlier part of Dylan's career, with most of the material in the film centered around the leap from "acoustic folk" to "electric rock" and all the turmoil surrounding the jump. A lot of latter day interviews with the likes of Joan Baez and Allen Ginsburg et al. So, yes, the music here is basically from that same time frame, so I guess that's where you can justify calling this a soundtrack.

Unlike his first Bootleg collection that was chocked full of treasures, this one seems as though he's digging for scraps. There are a few "new" songs here, but they're from the earliest days, so the recordings are very primitive and they're not so much entertaining as they are interesting. By the time he's two minutes into Woody Guthrie's This Land is Your Land (the third song), I'm already fighting to stay awake.

The bulk of this material is demos and alternate versions of songs any Dylan fan knows. The first disc is more acoustic, the second being more electric. None of the songs here seem to add to much to the depth of Dylan's catalog, and I really can't fathom anyone listening to this record frequently since all of the original songs are so much better and stronger than what is here. It doesn't help when the latter half of the latter disc seems to be filled with songs that average about seven minutes in length.

But as I try to be objective, I need to remind myself that this was Dylan at his peak, and these recordings did occur during the time when everything the man touched turned to gold, so like The Beatles "Anthology" series, the disc serves as a great "behind the scenes" peek of the man when times, at least popularity wise, were the best and brightest for the man.

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