The Bootleg Series, Vol. 8. Tell Tale Signs - Rare and Unreleased 1989-2006 (2008)


 
Disc One 1. Mississippi 2. Most of the Time 3. Dignity 4. Someday Baby 5. Red River Shore 6. Tell Ol' Bill 7. Born in Time 8. Can't Wait 9. Everything is Broken 10.Dreamin' of You 11.Huck's Tune 12.Marchin' to the City 13.High Water (for Charley Patton) Disc Two 1. Mississippi 2. 32-20 Blues 3. Series of Dreams 4. God Knows 5. Can't Escape From You 6. Dignity 7. Ring Them Bells 8. Cocaine Blues 9. Ain't Talkin' 10.The Girl on the Greenbriar Shore 11.Lonesome Day Blues 12.Miss the Mississippi 13.The Lonesome River 14.Cross the Green Mountain

 

This was the best idea to add to the ongoing "bootleg" collection that could have been fathomed. The original Bootleg release (which was really a box set titled "Volumes 1 - 3") started with material released in 1961 and ended in 1989. This album basically picks right up where that one left off and covers the next 17 years.

There are some distinctions. The main one is that this one is only about half unreleased material and half alternate versions of already released songs. The first collection had a much higher ratio of unreleased material - which is what made it such a treasure trove. The thing to remember, though, is that even though this album has many songs already released, those songs aren't nearly as well known as the "hits" that he was churning out in the 1960s. Yes, the critics basically fell in love with Dylan all over again starting in 1989, but the records were only being sold to a shrinking percentage of buyers. This is actually advantageous since the average listener may not know most of what is here - and most of what is one here is first rate.

The alternate versions all sound significantly different than their original counterparts, so he never gets too monotonous. There do seem to be times when it seems as though he's stretching things a bit too thin to justify this lengthy package. Two versions of Mississippi and Dignity aren't really needed, and I really can't tell much difference between the version of Series of Dreams that's here versus the one that was on, ironically, the first bootleg collection as well.

Most of what is here rings true, and just about everything here can stand alone quite well. Most of the unreleased songs here are my favorites, which always justifies the purchase of such a package. The songs that I feel are the strongest are Can't Escape From You, Red River Shore and Dreamin' of You. Most of his latter material seemed to have a unique style on each one of his albums, so it's very easy to determine where a song's home was - whether it was Oh Mercy, Time Out of Mind or Love and Theft. All of the songs here though, especially the alternate versions, sound as though he's mixing things up - so you really can't tell what song was "supposed" to be from what album. There are even a couple of songs (The Girl on the Greenbriar Shore and 32-20 Blues come to mind) that sound like they were intended for his "acoustic cover" period in the early 1990s. Those songs excel as well.

All of this really means is that, regardless of what Dylan was trying to sound like, 90% of his latter day material really did sound great with his wispy, tired, old voice, and this record serves as sort of a "compilation" of what all his later sounds and styles all sound like. This then serves as a great retrospective of 17 years of music that very few people may be familiar. So unlike most of his bootleg albums that are really geared towards the true, diehard fans, this is one album that a lot more people, say - casual listeners, may discover that they really and truly love.

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