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Self Portrait (1970)


 
1. All The Tired Horses 2. Alberta #1 3. I Forgot More Than You'll Ever Know 4. Days of '49 5. Early Morning Rain 6. In Search of Little Sadie 7. Let it Be Me 8. Little Sadie 9. Woogie Boogie 10.Belle Isle 11.Living the Blues 12.Like a Rolling Stone 13.Copper Kettle 14.Gotta Travel On 15.Blue Moon 16.The Boxer 17.Quinn the Eskimo (The Mighty Quinn) 18.Take Me As I Am 19.Take a Message to Mary 20.It Hurts Me Too 21.Minstrel Boy 22.She Belongs To Me 23.Wigwam 24.Alberta #2

 

Before one reviews arguably the worst album in the Bob Dylan collection, a bit of background is necessary. Throughout the 1960's, the hippie crazed culture regarded Dylan as nothing less than a god. This was a monicker he was never comfortable with, and many times throughout the first decade of his career, he would change things up in his style of music and, one has to wonder, if he was hoping to shake that label somewhat. Well, that never actually worked. Even when the folk crowds would boo him at his live shows in the mid sixties, it probably never really shaved any real points off of his talent and credibility.

By the time this album was being produced, Dylan was probably desperate for some breathing room - he wanted to be a musician and not a messiah, so, as he has admitted in interviews throughout the years, he purposely made this one awful. Now, to be fair, Dylan always was an enigma, so there are those who point to different things that this man has done and said to contradict the above tidbit, so maybe no one can know for sure. There are even those people who claim that this record is actually good. Those individuals are rare, but if you come across one, I would advise you to run the other way.

Not only is the music just plain bad, but it overreaches in terms of its badness. He spreads out this embarrassment over an entire double album and he seems to incorporate every one of his recent styles to apparently lose continuity as well as make horrible music. The opening track is an excellent prelude for this disaster. All the Tired Horses doesn't even feature the man on the song. It has a few female singers crooning over orchestrated music singing "All the Tired Horses in the Sun / How am I s'possed to get any riding done?" over and over. And over. It's almost as if Dylan is mocking his current situation. Just substitute the lyric "riding" with "writing" and you might get the picture.

The less said about this whole album the better. You may see a few songs you recognize (Like a Rolling Stone, She Belongs to Me and The Mighty Quinn (Quinn the Eskimo),), yet these songs are not the original versions that you know and love. The "live" songs are even bad (although you may even argue that they're not even "live" because you hear what does sound like an audience applauding etc., but the performances are so bad, you wonder if the audience was dubbed in), so don't be fooled. The only thing on this album that is somewhat decent, is a cover of Gordon Lightfoot's Early Morning Rain, yet it's buried so deep within this garbage that the song has no resonating value.

Had this been a single album, it still couldn't pass as being respectable. There are those that point to the title of this album in the hopes of somehow justifying what's on here - i.e. "self" means he was "exposing" his emotions and being raw, purposely unfocused etc. I don't buy it. This was purposely a horrible record. It had to be.


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