Thursday, October 16, 2008


Currently I am immersing myself in Bob Dylan's "Tell Tale Signs: The Bootleg Series Vol. 8", which includes unreleased studio outtakes and alternate recordings from the period covering 1989-2006. Upon initial perusal their appears to be more depth and craftsmanship in his "bootlegs" and outtakes than most artists could dream of even coming close to even with every conceivable piece of studio trickery at their finger tips .

There is a sublime and stripped down version of "Most of the Time", minus Daniel Lanois' atmospherics, or "swamp murk" as it is referred to in the liner notes . There is something telling in hearing Dylan's denial tinged confessional stripped down to it's basic elements. When he sings "I wouldn't know her if I saw her, she's that far behind" in this intimate context it functions more authentically as some deluded narrative constructed to get him through the day.

Where many recording artists are justified in abandoning their first impulses and benefit greatly from a production boost, Dylan seems fine left to his own instincts. You get a sense that many of his songs could change dramatically depending on what he fancies on any given day, and either way his spirit and unique voice would assert itself regardless of how it is packaged.

Rather than sounding like incomplete versions of the originals, Dylan's "outtakes" sound more like the product of a mature and confident artist exploring his muse, playing with nuance and embracing layers of subjective complexity. He is an artist in the true sense, one that is playful and able to reference a vast array of musical history, using it to forge his own narrative that both subverts and upholds convention simultaneously.

Anyways, a lot has already been written about Dylan so I need not say more. I would be all too happy to get a few folks hooked on these musical offerings, so drop me a request via the comments and I'll send ya a few goodies.

Now excuse me while I sit back, close my eyes and explore some musical table scraps full of woe, longing and musings on the human condition, often with a wry wink thrown in for good measure. I'll take these "outtakes" over something bright and glossy any day.


beatgrl said...

For those of you with high speed internet (sadly, I am not one), NPR has the whole album available for preview here:

Comrade Kevin said...

I admire the accomplishments of Dylan, for sure, but by the time I was in high school he was adored by people who really had no ability to comprehend his message.

That kind of ruined it for me, though I occasionally will put on the early electric period stuff from time to time.

Sean Wraight said...

I'm with you on your assessment of this one Mr. Walker. It really is a remarkable release that despite its odds and sods listing works very well. I wrestled recently with purchasing tickets (or not) to see him on his upcoming Canadian tour, but after purchasing this collection I picked them up the next day. What more can be said about his unparalleled talent. I just wish more people could get over the parodizing and realize he is such a treasure.

Very nice assessment.


Barbara Bruederlin said...

You know the quality of a musician by their b-sides. Bob Dylan obviously falls in the same category as Radiohead in that regard.

Anonymous said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.