'Another Self Portrait'
You know him better as Bob Dylan, and I have always had an interesting relationship with his music. There was a time when I preferred his songs (and, let's face it, the man is a poet) performed by others.
I have softened on that as I've aged, although it still remains true for at least one song: Joe Cocker's cover of "I Shall Be Released."
Having said that, one of my favorite albums -- one of the 20 or so I would take with me to the proverbial deserted island -- is "Nashville Skyline." I love it so much I have it in several forms -- two vinyls (one sealed), a reel-to-reel tape and a compact disc.
It was with great interest and hopeful curiosity, then, that I purchased "Another Self Portrait (1969-1971)," Vol. 10 in Columbia's Dylan "The Bootleg Series."
I knew I wanted to hear the alternate takes from "Nashville Skyline," and they are here, including "I Threw It All Away" and "Country Pie."
Also of note are the bare-boned cuts from Dylan's often maligned "Self Portrait." The album, full of strings, covers and overblown arrangements, was universally panned upon its release, with one critic actually writing, "What is this s--t?"
Here, we are treated to the raw Dylan sound, and it's almost as if we're hearing a different album while "House Carpenter" or "Thirsty Boots" (one of my favorite songs of the Civil Rights era) play.
The inclusion of the demo of "When I Paint My Masterpiece" has also generated a bit of buzz. As you may know, Dylan gave the tune to The Band, who turned it into one of their signature songs. As usual, hearing it by the songwriter gives it an extra layer of complexity and feeling.
"Another Self Portrait" is a must-have for Dylan devotees and students of American music. But, if you just like music from this particular period or simply want to hear an artist evolve songs from demo to recording sessions, you'll like it, too.
Turns out Dylan painted a masterpiece while everyone was looking elsewhere.