Another Self Portrait (1969-1971): The Bootleg Series Vol. 10 by Bob Dylan (2013-08-27)
– November 30, -0001
When this album was first released, I joined all other Dylan fans in staying far away from this turkey. In the 1990s though I started to realize that many albums that had initially gotten bad reviews turned out to be great albums. Examples would be “Street Legal” (one of my favorites now), “Infidels” and “Knocked Out Loaded.” Since then I found some of them are weaker albums from the mid-late 1980s – frequently its not so much that the songs are bad, but that Dylan just doesn’t seem to have the energy and self-confidence to sing them with any power and conviction. I always wonder if it wasn’t because of all the hostility he received during his “gospel” phase. However, in picking up some of these albums I have found they nearly always have a fine diamonds among the costume jewelry. I absolutely love “Brownsville Girl” from “Knocked Out…,” “Silvio” and “Ugliest Girl…” from “Down in the Groove” etc.When I picked up the original CD of “Another Portrait” I found a few good songs “Copper Kettle” and the very badly named “Woogie Boogie.” I loved Dylan’s country albums, “John Wesley Harding” and “Nashville Skyline” and there are some nice country songs on this album. But overall, they remind me a lot of the songs he later released in the 1980s. They sounded like he just did not care and put no effort, energy, enthusiasm or sincerity into the songs. They were kinda dead. I read somewhere that he released this album just to fulfill contract obligations, and as he wasn’t happy with the way he was treated, he released this to get back at the record company. I also read that he released this, knowing it was uninteresting, in order to destroy the false image that his fans had created of him by releasing a bad album to contradict that image and present an unlikeable “Self-Portrait”.This Bootleg though, shows how great many of the songs would be if they were recorded with energy enthusiasm and sincerity. There are also other previously unreleased songs that should have been included on the original release, if Dylan had genuinely wanted to release a good album. There are still the really lame, salvageable songs such as the meaningless and repetitious “All the Tired Horse” (which is itself tiresome) and “Alberta (# 1 & 2)” as well as a few covers that are not that interesting. I also don’t particularly care for some of the “Sadie” songs. Crappy melody recorded badly.But by and large, this is generally a worthwhile buy for any true Dylan fan and just confirms that, even at his worst, Dylan was still writing wonderful songs.The only real “Ding” I have is that they should not have included a remastered disk of the original. The original release simply wasn’t worth remastering. And I don’t really think they should have bothered with the lamer songs such as “All the Tired Horses” and “Alberta(s).” However, as diferent fans have different tastes, it doesn’t bother me that they included alternative takes on some of those songs, as I can just skip over them when I don’t have the stomach to listen to them. The Deluxe version also comes with a Booklet and lots of great photos etc. So I am very happy with this purchase even with some minor complaints.
– November 30, -0001
…who’s never been good at speaking his heart directly. It just isn’t in his ken. Withholding truthful reflection on himself isn’t something he did to us on purpose. He’s just never had it to give.The only hope to connect with this man as a human being is through metaphor, meaning and thought, which are no longer valued in average young folks’ education, inclination, or empathic intuition. The currency of our realm has become thoughtless impulse.This album first made me cry, then inspired me to go back in time and begin to study what’s relevant to how Dylan shares what he has to give–poetry, metaphor, and and most dauntingly, mythology. These things never ‘took’ with me, coming from a primitive home unable to encourage the effort required. His family was capable of loving him and leaving him alone, which, along with his early education in Judaism, lent a frame within which he chose to learn more on his own.Whoever produced this album sought and found the most intimate and tender renditions of parts of ‘Bobby’ before or after he went nuts coping with fame, then crafted them into a clear, warm recording which gives us access to his core. But only if you are equipped with an emotional listener part of yourself. Many are not.A couple of my favorites are ‘Spanish Is The Loving Tongue’ and ‘Annie’s Going To Sing Her Song’, and ‘Thirsty Boots’.I despair of our new normal–overproduced, digitally sound-boarded, inauthentic, soulless music performed by youngsters who haven’t a clue or feeling about the meaning of what they’re singing, who don’t’ bother to learn an instrument or learn to tell the stories of their hearts. If it can’t be said in an abbreviated text message, it’s too much trouble. (Edit: This was well demonstrated watching The Voice last night, in which most of the singers didn’t know lyrics to, but were being encouraged to ’emote’ while singing The Dixie Chicks’ ‘I’m Not Ready To Make Nice’, without being told to go read the story behind the song, just to ‘connect to it’. And neither girl thought on her own to go google the song. The result was predictably bizarre. ACK!)If you’re a Dylan Addict, angry at the financial machinations of Dylan’s purveyors over the years, keeping track of what you’ve spent on this or that, measuring albums against a content standard, this album will not speak to you.But for me, it rekindled my gratitude to ‘Bobby’ for lending meaning to our lives, especially now, when the landscape is so barren, for a sixty-four year old lady who was too wrapped up in being a ‘revolutionary’ adolescent in Berkeley college days as we anxiously awaited his next album, to delve more deeply into what the hell he was talking about.If you get this album, I hope you enjoy it.
– November 30, -0001
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