Talk to someone who isn’t a Bob Dylan fan and they’ll often tell you, “it’s the voice.” That nasal tone from the 60’s; the rasp that it has developed into over the past thirty years. Truth be told, I get it. Dylan’s voice isn’t for everyone, and can definitely be hinderance in discovering his brilliance.
Now, if I want to try and turn someone onto Dylan, I’ve got the perfect collection for them; the latest edition of the Bootleg Series, in stores today, and featuring outtakes recorded between 1969 and 1971. It’s titled Another Self Portrait and it is an absolutely stunning listen.
The original Self Portrait was a much maligned double album, released back in 1970. It was the first time Bob Dylan really received negative critical notice, and it was quickly followed up four months later by New Morning, which had fans breathing a sigh of relief with its strong bunch of songs.
What this new double disc set, Another Self Portrait, does, is give context to the music that Dylan was working on at the time, through demos, unreleased songs and alternate takes. It also highlights the man’s voice, at perhaps its most accessible. Throughout the album, Dylan’s is hitting amazing notes and singing wonderful melodies. There are many highlights throughout the album’s 35 songs, but if I have to pick favourites, I’d say the two alternate versions of Time Passes Slowly are standouts, along with Sign On The Window and Went To See the Gypsy. They’re all gorgeous, and would likely find favour with the ears of today’s alt-country community.
Bob Dylan’s catalogue is so rich, its hard to pick one favourite era for me, or any fan. But if you’re looking to show someone that the man could indeed carry a tune like no one else, you won’t find a better place to start than with Another Self Portrait.