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Review: Bob Dylan's 'Another Self Portrait' is a missed opportunity

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Bob Dylan 1969

Bob Dylan is photographed during a news conference at New York's Kennedy International Airport on his arrival from England on Sept. 2, 1969. He said a weekend concert on the Isle of Wight was a warm up for the return of personal appearances in the United States. (AP Photo)

“Another Self Portrait (1969-1971): The Bootleg Series Vol. 10,” by Bob Dylan
GRADE: B, Hear here: bobdylan.com

When Bob Dylan released “Self Portrait” in 1970, critics were outraged that the former protest singer and wild-eyed rock poet had released a double-album of mostly folk, country and classic pop covers laden with strings. Hearing the collection today, it’s merely a hit-and-miss hodgepodge ranging from the gorgeously sung and overproduced “Copper Kettle” to a lousy live version of “Like a Rolling Stone” culled from Dylan’s 1969 performance with The Band at the Isle of Wight Festival.

Bob Dylan Another Self Portrait“Another Self Portrait,” part of Columbia’s excellent “Bootleg Series,” revisits the controversial album with two discs of outtakes and other stripped-down songs recorded during the sessions for “Nashville Skyline” (1969), “Self Portrait” and “New Morning” (1970). Highlights include Dylan’s tender readings of the ancient folk song “Pretty Saro,” pal Tom Paxton’s “Annie’s Going to Sing Her Song” and the definitive version of Dylan’s own “Went to See the Gypsy.” The third disc includes the entire Isle of Wight show, which is much better than one would imagine after hearing the concert’s “Like a Rolling Stone.” The fourth disc is a remastered "Self Portrait."

Dylan Cash sessions coverWhile by no means as essential as past “Bootleg Series” releases, “Another Self Portrait” is a warm and satisfying listen, spotlighting Dylan at the top of his game as a vocalist. Alas, it’s frustrating. The set fails to include any of the often sloppy but always sweet duets Dylan recorded with Johnny Cash in 1969. Incidentally,“The Dylan/Cash Sessions” bootleg is considered important enough to be reviewed at AllMusic.com.

“Another Self Portrait” also skips any material from a recording session the same year featuring Dylan crooning Sam Cooke’s “Cupid.” Perhaps most annoying, though, is the absence of the 1970 recording of Dylan singing The Beatles’ “Yesterday” with guitar accompaniment by George Harrison. This must-hear performance, at least for Dylan diehards, can be found on the intriguing, mixed-bag bootleg “Almost Went to See Elvis.”

Bob dylan almost went to see elvisMaybe on a future installment of Columbia's “The Bootleg Series” these hidden gems will be finally released officially. It would’ve made more sense, though, to put the Cash and Harrison collaborations, as well as some of the other riches from 1969-70, on a CD as part of “Another Portrait.” It's doubtful anyone would've minded fresh material taking the place of the remastered "Self Portrait."



Wade_Tatangelo_by_Mike_Lang_HT_06212013 Wade Tatangelo has been an entertainment reporter, columnist and reviewer for more than a decade at publications nationwide. He is a Hershey, Pa., native who grew up in Tampa and graduated from the University of South Florida. Wade joined the Herald-Tribune in 2013. He can be reached by email or call (941) 361-4955.
Last modified: September 27, 2013
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