In 2020, Columbia Records released their standard 50th Anniversary Collection covering all unreleased 1970 recordings by Bob Dylan. Unlike previous sets, this one had a plethora of bizarre one-offs from the sessions that produced Self-Portrait and New Morning. Passed over for 2013's Another Self-Portrait, it would be easy to assume that most of these recordings were either incomplete or disappointing. That is true for many of the session's most tantalizing songs - "Universal Soldier" and "Little Moses" are attempted only briefly - but other songs offer a fascinating window into the evolution of Dylan's own compositions and expansion of his cover repertoire.
The 15 songs I've selected from the release's 74 total represent a combination of these originals and renditions of others' songs. Several come from the brief session that featured Dylan and Harrison jamming together on 9 tracks, a session that I tend to enjoy more than most of my fellow fans. I strove to produce a listenable quasi-album in the spirit of The Bootleg Series, though I'll acknowledge that few of the tracks would have been essential enough to merit inclusion on Another Self-Portrait.
There are exceptions to that general wisdom: "Jamaica Farewell" is pleasant and seemingly complete, an editor could have chopped this twice-through performance of "Long Dark Veil" into a more commercial product, "Tomorrow is a Long Time" is an unsympathetic but groovy arrangement (I've selected an alternate take to the one which has circulated among collectors for years), and "Lily of the West" reflects the intensity of the song's lyrics better than the heavily overdubbed version on 1973's Dylan. A very Nashville-style "I Forgot to Remember to Forget Her" might be the highlight of the set for me.
Less essential but still engaging are a version of "If Not For You" in which Dylan is heard teaching his band the guitar melody, a solo piano performance of "Sign on the Window," and a previously-unheard arrangement of "Went to the See the Gypsy" featuring a country twang. I opted not to include New Morning songs that include minor lyrical variations because they tended to be flawed in some other key way. The alternate take of "Winterlude" is very nice but breaks down in its final verse. An early version of "Sign on the Window" with the lyrics "Brighton girls are all the same" is likewise interesting but sounds musically unfinished. You can browse the set for these tracks at your leisure.
With all of that said, here is a playlist of what I consider to be the standout recordings from Bob Dylan's 1970 Anniversary Collection:
- Untitled 1970 Instrumental #1
- If Not For You (take 1)
- Jamaica Farewell
- Tomorrow is a Long Time
- Went to See the Gypsy (take 6)
- Mama You Been On My Mind
- I Forgot to Remember to Forget
- It Ain't Me Babe
- Sign on the Window [no take information]
- Matchbox (take 1)
- Come All You Fair and Tender Hearted
- Alligator Man (country version)
- Lily of the West
- Long Black Veil
- Song to Woody (take 1)
Happy New Year, everybody! May it bring you joy, peace, and prosperity.
Many thanks once again! I've got the download and waiting for the album's release. To live outside the law you must be honest.ReplyDelete
It's so great to see a new post from you! I pre-ordered the CD version of this - surprised to see the CD's listed at a cheaper price than the MP3 download offered - and will make a playlist using your suggestions once it arrives, I believe in Feb.ReplyDelete
Great to see new post. "Not essential" could apply to this whole set but its an enjoyable listen. Glad you took the time to separate the wheat from the chaff.ReplyDelete
Great to see a post from you. I'm enjoying 1970 as I love all these kind of releases. They all add another few pieces to the never ending Bob Dylan story. Stay safe.ReplyDelete
im 72 YEARS OLD AND KEEP ON TRYIN TO COMPLETE MY BOBNESS COLLECTION ( SPECIALLY ON HIS BIRTHDAY DATE),COULD U TELL ME HOW TO DOWNLOAD FROM YR SITE
THS A LOT FORANSWERING
Hey CS, I run the Dylan newsletter Flagging Down the Double Es. If you see this, can you drop me a line? Got an idea to run by you. dylanlive at substack dot com. Thanks! -RayReplyDelete
Thanks for these, some of these collections are too large and unwieldly to get into but these playlists are an excellent way to get a foot in the door.ReplyDelete