September 1, 2013

Playlist Week of 2013-08-31

Bob Dylan - Another Self Portrait

* Satie: L’Orchestre de Satie (Orchestre des Concerts Lamoureux/Sado) (Erato CD)
* Xenakis: La légende d’Eer (Auvidis Montaigne CD)
* Xenakis: Pléïades (Les Percussions de Strasbourg) (Harmonia Mundi CD)
* Sun Ra: Monorails & Satellites (Saturn/Universal LP)
* Sun Ra: Strange Strings (Saturn/Universal LP)
* Sun Ra: Disco 3000 (Saturn/Art Yard CD)
* John Coltrane: Live In Japan (Impulse!/GRP 4CD)
* Dave Liebman: Drum Ode (ECM LP)
* Codona (Collin Walcott/Don Cherry/Nana Vasconcelos): Codona (ECM LP)
* Terje Rypdal: Waves (ECM LP)
* Kip Hanrahan: Vertical’s Currency (American Clave LP)
* Chris Forsyth: Solar Motel (Paradise Of Bachelors MP3)†
* Bob Dylan: The Bootleg Series Vol.10: Another Self Portrait (Columbia Legacy 4CD)
* Grateful Dead: Dave’s Picks Vol.5: Pauley Pavilion, UCLA 11/17/73 (GDP/Rhino 3HDCD)
* Jeff Beck: There And Back (Epic/Friday Music LP)
* King Crimson: Beat (Discipline Global Mobile HDCD)
* King Crimson: Three Of A Perfect Pair (Discipline Global Mobile HDCD)
* King Crimson: THRAK (Discipline Global Mobile HDCD)
* Yes: The Yes Album (Atlantic/Mobile Fidelity CD)
* Yes: Fragile (Atlantic/Mobile Fidelity CD)
* Yes: Close To The Edge (Atlantic/Audio Fidelity SACD)
* Yes: Going For The One (Atlantic/Audio Fidelity SACD)
* Happy The Man: Crafty Hands (Arista LP)
* Dereck Higgins: Dereck 2 (DVH/Bandcamp ALAC)†
* Dereck Higgins: Dereck 3 (DVH/Bandcamp ALAC)†
* Dereck Higgins: Autumn (DVH/Bandcamp ALAC)†
* Dereck Higgins: Sonospsheres (DVH/Bandcamp ALAC)†
* Opeth: Watershed (Roadrunner CD/DVD)
* Kylesa: Ultraviolet (Seasons of Mist 2-45RPM LP)
* Deafheaven: Sunbather (Deathwish, Inc. 2-45RPM LP) †/‡
* Verma: Coltan (Trouble In Mind LP)
* Beach House: Teen Dream (Sub Pop 2LP)
* Beach House: Bloom (Sub Pop 2-45RPM LP)
* Lower Dens: Nootropics (Ribbon 2-45RPM LP)
* Alabama Shakes: Boys & Girls (ATO LP+7”)



Now that Labor Day Weekend is here, the new releases are going to start flowing again and this week’s big event is surely Volume 10 of the Bob Dylan Bootleg Series. Subtitled “Another Self Portrait,” the 2-CD set features outtakes, live tracks and un-overdubbed masters recorded from in 1969-70, some of which appeared—in much different form—on Self Portrait and New Morning.

I wrote about Self Portrait back in 2010 (you can read it here) and it really is a pretty awful Dylan record. Greil Marcus famously began his Rolling Stone review with the question Dylan fanatics dared not ask: “What is this shit?” Marcus was invited to write liner notes for this installment of The Bootleg Series and he nails down what makes Self Portrait so enthralling yet disturbing. With the perspective of many decades of hindsight (and the privilege of hearing the unadorned tracks) it is clear that Dylan’s 1969 “self-portrait” of ancient and modern covers and reimagined originals was sincere—a truth that was maybe not altogether clear until Good As I Been To You (1992) and World Gone Wrong (1993). But it is also clear that Dylan was deliberately attempting career suicide in 1969. Long hailed (and frequently attacked) as “the spokesman for a generation,” a “prophet” and some sort of “messiah,” Dylan was countering all that nonsense with a Jim Nabors croon and corny covers, lathered in strings and overlayed with a goopy choir. Nothing could have been less cool than that in 1970!  But Dylan’s ploy didn’t work. Self Portrait still sold millions of copies. He also played in front of hundreds of thousands of rapturous fans at the Isle of Wight on August 30, 1969. Thereafter he mostly withdrew from the stage and entered into a long erratic period with only the merest flashes of brilliance showing through (and then often purposely flawed, e.g. the re-made Blood On The Tracks). It really wasn’t until the 1980s that Dylan had finally destroyed the myth, releasing execrable records like Knocked Out Loaded (1986) and Down In The Groove (1988) having descended into irrelevance and self-parody. Then, of course, he really did come back in the late 1990s—but it was on his own terms: as a song-and-dance man with a poetic bent—which is all he ever was to begin with.

So, The Bootleg Series Volume 10 is truly a revelation and redeems a nearly un-redeemable album. The unadorned Self Portrait tracks, recorded in New York with just Dylan and David Bromberg on acoustic guitars, reveal a depth of emotion and sincere reverence for the songs that was nearly obliterated by the Nashville overdubs. Meanwhile, early versions of the New Morning material display an agonized search for an approach to singing and songwriting Dylan could live with going forward. Additional material with The Band (including a previously unreleased Basement Tapes recording and more tracks from the Isle of Wight gig) connect the dots from the explosive, tumultuous UK tour in 1966 (documented on The Bootleg Series Volume 4), the self-imposed exile in the basement of Big Pink and the remade Dylan of John Wesley Harding, Nashville Skyline and beyond. Self Portrait may be “bad” album—but with the release of The Bootleg Series Volume 10, it now at least makes some sort of sense.

After pondering whether to get the reasonably priced two-CD set or the premium priced vinyl edition, I decided to spring for the deluxe, too-expensive, limited edition four-CD box. Why? Well, for one thing, it includes the entire Isle of Wight performance remixed and uncut. Moreover, it also provides the remastered Self Portrait on disc four. Now, if the vinyl had included the Isle of Wight CD, it would have been a no-brainer (after all, it’s not like I’m going to be spinning the original album all that often). And, even if this stuff becomes available separately later (as Self Portrait will surely be), I don’t care. The CDs (mastered by Greg Calbi) sound excellent, the oversized box set really is deluxe, with two hardbound books including an exclusive volume of contemporaneous photographs, press materials and rare sleeve reproductions. The only problem is: where do I put it?


Jean K said...

Great review of Another Self Portrait Rodger. The CDs do sound really good and make up a fascinating listen. It's always interested me how some of the most creative artists are sometimes are almost willfully careless with their own recorded output - Miles, Neil Young and particularly Bob.
Some weird synergies with your playlist again - Pléïades, JC's Live in Japan, Dave's Picks 5, Codona, Thrak and lots of Hanrahan...
Enjoy what's left of the Labor Day Weekend and have a good week ahead.

Roddus said...

Wow, you don't take long to get you hands on these new releases. I had seen the Dylan release was coming but thought it was next month and was balking at the price of the deluxe set, I have all of the bootleg series releases, so this one is compulsory. will have to wait a few weeks though as I have gone well over my allowance this month.

What do you think of the Alabama Shakes? I just love their debut album and think their singer is a major new talent.

Sam said...

Don't forget the other big box set event of the week: the Beach Boy's 50-year retrospective "Made in California"!!!! ;)

Here are my lists from last week:

Playlist 2013-09-02:

*Beau Hunks: On to the Show! The Original Music from the Hal Roach Comedies
*Anthony Braxton Ensemble: 1995-02-09 Tri-Centric Festival, NYC (CDR)
*Anthony Braxton: Piano Music (1968-2000)/Performed by Genevieve Foccroulle (disc 6)
*Tadd Dameron's Big Ten: Dial "D & T" for "Dameron & Trumpets" 1949/1953 (CDR)
*Miles Davis: The Complete Birth of the Cool
*Miles Davis: Rare Miles (CDR compilation) disc 1 [1946-1949]
*Miles Davis: Rare Miles (CDR compilation) disc 2
*Miles Davis: Collector’s Items
*Duke Ellington: The Reprise Studio Recordings (disc 1)
*Andrew Hill: Mosaic Select (discs 1, 2)
*Joe Morris/Agusti Fernandez/Nate Wooley: From the Discrete to the Particular
*Charlie Parker: The Complete Live Performances on Savoy (disc 1)
*Charlie Parker: Carnegie Hall X-Mas ‘49
*Animal Collective: Strawberry Jam
*Beach Boys: The SMiLE Sessions (disc 1)
*Beach Boys: Made in California (discs 5, 6)
*Beatles: Mono Masters (2009 mono remaster) disc 1
*Beatles: The Early Beatles (Capitol CD stereo)
*Beatles: With the Beatles (2009 mono remaster)
*Beatles: Hard Day's Night (2009 mono remaster)
*Beatles: Beatles VI (Capitol CD stereo)
*Beatles: Beatles for Sale (2009 mono remaster)
*Beatles: Rubber Soul (2009 mono remaster)
*Buttfinger: Fucked by the Fickle Finger of Farmville
*Brian Eno: Another Green World
*Essex Green: Everything Is Green
*Fela: Open & Close
*Fela: Afrodisiac
*Flaming Lips: Ego Tripping at the Gates of Hell
*Grand Funk Railroad: E Pluribus Funk
*Al Green: Call Me
*High Llamas: Hawaii
*High Llamas: Can Cladders
*Rascals: Once Upon a Dream
*UYA: Selections 20: Body Genetics
*Various artists: Pennies from Heaven: 48 Original Recordings Featured in the BBC TV Serial (disc 1)

Reading List 2013-09-02:

*Fleming, Ian. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (reread/started)
*Fleming, Ian. The Spy Who Loved Me (reread/finished)
*Hyde, Lewis. Common as Air (in progress)
*Ryan, Kevin, and Brian Kehew. Recording the Beatles (in progress)
*Shakespeare, William. The Tempest (Arden ed., 2nd series, ed. Frank Kermode) (reread/in progress)
*Weldon, Michael J. Psychotronic Video Guide (in progress)

Roddus said...

I did finally end up getting the deluxe 4 Cd edition and I am suitably impressed with the music, the sound quality and the packaging. first time I have heard the original Self portrait album, and I don't think it is all that bad, might not be a great Dylan album but is still heads and sholders above most others.