Bob Dylan: Another Self Portrait (1969-1971) The Bootleg Series Vol. 10

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

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New Morning was probably overpraised at the time of its release simply because fans were happy to hear Bob singing his own songs again, but, ironically, the album may be underrated now when considered against the entire Dylan catalog. As a reaction to the mistakes made on Self Portrait, it made sense at the time to play the new songs straight and not add too much. Still, it’s interesting to hear the overdubbed versions of “Sign On The Window” (with strings) and “New Morning” (with horns) that might have added a little flavor to an LP that lacked a bit of it in terms of its musical settings.

There are a few outliers included in the disc that stretch outside the Self Portrait theme a bit but should be catnip for Dylan aficionados. “Minstrel Boy,” included on the original Self Portrait in its Isle Of Wight version, is presented here from The Basement Tapes sessions, so those indelible Band harmonies are brought to the forefront. There’s also an unreleased Dylan original called “Working On A Guru” that features some stinging rockabilly licks from George Harrison, the Beatle laughing in delight at the track’s conclusion.

One need only listen to the relaxed tone in Bob’s voice on Self Portrait or parse the lyrics of some of the songs on New Morning to hear what Dylan wanted out of his life circa 1970 and why he had taken such an immense turn in his art. On “Sign On The Window,” the last verse speaks of a bucolic existence with a wife in kids in Utah about which the narrator can only dream (“That what must be what it’s all about,” he sings.)

Bob Dylan may have gone to drastic lengths with his music to achieve the simple pleasures he sought. Those willing to accept simple pleasures in return will find plenty to like on Another Self Portrait. It’s a collection that shows that Dylan may not have been painting masterpieces in 1970, but he was still delivering colorful miniatures.

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