Profile for L J Thomson > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by L J Thomson
Top Reviewer Ranking: 6,926
Helpful Votes: 750

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
L J Thomson (UK)

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5
pixel
The Beatles In Mono [VINYL]
The Beatles In Mono [VINYL]
Price: £288.00

30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Monumental - A moment in time to remember, 8 Sep 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I will never forget today, Monday 8th September 2014, as to my mind this is the single most important piece of music and packaging I have bought in over 35 years. Even after buying thousands of vinyl Lp's, CD's, tapes, DVD's and 78 rpm discs, nothing else tops this. This is exactly how The Beatles were meant to be heard and for someone like me, too young to have bought and experienced these Lp's back in the 1960's and too unforgiving to accept dismal condition originals masquerading as "mint" on every online website today, this is The Holy Grail of vinyl.

I have played most of these today as I took a day off work to do so and I am absolutely blown away by what I've heard and I'm in awe of the work the EMI team and Optimal have done here. I hope these guys get an award for this. Thanks too to Michael Fremer who has kept the lamp burning for vinyl in the cold dark years of digital. Your words and enthusiasm have kept some of us going!

Now if only we could all convince some of those guys on the What Hi-Fi forum who still believe vinyl is for old codgers and luddites and their precious PC hard-drives and DAC's do exactly the same job even better (cough, cough), then maybe, just maybe, we could convince the record companies to put vinyl FIRST again. Digital is evidently crap for listening to music. I've spent over ten thousand pounds trying to make it sound good and it just doesn't. I've given up.

As a child of the late Sixties today I feel like a teenager from that time. There is no greater more significant more culturally important or better representation of the greatest music by the greatest band ever, than what is beautifully created and packaged in this set. I genuinely pity anyone who hasn't got it in their hands today.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 9, 2014 6:48 PM BST


That's The Way It Is
That's The Way It Is
Price: £81.62

16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars This Is The Way It Is, 11 Aug 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: That's The Way It Is (Audio CD)
This is a neatly packaged set with a good quality paperback coffee table style booklet included. It contains 8 CD's and 2 DVD's. The value of this set to the consumer depends largely on two factors: how much you're prepared to hear Elvis repeat himself and how much of the core material you already own. Do I mean this material has largely been released before? Of course I do!

The 2 DVD's have existed together since at least 2007 and can be purchased for a fiver. At least 4 of the 6 concert recordings have previously been released, not to mention the original album countless times (on Disc 1) and a useless disc of jamming and throwaway cuts inappropriately referred to as "rehearsals" in two separate issues. So just two concert recordings are actually new.

I am a slightly "lucky" customer as I bought this at a lower Amazon price than it is currently selling for AND I also did not own all the 4 previously released concerts apart from one - the Midnight show of the 12th August. Even for me purchase of this set under those conditions was certainly not a "no brainer" exercise so individuals will have to decide whether it is worth it for them.

What about the music though? Well, first off, the original album is great, really great. I would put it up there in the top five Elvis albums of all time. You can't go wrong with that but what of the rest? I'll ignore the DVD content and the "rehearsal" disc for the reasons outlined above. That leaves 6 concerts as the main thrust and reason for owning this. Are they worth the money on their own? I'll hesitate to answer but probably conclude that they aren't, sadly.

The main issue for me is that whilst Elvis is undeniably in good voice and his supporting band are uniformly brilliant, the material is a bit "middle of the road" and pedestrian for a live performance to really crank up the energy levels, but it also gets repetitive hearing one show after another with essentially the same songs played out in exactly the same manner - very repetitive, actually. Hearing all these shows is also slightly disappointing for me as it highlights a well documented problem with Elvis at this time - clearly he was already bored creatively and was simply going through the motions all over again. That short-lived burst of enthusiasm and energy following the '68 Comeback Special was to be sucked out of him by poor management and artistic choices. Whoever pushed him into a Las Vegas residency should have been shot on the spot. All Elvis' material gets turned into that show biz style of presentation which works with only some of the material. Oh, Elvis, if only your manager hadn't been quite so dishonest and could have left the country. Then you too could have toured the world and not been stuck in that Vegas hell of a rut. Sadly it wasn't to be......

You can hear the boredom when the same stale jokes are used repeatedly twice a night for over twelve months. What I once heard as spontaneity and quick witted stage banter now comes across as horribly rehearsed, bored and stale, lacking any sign of passion and commitment that ideally a great live show should offer. So is it a terrible sad experience to hear? Well no, it isn't really. The bad stuff would be about 6 months away. Elvis is still in top vocal form at this point and the band is really good. However for most consumers the 2 disc Legacy version will suffice as it contains the essential original album and one of the two previously unreleased shows, which is about as good as any other at this point in time.

This large box will be eaten up by ALL the true Elvis aficionados, whether they carp about the lack of new content or not. It is wonderfully presented and is a complete snapshot of Elvis on stage in August 1970, a time when many knowledgeable Elvis fans claim he was at his live best. I personally disagree and feel that '69 was better. In fact it is possible to see August 1970 as the start of the downward spiral all the way to August 1977. In one sense it's almost impossible to rate this large box set being as flawed and repetitive as it is and yet it does serve a function for those who maybe haven't heard Elvis at this point, the last great hurrah of his live work, excluding the big event of Aloha From Hawaii. Indeed it is also a great and generous delving into this much celebrated period, hence 3 stars overall.


VISCONTI Small Boxed Mens Hunter Slimline Leather Wallet with 6 Card Slots Oil Brown 705
VISCONTI Small Boxed Mens Hunter Slimline Leather Wallet with 6 Card Slots Oil Brown 705
Offered by Hide and Sleek Leather Goods
Price: £12.99

3 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Perfect for the penniless and credit unworthy, 9 May 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This wallet is plainly ludicrous and I'm staggered by the 5 star reviews it has received here. Are these people all employees of Visconti? I think so. Otherwise how else can you possibly explain the enthusiasm for a wallet that is far too small to hold credit cards, cash money or any small amount of loose change? I thought that was what a wallet was for?

Admittedly I didn't look long and hard enough at the few images that exist before purchasing otherwise I might have realised that there is NO fastener anywhere to hold the stupidly designed thing together. Most of the time it will be "open" at an angle of 90 degrees - that's when it's in your pocket or when you pull it out (more for comfort and relief) to use. Honestly, how much more would it have cost to add a fastening button to hold the thing closed?

But my biggest disappointment comes with the fact that the slots are too small to comfortably put your cards into. When you do finally force a credit card into the slot it is nigh impossible to slide it out again. This is hardly convenient when you're in a queue waiting to pay. My conclusion is that this wallet must have been designed for men without cards really. The zip locked central pouch for change can only hold a few pence before a) the wallet will break through stress and b) you'll ever be able to "close" it together to fit it into a coat pocket. I doubt you'll ever get it into a pocket of your jeans without being on the receiving end of witty jokes about your "package" in your trousers. My conclusion is that this wallet was made for men without loose change.

Well, are you pleased to see me? In the case of this atrocious wallet the answer is an emphatic "No!". I am putting this into the recycling bin and looking for another replacement already.

Whilst it IS possible to get UK bank notes into the main pouch for notes it won't take too many before the thing will be too full to use in any way. My final conclusion is that this wallet was made for men without many bank notes on them.

So, if you are not worthy of credit and have no credit cards, you are penniless and have no change and finally you have no cash notes to your name, this is one average product that won't look good in your trousers and will make your friends laugh when you pull it out to show your lacking financial status.


Sideways [DVD]
Sideways [DVD]
Dvd ~ Paul Giamatti
Offered by DVDBayFBA
Price: £2.75

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Genius, 19 Nov 2013
This review is from: Sideways [DVD] (DVD)
Simply one of the top films of the past 13 years. I've now seen it 20 times and never tire of it. It's warm, funny, totally engaging and the characters are superbly written and acted. I've read here that some reviewers do not like the characters and cannot relate to them or their predicament. Since when do you have to become a character in a movie to relate to it or enjoy it? Unlike so much Hollywood drivel, it is a superbly paced, intelligent, dialogue driven, witty, acerbic road movie that perfectly dissects the middle aged man's neuroses. It even manages a few minutes of out and out slapstick humour. And if you didn't laugh out loud at the naked husband chasing Miles down the drive, you must have something missing within you. What is there not to like about this movie? Absolutely nothing.


Gravity [Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray] [2013] [Region Free]
Gravity [Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray] [2013] [Region Free]
Dvd ~ George Clooney
Price: £19.99

10 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Total Immersion, 18 Nov 2013
The majority of press reviews for this film have been understandably fantastic. However, my decision to see this in 3D at a cinema was not taken based upon reading any review. I rarely find trailers are successful at convincing me to see any film. In nearly all cases, they're enough to ensure that I will do the exact opposite. However, without any knowledge of the press hoopla surrounding this film, I saw a trailer for it whilst watching Woody Allen's "Blue Jasmine". Talk about contrasts. The trailer did its job perfectly. I wanted to rush out and see this film straight away, which was something of a first, so I did just that. I was not disappointed.

I am not a fan of modern Hollywood blockbusters, science-fiction or fantasy films in general. And that is where the trailer succeeds. "Gravity" is obviously not your standard blockbuster fare. Some people have said it is boring and that not much happens or simply that it's predictable. I guess these same people will charge films like "2001" or "Solaris" with the same faults. For my money, the latter two films are two of the best science fiction / space fiction films ever made. Maybe it's because they are slightly anti the norm and do not get swallowed up by the ubiquitous Hollywood convention of loud action spectacle that nearly all post Star Wars sci-fi has done. Those two films now share good company with "Gravity". I fear though that one of the greatest achievements of this film is its ability to completely immerse the viewer in its "space" using the latest 3D technology when viewed on the largest possible screen. I can't imagine this will survive the inevitable reduction to home-theatre set-ups and small screens. I haven't seen the 2D so my review is based on watching the 3D spectacle several times.

Whatever, you're doing now, if at all possible I urge you to stop and book a viewing for the 3D version on the biggest screen in your area whilst you still can. It is a visual and technical masterpiece. Not since "2001" has any film managed to perfectly convey the vast emptiness, beauty and danger of space. I'm sure Kubrick would approve of the technical virtuosity employed throughout that permits the first 15 minutes to be shot in one continuous tracking shot with the camera seemingly able to freely orbit the space station and astronauts as they go about what is (for a movie) a fairly routine and mundane task. Whether or not the film is metaphysical enough to achieve the reputation and long standing acclaim that its forebears have is open to much debate and question. Certainly on the face of it, the plot is fairly routine and simple. However to dismiss it on this point would be to entirely miss the underlying themes that the director is interested in. In order to avoid spoilers I won't get into detail or mention specific characters and their fates, although I for one doubt that even the director attaches much importance to them, but if you consider the concepts of rebirth, evolution, man versus technology and man's place within the solar system or perhaps even less cosmically grand ideas like climate change on Earth and the Cold War, you'll hopefully find this film all the more rewarding. It is philosophical and does make several interesting points. It is not simply a conventional film with a straight narrative though. If you're looking for an intricate story you will be disappointed. As Kubrick said once, if you want a story, go and read a book. "Gravity" is very much a FILM in the purest sense. Tarkovsky might have even approved, especially considering the human aspect and mankinds determination to survive in the face of adversity. This film is a great spectacle to let yourself become immersed in. It reminds me of the childlike sense of wonder you experience at a young age when seeing stories displayed in such a way on a big screen. It needs to be experienced more than simply watched. When the house lights go up, that is the time to evaluate the films themes and its many philosophical ideas. I haven't been able to stop thinking about this since I first saw it.

There can be little doubt that this is the highest compliment anyone can pay any piece of art.


The Complete Album Collection
The Complete Album Collection
Price: £146.39

58 of 88 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars What? Dylan in Stereo on CD!, 8 Nov 2013
This box is realistically only intended for the newbie of the i-Pad generation and not a long-time Dylan listener so I'll make a brief comment about each of the main releases. There is no unreleased or new material here for the fanatical collector. So if you've heard some Dylan and like the sound of him and maybe you're curious about getting the entire back catalogue in one fell swoop (brave!), you should maybe know a few things before splashing the cash; all £140 of it.

1. The first 8 albums are all ESSENTIAL listening and together with The Beatles output give us one of the most written about and important series of album releases rock music and Twentieth Century music in general has ever heard. It is simply astonishing to chart Dylan's songwriting progression in such a short space of time by listening to all these albums in succession. However, please note these albums are greatly improved by hearing them in their original MONO mixes. Much like The Beatles, Dylan would have heard the mono mix played back once before signing it off. He was probably already working on the next albums songs before anyone thought about producing a stereo version. The latter was not the most commonly available or used medium at the time for folk or rock music. Mono was the accepted standard and the primary "important" final mix was the mono version. On the first four albums, Dylan is only accompanied by his guitar and harmonica (in the main)and the stereo versions of these songs tend to diminish the impact and integrity of the simple recording by unevenly spreading the vocals over the two channels to remove Dylan's voice from dead centre. However, far more distracting is the decision to paste harmonica / guitar in different positions within the sound field, when Dylan would have been sat singing and playing his guitar with harmonica strapped around his neck! It doesn't really make much sense from a sound reproduction perspective. Dylan's voice, guitar and harmonica should ideally be held together and be recreated directly in front of you, smack bang in the centre of your speakers. Now, if you're the sort of listener who puts on a CD and then walks off to vacuum the house, this might not even be noticeable or bother you too much. The next four albums all have various sonic advantages to be gained from their primal and more powerful and centred mono mixes, albeit the mid-60's trilogy of "Bringing It All Back Home", "Highway 61 Revisited" and "Blonde On Blonde" are also served quite well in stereo. The last album from this period to receive a dedicated mono mix was "John Wesley Harding", Dylan's haunting reflective and highly mystical return to folk-rock style from 1968. Once you've heard this album in mono, you'll probably curse the fact that stereo was ever invented. Just listen to the song "Dear Landlord" and compare the difference. To conclude, my advice would be to buy the stand alone "THE ORIGINAL MONO RECORDINGS" box set for these 8 albums. (10/10)

2. "Nashville Skyline" is Dylan's first weak album and clocks in at about 27 minutes, hardly essential. The best songs are on all the various compilations. You don't need "Peggy Day" (4/10)

3. "Self Portrait" is best heard on the latest Sundazed vinyl issue (mastered by Kevin Gray 2010). However it is not a typical Dylan album and is notoriously weak, full of covers etc. It is however easy on the ear and far more varied and interesting than "Nashville Skyline" (5/10)

4. "New Morning" is best heard on Music On Vinyl LP release - the 2009 CD included here is a bit sharp sounding for some systems and is more compressed. The album was a return to earlier form though. (8/10)

5. "DYLAN" album from 1973 is not an official release but CBS retribution for Dylan's leaving temporarily for Asylum Records - it contains studio warm-ups from "New Morning" sessions that were never intended to be heard and two Self Portrait cuts. It sounds like it (1/10)

6. "Blood On The Track"s is an ESSENTIAL album and well re-mastered but available singularly elsewhere very cheaply (10/10)

7. "Desire" is a weak album demonstrating Dylan's lack of self confidence in himself and his writing. It is badly dated and an awful sounding production. The CD is ok though, all things considered (5/10)

8. "Street Legal" is much much better sounding in the 1998 CD due to it being remixed. Subsequent CD issues revert back to the muddy 1978 master - an ill-judged move. The album is great for "serious" Dylan fans although roundly dismissed today by everyone else. (7/10)

9. "Slow Train Coming" is a uniquely different release, full of fire and brimstone, bible thumping and great passionate soulful singing. As an Atheist I love it! The CD sounds superb BUT like "Blood On The Tracks", it is already available very cheaply. (8/10)

10. The 1980's - oh dear. This is where it all went very badly wrong for Bob. By the time most of the 60's icons reached their 40's, music was being recorded in much different ways involving the layering of sound and multiple over-dubs, not to mention the advent of the synthesiser, MIDI keyboards, sequencers and computer programming. None of this suited an artist like Dylan who was used to more spontaneous methods. His recordings from the 1980's suffered from a need to sound hip and trendy. They never succeeded. "Saved" (2/10) is an unmitigated disaster and does not reflect Dylan's passion for his Christian material as performed live during 1979/80. A live album from these shows should have been released instead. "Shot Of Love" (3/10) is also poor apart from "Every Grain Of Sand". "Infidels" (5/10) is the best example of a missed opportunity in the entire Dylan catalogue. The only really great material was left off the album and is available on "The Bootleg Series Volumes 1 -3" (10/10). The less said about "Empire Burlesque" to "Dylan And The Dead", (all 2-3/10) the better. Their terrible reputation precedes them.

11. "Oh Mercy" is a musically rich vibrant and welcome return to form. Dylan sounds like Dylan again, full of fire and telling the world it is destined for a disastrous end. It's political, satirical, socially relevant and features a commanding artist at the peak of his powers. Like "Slow Train" and "Blood", this CD is already available very cheaply. (9/10)

12. "Under The Red Sky" - best forgotten attempt to write nursery rhymes with lazy dated "trendy" 90's production. If that doesn't put you off, check out the list of guest appearances; that's never a good sign. (2/10)

13. "Good As I Been To You" & "World Gone Wrong". These two albums are interesting but not exactly essential. Bob returns to his folk roots. For some hearing Dylan wheeze over his acoustic guitar whilst resurrecting ancient melodies about murder and deceit, might be worthwhile and different. (6/10)

14. "Time Out Of Mind" is another ESSENTIAL release and sound great too but it's available for peanuts elsewhere. (10/10)

15. "Love & Theft" is Dylan's best album since "Blood" and therefore another ESSENTIAL release. Wait a minute, that's TWO ESSENTIAL albums in a row! However, this is where problems start with the modern day obsession with "Loudness". This album is slightly compressed and only the vinyl release (MOV) really lets it breathe. It is a fantastic rocking, bluesy, folksy, jazzy and country influenced amalgamation of Dylan originals that reflect the artist as a world-weary but street smart, wise-cracking poetic wizard of humour. It won't ever get better than this. Again, you can buy this album separately (10/10)

16. "Modern Times" follows on nicely from L&T but lacks that albums range and punch. The humour has largely left the building along with any sense of melody. There is too much re-cycled derivative blues for this album to have much distinction. It is however lyrically strong. It's a shame then that the CD is killed dead by the over use of compression. This album sounds incredible on vinyl and just as Dylan authorised it. The CD is a disaster prepared by an engineer who is thrilled to see the lights hit ten on the volume scale. The MOV vinyl release scores a 7.5/10. The CD included here a miserable 3/10.

17. "Together Through Life", "Christmas In The Heart" and "Tempest". My initial reaction to TTL was that it was another disaster. The awful CD did not help to make it listenable. I have sought out the superb vinyl release of this album in the past few years and I'm amazed how much better it sounds - a completely different experience in fact. I now see that Dylan is trying hard to not try to write "Dylan songs". The simplicity for which I initially rejected the album, is actually an original attempt to resurrect some of the vintage 1950's Chess Records sounds. It works but it's still not essential although it IS more entertaining after living with it for a few years than I previously gave it credit for. Beware though that the CD does not really convey the production at all well due to the abysmal remastering job. Album score (5.5/10) / CD score (2/10) CITH is not an album that many people can really honestly play and enjoy. It was meant for a good cause and I applaud Bob for this (feeding the hungry). However, I'd rather hear Bing or Elvis doing these numbers (10/10 for purpose / 3/10 for listenability). "Tempest" is one album too many for this reviewer. It still sounds like a pastiche of a much better earlier Dylan. It is cynical and not a great ride to take with the artist (4/10)

Please note that the last 5 albums all benefit from vinyl masters. Some people have said elsewhere that you have to hear Dylan on vinyl, he has never benefitted from being made digital. To a certain degree I can empathise with this stance and in recent years I have purchased the mono albums on vinyl in addition to the CD box set. However, the difference between the two is not exactly earth-shattering. The revelation of vinyl really appears on the post "Time Out Of Mind" albums, which were produced in an era of ridiculous LOUDNESS obsession. The remaining discs are all live / film soundtrack / compilation of odds and sods. Apart from "Hard Rain", the live albums are really all quite poor. They do not reflect the best moments from the tours they are culled from. In addition, some of Dylan's ideas for rearranging his back catalogue on stage do not really work. "At Budokan" is by far the worst example of this although "Dylan & The Dead" is probably the worst excuse for a live album in the Dylan canon. At a risk of repeating myself about the wonders of good vinyl issues, I would add that the MOV release of "Hard Rain" knocks this CD remaster into a cocked hat. The Side-Tracks compilation is mastered okay but still too compressed. The material is uniformly excellent. I won't be giving up my vinyl "Biograph" for it any day though!

I haven't yet mentioned "The Basement Tapes" as these need a lot more space to explain the main issue here. These recordings were released in 1975 but were never complete. The CD included contains a remaster (2009) of the original folded down mono recordings that were released in 1975. These crude 1967 recordings were originally created with two mikes and presented as demos in stereo. Presumably these were folded down to create a more studio type recording when released officially by CBS. Bootleggers have stepped in over the years and provided the serious listener with most of the sessions including the crude stereo versions which are full of character and charm. It is ironic that Dylan sounds better in mono for his first eight releases but in these particular recordings, the mono fold down loses something that was inherent in the basement mix. For some fans, these bootlegs containing 4/5 CD's also provide the best unauthorised material that anyone has ever produced for any artist. I would tend to agree. These sessions are full of wonderful boozy laid back story-telling, jokey humour and great musicianship as Dylan was backed by The Hawks (later The Band) in several informal sessions in the basement of Big Pink, a house in Woodstock outside New York.

Official versions of The Basement Tapes always appear to be something of a missed opportunity. It is anticipated that a forthcoming "Bootleg Series" of these sessions will finally correct this.

In conclusion then, this Complete Album Collection is a good set for the newcomer. It is nigh on worthless for anyone else. It is not for the age old Dylan fan or collectors. However, given the amount of weak albums in Dylan's catalogue and the corresponding number of poorly remastered albums, should anyone rush to this? For my money I would recommend carefully buying the albums individually and being selective with it. If you do not have access to a turn-table you are really missing out. However if CD is your only playback medium and you are convinced that you can relive through Dylan's 80's period unscathed, this might be worth it for you. I recommend holding out until the price is halved though. In the meantime, buy a few of the essential albums and fret not that you haven't heard "Dylan" (1973) yet!
Comment Comments (106) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 8, 2014 1:29 PM BST


Another Self Portrait (1969-1971): The Bootleg Series Vol. 10
Another Self Portrait (1969-1971): The Bootleg Series Vol. 10
Price: £11.15

24 of 31 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars IT DOESN'T GET BETTER NAKED, 11 Sep 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Critics are like sheep; music critics especially. I have been watching and reading most of the professional reviews of this album with great interest since a couple of weeks before it was actually released. The thing that struck me was a) none of them could get past mentioning a single notorious review of its predecessor, the original "Self Portrait", or more to the point the title of said review (see, even I've fallen into that trap now although at least I have read the darn review!) and b) not many of them could explain why the same album was so hopelessly misconceived and poor quality whilst this entry in the Bootleg series, assembled from cast-offs from that album and its follow-up "New Morning", is seemingly so wonderful to listen to according to popular lore.

Well, I truly believe that much like the original album this latest Bootleg Series release has become the focus of sheepish critics wanting to make a name for themselves whilst following the pack and being very much "in" with what's fashionable. Critics of the earlier album back in 1970 (and those subsequently happy to propagate the well trodden line of that infamous review) were united in their shock at the mess it was. Now, admittedly a different set of critics, are all united in praise for the new album. It's hard to believe that many of the reviewers today are still listening to this collection of out-takes though, after just two weeks. It's hard to explain their obvious enthusiasm for what amounts to a scrapbook of cuts from the studio floor.

Much has been made of the decision to release songs sans dubbing applied in Nashville. Much has also been made of the songs that were left out altogether. Other writers have pointed to the New Morning songs WITH dubbing and claimed that they are somehow superior to the original albums. This is all complete nonsense. Do not believe the hype. Dylan is teflon at this point.

I have listened to this latest Bootleg entry several times before making up my own mind about it and I'm afraid I really don't agree with most of the critics who praise it. As a test I considered each song which appears on this and one of the original albums, to choose which version I preferred, either with or minus dubbing. In ALL instances I actually preferred the original released cuts. Dylan is not and has never been a great singer. His choice of material really stretched him vocally and the strains of his nasally vocals can be heard all over the map on this release. Where the producer "sweetened" some of these exercises with lush strings and female backing, it actually worked to disguise the weakness in the main vocal. Stripped bare, these songs give you less than their earlier incarnations and sometimes less really means less! It's also dismaying to read that by stripping the overdubs we can only now hear Dylan's various intonations on each song. Have these people got ears? So far I have heard little that can't clearly be heard on the overdubbed songs. Without drums and bass or any sense of rhythm section, most of the cuts sound like very dry demos or studio "run throughs", which I suppose is what they really are. Devoid of the lushness of strings, simply removes the greenery that helped make some of these performances stand out from what Dylan had recorded earlier in the decade.

None of the "New Morning" out-takes can hold a candle to the wonderful material on the original album. In contrast to the over-dubbed "Self Portrait" songs, here Al Kooper's string and brass arrangements just clutter up songs like "New Morning". This is one rare occasion where Dylan's decision to veto the producer was right all along.

The unreleased songs are all rather perfunctory performances and it is easy to see why some of them were cut from the original album given their generic nature and similarity to other cuts already selected. Of course, some relatively relaxed vocal performances fell to the cutting room floor including "Pretty Saro" but whilst many have cited this as an astonishing omission from "Self Portrait", it is easy to see it as just another folk styled country croon similar to other songs. As a song it isn't that remarkable in itself. I wouldn't swap it for "Let It Be Me" on the original album. Two songs with George Harrison liven things up a little but "Working On A Guru" can't be anyone's idea of a good song - fun no doubt for Dylan and Harrison to play and record, certainly!

"Another Self Portrait" lacks the Nashville shone country pop sound of the earlier album. It is all rather dry, over simplified and monotonous. I enjoy hearing David Bromberg's guitar licks as much as anyone else but one song after another in the same vein quickly becomes tiresome. However, there is another problem that few have mentioned. For some bizarre reason the CD mastering is "hot" and totally inappropriate for such a low key folk style collection. I really thought we'd started to move away from the Loudness Wars but apparently not. This means the LP version is necessary to hear this simple music without compression. That's quite sad.

I haven't mentioned the Deluxe version as it must be obvious by now that I'm not the sort of person who will hand over £70 plus for the same release with a ropey Isle Of Wight performance addition and ANOTHER botched remaster in the form of the original album with added skip to "Copper Kettle". I feel sorry for those who have shelled out for this version and they should throw the box set back at Columbia. It is inexcusable to remaster an album that has been in the public domain for over 40 years with a 1/10 second snippet clumsily removed to disguise a slight flaw in the master tape! What are these 'engineers' thinking? As for the Isle Of Wight show I think the main problem was that Dylan was in his Nashville Skyline mode and yet treading water with The Band by this point on older mid-60's material. His country croon did not suit the older material at all and his flat, off key, croon sounds especially jarring against the fuzzy distortion and feedback of the unrehearsed Band performance. Only "Highway 61 Revisited" (selected for the 2CD set) sounds passable, due to Dylan's accidental slip back into his mid-60's commanding voice.

In any version, this release is far from essential. It is more likely to be accessed by fans who want to hear a novelty from time to time. I doubt many listeners will play it through regularly if more than once. And there's the irony: much like the original "Self Portrait", this much ballyhooed collection of out-takes from the album is not something that will be remembered or treasured by listeners for the right reasons. Maybe one reason for the incredible gulf that exists between the critical consensus for "Self Portrait" and "Another Self Portrait" can be put down to collective guilt? I suspect that many a critic back in the day was secretly listening to and enjoying the original album but was fearful of admitting to it so when the room had cleared and everyone else had gone home they sat and listened to "Self Portrait" in the dark. Meanwhile, that albums reputation has been mauled and continuously trashed in album review guides (published in book form and online) for over 40 years as a result. Maybe, just possibly, some of these people reviewing today are using the Bootleg release to "correct" and counter some of the harsh backlash as it can be viewed from today's perspective? Dylan in 1970 arguably meant a lot more to a whole generation of listeners than he does today. The qualitative differences alone between both releases certainly doesn't explain the huge gap in their respective reputations.
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 20, 2014 3:26 PM BST


400ml Surface Primer White
400ml Surface Primer White
Price: £5.49

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Use water instead!, 23 April 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Yes, that's right. You might just as easily paint your item with water for all the use this so-called primer is! I am used to using Halford's type spray primers and modern acrylic spray paints on metal items but chose this make for a change because I was also using it's top coat and naively thought the two would work better than two products from different manufacturers. Well, even though I have many years experience spray painting and I used the spray on clean, wax free, dirt free metal on a warm dry day without wind, the paint ran everywhere and barely stuck to the metal. Using it at 30cm from the item just meant that it ran all over the place and was too 'wet'. Pulling away further to get a thinner and dryer coat only meant the paint disappeared into a cloud of mist and didn't even find its way to the metal. And all this on a day best suited to spray painting!

It is thin watery and completely useless. It doesn't bond well to metal even when dry. It is therefore worthless as a 'Primer'.


Off The Record
Off The Record
Price: £12.90

15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Human Robot God Genius, 22 Mar 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Off The Record (Audio CD)
If you like vintage Kraftwerk you should really like this record. That's not to say it sounds exactly the same as any one of their albums; it most certainly doesn't but elements of the classic Kraftwerk sound abound and are cleverly interwoven into a batch of short (for that bands standards anyway) snappy and very poppy tunes. Listening to this album recalls the joy of hearing Trans Europe Express or The Man Machine for the first time. It is antiquated though and not remotely futuristic but technology has caught up and over-taken where the electronic pioneers stepped off. This album is quite nostalgic, or romantic even and exhibits a certain yearning for the simpler days when the future hadn't quite been invented but we could still dream about it.

On several occasions listening to this I thought about Blade Runner and more specifically, the Vangelis soundtrack album to the film. Thoughts of Fritz Lang inspired architecture and a distinctly retro image of the future come to mind. It's not dissimilar to watching 2001: A Space Odyssey and reflecting on the future as the past predicted it. So what do we have here? An album without a singular theme that contains audio sketches of ideas created when that colossus of electronic music was riding at its peak. It's uncertain how much post-production editing and remixing or restructuring of the original recorded elements has taken place retrospectively so it's difficult to say how much this is inspired by the former band or indeed might have influenced them when it first originated. Does it really matter? Karl was one of that band during its most creative period and since his departure it has made one album: Tour De France Soundtracks. That was hardly ground-breaking or representative of a prolific output. Bartos on the other hand whilst taking some time out of the professional music business to become a University Professor, has managed to produce four albums. Is Herr Karl the future of the band he once was a part of but hasn't been for 23 years? Maybe. We don't see much evidence of activity from Hutter where new music is concerned.

Either way it doesn't pay to pontificate too much. I think Bartos knows and Hutter certainly does that silence is a virtue. Both legacies are intact for posterity. With a low volume of output there is less room to put a foot wrong, something Bartos carefully and skillfully avoids doing here. For me, one particular highlight is the vocal interplay between Bartos and his robot doppelganger - pure existential genius and humour at work! "Atomium", the lead single is not especially representative of the rest of the album so do not be put off if you haven't yet warmed to its atomic iron crystal-like skeletal musical framework. The tone,texture and musical palette elsewhere is more varied and engaging. The music press has almost blithely written this off as an average dated synth pop album. I believe it is wrong. Musically, if not necessarily thematically, this album has more tunes and ideas than some of the better Kraftwerk albums. Yes, it really is that good. In fact I'm going to stick my neck out by stating that it could even be the best album made by Bartos or Kraftwerk ensemble since The Man Machine! What, better than Computer World even? Yes, I think it just might be. Listen very closely and you'll hear it. There is simple subtle genius at work here.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 17, 2013 12:59 PM BST


No Title Available

13 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The best material came out 50 years ago, 28 Feb 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This CD is for Dylan completists only. The best material was released over 50 years ago on the finished album. Sigh.

I'm also disappointed that the sound quality is horribly variable from track to track with only a few songs being anywhere near to the sound quality of an official release. Is this legitimate? I say not because of the existence of the "Dylan Collection" brought out at the 11th hour during the dying days of 2012 and the great Sony debacle over the European 50 year copyright rule. I mean come on, we are talking about the biggest record company in the world and one of the most important and influential artists of the past 50 years here! Did no one realise at Sony what would happen in 2012 and every successive year after that until it was the last minute? Hello, is anyone home? I can't believe it fell to putting out a handful of CDR's held together with rubber bands to prevent stuff like this release happening OR at least to attempt to stop stuff like this being released. This is the greatest embarrassment in the music business of the current century. I wonder where Dylan himself stands on this issue. A statement from Dylan would be good.

As for this CD it contains material from each of the 1962 sessions recorded for his all-important second LP. Most of the material is very blues style as Dylan, who was now "Hammond's Folly" following on from the failure of his debut album, didn't know in which direction to steer his material. There are numerous uninspiring covers amongst them and a few low key writing efforts. So why 3 stars? Well, it's Dylan when all is said and done and Dylan at the very beginning of his highly creative writing period. The album that would be released as a result of these sessions and indeed from the editing and discarding of much of the same material, would not only become an instant classic but provided Dylan with the essential spring-board to the rest of his most productive period and later career. The rest as they say is history. This CD then is great to hear ONCE for fans of the man and hopefully that should mean everyone with ears.
Comment Comments (8) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 23, 2013 9:46 AM BST


Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5