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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Joy Of Self Portrait
Originally spread over 2LPs, it's taken many years before it clicked with me how wonderful this record actually is. I'm glad I ignored the negative comments about Self Portrait otherwise I would have missed out on this delightful record with it's general nostalgic, take it easy vibe.

Self Portrait is certainly different from the rest of Bob Dylan's records, and...
Published on 1 May 2012 by Jackie P

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A trip to the gallery....
Ironic, quixotic, short of ideas or whatever else....Self Portrait is a real mixed bag, whichever way you care to look at it. The title itself perhaps only describes his own highly recognisable brush strokes adorning the sleeve, although there is a school of thought that the music a songwriter covers tells as much about the artist as the songs they write. But where Dylan...
Published on 25 Feb 2012 by street-legal


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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A trip to the gallery...., 25 Feb 2012
By 
street-legal (Leeds, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Self Portrait (Audio CD)
Ironic, quixotic, short of ideas or whatever else....Self Portrait is a real mixed bag, whichever way you care to look at it. The title itself perhaps only describes his own highly recognisable brush strokes adorning the sleeve, although there is a school of thought that the music a songwriter covers tells as much about the artist as the songs they write. But where Dylan is concerned, when you start to over think his motives, you are more than likely going way off track.
For the uninitiated, this is an album (an ex-double lp) of covers, self penned material, a couple of knockabout instrumentals, and live performances from the Isle Of Wight Festival 1969. The covers are split between contemporary writers (Gordon Lightfoot, Paul Simon, The Everley Brothers etc) and much older songs (Copper Kettle, Blue Moon). All seem to have been jumbled together, mixing styles - even vocal ones - without, it seems, too much thought into how they sounded together. In the face of being b***legged like nobody else of his generation he just threw it all in, knowing it would find its way out anyway. This, I feel, is why this album came in for such a drubbing on release. I don't think anybody begrudged Dylan a little indulgence in a singing a (mainly) covers album, it was the execution of it which grated; the title of it most of all, which was completely misleading.......Which is all a bit of a shame, because there are some genuinely wonderful performances on here. I won't list them all, but special mention has to made of Alberta, Days Of 49, Early Morning Rain, Belle Isle, Living The Blues, Copper Kettle and Minstrel Boy.
The live performances, as mentioned, come from his Isle of Wight show with The Band. It wasn't the best gig he ever played by any means, but nowadays we can look back and appreciate how historically important it was to be documented; to this day, Self Portrait has been its only outlet. Dylan gave up touring in 1966 and didn't start again until 1974. In the meantime, the Isle Of Wight performance is pretty much all we have that fills the gap for live shows, unless we also count his sizeable contribution to George Harrison's Concert For Bangladesh in 1971.
So all in all something of a curate's egg, but not without some considerable intermittent charm. Dylan is clearly enjoying himself on a number of tracks (on Days of 49, it always make me smile when he shouts 'Oh, my goodness!' off mic). It is certainly not the complete disaster that it is reputed to be. Its failures concern sequencing, a bloated track list (it would have made a very good single album), and a seeming lack of purpose. Given the price it can be obtained these days, it is certainly worth a punt once his bona-fide classics have been enjoyed.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Joy Of Self Portrait, 1 May 2012
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This review is from: Self Portrait (Audio CD)
Originally spread over 2LPs, it's taken many years before it clicked with me how wonderful this record actually is. I'm glad I ignored the negative comments about Self Portrait otherwise I would have missed out on this delightful record with it's general nostalgic, take it easy vibe.

Self Portrait is certainly different from the rest of Bob Dylan's records, and one track, a cover of B. Byrant's "Take me as I am or let me go" sums up for me the best way to approach this recording.

Leave expectations aside, take Self Portrait at face value, and enjoy the beautiful mixture of tracks that include originals songs, cover versions, live versions and the instrumentals.

This CD is one of a few early Bob Dylan's that has never been remastered, but no worries on that score as it sounds fine just the way it is.

**This review was written before news that a remastered version of Self Portrait was to be made available to those who bought the very expensive deluxe edition of Bob Dylan / Another Self Portrait 1969-1971: The Bootleg Series, Vol. 10 (4CD + book).
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Unfortunate Title But NOT dispensable, 25 Nov 2004
By 
John Heaton (Budapest, Hungary) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Self Portrait (Audio CD)
OK this is not as good as Nashville Skyline but as with ALL double albums by great artists at least half of it is QUALITY. Yes, it's in the style of "Nashville" but who cannot be moved by "Take Me As I Am Or Let Me Go" or "Take A Message To Mary"? And the covers of "Early Morning Rain", "Blue Moon" are enchanting as also is the Dylan originals "Belle Isle" and of course "The Mighty Quinn" has a ragged glory! OK, forget "Wigwam" and forget the tired "Alberta". But from the opening charm of "All The Tired Horses" not even feauturing a Dylan vocal to the amusing and respectful hats off to his contemporary Paul Simon on the cover of "The Boxer", there is far more on THIS album than on other Dylan albums more deserving of ridicule such as his mid 80s efforts. Dylan still dispayed enough magic here to prevent any derision from THIS camp. With the CD you can at least be selective. For at least half the songs here, this album is Worth Having or as The Man said "Take Me As I Am Or Let Me Go". Nuff said.
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44 of 49 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Curiouser and Curiouser, but Some Sublime Moments!, 28 Mar 2006
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This review is from: Self Portrait (Audio CD)
"That album was put out because...at the time...I didn't like the attention I was getting. I [have] never been a person that wanted attention. And at that time I was getting the wrong kind of attention, for doing things I'd never done. So we released this album to get people off my back. They would not like me any more. That's...the reason the album was put out, so people would just at that time stop buying my records...and they did." Bob Dylan 1981.
If the huge body of fans that Bob Dylan had created in the sixties were expecting a so called return to form after the negative reaction to 1969's "Nashville Skyline," the record they got was an even bigger surprise. The most succinct response to the June 1970 release of "Self Portrait" was Greil Marcus writing in Rolling Stone who headed his article "What is this shit?" and went on to call it "...a concept album from the cutting room floor." He was not alone in his opinion, most of the reviews were even less kind than they had been to "Nashville Skyline" and of course they focussed not only on the paucity of original material, but also the quality of the material that was used. Comprising twenty four tracks, "Self Portrait" could realistically have been one mediocre album but it simply did not have the substance to justify a double album. Criticism ranged from "...astonishingly contemplative" in Time to "The revolution is over. Bob Dylan sings Blue Moon to Mr. Jones" in Record World, and most felt that they had a point. Of the twenty four tracks, some were instrumentals, some were different versions of the same song, there were four live tracks (and not the best) from the recent Isle Of Wight concert and a version of Simon and Garfunkel's "The Boxer" that was surely a joke. But there are a few high points, "Copper Kettle" has a superb vocal, "It hurts Me Too" and "Let It Be Me" are both stand out tracks, and there is some merit in the version of Gordon Lightfoot's "Early Morning Rain," but these few highlights could not hide the overall insignificance of the album. Amazingly, it sold very well and by the end of June had grossed three million dollars, so the attempt to demystify himself that Dylan claimed that it was had proved to be a financial success. Critically it was a different story altogether.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Days of 49, 19 Aug 2012
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This review is from: Self Portrait (Audio CD)
There are Dylan albums I just cannot get on with even when others have told me they are a must listen.After reading some reviews, which put the fear of dread into me, I found out to my surprise that Self Portrait wasn't as bad as I was expecting.In fact tracks like ' Days of 49 ', ' Gotta Travel On ','Let It Be Me ','Little Sadie ' and ' It Hurts Me Too ' are up there and although perhaps these long lost gems are not Dylan songs/covers that readily spring too mind ,I really rate them .I can see this album divides opinion but because of its sheer quirkiness and a bit of an exception to the rule,I certainly wouldn't put people off buying it.Just give it a try and perhaps like me you will find something that appeals.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars As it always was, 30 Oct 2009
This review is from: Self Portrait (Audio CD)
Bob Dylan has made an album of covers.In other words its like his first album yet this one has been and still is criticised by those who think they know better.
Coming at a time when the now famous Basement tapes were still to be officially released was possibly a reason why so many found fault with it but the inclusion of live recordings amongst the covers was not really a good idea.
Following this a few years later came the album of outtakes which are still to be given CD release.
Whether Dylan had that much input regarding the decision that this would be his new album is a moot point-Columbia could have easily rejected it.His own views as to why he decided to release it can be taken with a pinch of salt but he's gone on later to say that too many fans analyse his every word.
In the 70s you needed scholarly books to understand just what he was on about as his own interviews were full of Lewis Carroll type nonsense and an album like John Wesley Hardin had a sleeve note which most would give up on after the first sentence.
Today its different-Dylan talks sense and comes across as the Custodian of America's music.
Self Portrait is really one which showed he liked to do cover versions or rewrite folk songs.Which he always did anyway
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a good album, 14 July 2006
By 
Reddot Books Ltd "RedDot Books" (Pembrokeshire) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Self Portrait (Audio CD)
Roundly dismissed at the time as Bob's "worst album" I think the tide is starting to turn on this one. This is Dylan's first post 60s album and I think there is a strong element of "how did that happen" about this record, a sort of benchmark. I could go on but its good, not 5 stars good but I had to get the average back up. It's not polished and it's too long but it has "All the Wild Horses" and a warmth, charm and humanity that some other albums lack.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Self Portrait: Bob Dylan - Dylan's first really duff album, 2 Aug 2012
By 
Victor (Hull, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Self Portrait (Audio CD)
This 1970 release was the tenth studio album from Bob Dylan, and the first real low point for an artist who is now, 40 years later, is as famous for his lows as his highs.

Dylan had a run of strong albums through the sixties, successfully evolving his style and cumulating with a triumphant trilogy of electric albums and the career high of `Blonde on Blonde'. In my eyes he then reached even greater heights with 1969's `Nashville Skyline', and collecting his albums chronologically I can remember being excited to hear what he followed that album up with, and the crushing disappointment when I heard this.

Dylan had courted controversy with his musical style before, when he switched from acoustic to electric. But here he seems to have decided to do something deliberately to wind the critics up. He recorded a series of covers and very weak originals, largely in his newly developed country style, with such poor production values it sounds like a very rough rehearsal at times. Though I often fail to see that a polished version would be any better.

There are, as is usually the case with even his worst albums, the occasional redeeming feature. For me `Day's of 49' and `Copper Kettle' are real standouts, and worthy of Dylan. There are occasional middling songs, such as a passable rendition of `Little Sadie' (but not a patch on Johnny Cash's take on the son, `Transfusion Blues') and there is an awful lot of filler and plain bad recordings (`Blue Moon', `The Boxer'). It was released as a double album, trimmed down to a single album with some better production values it would have been good, but as it is it is poor indeed. Dylan is starting to sound disinterested, the first sign of what would be his biggest problem over the patchy years to come.

2 stars. It's not totally bad but it could have been so much better.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, 13 April 2010
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G. Hutchinson (My house) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Self Portrait (Audio CD)
I had this on vinyl many years ago and have missed it sorely. Somehow, listening to the CD, the magic was just not as strong. I thought maybe it was listening to the more modern Dylan, but having played some of his original stuff again I think not. Maybe having worn out the vinyl I need to assess this again from scratch. All this is my problem and does not take away from the excellent tracks on an album more countrified than his normal acerbic music. All said, any collection would be lost without it.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So ahead of the game, time to catch up !, 5 Dec 2009
By 
M. Wilson (Glasgow, Scotland United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Self Portrait (Audio CD)
When this album is now compared to current Americana music collections, it stands head and shoulders above the crowd.
How often has Dylan been one step ahead of the game, never mind decades ahead with this superb batch of performances?
I bought the album on first release and thought that it was patchy to say the least, but not a complete disaster as many critics bleated. Let's face it, who can second guess this guy anyway? So, all these years later I took the chance to buy the CD version from Amazon, and gave it yet another blast. And what a blast it has become! It is right up there with Dylan's best efforts. Do the same, treat yourself to a great album of country, folk, blues and of course,"Blue Moon".
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