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The vinyl boxset version of "Another Self Portrait"
on 9 September 2016
I'm a recent convert to Dylan, having bought the utterly magnificent 'Original Mono Recordings' vinyl box set earlier this year, grouping together Dylan's first eight albums. Hence I found myself hooked, and I decided to invest in the most recent release of Dylan's Official Bootleg series, "The Best of The Cutting Edge 1965-1966", also on vinyl. The packaging and quality of that set is excellent - the vinyl sounds wonderful, and the records are accompanied by a stunning 12 x 12 inch soft back book.
I craved for more, so next I went for "Another Self Portrait - Bootleg series Vol. 10", which is similarly presented in a very beautiful card slip-cased collection of 3 LPs plus book. The record company's art department have once again done a wonderful job. I should also say that both these Bootleg sets helpfully include 2 CDs which contain exactly the same tracks as the LPs, presumably for playing in the car or as a useful back-up to the vinyl.
"Another Self Portrait" covers the period 1969-1971 which is often regarded as Dylan's so-called 'fall from grace' amongst fans and critics alike. Yes, some of it is homespun - it was recorded while Dylan was raising a family and wrestling with the consequences that fame had thrust upon him. It is often said that marriage, contentment and rock don't mix too well, but what I hear here is someone who has escaped the madness to re-charge himself, re-connecting himself with the old music of his roots. This was a process that had begun during the "Basement Tapes" sessions (which were themselves seen as rough demos) in 1967. To me, 'Another Self Portrait' is a distillation of that period, but here the music is much better recorded than the Basement Tapes, and without the much-criticised overdubs of the original 'Self Portrait' and 'New Morning' albums, from which these recordings derive.
With most of the vinyl versions of the Bootleg series now out of print or being sold for crazy money, I'm glad that I grabbed these two volumes to accompany the mighty 'Original Mono Recordings' vinyl set. Maybe I'll just stretch to grabbing a vinyl copy of the "Witmark Demos" while it's still available, and settle for CD copies of the rest. These vinyl sets are gorgeous and a real joy to own and listen to.