Dylan's Portrait laid bare

Ray Purvis

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

Columbia/Legacy

When Self Portrait was released in 1970 it triggered a firestorm of anger from Bob Dylan’s legions of fans. Of the double album’s 24 pieces of music only eight were credited to Dylan — the rest comprised schmaltzy versions of chestnuts such as Blue Moon and covers of Everly Brothers, Gordon Lightfoot and Simon and Garfunkel songs.

The Minnesota minstrel later admitted in his memoir, Chronicles, that it was a deliberately bad album, apparently created to distance himself from a fanatical public who regarded him as “the prince of protest”.

Keeping in the spirit of the excellent and revelatory Bootleg Series, Another Self Portrait looks at his transitional period, encompassing off-cuts found a couple of years ago in Columbia’s vaults from sessions for Nashville Skyline, Self Portrait, New Morning and from the 1969 Isle of Wight concert with the Band. The material gives you an idea what Self Portrait could have sounded like without all the studio tinkering and overdubs.

Dylan is in magnificent form, as well as numerous different voices, skipping through such folk-story songs as Pretty Saro, House Carpenter; Basement Tapes-era cuts When I Paint My Masterpiece and Minstrel Boy; the Nashville Skyline period Country Pie and I Threw It All Away; and New Morning outtakes Working On A Guru (with George Harrison) and If Not For You.

This is a treasure-trove of material that will cause you to reassess what have long been considered the fallow years in which Dylan lost his way.