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Album Review: Bob Dylan's 'Another Self Portrait' Sets the Record Straight
The original “Self Portrait” hit Number 4 on the charts in 1970 — despite hitting critics completely the wrong way. It was the first time Bob Dylan received pans across the music press, with the combined effect of his song selection and the album’s production causing controversy and confusion. Suddenly, it seemed the voice of a generation didn’t know what he wanted to say. So “Another Self Portrait” is an attempt to set the record straight. Featuring demos, alternate versions, unreleased recordings and a very different track listing, it’s a revelation. With songs stripped bare of their overdubs, the original session masters let Dylan’s interpretation of traditional and contemporary folk music, along with his own compositions, shine. And while a number of the cuts didn’t appear until follow-up album “New Morning,” they were in fact written at the same time “Self Portrait” came to life, making for a much clearer picture of Dylan’s songwriting from ’69-’71… and proof that he’d not lost focus at all. READ: Musical Duets Stranger Than Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett “Went To See The Gypsy” was one of the songs held over for “New Morning,” presented in demo form with only guitars, vocals and mysterious lyrics. “If Not For You,” that album’s lead-off track, is presented here as just Dylan solo on piano accompanied by violin. But it’s the alternate takes of “Time Passes Slowly” that are especially notable, with George Harrison supplying guitar and harmonies on one version, while the other veers off in a Joe Cocker direction, heavy on the organs. Harrison also appears on the previously unreleased “Working On A Guru,” adding rockabilly guitar to a joyful Dylan original. More gems pulled from the vault include a cover of Tom Paxton’s “Annie’s Gonna Sing Her Song,” cut in one take, and a couple of truly vintage traditional American songs, “Bring Me Little Water” and the Civil War-era ballad “Pretty Saro.” READ: 10 Hit Songs Originally Intended for Other Artists As for the original “Self Portrait” cuts themselves, it’s a totally new experience. For example, shorn of the treacly overdubs, “Copper Kettle” is just Dylan’s raw vocal and guitars, sounding completely fresh as it should have 43 years ago. And because the live tracks have all been remixed, they sound the way Dylan and The Band would sound if you were one of the 400,000 people at the Isle Of Wight. Part of “The Bootleg Series,” “Another Self Portrait” packs 35 tracks across two discs in the standard edition, with a new painting by Dylan for the cover art. The four-disc deluxe version (pictured below) adds the first complete release of his historic 1969 Isle Of White concert with The Band, all 16 tracks newly remixed from the original source tapes. Plus, a newly-remastered version of “Self Portrait,” a hardcover book of photos, and revisionist liner notes by one of the original album’s harshest critics, Greil Marcus.
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Four-Disc Deluxe Version

Album Review: Bob Dylan's 'Another Self Portrait' Sets the Record Straight

The original “Self Portrait” hit Number 4 on the charts in 1970 — despite hitting critics completely the wrong way. It was the first time Bob Dylan received pans across the music press, with the combined effect of his song selection and the album’s production causing controversy and confusion. Suddenly, it seemed the voice of a generation didn’t know what he wanted to say. So “Another Self Portrait” is an attempt to set the record straight. Featuring demos, alternate versions, unreleased recordings and a very different track listing, it’s a revelation. With songs stripped bare of their overdubs, the original session masters let Dylan’s interpretation of traditional and contemporary folk music, along with his own compositions, shine. And while a number of the cuts didn’t appear until follow-up album “New Morning,” they were in fact written at the same time “Self Portrait” came to life, making for a much clearer picture of Dylan’s songwriting from ’69-’71… and proof that he’d not lost focus at all. READ: Musical Duets Stranger Than Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett “Went To See The Gypsy” was one of the songs held over for “New Morning,” presented in demo form with only guitars, vocals and mysterious lyrics. “If Not For You,” that album’s lead-off track, is presented here as just Dylan solo on piano accompanied by violin. But it’s the alternate takes of “Time Passes Slowly” that are especially notable, with George Harrison supplying guitar and harmonies on one version, while the other veers off in a Joe Cocker direction, heavy on the organs. Harrison also appears on the previously unreleased “Working On A Guru,” adding rockabilly guitar to a joyful Dylan original. More gems pulled from the vault include a cover of Tom Paxton’s “Annie’s Gonna Sing Her Song,” cut in one take, and a couple of truly vintage traditional American songs, “Bring Me Little Water” and the Civil War-era ballad “Pretty Saro.” READ: 10 Hit Songs Originally Intended for Other Artists As for the original “Self Portrait” cuts themselves, it’s a totally new experience. For example, shorn of the treacly overdubs, “Copper Kettle” is just Dylan’s raw vocal and guitars, sounding completely fresh as it should have 43 years ago. And because the live tracks have all been remixed, they sound the way Dylan and The Band would sound if you were one of the 400,000 people at the Isle Of Wight. Part of “The Bootleg Series,” “Another Self Portrait” packs 35 tracks across two discs in the standard edition, with a new painting by Dylan for the cover art. The four-disc deluxe version (pictured below) adds the first complete release of his historic 1969 Isle Of White concert with The Band, all 16 tracks newly remixed from the original source tapes. Plus, a newly-remastered version of “Self Portrait,” a hardcover book of photos, and revisionist liner notes by one of the original album’s harshest critics, Greil Marcus.

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