I’ve never been a big Dylan fan. I respect his talent as a songwriter but can’t get past his nasal singing voice. He is, however, an important and very interesting artist who is never boring even in his dotage. His controversial 1970 LPSelf Portrait has recently been given new life with a pricey CD re-issue.I’ll let Jack Hamilton of Slate be our Dylansplainer:
In June of 1970 a displaced Minnesotan
folk-singer-turned-rock-star-turned-country-crooner with a fake name and
a curiously attentive fan base released a double album for Columbia
Records. Bob Dylan’s Self Portraitwas, in its way, as much of an end-of-the-’60s record as Abbey Road, Let It Bleed, or Led Zeppelin, with one crucial difference:Self Portraitsucked.
It sucked gleefully, relentlessly, with inventiveness and purpose. Its
24 tracks included gratuitously overproduced pop and folk standards,
slapdash recordings of slapdash live performances, wait-are-you-serious
covers of Simon and Garfunkel and Gordon Lightfoot, and multiple
instrumentals (because why else would you buy a Bob Dylan album). “What
is this shit?” Greil Marcus famously wondered atop a 7,000-word pan of the album in Rolling Stone.
In the wake of Woodstock, Altamont, the Manson murders, Kent State, a
nation had turned its lonely eyes to Bob Dylan and received something
like a middle finger for its troubles. How does it feel to be on your
Forty-three years removed from all this, Columbia Records has released Another Self Portrait (1969-1971): The Bootleg Series Vol. 10, and once again, it’s all a little confounding. The two-disc set—four discs if you opt for the $100 “deluxe” version—collects outtakes, alternate mixes, and other unreleased material from the Self Portrait era (the package also includes a generous helping of castaways from Self Portrait’s follow-up, New Morning). On one hand, the very existence of Another Self Portraitis
a testament to Dylan’s enormous cultural stature: Even his most reviled
works are deemed worthy of painstaking curation and completism (a
gold-plated rerelease of Down In The Grooveis
surely on its way). On the other hand, asking fans to shell out
substantial cash to hear discarded marginalia from an album that was, in
its original form and by its maker’s own admission, mostly discarded
marginalia, might once again prompt the question: What is this shit?
Obviously, the new release is only for fanatical Dylanphiles but the cover art for the original LP stands alone or something like that:
I couldn’t resist posting a picture with the promo sticker attached. My old friend David called them shit kickers back in the day.I don’t recall why but I like it anyway.