Some recent albums

Bob Dylan – Another Self Portrait

I’ve always had a theory that Dylan does things in threes and my favourite trilogy, or Dylogy, if you will (and you won’t), are the three albums Dylan released between 1969 and 1971.

Cover of "New Morning"

So while I’ve avoided a lot of the Bootleg Series in the past few years, I jumped at Another Self Portrait. I didn’t buy physical media, but I downloaded the 53-track version from iTunes, which includes the live set from the Isle of Wight.

It’s a mixed bag, like all of these things. I tweeted on my first listen how I’d like to have been there at the Isle of Wight in 1969, just to see the crowd’s reaction. Three years before, Dylan’s own so-called fans had been booing him for playing rock. Now, expecting rock, they got a man in a white suit singing folk songs and country music, with a few radically changed hits. He’d already begun the process of deconstructing his own myth. So there’s this huge crowd of heads, and they’ve presumably been waiting a while (nobody hit the stage on time in those days), and within two numbers he’s singing “Wild Mountain Thyme“. (For some reason, iTunes has this as “Wild Mountain Time,” but you know.) The hippies think they’ve caught up to where Dylan was in 1966, but he’s way ahead of them still.

My favourite stuff is probably now the New Morning material. A much-underrated album. I bought my vinyl copy in Rotterdam, so it goes, a souvenir from my first trip abroad. I love “If Dogs Run Free”, “Sign on the Window”. The original album is available on iTunes for both £5.99 and £7.99, for some reason.

Anyway, it’s interesting enough, but there’s too much of it really. Better consumed in, you know, album-sized chunks.

Gretchen Wilson – Under the Covers

MI0003559215Having already released a fairly solid album this year, Gretchen Wilson follows up with her own version of Dylan’s Self Portrait, a collection of favourite rock numbers. She has a great voice, and sounds uncannily similar to Rod Stewart on the opener, “Stay With Me”. The arrangements are all a little too close to the originals, a little too respectful, but maybe the tempo is sometimes slower.

Then again, if she loves the originals and wants to pay tribute, that’s the version she wants to do. There’s a few here I already had the originals: a Jackson Browne, an Eric Clapton, a Van Morrison. Then there are a number of 80s rock numbers quite familiar from movie soundtracks.

Enjoyable, but not essential.

Vince Gill and Paul Franklin – Bakersfield

bakersfieldHad to buy this one on *CD* because of the annoying tendency for country records not to make it onto UK iTunes. The situation seems to be getting worse, not better. For example, not only is the new Keith Urban record not on iTunes, but nor was his previous. Jennifer Nettles’ solo single “That Girl” hasn’t appeared. There are others, but this? Vince Fucking Gill? Really?

Anyway, it’s a collection of classic hits from the heyday of the Bakersfield sound (by the likes of Buck Owens and Merle Haggard), recorded by the best guitar player and best pedal steel guitar player in Nashville. Given that Vince Gill doubles on vocal duty and is also one of the best singers in Nashville, what’s not to like?

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