Dylan's Tell Tale Signs: The $175 Third (Disc) Rave
"Lily had two queens, she was hopin' for a third to match her pair"
- Bob Dylan, "Lily, Rosemary And The Jack Of Hearts"
Few things in life are quite as uplifting and inspiring as the onset of an early summer - a week of glorious, sunny, warm, summer-like days right in the middle of April. Well, at least for those of us living here in the rain forest known as British Columbia. However, one thing does come pretty close in the whole uplifting and inspiring department and that's receiving - for free, no less - a $175 Bob Dylan CD. Especially one as good as the third disc of Tell Tale Signs: The Bootleg Series Vol. 8, Rare and Unreleased 1999-2006.
You might remember that last fall I wrote not one but two rave reviews of the amazing Tell Tale Signs collection: First Bob's Back: Tell Tale Signs of Joy... and A Complete Lack of Judgement and then Tell Tale Signs of Genius: Dylan's Best Album of The Past 20 Years? (Rave #2)
However, at that time I only owned the 2-disc version of this accidental masterpiece of outtakes and alternate tracks. I say "accidental" because, seriously, who ever expected a collection of outtakes and alternate tracks to rival some of Bob's greatest works for pure brilliance?
Obviously, I would have liked the 3-disc "Deluxe Edition" back then, but, being of good half-Scottish stock, there was no way in hell that I was going to pay the exorbitant $200 sticker price they wanted for the "Deluxe Edition". We're talking an extra $175 for one more disc, which was at least $160 more than I think anyone would agree was reasonable.
I mean, I love my Bob as much as the next guy, but $175 was simply a ridiculous amount of money for just 12 extra songs... no matter how great they may have been.
So, I stood my ground on principle and survived for five long months with just the first two discs. And, man, were they ever good! But I always knew I wouldn't be truly content until I had those other 12 songs from that overpriced third disc in my possession.
Then, last month, I received a superb, sumptuous spring-changing surprise from my friend, Joe, who burnt and sent me a copy of disc 3... and it's truly been one hell of a great month ever since.
This Joe fella's not necessarily any richer than you or I, or even a more committed Bob fan, for that matter. However, it would seem that he is more loved. For, you see, his girlfriend bought him the 3-disc "Deluxe Edition" for X'mas. And, so, while most of us had to buy our very own copies ourselves, which would have involved handing over $200 in total if we wanted that third disc, Joe simply unwrapped his.
And how good, exactly, are these songs on this third disc, you ask? Well, if not quite as revelatory as the first two discs, not all that far behind.
Like discs one and two, which I've been loving so much these past six months, this third disc is an awesome mix of live and alternate studio versions of well known songs, as well as a few never-before-released tracks.
This third disc has just three previously unreleased songs: "Duncan & Brady" and "Mary And The Soldier", two terrific traditional covers recorded in the early-90s; and then "Marchin' To The City", a Time Out Of Mind outtake, which also made an appearance on disc one of this set in a much different, less upbeat, form.
The alternate studio versions of "Most of The Time", featuring a very different vocal from disc one, "Can't Wait", and "Born In Time" are all quite wonderful and all offer something new to discover. While the version of "Ring Them Bells" that appears here is simply sublime.
The live versions of "Cold Irons Bound", "Tryin' To Get To Heaven" and, especially, "Things Have Changed" are all truly magnificent.
And then there's "Mississippi". Yes, "Mississippi". Yet another terrific version of that majestic song, that late-era classic, that masterpiece about spending one day too many down in that most southern of states. But this version features some rather different lyrics from the other three versions that have hypnotized me so (one each on discs one and two of this set and then, of course, the version that appeared on Love & Theft).
I mean, this "Mississippi" song is so fucking good I could listen to another 10 versions and I'd never get tired of it.
Same goes for the beautiful, magical, mysterious, mystical "Red River Shore". The version here may not be as transcendent as the version that first surfaced on disc one, but it's completely enchanting nonetheless.
Give me an album with a dozen versions of these two masterpieces over anything on "American" or "Canadian Idol" any day.
Don't Think Twice
So, in other words, if you're a Bob Dylan fan, you absolutely need all three discs from the Tell Tale Signs set. This is, simply put, a collection of amazing must-hear tunes. The third disc is certainly not worth $175, but it is most definitely worth getting your hands on one way or another.
Tomorrow Is A Long Time
And, while we're talking Dylan, I should mention that there's now only one more day until the release of Bob's brand new album, Together Through Life. That's right, it comes out tomorrow here in Canada.
And the joy-filled spring/summer will continue, rain or shine.
Mike Cowie (Oredakedo)
Monday, April 27th, 2009
If you're a fan of The Bob then make sure to check this out: The 25 Greatest Dylan Songs of The Past 20 Years
To see my picks for the best music of 2008 click here: The Best 20 Albums and 50 Songs of 2008: Dylan Tops Both Lists
To read about an amazing music/talk show check this out: Attention All Music Fans! The Best Talk Show Ever: "Spectacle: Elvis Costello with..."
And to read my two earlier rave reviews of Tell Tale Signs click here: Bob's Back: Tell Tale Signs of Joy... and A Complete Lack of Judgement
Or if you happen to be a Neil Young fan try this: The Neil Young Rave: A Film, Two Albums and Incarnations For Everyone
And for much more on all things Dylan click here: The Bob (as in Dylan)
Or for more on other artists and albums click here: Music Homepage
Or here: Music: Album and Concert Raves