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the pioneer of Dylan Studies; writer, public speaker, critic; became a Doctor of Letters in 2015 (awarded by the University of York, UK)

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Sunday, August 03, 2008


I'd hoped to comment by now on the contents of, and on the price of, the forthcoming Bootleg Series Volume 8, titled Tell Tale Signs . . . (The full title, in fact, is TELL TALE SIGNS: THE BOOTLEG SERIES VOL. 8 RARE AND UNRELEASED 1989 – 2006, due to be released on October 7) . . . but things have grown complicated - lots of visitors at the house this week, on top of somewhat unclear information about the contents of the different versions of this Dylan er, Product.

First, what is clear is that there will be a 2-CD version at $18.99, as follows:

Disc One
1. Mississippi 6:04 (Unreleased, Time Out of Mind)
2. Most of the Time 3:46 (Alternate version, Oh Mercy)
3. Dignity 2:09 (Piano demo, Oh Mercy)
4. Someday Baby 5:56 (Alternate version, Modern Times)
5. Red River Shore 7:36 (Unreleased, Time Out of Mind)
6. Tell Ol' Bill 5:31 (Alternate version, North Country soundtrack)
7. Born in Time 4:10 (Unreleased, Oh Mercy)
8. Can't Wait 5:45 (Alternate version, Time Out of Mind)
9. Everything is Broken 3:27 (Alternate version, Oh Mercy)
10. Dreamin' of You 6:23 (Unreleased, Time Out Of Mind)
11. Huck's Tune 4:09 (From Lucky You soundtrack)
12. Marchin' to the City 6:36 (Unreleased, Time Out of Mind)
13. High Water (For Charley Patton) 6:40 (Live, August 23, 2003,Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada)

Disc Two
1. Mississippi 6:24 (Unreleased version #2, Time Out of Mind)
2. 32-20 Blues 4:22 (Unreleased, World Gone Wrong)
3. Series of Dreams 6:27 (Unreleased, Oh Mercy)
4. God Knows 3:12 (Unreleased, Oh Mercy)
5. Can't Escape from You 5:22 (Unreleased, December 2005)
6. Dignity 5:25 (Unreleased, Oh Mercy)
7. Ring Them Bells 4:59 (Live at The Supper Club, November 17, 1993, NYC
8. Cocaine Blues 5:30 (Live, August 24, 1997, Vienna, VA)
9. Ain't Talkin' 6:13 (Alternate version, Modern Times)
10. The Girl on the Greenbriar Shore 2:51 (Live, June 30, 1992,Dunkerque, France)
11. Lonesome Day Blues 7:37 (Live, February 1, 2002, Sunrise, FL)
12. Miss the Mississippi 3:20 (Unreleased, 1992)
13. The Lonesome River 3:04 (With Ralph Stanley, from the album Clinch Mountain Country)
14. 'Cross the Green Mountain 8:15 (From Gods and Generals Soundtrack)

This version will come with a 60-page booklet of photos (officially dubbed "stunning" and "rare") and notes by Larry 'Ratso' Sloman ("in-depth").

Second, it seems reasonably clear that there will also be a 1-CD version, comprising Disc 1 of the above (plus a 16-page booklet), released at the same time except in North America, where it will be issued in November.

Third, there will be a 3-CD version, with a price of around $129.99 (!), which will comprise the above two Discs and booklet plus a still more lavish "photo book" (150 pages) showing Dylan singles from around the world (Jesus, does anyone need or even want this?) plus - but only if you buy this 3-CD version from - a 7" vinyl single. The tracklist for this 3rd CD will be:

1. Duncan & Brady 3:47 (Unreleased, 1992)
2. Cold Irons Bound 5:57 (Live at Bonnaroo, 2004)
3. Mississippi 6:24 (Unreleased version #3, Time Out of Mind)
4. Most of the Time 5:10 (Alternate version #2, Oh Mercy)
5. Ring Them Bells 3:18 (Alternate version, Oh Mercy)
6. Things Have Changed 5:32 (Live, June 15, 2000, Portland, OR)
7. Red River Shore 7:08 (Unreleased version #2, Time Out of Mind)
8. Born in Time 4:19 (Unreleased version #2, Oh Mercy)
9. Tryin' to Get to Heaven 5:10 (Live, October 5, 2000, London, England)
10. Marchin' to the City 3:39 (Unreleased version #2, Time Out of Mind)
11. Can't Wait 7:24 (Alternate version #2, Time Out of Mind)
12. Mary and the Soldier 4:23 (Unreleased, World Gone Wrong).

The 7" vinyl single will merely be the same takes of 'Dreamin' Of You' and the Supper Club 'Ring Them Bells' as issued on Discs 1 and 2 respectively.

There will also be a limited-edition 4-LP heavy vinyl version of the 2-CD set, with gatefold sleeve, at $99.99.

And if you are among the first 5000 people to pre-order any version from you'll get a "free" Theme Time Radio Hour poster.

It's still not clear to me whether you still have to pay $129.99 if you buy the 3-CD set without the vinyl single, ie not from but I think the answer is, er, yes.

Meanwhile there's supposed to be a free download of 'Dreamin' Of You' available from, but naturally this is unnecessarily difficult to achieve and you can get it far more easily from here. And very interesting it is too: the song proves to be a chrysalis that later turned into the lovely butterfly that is 'Standing In The Doorway' - so it doesn't matter that what we have here is a tuneless croak swathed in Daniel Lanois' unappealing goo of workaday metallic noise... because it's fascinating, and a privilege, to hear the process of work in the making.

As for the rest of the contents: tomorrow is another day. And as for the question of the way these packages are being retailed so very expensively, well, again, tomorrow is another day.


Blogger Sean Savage said...

I find the different tiers of this release to be nonsensical and infuriating. I want the third disc, but certainly don't need the book (however nice it is). Sure, offer a deluxe edition with hardcover books, buttons and posters for those who want that sort of thing, but don't start delimiting the music. That was fine for a greatest hits collection like last year's "Dylan" set, where the casual fan could pick up a single disc version. But anyone who is interested in outtakes from this period will certain want all that is made available, especially since there is nothing about the track listing of the “bonus” disc to suggest it is lesser material. A vinyl edition is a good thing, but again, it lacks the content of that third item -- are these buyers expected to pick up the deluxe CD set too? And what's the point of throwing in a 7" of songs included within the same CD version? It's all a mess, and a bad deal all around for the listener.

7:31 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope that your information about the 3CD version turns out not to be true $129.99 seems a little steep (though with the falling dollar who knows). The 2 CD version will be worth it if only to hear Dylan's take on "Miss the Mississipi and You" - a great favourite of mine in the original, Jimmie Rodgers, version and Arlo Guthrie's take on it.

12:27 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

$129 dollars is a huge rip off. I for one am not going to buy the 3 CD set package at that price, even though I'm a big Dylan fan. Sony would have been better off just including the third disc along with the other two as a delux edition and charging around $35 dollars AUS. Leave out all the other stuff that I know not many people want. I feel like seeking out a bootleg of the third CD now.

9:36 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The packaging for this release is ridiculous. Surely this will just encourage people to download the third disc illegally?

Still, at least we get to hear what should be some interesting material. It seems a shame that they still haven't revisited the gospel period on the Bootleg series (especially given the disappointing No Direction Home release). I was sceptical about those who are calling for this on the Expecting Rain website until I heard some of the performances - Dylan really sounds interested and vital. How can Budokan or Unplugged be put out when there is far superior stuff on the shelves? One of the mysteries of Dylan's career, I suppose. I guess, as always, it must come down to what they think will sell and make money. Business wins over art again!

3:03 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For all you have written about Bob, you seem to be incapable of writing about him without insulting the man.
A "tuneless croak swathed in Daniel Lanois' unappealing goo of workaday metallic noise"? If on the other hand "it's fascinating, and a privilege, to hear the process of work in the making" why insist upon including another insult? I do not know if you are even aware of it as it seems to have become a habit of yours, but EVERY TIME you write about Bob – even when praising him – you include insults of the lowest form. Treat the man with respect, please.

12:01 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that Dylan's 'people' have long felt that there is a group of us who will pay anything to get this stuff...and they're probably right. I'm gambling that after the initial release (if I'm willing to wait a while), there will be a repackaging of the 3 CDs in a sub-$40 format. I will say that compared to the first Bootleg Series where I had all of the 'unreleased' material already, many of these versions will be new to me...a nice change.

5:36 pm  
Blogger ChrisMooreMusic said...

I completely agree! I just realized the price difference tonight and was beside myself -- if it's anything like most major releases, they'll re-release a three-disc version a few months later, with no regard for the fan who buys on the first day!

That being said, I was blown away by the free download of "Dreamin of You" -- it's actually in the running for one of my favorite Bob Dylan songs. I mean, I loved the seventh Bootleg release, but the less cover songs and the more Dylan originals the better!

4:24 am  
Blogger Michael Gray said...

Most of these comments tie in with today's [Aug 14] posting, ie TELL TALE SIGNS PT 3: MONEY DOESN'T TALK...

As for the complaint that I never write about Dylan's work without insulting him, well, naturally I'm sorry you see it that way but I do thank you for expressing that view politely. I don't share it, of course: I feel without any doubt that you don't show an artist respect by praising everything they do, or by keeping silent about their below-par work. That's not the critic's function.

He has plenty of people all around him to tell him how great is everything he does - and in my view that doesn't help his art one bit.

6:22 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


you wrote in Song and Dance Man III
a list of songs from the 80s and 90s of bob's that you couldn't do without.

Interested in what songs bob has written since i.e. Things Have Changed onwards, that you couldn't do without?


1:05 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...

Dear Michael and Bob Dylan Encyclopedia readers:

Can you make out the lyrics in the first stanza of the Tell Tale Signs version of "Can't Wait" (disc 3 track 11)?

The section surrounded by ??? ??? below: is what I cannot hear right:

Do you ever feel just like your brain's been bolted to the wall?

???? xxx in your pocket
and you're cut off from it all ????

I don't know
Maybe for you
it's not that late

But as for me
I don't know how much longer
I can wait.

4:54 am  

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