This was the Bard’s 29th studio album, in his fifth decade of recording, and it’s as vital and playful as anything he put out in the 60s. He released his meditation on death and aging, Time Out of Mind, a couple of years earlier, and people might have easily mistaken it for a swan song. Instead, Love and Theft suggested it was a rebirth.
Before those vocals kick in, we get a full minute of sublime instrumental work. One element of Dylan’s recent covers albums that goes underappreciated is how amazing his backing band sounds. This handful of rock musicians — the same group who back him up on tour — bring nuance and grace to standards that were often recorded with full orchestras.
My #3 album of 1991 is admittedly a bit of a cheat, as most of its songs were recorded decades earlier. But Bob Dylan’s The Bootleg Series, Vol 1-3: Rare & Unreleased 1961-1991 marked the first time most of these outtakes and demos were officially released.
This three-disc set covered Dylan’s earliest years up through his spotty 80s output, and found hidden gems throughout. Incredible songs inexplicably left off of mediocre albums, alternate takes of all-time classics, demos recorded before anybody knew the name Bob Dylan.
Here’s a cut from Bob Dylan’s 2013 Bootleg Series release Another Self Portrait, which compiled alternate and discarded takes from the sessions for his most loathed album, Self Portrait. It’s a fine collection, and one that makes you wonder how Dylan ended up with such a dog of an album given the source material.
However, even more entertaining than the music on Another Self Portrait is the comment section of my initial post about this album back in 2013.
Spanning six discs and 138 tracks, this volume contains all of the unreleased tracks recorded by Dylan and The Band in the basement of a house called Big Pink between May and October of 1967.
I guess that makes Triplicate the unlikeliest Bob Dylan album of them all. Not only has Dylan released his third straight album of stately covers from the Great American Songbook, this one is a three-disc set. As Rolling Stone pointed out in their review, Dylan “has now made more successive albums in this idiom than in any other style since his world-changing mid-1960s electric trinity, Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde on Blonde.”
In the midst of the civil rights movement and the Vietnam war, just after the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy, this was viewed as a puzzling move by an artist who just five years earlier was soundtracking the protest era with The Times They Are a’Changin’.