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Tell Tale Signs: the Bootleg Series Vol. 8

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Audio CD, October 7, 2008
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Tell Tale Signs: the Bootleg Series Vol. 8 + Another Self Portrait (1969-1971): The Bootleg Series Vol. 10 + The Bootleg Series, Vol. 9: The Witmark Demos: 1962-1964
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Two CD set of 2008 release of Bob Dylan Vol. 8 Tell Tale Signs: The Bootleg series with rare and unleashed material from 1989 - 2006. A treasure-trove of 27 songs spanning two discs, Tell Tale Signs features previously unreleased recordings and alternate versions of tracks from sessions which generated some of Bob Dylan's most acclaimed and commercially successful albums from the last two decades, including Time Out Of Mind, 'Love And Theft', Modern Times and Oh Mercy.

Bob Dylan's unpredictable nature has always kept his audience on their toes. Given his mood, a song performed on one day can seem like an entirely different composition on the next. On the two-CD Tell Tale Signs: The Bootleg Series Vol. 8--certainly one of the most riveting of the Minnesota bard's collections of unreleased recordings, studio demos, alternate takes, and live tracks--two versions of "Mississippi," which Dylan originally wrote for Time Out of Mind, bear that out. The first, where he is backed only by producer Daniel Lanois' poignant electric guitar, finds him wistful in his memories of Rosie. But by disc two, where he reprises the song with a whole band, his reading of the same lyric is dispassionate, as if he were recounting the experience of "the stranger that nobody sees," as he puts it. While the second rendition disappoints, the 27-song album, which covers material from 1989's Oh Mercy through 2006's Modern Times, offers a king's riches. In replacing the banjo with cranked-up electric guitars on a blistering live performance of "High Water (For Charley Patton)," he makes the song nearly an angry manifesto. (Another live song, "Ring Them Bells," thrills with the stunning raw power of his early performances, and renders the studio original utterly bland.) Not everything seems up to Dylan's remarkable standards (conjuring a black R & B voice for "Can't Escape From You," an homage to early rock and roll, seems off kilter and silly). But the breadth and scope of the material (from sneering and tender folk originals, to covers of Jimmie Rodgers and Robert Johnson blues, to a collaboration with bluegrass king Ralph Stanley, and side excursions into ragtime and waltz) reinforce his position as the premier songwriter of his generation. -– Alanna Nash

Disc: 1
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)
See all 13 tracks on this disc
Disc: 2
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, New York, NY)
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)
See all 14 tracks on this disc

Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 7, 2008)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Sony BMG
  • ASIN: B001D06SEI
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (203 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #20,106 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

176 of 184 people found the following review helpful By Elliot Knapp on October 7, 2008
Format: Audio CD
Thank goodness for the Bootleg Series; not only does it constantly present us with new ways of approaching our favorite Dylan songs and reveal his often fascinating creative process, it's also provided me with some of my very favorite Bob Dylan albums, which I return to again and again. This most recent installment rounds up unreleased, alternate, and live material from what can generally be called Dylan's "late" period--from 1989's Oh Mercy to his most recent studio album, 2006's Modern Times. When I first heard about this release, I was really excited. I've really enjoyed Dylan's more recent work; Oh Mercy is one of my favorite Dylan albums, and to me it really marks the beginning of his latest comeback in terms of quality, which has fortunately lasted until today. As always, Dylan's more prolific than the final studio releases would have you believe, and, as often happens, much of the material that ends up off the records is as good or better than the album cuts.

The collection opens with a stripped down acoustic take of "Mississippi," one of Love and Theft's most memorable tracks. It's a good choice as a lead-off--it's more buoyant and conversational than the official version, and sets the tone of intimacy and warmth that really permeates this entire collection.
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57 of 60 people found the following review helpful By Storylover TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 8, 2008
Format: Audio CD
The bootleg series has, if nothing else, provided an amazing document of some of the interesting side-roads that Dylan has taken. Some of the discs have been transcendental, showcasing little known or difficult to find songs; others have been full of alternate versions that have not been that different from versions that we know. Volume 8 is a revelation, shining a light on a period of Dylan's output that is much misunderstood for reasons that have never been completely clear to me. The 80's are a hard period for many musicians as they are changing from the 60's and 70's song craft that made them famous in the classic rock and roll or folk mold towards a more technology savvy and friendly time period. At worst, this decade has foisted an unconscionable amount of bad drum machine tracks onto otherwise amazing artists. At best, it has pushed legends like Dylan to find something genuine and timely. The early years of the 80's (not covered by this disc) found him searching--spiritually, musically, stylistically. By the late 80's and into the 90's, Dylan had reclaimed his visionary status.

This disk is an essential companion to some of his most listenable albums of his career. The opening track, Mississippi is an unreleased track from the Time Out of Mind album. For those who were agog at Daniel Lanois ability to coax more Bob out of Bob, this will be continued vindication of that period. Red River Shore, also from the same sessions is possessed of a languid beauty, and a raw power that is palpable.

In general, the rest of the tracks on this album are of similar quality--genuinely revelatory takes on pieces that you may have heard before in bootleg format or perhaps live, but always something new.
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful By G. Wallace on October 12, 2008
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This set was a very nice play to my surprise. It's a combination of early takes, developed takes, soundtrack one-offs, and live performances all of which date from March 1989 or later. The 1989 takes are particularly fine and make me wonder at the sheer cussedness of an artist who leaves songs like "Series of Dreams" and "Dignity" in an unfinished condition, and then puts out a 39-minute compact disc like "Oh Mercy." On quite a few of these songs Dylan even sings with his old "unruined" voice and it would seem that the Howlin' Wolf growl was something he chose to strain toward (perhaps there's no choice anymore). The "Time out of Mind" sessions are well represented with a couple interesting takes of "Mississippi" and a fabulous bloozy alternate version of "Can't Wait." With Dylan the lyric is the (nearly) fixed part of the song, while melody and arrangement are almost infinitely flexible.

The live "High Water" features a great turbulent rhythm from drummer George Recile and fine guitar interplay from Larry Campbell and Freddy Koella. "The Girl from the Greenbriar Shore" is Dylan solo from 1992 and I don't believe he's sung without accompaniment much since then. And there's a duet with Ralph Stanley where Stanley almost sounds more Dylanesque than Dylan. Or makes clear how much of Dylan's singing style was borrowed from bluegrass singers in any case.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Michael Neiss on October 9, 2008
Format: Audio CD
Listening to Bob Dylan's new release Tell Tale Signs: The Bootleg Series #8, I am reminded of a classic quote often attributed to Dennis Miller regarding Axl Rose... "What the hell does someone have to do to get thrown out of Guns `N Roses?" Put within the Dylan frame, "How the hell did any one of these songs miss the original release of his last four studio cd's?"

Far from the usual half-baked throwaways that clog the arteries of most alternative cut "retrospectives" Tell Tale Signs is anything but, containing fully-realized music that if not for the "Bootleg" banner would be considered a double cd of staggering beauty - easily cracking the top ten (or top five) of his prolific original catalog.

Whether in studio or in concert, Dylan's songs are never really finished. Their role has always been one of artistic baseline, original renderings that have spawned thousands of permutations of lyric and arrangement answerable only to his mood or circumstance on any given day. The deleted work from Time Out Of Mind and Oh Mercy (Dreamin' Of You, God Knows and Series Of Dreams among others) is ample illustration of just how deep his reservoir of material really is. The release itself is extraordinarily well done - the sound is brilliant and the expansive liner notes by Dylan acolyte Ratso Sloman brings real texture to the proceedings.

Almost fifty years in Dylan has mastered his role as changeling to perfection and honestly, that's what makes his enormous body of work so damn interesting - sobering when you consider that the seventeen-year "period" represented by Bootleg #8 would encompass four and a half careers given the popular half-lives of most contemporary artists.

As anyone who has followed Dylan live or on disc can attest, he is quite capable of "mailing it in" (and has done so frequently) so the fact that this is a stunner right out the box makes it all the more enjoyable. Jump in.
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The Greatest Cover Bob Dylan Did
Baby Let Me Follow You Down (Ric von Schmidt---one of Bob's first albums, maybe The first...does a little spoken intro over the chords and goes into it...very catchy and raw at the same time)
Oct 27, 2008 by M. Zeidler |  See all 15 posts
what's next?
That's funny - good sense of humor. But an outakes album from "Self Protrait" has already been released - it was titled "Dylan" and was put out in the mid-70's by Columbia records as a kind of revenge against Dylan for temporarily moving to another label. It has never made it... Read More
Oct 8, 2008 by Joe N. |  See all 7 posts
Looks great, but...
go to

find all of those (and MORE!)

for free
Sep 15, 2008 by Stephen Cunningham |  See all 10 posts
Did Bob Dylan ever meet Elvis?
i've always wondered about that too.
i heard the song "Went to See the Gypsy" but reading the lyrics didnt seem it fit in to Dylan meeting Elvis.
i dont wanna assume anything until you know, there's proof for either of them
Mar 14, 2009 by Charlene G. Connolly |  See all 2 posts
I agree with you that a lot of the music from his Christian period is underrated (and I also say that as a non-Christian). But the bootleg series 1-3 already has a fair amount of outtakes from that period ("Angelina", "Ye Shall Be Changed", the alternate version of "Every... Read More
Oct 8, 2008 by Joe N. |  See all 2 posts
Could this have been one perfect CD ?? Be the first to reply
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