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Trouble No More: The Bootleg Series Vol. 13 / 1979-1981
180 gram, Box Set
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The next installment in the award-winning Bootleg Series, 'Trouble No More - The Bootleg Series Vol. 13 / 1979-1981', focuses on the albums 'Slow Train Coming' (1979), 'Saved' (1980) and 'Shot of Love' (1981) and the legendary live shows from that period.
30 highlights from the legendary 1979, 1980 and 1981 tours
180 grams vinyl
Packaged in a slipcase with separate booklet
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The actual music is top notch, including better remasterings of a few live shows that have made the bootleg circuit for decades now. The new content, specifically on discs three and four, is the meat of the selections here. Most of those cuts are studio takes of established songs and unreleased songs in both live and studio form. There are few things more haunting in Dylan's catalog than hearing him solo on piano performing "When He Returns," which is included twice in this series - once in the studio and once live.
The DVD, while only an hour, is beautifully remastered, too. To clarify a confusion another reviewer had: the sermons in between songs are designed to create the atmosphere of what these concerts were actually like. Dylan would often have someone go out and provide a sermon several times in the show. These sermons on the DVD, performed wonderfully by Michael Shannon, can sometimes be a bit of a drag, but in truth, often lots of compelling nuggets of wisdom that tie directly into the songs they precede. You can skip them in the DVD menu, but in your first run-through, I'd recommend watching them for the full experience.
Dylan's gospel period, while not to everyone's taste, was a period of immense passion and experimentation. Dylan would often reshape these songs night after night, session after session, in search of some sort of mystical brilliance. Quite often, he succeeds in that search, and the recordings are magical. His vocal performances are exceptional here, too, bringing incredible vigor into each piece.
If you don't like Dylan's gospel albums, skip this release. It's eight CD's and a DVD that deep dive into it to an absurd degree. If you're a fan, though, they're essential. This is the release this period of Dylan's music has so long deserved.
While some hardcore Dylan fans have written this period in Dylan's music off as not worthy of their attention, I have been enjoying his three gospel themed albums for years. Many who attended these concerts (I wish I could have been there) were less than ecstatic by the new direction of Bob Dylan's music, but the ever evolving artist had confounded his legions of fans in the past, and this was no different.
The music is filled with gospel overtones including a band of some of the finest backup singers and musicians ever recorded. Reminiscent of a cross between old time gospel and Andre Crouch, this album is alive with the spirit of revival and moves one to tap his feet, clap his hands, and shout out loud!
Given a chance, most will find the music in this collection is some of his best, and in my humble opinion ranks right up there with Highway 61, Blood on the tracks, and Time Out Of Mind, my three favorite Dylan albums.
I will be listening to and enjoying this collection of live recordings for many years to come!