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Trouble No More: The Bootleg Series Vol. 13 / 1979-1981
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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.
8CD/1DVD Deluxe Edition box set
Premieres 100 previously unreleased live and studio recordings including 14 unreleased songs
Exclusive DVD of "Trouble No More: A Musical Film," a new feature-length film incorporating never-before-seen footage from Dylan's legendary 1980 tours
120 page photo book
Extensive liner notes
Disc 1: Live
Disc 2: Live
Disc 3: Rare and Unreleased
Disc 4: Rare and Unreleased
Disc 5 - Live in Toronto 1980
Disc 6 - Live in Toronto 1980
Disc 7 - Live in Earl's Court, London June 27, 1981
Disc 8 - Live in Earl's Court - London - June 27, 1981
Disc 9: Bonus DVD
Trouble No More A Musical Film
Shot of Love
Cover Down, Pray Through
Jesus Met the Woman at the Well (Alternate version)
Ain't Gonna Go to Hell for Anybody (Complete version)
Precious Angel (Complete version)
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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.
The concert footage on the DVD is great, I was disappointed that my favorite version of What Can I Do For You? floating around on Youtube (perhaps from the same tour, or very near it) was not the one chosen here, but it’s still great, I suspect they may have chosen it for his intense harmonica at the end.
I still haven’t listened to everything on the 8 audio discs, but I’ve skipped around a decent bit. Some personal current favorites among the live performances are: When You Gonna Wake Up? (Disc 5), When He Returns (5), What Can I Do For You? (6, wonderful piano and harmonica here), In The Garden (6, I love his smooth timing on this one, though I’m not familiar enough with the recorded one to compare). But these are just ones I’ve been listening too, really there’s so much great stuff on here it’s fantastic.
The moral of this story, the moral of this song was alluded to in the subject all along: I really think the deluxe set is worth the money. The box containing the set is great, with the book full of cool stuff. I can’t recommend this enough, especially if you like this period of his music already. This is the first deluxe box set of his bootleg stuff I’ve bought, and I couldn’t be happier with it.
Here’s to volume 14 including a bunch of live and bootleg material from his Infidels album!