The Bootleg Series Vol. 8: Tell Tale Signs - Rare and Unreleased 1989-2006

The Bootleg Series Vol. 8: Tell Tale Signs - Rare and Unreleased 1989-2006

by Bob DylanBob Dylan


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Tell Tale Signs is perhaps the most appropriately titled of all the volumes in Bob Dylan's official Bootleg Series thus far. Containing 13 tracks, it adds up to disc one of the two-disc version; the material here dates from the albums Oh Mercy through to 2006's Modern Times. It presents a carefully prepared sonic treat of his turn-of-the-century musical world view. Dylan seems to perceive the modern world as a strange place; one he no longer understands, nor wishes to. The music here is startling in its depth and presentation. It begins with an unreleased version of "Mississippi," a song recorded for inclusion on Time Out of Mind, but which ended up on Love and Theft five years later. This one, with only Daniel Lanois' electric guitar as backing, reveals Dylan in full voice, performing it as a midtempo blues. It's jauntier in tempo, but harder, leaner, and wearier than the released version. Even more shocking is "Most of the Time," which has become a signature of Lanois' production style with its warm, thickly padded guitars and muffled drums. This alternate take, however, features Dylan solo with harmonica and guitar. It comes off as a statement about strengths and weaknesses rather than as a treatise of denial in the aftermath of lost love. It feels like a backporch country song here, with different lyrics that underscore the singer's steely determination. As the album flows, there are some truly amazing stops along the way. The unreleased "Red River Shore" would have shifted some of the darkness on Time Out of Mind and added some evidence of empathy and even tenderness to it. Likewise, "Marchin' to the City," one of the best slow blues Dylan has ever written, offers a respite from the desolation on that album. Soundtracks get represented here, too: the alternate take of "Tell Ol' Bill," from North Country, is a semi-rag tune with rambling honky tonk piano, and "Huck's Tune," from Lucky You, creates a more complex look at the male lead in the film with a Celtic undertow in the melody. This set closes with a burning live reading of "High Water (For Charley Patton)," with overdriven electric guitars. While most hardcore Dylan fans will purchase the double-disc version -- containing 14 more tracks -- this single CD is equally a delight, and easier to listen through in one sitting. Dylanologist Larry Sloman claims in his liner notes that this "might be his finest hour as a songwriter." It's not just hyperbole. In all, Tell Tale Signs feels like a new Bob Dylan record, not only for the freshness of the alternate material, but also for the incredible sound quality and organic feeling of its music. It's a carefully presented set, full of life and crackling energy, and offers yet more proof -- as if any were needed -- that Dylan remains as cagey, unpredictable, profound, and relevant as ever.

Product Details

Release Date: 11/04/2008
Label: Sony
UPC: 0886973474723
catalogNumber: 734747

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Bob Dylan   Primary Artist,Guitar,Harmonica,Vocals
John H. Jackson   Guitar
Mason Ruffner   Guitar
Ralph Stanley   Banjo,Guitar,Vocals
David Bromberg   Guitar
Duke Robillard   Guitar
Charlie Sexton   Guitar
Denny Freeman   Guitar
Augie Meyers   Organ,Accordion
Jim Keltner   Drums
Robert Amiot   Bass Guitar
Bucky Baxter   Steel Guitar
Benmont Tench   Organ
Brian Blade   Drums
Bob Britt   Guitar
Larry Campbell   Guitar
Cindy Cashdollar   Dobro
Jack Cooke   Upright Bass
Richard Crooks   Drums
James Luther Dickinson   Organ
Peter Ecklund   Trumpet
Dick Fegy   Fiddle,Mandolin
John Firmin   Clarinet,Tenor Saxophone
Tony Garnier   Bass Guitar
Darryl Johnson   Percussion
David Kemper   Drums
Stuart Kimball   Guitar
Freddy Koella   Guitar
Daniel Lanois   Guitar
Tommy Morrongiello   Guitar
Cyril Neville   Percussion
George Recile   Drums
Jeff Wisor   Fiddle,Mandolin
Brian Stoltz   Guitar
Tony Mangurian   Percussion
Steve Sparkman   Banjo
James Alan Shelton   Guitar
Willie Green   Drums
James Price   Fiddle
John Rigsby   Mandolin
Donnie Herron   Guitar
Tony Hall   Bass Guitar
Glen Lowe   Guitar
Winston Johnson   Percussion,Drums
Christopher Cameron   Keyboards
Curtis Linberg   Trombone

Technical Credits

Daniel Lanois   Audio Production
Jack Frost   Audio Production

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