Vinyl Vlog 632

Vinyl Vlog 632

Thursday, 11 January 2024

Bob Dylan
The Bootleg Series Vol. 17:
Fragments — Time Out of Mind Sessions
(1996-1997) 4LP Box Set

Bob Dylan cannot be stopped and will not stop. And really, why should he? He has been making relevant music for 60 years now and has successfully made several comebacks. All he knows is making music. The man is going to keep going until he drops dead on stage. We all have to deal with that.

Of course, anyone familiar or interested in learning about him will look to the 60s era of his music. He put out essential folk records (notice, I didn’t say “great”) followed by essential rock records (yes, those are objectively great). Everything after that is a hodgepodge. He had his country era, then his folk-rock era, then his evangelical era, then his blues era. Even those go back and forth. Every time he has a comeback, people think it’s the definitive one, but even then, the audience has forgotten about his longevity and he manages to remind us all of his ability to make relevant music. Time Out of Mind is considered his second comeback and perhaps the introduction of the “late era croak.” Don’t know what that is? It’s the probably the main distinction between new and old Dylan. The new one sounds like an old raspy froggy beer-soaked crooner while the old Dylan sounds like…well, Dylan, for whatever that’s worth.

It’s easy to dismiss the “new” Dylan, but that old peacock still has beautiful feathers to show. Time Out of Mind came as a surprise, and for as bluesy as it is, manages to produce a collection of memorable songs. The thing with Dylan now is that it’s all about his backing band (and this is a good one), and he just vocalizes over their music. This latest volume of his Bootleg series collects the Time Out of Mind session, in remastered form (do they even need to be remastered?) with a whole slew of outtakes and b-sides. This vinyl has the more subdued version, with only an hour of extras as opposed to the 5 disc edition that also exists, and for someone like me who’s dipping his toes into the waters, is perfect. The original Time Out of Mind songs are great, unexpectedly so (listen to the greatness of Cold Irons Bound), and the alternative takes show just how much the band was really honed into the sound of this album. In addition, there’s a rendition of The Water is Wide, which I could do without, and a faster version of Mississippi which would appear on his follow-up Love and Theft. The thing is this extra hour sound downright pleasant, like this band is invigorating and having fun in the studio. How dare they?

Fragments is another wonderful addition to the Dylan Bootleg Series and a perfect jumping off point for anymore interested in the new Dylan. You’re going to be pleasantly surprised by what you find.

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