While this week's new release list is a tad lighter than we've seen in recent weeks, there are nonetheless some very noteworthy titles to talk about...not the least of which is Tell Tale Signs, the eighth volume in Bob Dylan's Bootleg Series of rare, live, and unreleased gems.
Tell Tale Signs focuses on the period from 1989's Oh Mercy right on up through Dylan's much more recent creative renaissance on the albums Time Out Of Mind, Love & Theft, and 2006's brilliant Modern Times.
What makes this set such an essential purchase is that while many of the songs here, like "Mississippi," "Everything Is Broken," and "Someday Baby" will be familiar to Dylan fans, the alternate versions offered up here are often so radically different from those released on the original albums as to constitute a new Dylan album altogether.
"Mississippi" for example is barely recognizable in an early, stripped-down version (one of three offered here if you buy the three-disc version), until Dylan sings the chorus. "Most Of The Time," awash in Daniel Lanois atmospherics on the Oh, Mercy album is likewise stripped down to the sort of a bare core of Dylan on guitar and harmonica that wouldn't be at all out of place on his earlier, more folk-influenced albums. There are also a number of great new songs, including the bluesy Time Out Of Mind outtake, "Marchin' To The City."
The Bootleg Series, Vol. 8: Tell Tale Signs - Rare and Unreleased 1989-2006 is available in both one- and two-disc versions, as well as a deluxe three-disc package, and comes with the usual booklet featuring liner notes and track-by-track analysis. If you're anything like me, you'll need everything here.
In non-Dylan related news, Chrissie Hynde and the Pretenders make their long awaited studio return this week with Break Up the Concrete. Wu-Tang Clan assemble all of their numerous members and sub-clans minus Old Dirty Bastard for Soundtracks from the Shaolin Temple. Wishing you a Merry Christmas this week are the Brian Setzer Orchestra, Neil Sedaka, and George Strait.
Josh Hathaway returns to the NAR contributor's circle this week to confess that he actually still listens to Oasis, and is about to plunk down 100 bucks for the deluxe version of their new one. In the meantime, Mark Saleski remembers the first time he ever heard the Clash on the eve of their first live album, some 25 years after the fact.