Bob Dylan: Dylan (Legacy 3 CD Set)


All four previous Bob Dylan collections, not counting The Bootleg Series, contained nuggets sufficiently rare to entice both the completists and the novice collector. The choice selections of the new three-cd compilation (also available in a single disc distillation as well as part of a deluxe collections box) counter claims it’s redundant.

 “Positively Fourth Street,” the 1965 follow-up to and sound-alike of “Like A Rolling Stone,” the man’s greatest song and performance, is an almost equally compelling statement. “I Shall Be Released,” first appeared in public on The Band’s debut album and here it takes the form of an acoustic track, a mere handful of which Dylan recorded in the fall of 1971 for his second hits release. Here’s where some more detailed credits, perhaps even insight from the participants, would be appropriate.
“Groom’s Still Waiting at the Altar, “ a decade later, is a roaring blues-rock shuffle that originally appeared on the B-side of a single from Shot of Love. Its cryptic apocalyptic lyrics are a stormy match indeed for the band behind and around Dylan’s focused caterwauling. Similar in tempo and arrangement, if more philosophical and good-humored, is “Dignity,” noted here as an outtake from the Daniel Lanois produced Oh Mercy, the performance of which makes a potent argument for what a great singer Bob is (and how much humor resides in his songs).

“Things Have Changed,” is a seemingly slight tune, the deceptively superficiality of which was escalated as it appeared in the soundtrack of the Michael Douglas film Wonder Boys.  Yet this understated modern folk blues encapsulated the quietly defiant attitude toward mortality that permeated the great Dylan album immediately preceding its release, 1997’s Time Out of Mind.

Bill Flanagan concludes his otherwise perceptive essay in the booklet for Dylan by admitting the triple disc set can but scratch the surface of the Bard’s canon–truer liner notes have never been written! Nevertheless, this remastered (from master tapes?) cross-section of most every Dylan recording that would find favor with the broadest mainstream audience (not to mention the lowest common denominator) plus the aforementioned stellar moments of lesser renown, arguably renders obsolete Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits 1,2, and 3 as well as The Essential Bob Dylan.

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