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Bob Dylan: The Bootleg Series Vol. 8: Tell Tale Signs

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Bob Dylan

Album: The Bootleg Series Vol. 8: Tell Tale Signs
Label: Columbia

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Bob Dylan's last three studio albums—1997's Time Out of Mind, 2001's "Love and Theft", and 2006's Modern Times—are among his finest, but that doesn't guarantee that their outtakes would add much to his legacy. But Tell Tale Signs, two CDs of scraps from those albums (along with some from 1989's Oh Mercy, plus some live recordings) deserves to be considered an album, because it moves like one. Most of these alternate takes are in fact completely different arrangements: "Someday Baby" is a slow, wounded shuffle here, rather than the hard-chugging blues-rock from Modern Times, while two versions of Time's "Mississippi," each opening a CD, sound nothing like the "official" rendition—or one another. It's easy to understand why Dylan left some of these songs off the albums: The woozy "Born In Time" wouldn't have fit the spookier tone of Oh Mercy, but it's got too much life in it to have stayed put. But why "Dreamin' Of You," a shattered-love song set to a hushed-roar arrangement, was left off Time is hard to figure. The in-concert stuff provides snazzy contrast to the studio songs: "High Water (For Charley Patton)" and "Lonesome Day Blues" crackle and snarl, with Dylan's lead guitar speaking its own tongue. As Dylan's official bootlegs go, this is one of the series' best.