Friday, December 19, 2008

Tell Tale Signs: the verdict – CD3

Thanks to Martin Cowan:


1) Duncan and Brady
A stonking cover from the Bromberg sessions - has much of the gut-bucket flavour of Under The Red Sky. Loose as a goose vocal from Dylan, great smears of guitar, great fun, fantastic. A superb way to kick off the most expensive disc Dylan has ever released!

2) Cold Irons Bound
A great live version of this Time Out Of Mind classic - Dylan is fully focussed as he attacks the vocals, and the backing from his band swirls and soars like a great rattling stagecoach - fantastic.

3) Mississippi # 3
A dreadful reggae lilt adorns this, the weakest version of this song collected here. Lyrically all over the place, Dylan has yet to focus his late great narrative. One for completists only.

4) Most of the Time # 2
Rather like the version of Series of Dreams over on CD 2, this sounds to me like exactly the same vocal as the released Oh Mercy version. The phrasing and intonation is identical - the only difference is a couple of lyric changes, which were obviously "dropped in" prior to the release of Oh Mercy. In fact, listening again to this, it sounds like the new words are actually "dropped in" to this version. Superfluous.

5) Ring Them Bells # 2
A longer intro, less cluttered, naked vocal from Dylan - this kicks off starting like a superb alternate take. However, we've been had. While the first verse is clearly a different version, the rest of the song is the same vocal track as the officially released Oh Mercy version. Shame.

6) Things Have Changed
I've never been as much of a fan of this song as Dylan obviously is and this version is a case in point. The backing from the band is great, but the vocal is lacklustre - not a great performance, Dylan sounds on autopilot here.

7) Red River Shore # 2
Another version of this masterpiece, more muted than that which appears earlier on CD1. Dylan sounds like he's maybe sung it one time too many, and the arrangement is not as sympathetic as the earlier version.

8) Born In Time
Another Lanois stab at this tune, long available to collectors and inferior in every way to the superb Under The Red Sky version.

9) Trying To Get To Heaven
This is one to get my pulse racing as Dylan does that which he is often accused of - completely reworks a song's melody so it becomes another song. This is Dylan as Sinatra, a lounge version of the Time Out Of Mind masterpiece. Committed vocal, superbly realised alternate tune, he's done to this what he did to I Want You and Tangled Up In Blue during the 1978 tour - magical and heartbreaking.

10) Marchin’ to the City # 2
Kicks off with some Rainy Day Women drums, and bounces along to an organ-driven back beat; not as good as the version that graces CD 1 but intriguing none the less.

11) Can't Wait # 2
Spooky organ intro, spooky Dylan vocal. Mesmerising, this meanders along in mysterious and moving ways. Dylan as supreme blues singer, just great.

12) Mary and the Soldier
Another fantastic and touching performance from the sessions that spawned the superb World Gone Wrong album. Flawless.