Bob Dylan: Tell Tale Signs: The Bootleg Series Vol. 8
Live tracks and crisp, rootsy outtakes with a whole lotta Lanois
As Dylan’s every move seems to add weight and mystery to his legend, it’s no surprise that Columbia’s bootleg series—the cockeyed commentary to the canon—has finally caught up to the latter phases of his recorded output. Tell Tale Signs largely resists the temptation to sketch “latter-era Dylan” in favor of the more specific “Lanois-era Dylan.” Stocked heavily with outtakes from Time out of Mind and Oh Mercy, these “lost” tracks demonstrate producer Daniel Lanois’ influence in steering the legendary songwriter to a place of seemingly pure voice—a revived interest in roots fused with an elder jokester’s nostalgic delivery. The peaceful, assured studio creature gilded here is an interesting foil to the Dylan we’ve seen on the road the last few decades. While a proper encapsulation of the “Never Ending Tour” awaits, the scattershot of live tracks here teases the subject. Even if the collection omits Dylan’s acerbic and often consciously sacrilegious re-workings of his largest-looming ’60s works, the tearing grind of 2002’s “Lonesome Day Blues” hints at the moments of higher energy that Dylan and the Sexton/Campbell guitar duo found while glancing back toward the highway. Catching these dual modes, Tell Tale Signs subtly makes a good argument that Dylan’s later work is richer than expected.
Listen to Bob Dylan's "Mississippi" from Tell Tale Signs: