Saturday, November 18, 2017

CD/DVD Review: Volume 13 Of "The Bootleg Series" Showcases Bob Dylan's Religous Years

On November 3rd, Columbia Records and Legacy Recordings released the latest volume in the ongoing "Bob Dylan - The Bootleg Series." This years marks volume 13 of the series and centers around Bob Dylan's most controversial era of his career. The new volume titled "Trouble No More" covers Bob Dylan's live and studio output from 1979 to 1981 and during that period, Bob Dylan became a born-again Christian. He released three studio albums during that period ("Slow Train Coming," "Saved" and "Shot Of Love"). Looking back, many fans feel that this is his strongest, most personal trilogy of albums to date and they contain some of the most poetic lyrics of Dylan's entire career.

In order to dig deeper into this three year time period of Dylan's career, "The Bootleg Series, Vol. 13" contains the most massive deluxe box set to date (beside the exclusive " Vol. 12: Collector's Edition" which contained 18 discs). It features 8 CDs of unreleased live material and studio outtakes and for the first time in the series, a full-length DVD is also included in the deluxe box set. 

The first two discs of the set contain random live performances of his newly penned songs that center around Christianity. You will instantly notice how strong Dylan's vocals are in these performances and also how well these songs have been recorded. Up until this release, Dylan fans would only have access to bootleg recordings of shows from this era and many of them did not sound that great. The clarity and power of these live recordings are felt on the 30 songs that make up these first couple CDs.

Discs three and four contain over 30 studio recordings of outtakes and rehearsals that will give die-hard fans insight into Dylan's state-of-mind creating those three iconic albums. Almost half of the songs featured on these CDs are of unreleased songs that have never appeared on a Bob Dylan album, which just goes to show that amount of material that Dylan was recording during these three years of inspiration.

One song that kicks off each of the first four discs is "Solid Rock" as you hear the differences in each recording of the song, whether being performed live on stage or in the recording studio. The final four CDs in the set feature Bob Dylan live in Toronto in 1980 and his full performance of him at Earl's Court, London in June 1981. The two Toronto discs contain the best performance of his three shows there, while his Earl's Court show features one of the last shows of the tour as Dylan was beginning to incorporate some of his older songs back into his setlist like "Maggie's Farm," "Mr. Tambourine Man" and "Blowin' In The Wind."

The DVD contains a newly created musical film titled "Trouble No More," which features concert footage interwoven with a newly filmed sermon preaching the word of Christianity. The hour-long film contains some outstanding footage of Dylan live in concert as you can see the enjoyment in his face, leading his amazing live band and back-up singers through his new compositions. You will also be able to re-watch the concert footage without the preaching as part of the DVD extras, along with a rare performance of "Shot Of Love" from his 1981 show in Avignon.

Included with this deluxe box set is a 120-page hardcover book of photos and artwork during the Bob Dylan era of 1979-1981. Another great addition is the 50-pages of information about each song that appears on this set, explaining what and why these recordings were picked for this latest addition of the "Bob Dylan Bootleg Series." Also released on the same day was a consolidated 2CD set that includes the first two live discs from the box set. To find out more about volume 13 of the "Bob Dylan Bootleg Series," please visit bobdylan.com.

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