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No Direction Home: The Soundtrack - The Bootleg Series Vol. 7

No Direction Home: The Soundtrack - The Bootleg Series Vol. 7

5.0 4
by Bob Dylan

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Although not a literal soundtrack to Martin Scorsese's documentary, No Direction Home has every reason to exist. With 26 of its 28 tracks previously unreleased, this exceptional release overflows with riches that will enthrall Dylan devotees as well as those drawn, by way of


Although not a literal soundtrack to Martin Scorsese's documentary, No Direction Home has every reason to exist. With 26 of its 28 tracks previously unreleased, this exceptional release overflows with riches that will enthrall Dylan devotees as well as those drawn, by way of Scorsese's film, to the work of the most important popular composer of the postwar era. Although the segment of Dylan's career represented by the disc is relatively compact (1959-66), no one would deny that these were Dylan's seminal years, the fertile period when he literally changed the nature of songwriting and vocal performance. No Direction Home begins the Dylan story at its very roots, with two fascinating performances that date back to his high school and brief college days. From there, unreleased takes, demos, and live performances abound, each different enough -- some are quite dissimilar -- from the original issued performances to shed new light on Dylan's compositional and recording methods. While the first of the two CDs concentrates on the acoustic folk years, with superb versions of such anthemic songs as "Blowin' in the Wind," "Chimes of Freedom," and "Masters of War," the second disc documents Dylan's momentous transformation to rock artist. To hear "Maggie's Farm" from the infamous Newport 1965 Folk Festival, and then to listen in as he shapes classic tunes from Highway 61 Revisited (complete with stunning guitarist work from Michael Bloomfield) is to fully experience the revolutionary, and ultimately triumphant, changes that Dylan brought to popular music worldwide. Unreleased takes from Blonde on Blonde and a live "Ballad of a Thin Man," accompanied by four-fifths of what would soon become the Band, bring us deeper into Dylan's intensely creative world. In theory, one or more documentaries could follow No Direction Home, chronicling the ensuing decades of Dylan's amazing musical life, but for now both the film and this latest addition of the "Bootleg" series gives us plenty to simultaneously ponder and thoroughly enjoy.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
The seventh volume of Bob Dylan's Bootleg Series doubles as the soundtrack to No Direction Home, Martin Scorsese's feature-length documentary covering Dylan's career from its beginnings to 1966 (it was aired in two parts on PBS in September 2005 and released in expanded form on DVD that same month). Unlike the previous three installments of The Bootleg Series, which focused exclusively on live concerts, No Direction Home is assembled from a variety of sources, including home recordings, publishing demos, alternate studio takes, and live recordings, with the first disc devoted to early acoustic recordings and the second to electric music. In fact, No Direction Home proceeds chronologically, filling in gaps between the proper albums or, more often, providing a parallel history of the most productive era of Dylan's career. All of this material -- with the exception of "Song to Woody," taken from his debut, and a cataclysmic version of "Like a Rolling Stone" taken from the Royal Albert Hall show that was released as The Bootleg Series, Vol. 4 -- is previously unreleased, and much of it has not been widely bootlegged (and the cuts that have been bootlegged, such as "Dink's Song," have never been heard in such crystal-clear fidelity). Where the inaugural edition of The Bootleg Series had many previously unreleased Dylan originals, there is only one here, the tentative opener, "When I Got Troubles," a sweet, simple 1959 song that finds Dylan in his formative stage. In place of unheard songs are a slew of alternate versions of familiar tunes. On the first disc, these are largely live versions of such warhorses as "Blowin' in the Wind," "Masters of War," and "A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall," recorded when the songs were still fresh. These live performances have an immediacy and intimacy that not only illustrate what a powerful folksinger Dylan was, but also suggest how the songs might have sounded when they were new tunes. Toward the end of the first disc, alternate versions that are significantly different from the final versions begin to surface with an early take on "Mr. Tambourine Man" recorded at the Another Side of Bob Dylan sessions with Ramblin' Jack Elliott on second guitar and backing vocals. The second disc has several alternates that are similarly notably different, highlighted by a lively, careening "It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry" with a different final verse, a "Desolation Row" with electric guitar, "Highway 61 Revisited" without the siren whistle, a slower, heavier, blusier take on "Leopard-Skin Pill Box Hat," a relaxed version of "Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again" that lacks the carnivalesque swirl of sound from the Blonde on Blonde version, and a lean, insistent "Visions of Johanna." As different as some of these versions are, there are no great revelations here, apart from the realization that the best takes really did make the finished records. But looking for revelations on this seventh edition of The Bootleg Series may be setting the bar too high, particularly because even if few things here are earth-shaking (a rampaging "Maggie's Farm" from Dylan's legendary electric set at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965 could qualify, thanks in great deal to an incendiary Mike Bloomfield), everything here is uniformly excellent and worth hearing well more than once. That alone, of course, would make this yet another worthwhile addition to any serious Dylan collection, but what makes No Direction Home noteworthy as an album is that it is the first Dylan record to offer an aural biography of Dylan. This does a superb job of tracing the development of Dylan as a musician, taking him from a young folkie singing standards, through the rush of his early standards, and to the visionary music he made once he went electric. Put in this context, the electric music on disc two sounds as bracing and brilliant and surprising as it did in the '60s, while the acoustic folk on disc one sounds vibrant, pure, and alive. After all these years, that's a hard accomplishment to pull off, and to the credit of everybody involved in this terrific release, they've been able to make even the most familiar Dylan tunes feel new again.

Product Details

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Bob Dylan   Primary Artist
Michael Bloomfield   Guitar,Electric Guitar
Bob Dylan   Acoustic Guitar,Harmonica,Piano,Electric Guitar,Vocals
Kooper   Organ
Robbie Robertson   Guitar
Joe South   Guitar
Rick Danko   Bass,Bass Guitar
Barry Goldberg   Organ
Sam Lay   Drums
Bobby Gregg   Drums
Jerome Arnold   Bass,Bass Guitar
Harvey Brooks   Bass,Bass Guitar
Kenny Buttrey   Drums
Gorgoni   Guitar
Paul Griffin   Piano
Levon Helm   Drums
Garth Hudson   Organ
Bruce Langhorne   Guitar
Richard Manuel   Piano
Wayne Moss   Guitar
Frank Owens   Piano
Hargus "Pig" Robbins   Piano
Henry Strzelecki   Bass,Bass Guitar
Charlie McCoy   Guitar
Joseph Macho   Bass
Mickey Jones   Drums
William E. Lee   Bass Guitar
Joseph Macho   Bass Guitar

Technical Credits

Woody Guthrie   Composer
Bob Dylan   Arranger,Composer
Kooper   Liner Notes
John Hammond   Audio Production
Tony Glover   Engineer
Steven Berkowitz   Producer
Eddie Gorodetsky   Liner Notes
Bob Johnston   Producer,Audio Production
Andrew Loog Oldham   Liner Notes
Jeff Rosen   Producer
Tom Wilson   Producer,Audio Production
Captain Jeff Zaraya   Engineer
George Knuerr   Engineer
Frank Bruno   Engineer
Geoff Gans   Art Direction
Martin Scorsese   Producer
Traditional   Composer
John F. Hammond   Producer

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Bootleg Series, Vol. 7: No Direction Home - The Soundtrack 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
glauver More than 1 year ago
These 2 CDs are a portrait of Bob Dylan during his ascent to the top of the 60s music scene. Disc 1 is mostly very good live and alternate versions of his acoustic classics. It is very good but, on its own, would not be essential. Disc 2 is the heart of the collection. We get fascinating alternate versions of classics from Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61, and Blonde On Blonde. The amazing part of the songs is that some actually improve on the originals. The live Maggie's Farm and Tom Thumb's Blues are probably the best existing live versions of those songs. Tom Thumb is very spacey with Bob's vocals echoing amid Garth Hudson's huge organ chords. Leopard Skin Pill-Box Hat, Desolation Row, and It Takes A Lot To Laugh are studio takes that, in my opinion, are better than the final product. In short, this is essential for serious Dylan fans.
Guest More than 1 year ago
How can you not give Dylan a five star, he is questionably one of the greatest artists of all time. This cd is based on Martin Scorsese's film No Direction Home. The 2-cd set contains a ton of unreleased songs including my favorite "Ballad of a Thin Man." Dylan obscure poetry on songs like "Desolation Row", and "Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat," give you a closer look into the genius of Bob Dylan. The first cd is more of folk music and the second is when he turned rock and picked up an electric guitar. If you are a fan of folk, Dylan, or poetry then this is definitely the cd for you.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Everything else is,at best, beautiful noise often, not even that.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Bob Dylan is indeed the poet in the alley strumming his guitar tellin' us his views, recitin' the news enfolding melodies like a velvety draped muse. He is the rhymer of reason, a year of four seasons who takes time to comprehend what is near. A wayward minstral who wants all to hear, come listen to the message from a once younger, now a much older balladeer.