No Direction Home: The Soundtrack
[The Bootleg Series, Volume 7]
The Music Box's #3 specialty package for 2005
First Appeared in The Music Box, September 2005, Volume 12, #9
Written by John Metzger
Bob Dylanís The Bootleg Series began its life as a three-disc box set that compiled an enlightening array of previously unreleased leftovers, alternate versions, live cuts, and demos that spanned the fabled folk singerís illustrious career. Although its fourth, fifth, and sixth installments diverged from such a wide-sweeping purpose in order to emphasize several landmark concert performances, its latest chapter returns the collection to its conceptual roots. Gleaning inspiration from the focused storyline of Martin Scorseseís forthcoming documentary No Direction Home, the 28-track set employs a retrospective-style format that successfully paints an elaborate portrait of Dylanís formative years. In the process, its producers amazingly found a whole new treasure trove of worthwhile moments ó amounting to 26 of the 28 selections ó to unveil.
No Direction Home: The Soundtrack opens with When I Got Troubles, a rather raw home recording made in 1959 by a high school friend. Nevertheless, it quickly moves forward and establishes Dylanís well-known connections to Woody Guthrie, the early blues, and the Greenwich Village folk scene via a pensive cover version of This Land Is Your Land, the poignant Song to Woody, the whirling instrumental Sally Girl, and the forlorn I Was Young When I Left Home. Its heart, however, traces the astounding 39-month period of personal and artistic growth that began in March 1963, just prior to the release of The Freewheeliní Bob Dylan, and concluded with the discord that surrounded his tour of the U.K. in May 1966.
Accentuated primarily by an assortment of concert performances, the latter portion of No Direction Home: The Soundtrackís first disc sets the stage for this magnificent transformation, while the second half of the collection utilizes the variegated shades of his studio work in New York City and Nashville to follow Dylan as he brings his vision to fruition. Repeatedly striking archival gold, the compilation finds eloquence within everything from a profoundly delivered demo of Donít Think Twice, Itís Alright to the shimmering luminescence of She Belongs to Me and from an hypnotically chilling rendition of Masters of War to a revelatory reading of Desolation Row. Standing in sharp contrast to the less-assured singer who tackled Rambler, Gambler before a crowd of students less than four years earlier is the authoritative Chimes of Freedom, which was culled from Dylanís appearance at the 1964 Newport Folk Festival. Further highlighting his evolution is the fully electrified romp through Maggieís Farm that he unleashed upon an unsuspecting crowd a mere 12 months later as well as the snarling fury of Like a Rolling Stone, which irascibly slammed the door shut in the face of a fan who dared to call him "Judas." Indeed, although the two discs that compose No Direction Home: The Soundtrack take wildly different approaches, together they achieve the common goal of effectively chronicling with pinprick accuracy the making of a legend.
Of Further Interest...
No Direction Home: The Soundtrack is available
from Barnes & Noble. To order, Click Here!
Martin Scorsese's No Direction Home is available
on DVD from Barnes & Noble. To order, Click Here!
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2005 The Music Box