Tell Tale Signs: Rare and Unreleased 1989-2006
Volume eight in the so-called Bootleg Series features music that will leave you astounded at what misses the cut. Time Out of Mind (1997) began Dylan's return to relevance as a writer and performer. One could argue the four unreleased tracks from that session are as brilliant as anything he's done in the last 30 years. He can toss off a line like "We live in shadows of a fading past trapped in the fires of time," with the ease that some people scratch themselves. Clarity of expression in the languid ensemble, playing under the wing of Daniel Lanois, makes the seven minutes of "Red River Shore" seem too brief. "I can't say if I want the pain to end or not," he bellows on the staggered blues of "Can't Wait." Disc one of Tell Tale Signs: Rare and Unreleased 1989-2006 contains most of the buried treasure, including a guitar battle between Larry Campbell and Freddy Koella on the scorching live "High Water (for Charley Patton)." Disc two holds a few examples of the rushed, mumbled lyrics and dreary phrasing that briefly diminished Dylan's charisma. That just tends to make his emergence as a relentless, crusty bard in a 10-gallon hat that much more miraculous.