Classic Rock

Bob Dylan

More Blood, More Tracks The Bootleg Series Vol. 14:


Interviewe­d by Mary Travers in 1975, Bob Dylan remarked of Blood On The Tracks: “A lot of people tell me they enjoyed that album. It’s hard for me to relate to that – I mean, people enjoying that type of pain.” That was as close as he ever got to admitting that his latest record was about his troubled relationsh­ip with then wife Sara. But despite their estrangeme­nt (they wouldn’t divorce yet) this isn’t a conceptual marriage-on-the-rocks document. It’s far more freewheeli­ng than that.

It had a troubled gestation: first recordings in New York were overhauled in Minneapoli­s in late 1974. Dylan produced, which he hadn’t done before, but couldn’t convince friends or family that he was heading in the right direction. His brother David thought the original version too close to the bone; guitarist Michael Bloomfield passed, since he thought the songs too long and too often in the same key. Cosby, Stills and Nash were treated to an intimate performanc­e, after which Stephen Stills muttered: “He’s a good songwriter, but he’s no musician.”

Oh to be so wise after the event. Blood On The Tracks is rightly considered to be one of Dylan’s masterpiec­es, and this exhaustive collection (87 tracks on six CDs; a nimbler one-CD standard edition is available) shows why. While the songs are indelibly imprinted in Dylan fans’ minds, it’s clear he was tired and frustrated when he sat down to record. Although written throughout ’74 the songs splatter out like paint thrown at a canvas. On Tangled Up In Blue Dylan is the method actor who weaves across time and space yet always returns to the same conclusion. The warmth here is scuppered in the extraordin­arily vindictive Idiot Wind, a case for the defence for those who insist that this is Dylan’s heart cut open. The nine-minute version is the darkest, and while some of the other remakes don’t add further meaning these need perseveran­ce. For lightness there’s the allegorica­l Lily, Rosemary And The Jack Of Hearts and an exchange with studio guest Mick Jagger who suggests a slide guitar might improve

Meet Me In The Morning. Spoiler alert: that ain’t gonna happen.

If you like to hear your favourite artists suffer, then this is a gore-fest

Max Bell

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