Reviews of Attainable Hi-Fi & Home-Theater Equipment

Reviews of Attainable Hi-Fi & Home-Theater Equipment

  • SoundStage! InSight - Audio Research Reference 160M Amplifier (February 2019)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Livio Cucuzza on Audio Research's Industrial Design (November 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Audio Research Past, Present, and Future (October 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - KEF's New R Series for 2018 (September 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Simaudio Moon 390 Digital/Analog Preamplifier and Streamer (September 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - EISA 2018-2019 Awards Introduction (August 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Simaudio's $118,888 Moon 888 Mono Amplifiers (June 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Totem's Tribe Tower (May 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Amphion's Three Newest Argon Loudspeakers (April 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Making the Hegel Mohican CD Player (March 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Estelon Lynx Wireless Intelligent Loudspeaker (March 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - McIntosh's Five New Solid-State Integrated Amplifiers (January 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Amphion's Krypton Loudspeaker (January 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Anthem STR Preamplifier and Power Amplifier (December 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - McIntosh Laboratory MA252 Integrated Amplifier (November 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Hegel H90 and H190 Integrated Amplifiers (October 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - How Hegel's SoundEngine Works (October 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight  - Estelon History and YB and Extreme Loudspeakers (September 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - What Makes Hegel Different? (August 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Estelon Extreme Legacy Edition Loudspeaker (July 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Amphion Overview and Technologies (July 2017)
  • SoundStage! Insight - Totem Acoustic Signature One Loudspeaker (June 2017)
  • SoundStage! Encore - The Cowboy Junkies'
  • SoundStage! Shorts -- Anthem's STR Integrated Amplifier (May 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts -- Paradigm's Perforated Phase Alignment (PPA) Lenses (March 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- Paradigm's Persona 9H Loudspeaker (March 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- Contrasts: Dynaudio's Contour and Focus XD Speaker Lines (February 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - New Technologies in MartinLogan's Masterpiece Series
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Dynaudio/Volkswagen Car Audio (December 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Gryphon Philosophy and the Kodo and Mojo S Speakers (January 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts -- What's a Tonmeister? (November 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - AxiomAir N3 Wireless Speaker System (December 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Bang & Olufsen BeoLab 90 (November 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Gryphon Diablo 120 Integrated Amplifier (October 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Dynaudio History and Driver Technology (October 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - The Story How Gryphon Began (September 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Devialet History, ADH Technology, and Expert 1000 Pro (September 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Devialet's Phantom Loudspeakers (August 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - McIntosh Home Theater and Streaming Audio (July 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - McIntosh MC275 Stereo Amplifier (June 2016)

Another Self PortraitColumbia 88883 73487 2
Format: CD (2)

Musical Performance ****
Sound Quality ***1/2
Overall Enjoyment ****


When Bob Dylan released Self Portrait in June 1970, critics pounced on it. The most famous review is probably Greil Marcus’s, for Rolling Stone, which began with the famously blunt, “What is this shit?” A more insightful comment in the review was, “I once said I’d buy an album of Dylan breathing heavily. I still would. But not an album of Dylan breathing softly.”

Dylan’s next album,New Morning, released just five months later, was much better, and critics were kinder. Another Self Portrait, Vol.10 in Dylan’s Bootleg Series,includes outtakes, alternate versions, and previously unreleased material from the period in which Dylan recorded Nashville Skyline, Self Portrait,and New Morning. A four-disc, deluxe version of the set, which retails for close to $100, also includes the complete performance by Dylan and The Band at the Isle of Wight Festival in August 1969, a remastering of the original Self Portrait, and a hardbound book of photos of Dylan from the years in which the recordings were made.The standard, more affordable ($20) two-disc set is the subject of this review.

Time hasn’t led to a reevaluation of Self Portrait, which included some odd choices of cover material, such as “Blue Moon” and Paul Simon’s “The Boxer,” and live tracks from the Isle of Wight show. It’s hard to tell if Dylan is now trying to encourage us to give a second listen to his least admired record, especially since he recorded some of the tracks on this set well ahead of Self Portrait,and others after he released New Morning.

Greil Marcus and Michael Simmons both contribute long essays that offer some insight into what Dylan was up to in this period of his life. Not surprisingly, Marcus’s assessment is bracing, informed by his broad knowledge of Dylan and American folk music.

I found it most enjoyable to just listen to Another Self Portrait without trying to place it in the context of Dylan’s history or legend. The alternate version of “All the Tired Horses” is stripped of the original’s treacly, overdubbed strings, but it’s still an odd tune. Apparently, Dylan played two sets at the Isle of Wight, and here the version of “Highway 61 Revisited” is more biting and bluesy. “Little Sadie” is just Dylan and guitarist David Bromberg -- no mandolin, percussion or bass, which were overdubbed later for Self Portrait. This simpler version is better.

Two tracks feature George Harrison. “Time Passes Slowly” is quicker and looser than on New Morning, and the previously unreleased “Working on a Guru” lets Harrison stretch out on some of the best county-blues playing he ever did. Another Self Portrait is a snapshot of a songwriter trying on his own work and some by others, whether contemporaries like Eric Anderson (“Thirsty Boots”) and Tom Paxton (“Annie’s Going to Sing Her Song”), or the old country and folk songs that inspired him.

As with other entries in the Bootleg series, Another Self Portrait also gives us a chance to see how Dylan works on his own songs. Comparing the two versions here of “Went to See the Gypsy” with the final version on New Morning gives us a glimpse of how Dylan thinks through songs -- which he almost invariably rethinks later, in concert.

Greg Calbi’s remastering ensures that Dylan’s voice is focused and sharp, and that the tracks featuring him and Bromberg bring you in close. The sound is strikingly clear and natural. Dylan fans may puzzle over some of the choices he and/or producer Bob Johnston made with Self Portrait, and I’m not sure Another Self Portrait will help answer any of their questions, but they’ll welcome this addition to the Bootleg Series.

. . . Joseph Taylor