Self Portrait
by Bob Dylan

Self Portrait: Bob Dylan, 2 LP set 1970

Produced by Bob Johnston
Double LP (CBS 30050) UK

Side oneSide two
All The Tired HorsesLet It Be Me
Alberta #1Little Sadie
I Forgot More Than You’ll Ever KnowWoogie Boogie
Days of 49Bell Isle
Early Morning RainLivin’ The Blues
In Search of Little SadieLike A Rolling Stone
Side threeSide Four
Copper KettleTake A Message to Mary
Gotta Travel OnIt Hurts Me Too
Blue MoonMinstrel Boy
The BoxerShe Belongs To Me
The Mighty Quinn (Quinn The Eskimo)Wigwam
Take Me As I AmAlberta #2

The issue here is whether to update the content in the light of Another Self-Portrait. That box set (The Bootleg Series Vol 10) is the ultimate example of these “reviled” albums being re-assessed, or in this case being re-thought entirely. I decided to keep this as it was written in 2003, and to tinker as little as possible in the light of future knowledge. Then I have added notes on Another Self-Portrait at the end.

Like Music From Big Pink, there is no title, no artist name, and on 1970 pressings no Columbia or CBS logo.



The fifty participating musicians are simply listed on the sleeve in alphabetical order. Now we know better. The tape boxes have been exhumed, lovingly dusted off and copious notes have been taken.

Charlie McCoy and Kenny Buttrey overdubbed the rhythm sections to almost everything apart from the live tracks in Nashville.

Bob Johnson sweetened the results with Nashville’s finest, plus Al Kooper – keyboards, David Bromberg – guitar. Dylan didn’t attend many of the dubbing sessions.

The songs were sent down (from New York to Nashville) with instructions to just play over what he’d already recorded on it… the tempos didn’t hold together real well, and he wasn’t real steady with the guitar.
Charlie McCoy, bass guitarist, quoted by Clinton Heylin

He sent a tape of songs that he had recorded either in the studio or at home – just vocal and guitar – and we just overdubbed our parts on it. He wasn’t there. Again it was just Charlie McCoy and myself, and for some reason, scheduling problems, or something, we  couldn’t do the overdubs at the same time, so Charlie McCoy did his overdubs and I would come in the studio as he was leaving and he would have his chord charts on the stands with arrows pointing up or down. That was my cue for where Dylan rushed or dragged.
Kenny Buttrey, drummer, quoted by Clinton Heylin

Five countrified tracks date from sessions in April / May 1969. (Take Me As I Am, I Forgot More Than I’ll Ever Know, Let it Be Me, Take A Message to Mary, Blue Moon):

Bob Dylan – guitar, piano, vocals / Fred Carter Jnr, Norman Blake – guitars / Pete Drake – steel guitar / Bob Moore – bass / Bill Pursell – piano / Kenny Buttrey – drums

These had added overdubs by Doug Kershaw – fiddle, plus female voices.

Four tracks, She Belongs To Me, Like A Rolling Stone, Minstrel Boy, The Mighty Quinn  were recorded live with The Band at the Isle of Wight concert on August 31st 1969 (the complete show is not difficult to find on bootleg under the title Minstrel Boy ).

Bob Dylan – guitar, vocals / Rick Danko – bass, vocal / Richard Manuel – piano, vocal / Levon Helm – drums, vocal / Robbie Robertson – guitar, vocal / Garth Hudson – organ

The bulk of the recordings were sketched out in New York in May 1970, and overdubbed in Nashville a couple of weeks later.

New York:
Bob Dylan – guitar vocal / Al Kooper – guitar, keyboard / David Bromberg – guitar, dobro / Ron Cornelius – guitar, dobro / Stu Woods – bass / Alvin Roger – drums + female backing vocals

Nashville overdubs:
Charlie McCoy – bass, marimbas / Kenny Buttrey – drums  +
Bob Moore – bass / Fred Carter Jnr – guitar / Charlie Daniels – guitar, dobro / Karl T. Himmel- drums / Ron Cornelius – guitar, dobro
Rex Eugene Peer, Gene Mullins, Dennis Good, Bubba Fowler- trombones
William Pursell- keyboards / Martha McCrory, Byron T. Bach – cellos / Gary Van Osdale, Lilian Hunt, Marvin Chantry – violas / Sheldon Kurland, George Binkley, Solie I. Fott – violins / Brenton Banks – violin, synthesizer / Albert Butler – saxophone

What the critics said …

What is this shit? …… Jesus. This is awful.
Greil Marcus, Rolling Stone review 1970)

‘I once said that I’d buy an album of Dylan breathing hard. But I never said I’d buy an album of Dylan breathing softly.’
Greil Marcus, Rolling Stone review 1970)

It most closely resembles the Dylan album that preceded it: Great White Wonder, and though it’s a good imitation bootleg, it isn’t nearly the music that Great White Wonder is.
Greil Marcus, Rolling Stone review 1970

None of this stopped Greil Marcus writing the sleeve notes to ‘Another Self Portrait.

This album sucks!
East Village Other, 1970

‘Self Portrait was a disaster that crossed all generic boundaries … Self Portrait is almost certainly the worst double album ever done by a major artist’
* (one star) Rolling Stone Record Guide, 1979 edition

‘This was a double record that relied heavily on the lesser efforts of lesser talents (Gordon Lightfoot, Paul Simon) – and it was a strange Dylan album indeed that featured as its best song the almost wordless ‘All The Tired Horses.’
* (one star) Rolling Stone Record Guide, 1992 edition

In order for a concept to work, it has to be supported musically – that is, you have to listen. I don’t know anyone, even vociferous supporters of the album, who plays more than one side at a time. I don’t listen to it at all. The singing is not consistently good, though it has its moments, and the production … ranges from indifferent to awful. It is possible to use strings and soprano choruses well, but (Bob) Johnston has never demonstrated the knack. Other points, it’s overpriced, the cover art is lousy, and it sounds good on WMCA.’ C+
Robert Christgau, Christgau’s Guide to Albums of the 70s

‘It’s … deliberately perverse in its contents. Dylan’s emphatic ‘Fuck you’ to his audience, his record company and his own artistic pretensions …The four live songs from the Isle of Wight include two of the worst performances from that show; it is ballsy but not particularly enlightening to put on your album  a live take in which you forget the words to one of your best-loved songs.’
Paul Williams, ‘Bob Dylan – Performing Artist 1 (1960-1973)’

‘(It was) filled mostly with the works of others and some examples of Americana, produced in a style that appeared to be almost Mantovani music, dreary enough to pipe into elevators or corset shoppes You laughed when you first heard it … it seemed to be a huge joke … None of the album made sense, at first. Self Portrait was the ultimate disallusionment for many Dylan freaks.’
Anthony Scaduto: ‘Bob Dylan, An Intimate Biography’

Parts of it seem simply, and quite acceptably, to be the work of a man who is going through a creative drought and has decided to record some favourite covers.’ 
Clinton Heylin, ‘Dylan: Behind the Shades’

… out to lunch was the verdict handed down by the die-hards who actually slogged through the record’s four dismal sides.
Bob Spitz, Dylan, A Biography

A third to half of ‘Self Portrait’ is a civilized country record buried among poor song choices of other people’s material, lapses in arrangements and ambivalent singing.
Tim Riley, Hard Rain: A Dylan Commentary

‘Now, seen in the long back-projection of his work, it isn’t gruellingly important that the album was so second-rate – but of course, when it was new, in 1970, the adjustments necessary to come to terms with ‘Self Portrait’ were enormous. Dylan was demanding more and giving less with this album …… at first hearing much of the work was trite, rutted and simplistic, and that in itself had a huge and perplexing impact … There were of course people … who simply listened and enjoyed, and Dylan has always been on their side, against classification, with those, who in his view, “know too much to argue or to judge.”’
Michael Gray, Song & Dance Man: The Art of Bob Dylan. 2nd edition

‘Self Portrait didn’t so much demystify Bob Dylan as nearly destroy him.’
Patrick Humphries, Complete Guide to the Music of Bob Dylan

‘Dylan’s oddball attempt to destroy his own myth, stuffed with music that is fascinatingly bad’
Q DYLAN, Special edition, October 2000

Self Portrait mystified, appalled and angered those who regarded the singer as a poet and a prophet … Dylan’s self-portrait consisted of borrowed tunes, instrumentals, blatant rewrites of traditional material and desultory performances from the Isle of Wight. It the title was meant literally, it seemed like a declaration of creative bankruptcy.
Peter Doggett, Are You Ready for the Country? 2000

It was the first time a Dylan album had been the cause for mockery in sections of the media where he had previously enjoyed adulation.
Howard Sounes, Down The Highway, 2001

An album of outtakes and live oddities from one of the least interesting periods of Dylan’s career …… It was as much the way (it) was constructed as much as the songs themselves – seguing from Dylanesque folk covers into syrupey Nashville croon-tunes via almost-insulting Isle of Wight renditions of Dylan favourites – that left the bitter aftertaste of pastiche.
Clinton Heylin, Behind The Shades – Take Two, 2000

… and finally:

We released that album to get people off my back … so people would just at that time stop buying my records. and they did.
Bob Dylan, 1981 interview

For me …

Bob Dylan has specialised in resounding fuck you’s to the assumptions of his audience. The piano on Another Side of Bob Dylan  was the stirring of heresy. The rock backing on one side of Bringing It All Back Home  confirmed it. Newport 65 with The Butterfield Band strutting their stuff right in the face of folkies – two fingers. Forest Hills with Levon Helm and Robbie Robertson a month later – two more. Positively Fourth Street – sit on this. John Wesley Harding – I’m not playing your game.

Play fucking loud!  he exhorted as The Hawks thumped through Like A Rolling Stone at Manchester’s Free Trade Hall in May 1966. The end of the song, drums thrashed to shreds, guitar strings slashing fingers to pulp, keyboards still vibrating, was a call to the audience that was an indiscernible meeting between Fuck you! and Thank you!  

John Wesley Harding coming in the midst of rampant psychedelia was another Fuck you, the sudden bass voice on the C&W Nashville Skyline  yet another. Perhaps the biggest, most obvious fuck you of the lot was Self Portrait.  One album was even worse received, 1973’s Dylan, but that collection of Self Portrait  out-takes was CBS’s Fuck you  to Bob Dylan as he departed for David Geffen’s Asylum label.

Dylan himself said it was a reaction to bootlegging:

There was a lot of other stuff that was worse appearing on bootleg records. So I figured I’d put all this stuff together and put it out. My own bootleg record, so to speak … If it had actually been a bootleg record people probably would have sneaked around to buy it’ and played it for each other secretly
Bob Dylan, 1985 Biograph sleeve notes

So it’s a mix of half-resolved ideas with favourites by other artists (cf. The Basement Tapes).  Quite a few of the writer’s credits should really be the “Trad. Arr. by … ”for already known traditional songs, but that’s not unusual.

It was recorded in two batches, about a year apart. Then most of it was heavily over-dubbed in Nashville, in the absence of Dylan himself. Session musician Charlie McCoy recalls getting very rudimentary guitar and vocal tracks and being left pretty much free to embellish it at will. The recordings were first supposed to be a Country & Western tribute, then more tracks were added, a proposed Isle of Wight album was scrapped, and four tracks were rescued, not the best four, and shoved onto this one. Some of it harks back to Nashville Skyline  sessions while the later stuff (most it transpires later) was recorded at almost the same time as New Morning. There was enough left over for CBS to create the even more reviled Dylan album in 1973, and about fourteen other tracks too.

I bought this album in a second-hand record shop in Norwich. There was a cardboard box stacked with pristine copies of Self Portrait and Nashville  Skyline at well below list price. Nothing odd about that? Actually, yes. It was a full week before Self Portrait was released. I was too young and innocent to think anything of it. I’m trying to remember why I liked it so much. Possibly, with Nashville Skyline, it was my introduction to country sounds via an acceptable artist. I was also heavily into the Americana of The Band. I used to imagine Dylan sitting round a log fire, probably with Robbie Robertson and Levon Helm, chuckling about this one.

And I approved. Even Dylan’s much-maligned cover picture only served to remind me of Music From Big Pink.  

Self Portrait can be seen as part of the ripple in the wake of the universal critical acclaim for The Band’s first and second albums:

The Band’s debut was a hallmark of rock revisionism and the dawn of roots consciousness – what The Beatles aimed for with Get Back (which became Let it Be) was relayed on Music From Big Pink (1968) and The Band (1969).

A shadow universe of history sprang out of these records, an America that had little to do with the fear, betrayed faith and urban violence that was erupting …
Tim Riley, Hard Rain

Years after the event, fragmentary out-takes emerged from Let it Be of  covers of The Band’s To Kingdom Come and I Shall Be Released. Complete transcriptions of the sessions reveal Lennon and Harrison urging George Martin to make them sound like The Band. The track selection harked back to their roots – childhood Liverpool with Maggie May, and their first composition One After 909.

The Grateful Dead were trying to follow The Band’s lead on Workingman’s Dead, while Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young ripped off not only the sleeve design and colour of The Band, on Déjà Vu, but even the rippled cardboard finish. Clapton was abandoning Cream for the simplicity of Derek and the Dominoes. And so here, Dylan was attempting to re-create the eclecticism and looseness of the unreleased The Basement Tapes.

In the end, Self Portrait was Dylan attempting to redo the basement tapes without The Band. The main question I’d ask is why? Why didn’t he just release the basement tapes? Heylin’s book on bootlegs points out that Great White Wonder outsold many legit albums, and Dylan probably thought the basement market was saturated (wrongly, as it turned out). So my guess is he attempted to do another one and failed.

The album track-by-track

All The Tired Horses (Bob Dylan)
This is a hoot. I visualised all these serious early-Dylan fans, heavy rimmed glasses, hairy scratchy polo necks, beards probably. They get home bearing the new album, dust it off, put it reverently on the turntable … and they hear a female choir without any backing. You get a guitar chord or two half a minute in, then the wash of strings. Not only that but there aren’t any lyrics beyond:

All the tired horses in the sun.
how’m I supposed to get any riding done?

And they’re repeated for three minutes.
How many people took it back to the shop, claiming it was a wrong pressing?
It’s an oddly addictive little melody. As this was all arranged and done in Nashville you have to wonder whether Dylan appears on it at all. It’s absolutely and deliberately over the top as the strings take over. And the way Dylan’s voice slurs riding, it could just be writing which is the dilemma of the album. It’s down to cover versions because he literally couldn’t get any writing done.

I thought it was the best opening surprise on any album by anybody ever.

Alberta #1 (Bob Dylan)

The first we hear of Dylan on the album  is a mumble before the song starts. Then it’s the “old voice” Dylan. It sounds much more what you’d expect, except that there’s that female chorus swooping along incessantly in the background. Loud, loud bass ( like Danko on the basement tapes, where bass becomes the loudest instrument). The obligatory harmonica solo.

This is not the Leadbelly song of the same title, but:

Alberta is a Doc Watson rag-doll of traditional black and white lyric off-cuts, pinned together and dressed up with a few arty chords, with Doc sounding not unlike Jim Reeves … Dylan scraps the arty chords and some of the words, and tacks in some others.
Michael Gray, Song and Dance Man III

At least two of those ‘lyric cut-offs’ come from the song Long Time Man, which appears on Bobby Darin’s exceptional Earthy! album from 1963. On that album it’s credited to Tyson-Fricker, which is Ian Tyson of Four Strong Winds fame. However the liner notes describe it as an ‘authentic prison blues, referring to a prisoner serving a life sentence.’ The version by Bobby Darin is a strange combination of blues and ‘Western’ song with whistles and yelps, supposedly replicating a chain gang, though ending up sounding more like the theme to Rawhide.

Alberta let your hair grow long …
Alberta let your hair grow down to the ground …

Like Self-Portrait, Earthy! is an eclectic mix of country, blues (and on Earthy! gospel and Spanish) influences. Earthy! was a well-kept secret among fans for years, containing as it does the best-ever version of Work Song. Fans of Clothes-Line Saga from The Basement Tapes should also check-out Bobby Darin’s version of Everything’s OK.

I Forgot More Than You’ll Ever Know (C.A. Null)

This is the “new” voice from Nashville Skyline on a syrupy country classic, with pedal steel, snare drums and loud simple bass again. And the girls are still around. It takes a long time for even the piano to arrive and join in. This sounds 50s, the sort of full-blown, fly-blown, Jim Reeves- Irish-Themed-Pub C&W I can’t stand. The original version was by The Davis Sisters in 1953, vaguely like The Beverly Sisters with Southern accents, which spawned an immediate answer disc by Betty Cody called I Found Out More Than You’ll Ever Know which is even worse. Johnny Cash covered the original in 1962. 

This is where I began to wonder myself. But he IS taking the piss, I thought. When the full five-CD bootleg set of basement tapes began to come out after 1986, and I heard how much country was in there, I realised he wasn’t taking the piss at all.

Days of 49 (F.Warner / J.A. Lomax / A. Lomax)     

Then we’re back into the cracker voice, in the role of old Tom Moore, the bummer. The Days of 49 is the California Gold Rush. Put this on the basement tapes and it would have been applauded by all as a great Dylan performance. It deserves to be.

Early Morning Rain (Gordon Lightfoot)

Then it’s recent chart folk with this cover of Canadian folkie Lightfoot’s best-known song. It was covered by Ian and Sylvia in 1965, then later by Judy Collins. Go back to the basement tapes again, and you see how often he covered Ian & Sylvia Tyson, the Canadian folk stars. He even persuaded The Band members, who as fellow-Canadians claimed to be seriously prejudiced against all ‘strummers’, to get to like their music. This is genuine liking for the song.

In Search of Little Sadie (Bob Dylan)

We’re in World Gone Wrong territory, and the title is explicit. He’s looking for the old song rather than a lady called Sadie. The older song was recorded by Clarence Ashley in the 1920s, then twice by Johnny Cash, as Transfusion Blues and Cocaine Blues. Michael Gray did considerable archaeological work on the song in Song and Dance Man III and reveals that the lyrics of Little Sadie were published in a 1964 Sing Out magazine, along with Copper Kettle. The version they printed was by Clarence Ashley (© 1962), but it was closely related  to Woody Guthrie’s Bad Lee Brown, and had also been performed as Sadie, Late One Night, Penitentiary Blues and Out Last Night.

Let It Be Me (Curtis / Delanoe / Becaud)

Made famous by The Everly Brothers. (UK #13, US #7 in January 1960). Nowadays the Everly Brothers are accorded their rightful pivotal place in rock history. Without The Everly Brothers it’s hard to imagine where The Beatles would have come from. Simon & Garfunkel acknowledge their debt.  They defined the art of recording rock in Nashville long before Dylan.  In 1970, though, Don & Phil were merely passé, thought of as more like Frankie Avalon or Brian Hyland than the true originators that they were. Dylan is rediscovering them for a new generation, just as Paul Simon had a year earlier by including Bye Bye Love on Bridge Over Troubled Water. He does it completely straight.

Little Sadie (Bob Dylan)

Another version. It’s listed as “Traditional” on the session notes.

Woogie Boogie (Bob Dylan)

Instrumental. A note from John Lee Hooker:

(Bob Dylan)’d sit around and watch me play; he’d be right there every night, and we’d be playing guitars in the hotel. I don’t know what he got from me, but he must’ve got something. A lot of guitar players have.
John Lee Hooker, quoted by Charles Shaar Murray in Boogie Man

Dylan did two John Lee Hooker songs in the basement, Tupelo and I’m In The Mood, and Hooker’s Boogie Chillun was the classic boogie reference.  This sounds like a generic warm-up jam, with the only melodic interest coming from the horn solo.

Belle Isle (Bob Dylan)

The deep bass and brushed snares make you think Country and Western. Then the full pop strings come in like 101 Strings or Mantovani. The lyrics combine echoes of a traditional English ballad (maidens and damsels)  with Irish music (the banks of Lough Erin … my blooming bright star of Belle Isle – remember Belfast was originally Belle Fast – good harbour) or maybe it’s Scots (Loch Erin  not Lough Erin), or is it in fact American?

Listen to this verse:

Young maiden I wish not to banter
Tis true I come here in disguise
I came here to fulfil my last promise
And hoped to give you a surprise!

The last line is suddenly modern English (and forced), and you can almost here the chuckle in his voice.  Michael Gray devotes a whole page to the song in The Art of Bob Dylan and says of this line:

The fourth line brings the fall – that ludicrously bad distribution of syllables, the awfulness of the rhyme and the bathos of the hope expressed … it has all been perfectly timed. It is brilliant clowning.

Dead right, Michael. I see it in a folk club setting. The previous act had done Chastity Belt and as he sings And hoped to give you a surprise … he winks, and the beardies roar with laughter and make obscene gestures. Dylan knew the folk club scene, and this is pure pastiche.

Michael Gray believed at first that it was a genuine Dylan original, though Tim Riley questions the parentage of both this and Alberta, saying Dylan’s claim to credit is disrespectful at best, deceitful at worst,  Clinton Heylin also says it’s a traditional song. 

I always agreed with Michael Gray that it was too much of a parody to be a real ancient ballad. The only other tune called Belle Isle I could find listed is by the Band of The Grenadier Guards, on an album which also features Rule Brittania. I haven’t heard it, but it means it could be an old tune with new lyrics (compare The Patriot Game and Restless Farewell) .

However, Gray’s later research for articles on the song revealed that it was indeed a genuine Appalachian ballad. On the recording sheet it’s called Belle Isle (The Star of Belle Isle).

But I’m sure the lyrics were doctored.

Livin’ The Blues (Bob Dylan)

Though it’s an original, it was compared to Guy Mitchell’s Singing The Blues in early reviews. He had performed it on TV in 1969. The tune is actually closer to Jerry Lee Lewis’s I’m Feeling Sorry.

Like A Rolling Stone (Bob Dylan)

Live with The Band at the Isle of Wight Festival. Excruciatingly bad. Absolutely awful, tossed away with nothing to redeem it.

Compare it with the 1966 shows or the 1974 ones. Tim Riley blames The Band’s backing, but I blame Dylan. It’s been said that the choice of Isle of Wight songs for this album was perverse and that better stuff exists on bootlegs. I don’t know about that. Both I Threw It All Away and Maggie’s Farm on the Isle of Wight bootleg Minstrel Boy are dire too. It’s also the first of the four Isle of Wight tracks we hear, though it came later in the show.

I reckon it was deliberate iconoclasm, throwing away his most famous song as a meaningless rant. There had been all sorts of argument backstage, with The Band and Dylan insisting their sound wasn’t balanced, then being rushed on. After their own set, The Band wanted more time on the sound system but Dylan insisted on going ahead. He had a helicopter to catch, I guess. The show was short shrift indeed and this was the nadir. He chose to put it here as a statement.

Definitely a joke and in very bad taste at that. He not only forgets the words, but strips the song of any feeling.
Clinton Heylin, Behind The Shades- Take Two, 2000

Copper Kettle (Albert Frank Beddoe)

I love this version, and it’s one of the best tracks on the album. It was the B-side of the single from it too. The credits read A.F. Beddoe on the CD, Albert Frank Beddoe on the LP. See, bigger labels on LPs do have a point. Pete Seeger says the song dates back to 1946 and is of folk origin. Beddoe says he wrote it in 1953 for the folk opera “Go Lightly Stranger.”

Joan Baez’s 1962 recording is the oldest one Wiki lists. I’d assume Dylan learned it from her. Dylan had once criticized Joan Baez for sticking to Copper Kettle as part of her act for ten years, so he is probably making a personal point in doing it here.

One of the most affecting performances in the entire Dylan canon.
Clinton Heylin, Behind The Shades – Take Two, 2000)

It was the B-side of the Wigwam single, and in some countries had the sub-title (That Pale Moonlight) in brackets, thiough in neither the UK or USA.

Gotta Travel On (Paul Clayton / Larry Erlich /David Lazar /Tom Six)

There were strong songs on Self Portrait. The best tracks included a fine version of Paul Clayton’s ‘Gotta Travel On’.
Howard Sounes, Down The Highway, 2001

A skiffle group youth club favourite made famous (or at least copyrighted) by Paul Clayton.

 Dylan was taped singing it in Minnesota in May 1960, well before he met Clayton, with whom he crossed America in 1964.  The “main” Paul Clayton version that Dylan covers  starts “Done laid around …”. A much shorter version by Billy Grammer starts “I’ve laid around …” but has what sounds a bluesier bridge about a “high sheriff”. So I checked ASCAP and BMI for copyright info and didn’t turn any up at all. Does this mean that the song is in fact “traditional” rather than by Paul Clayton?   Johnny Kidd and The Pirates recorded it in the 60s, and used the same words as the Billy Grammer version (minus the “high sheriff” bit). Johnny Kidd’s version is “Traditional . Arr. Johnny Kidd.” Bill Monroe had recorded it earlier.

The tune at least was being sung back in 1927, by Ollis Martin, as Police and High Sheriff Come Riding Down.

In the early 60s the song had been recorded by Harry Belafonte (Dylan had made an early appearance playing harmonica on Belafonte’s 1961 version of Midnight Special) and most notably by Trini Lopez on the major hit album At P.J.s in 1963, featuring Mickey Jones on drums:

Trini Lopez also made a contribution to bringing folk further into the pop mainstream, the combination of folk material and danceable arrangements even foreshadowing folk-rock in some respects. Indeed, Marty Balin, founder of the Jefferson Airplane, has cited Lopez’s arrangements of folk music with electric instruments as part of his inspiration for pursuing folk-rock. It’s also interesting that Mickey Jones, after drumming on Lopez’s first Reprise hits, would be the drummer for the Hawks, the backup band for Bob Dylan’s 1966 world tour, though Levon Helm would replace Jones when the Hawks evolved into The Band.
Richie Unterberger, Collectors Choice re-release notes, 2001

Blue Moon (Lorenz Hart / Richard Rogers)     

This was mooted as a title for the album. To anyone of Dylan’s generation, The Marcels doo-wop version should have defined the rock treatment of the song once and for all (eradicating the 1949 Mel Torme version from the collective). Here Dylan attempts to take it back to its schmaltzy show tune origins. Doug Kershaw is on fiddle.

The Boxer (Paul Simon)

This is the track that aroused most anger. Dylan sings it in two voices, his old nasal one and his new deep country one. It was the first time he’d double-tracked himself. Rolling Stone was particularly two-edged in  its 1992 assessment (lesser efforts of lesser talents ). Paul Simon can hardly be described as a ‘lesser talent’ even to Dylan, and this is one of Simon’s very best songs. It had been a recent hit (UK #6, US #7) in April 1969. Dylan was taking on the best of Simon, and Simon came closer than anyone to bearing that ‘new Dylan’ tag.  I think Dylan saw something personal in the lyric (and liked it). That’s the point of the two voices, the old and the new. The Simon and Garfunkel original is pristine, beautifully sung, agonized over for months. It contains one of the earliest and most subtle uses of Moog synthesizer. Here, Dylan brings out the intrinsic power of the song by doing it very simply, if you like, throwing it away.  If I feel like hearing The Boxer I’ll go to the original, then maybe to a Paul Simon live version. But, in the context of portraying himself, this has a part to play in Dylan’s album. As Dylan was hanging out with Paul Simon at the time, I’d assume it was serious. Thirty years later they duetted on it in concert.

The Mighty Quinn (Quinn the Eskimo) (Bob Dylan)       

Live with The Band at the Isle of Wight Festival. This is the first official Dylan release of one his best basement songs, and in Britain the Manfred Mann cover had been a #1 hit, so expectations were high. It benefits from there being no basis for comparison at the time.

Take Me As I Am (B.Bryant)

Though it isn’t an Everly Brothers song, it is by Boudleaux Bryant who wrote most of the Everlys early hits, and sounds like one. It’s one of the Nashville Skyline-esque tracks from the April 1969 session.

Take A Message To Mary (F. Bryant / B.Bryant)

Another Boudleaux Bryant number, which was a hit for The Everly Brothers. It was a double A-side with Poor Jenny in April 1959. (UK #20, US #16). Poor Jenny had charted higher in Britain, Take A Message To Mary charted higher in the States. Dylan once tried to write a song for The Everly Brothers (The Fugitive aka Wanted Man) and has returned to the outlaw/ cowboy song numerous times. This was one of the best of the genre, and Dylan takes it very gently indeed. Also an early session (from May 1969).

It Hurts Me Too (Bob Dylan)

Actually by Big Bill Broonzy.
Or according to Tim Riley, by Elmore James.
Or according to a John Mayall single it’s by one ‘Mel London’,
Or according to Bob …

This was pretty well-known and a very risky one to claim full credit for. No doubt it was a financial pleasure to do so.

Archaeology time: Clinton Heylin asserts that the original was called When Things Go Wrong by Big Bill Broonzy, and that Dylan retitled it.  The only listing I can find is Broonzy’s Last Sessions in 1958. However, you can find the song on any collection of Elmore James songs as It Hurts Me Too credited to Elmore James. James recorded it twice, in 1957 and 1963 and even had a Top 30 R&B hit with it in 1965. In most blues fans minds, the song is associated with James’s guitar as strongly as Dust My Broom is.

Then again, the same song had been recorded as It Hurts Me Too by Tampa Red in 1940 with rolling piano backing by Blind John Davis (the song was credited to Tampa Red).  Tampa Red had recorded an earlier variation of the song in the ’30s  as Things ‘Bout Coming My Way.  That in its turn seems to have come partially from Sittin’ On Top Of The World by The Mississippi Sheiks which dates back to 1930. Tampa Red’s bottleneck style influenced many bluesmen, including his friend Big Bill Broonzy and Elmore James. In 1949 he re-recorded it once again as When Things Go Wrong With You on RCA Victor with Johnnie Jones on piano.

Two years after Dylan, The Grateful Dead credited it to Elmore James and Marshall Sehorn. A recent version by Corey Harris is credited to Whittaker, and one by Keb Mo  is credited to Elmore James.

Since both Broonzy and Tampa Red started recording in the 1920s, who knows the truth?… no wonder Dylan thought he might as well take the credit. It was part of the blues tradition. Whoever composed it, it’s 100% sure that Dylan didn’t. He didn’t even retitle it. Howard Sounes obviously thought it was by Dylan. He says it’s  ‘an attractive song, in which Bob sang of his concern for a lover, maybe a child.’ Er, no.

Dylan smoothes it right out, in comparison to the Elmore James version; his delivery is much more similar to Tampa Red’s version. Michael Krosgaard annotated the original Columbia sessions for a series of articles in “The Telegraph” Dylan magazine and notes it as “Tampa Red, arranged by Elmore James” which sounds fair to me. I wonder if this comes off the tape boxes or whether it’s his addition?

No one has picked up the possibility of a joke in this one – there’s a joke or at least a statement in most of these songs. This song was a British blues boom staple, played by earnest quartets and quintets at British colleges. It had been recorded by Savoy Brown, Eric Burdon, Paul Butterfield, John Hammond – a classic for the ‘Can blue men sing the whites?’ debate. As Sonny Boy Williamson had said to Robbie Robertson, ‘These  young British guys want to play the blues real bad … and they do.’

So Dylan does it with relaxed, loping acoustic bass, and finger-pickin’ guitar. A country take on the blues.

Both Sounes and Heylin single this out as one of the best things on the album.

The other 18-carat nugget, buried amid the mountain of fool’s gold that is Self Portrait.
Clinton Heylin, Behind The Shades, Take Two, 2000

Minstrel Boy (Bob Dylan)

Live with The Band at the Isle of Wight Festival

This was the only existing version of this Dylan song, and it’s by a long way the most successful of the Isle of Wight tracks, but possibly only because there’s no other version to compare it with. It’s particularly apposite in the light of the furore over his huge fee at the Isle of Wight concert, and was specially chosen. Quite possibly it was specially-written:

Who’s gonna throw that minstrel boy a coin ,
who’s gonna let it roll?
who’s gonna let it down easy to save his soul.

There’s lots of Levon Helm, Richard Manuel and Rick Danko on the chorus, a smooth  bass line, trembling piano, dragging drums, Garth Hudson magicking away behind everyone. A solo where Robbie Robertson plays the melody line. In the actual concert it came right after The Mighty Quinn. It deceives, by being artfully ramshackle (cf. The Band’s Rag Mama Rag).

The title refers to the Irish ballad Minstrel Boy:

The minstrel boy to the war has gone
In the ranks of death you will find him
His father’s sword he has girded on
And his wild harp slung behind him

While the melody is not dissimilar, it is sufficiently different … far more so than The Patriot Game and Restless Farewell.

She Belongs To Me (Bob Dylan)

Live with The Band at the Isle of Wight Festival.

This was the opening number of Dylan’s segment, and they start hopefully in spite of the sound problems that had delayed the set. It’s good to hear a live Band concert where Richard Manuel’s piano is mic’d loud enough.  The Band are on great form. It’s Dylan who sounds tired and nervous. 

Wigwam (Bob Dylan)

Wigwam: Bob Dylan, CBS single, UK, 1970

Instrumental with non-verbal vocalisations.

Wigwam is such a bromide it almost broke Top 40
Tim Riley, Hard Rain

It was a bizarre choice as the single from the album (backed with Copper Kettle), and Tim Riley wasn’t using a figure of speech –  it got to #41 in the US charts. It did even better in Canada, hitting the Top 10 compiled by a leading Toronto radio station.

gallery … Wigwam … click to enlare

Dylan is just la-la-ing, and has hit upon a nice melody. It’s almost as if he’s recording a melody with the intention of later putting lyrics to it (the opposite way to his normal process), but then couldn’t be bothered to finish it off. I like it anyway. It appears in 2001’s movie The Royal Tennenbaums, so someone else liked it.

Alberta #2 (Bob Dylan)

The alternate version.

Throughout the Nashville recording is well reproduced. Someone said of Nashville Skyline that Dylan had bought a quality home hi-fi and was recording for it rather than the car radio. Patrick Humphries made the perceptive comment that the CD era gives you the programming capability to make an effective normal extent single album out of Self Portrait. On CD it’s a single album anyway. This was mentioned as a sign that Dylan didn’t think it worth the price of a double CD, but that’s not fair. Blonde on Blonde was a single CD (until the SACD remaster). Nowadays, The Basement Tapes and More Greatest Hits, both 78 minutes long, would fit single CDs, but in the early years of CD the maximum was 74 to 76 minutes. Now it’s 80 minutes. In any case, Dylan has been adamant that Columbia have never given him any say in repackaging his work.

Reappraisal time:

Self Portrait, albeit a very minor Dylan work, has its own riches, and now that the album is well into the past, it is easier to enjoy them … Go on, admit it – even the cover painting has its virtues.
Michael Gray The Art of Bob Dylan

…Dylan’s most trashed record, even though some of it fares better than an armload of his work from the 1980s and 1990s.
Tim Riley, Hard Rain

As a personal scrapbook of the music that formed the evolution of Dylan’s genius, it’s a lot more audacious, witty and self-aware than David Bowie’s encomium Pin-Ups or John Lennon’s Rock & Roll … Today the record’s simple verities and almost total absence of ego seem far more in tune with the spirit of our times.
Nigel Williamson, Uncut Legends #1: Dylan , 2003

Personally, I always enjoyed it when Dylan did a Fuck you! to the audience. That is until Saved. That particular Fuck you! offended me deeply enough to appreciate how nearly everyone else felt about Self Portrait.

But I can think of nine worse Dylan albums at least: Saved, Real Live, Dylan and The Dead, Down in the Groove, Dylan (A Fool Such As I), Knocked Out Loaded,  MTV Unplugged, World Gone Wrong, Good As I Been To You.

(And in 2020, I can add another half dozen)

There are extensive notes on the 1973 ‘Dylan’ album linked here.


Another Self Portrait (1969-71): 4 CD de-luxe box set 2013

What an impressive detailed book with photos of lots of tape boxes to ram home the authenticity of the credits. An essay by Greil Marcus which indicates either Dylan is a forgiving man or didn’t ever read Rolling Stone in 1970.

The tape boxes give the impression that the credits are definitive. Bollocks.On CD1, Minstrel Boy credits all five Band members, including Levon Helm (drums), Garth Hudson (organ), Richard Manuel (piano). It says this is a lost Basement Tape song. I see. The thing is it only has acoustic guitar and bass guitar on it … my guess is Dylan on guitar, Rick Danko on bass. The others singing behind. It might just be Basement Tapes …or it might be showing them the song and trying out the vocals for this show. Those credits are nonsense … which questions the rest.

When the box set came out in 2013, Wigwam was reissued as in 1970 as a single. This time as an ‘unreleased demo’ coupled with Thirsty Boots.

Wigwam (unreleased demo) / Thirsty Boots (unreleased): Bob Dylan
Columbia single 2013.
The CD centre changes Columbia’s “360 Sound” logo to “359 Sound.”

CD1 and CD2

CDs 1 & 2: with replicas of late 60s British CBS sleeve, and 1970s CBS Uruguay sleeve

This is the centre of the set … and also the basic “non de-luxe” release.

Another Self Portrait began a year ago, when people in Dylan‘s office found a previously unknown two-track mix reel of Self Portrait-era material. “We were going through all the tapes at Sony,“ says a source close to the Dylan camp. “We figured that as record companies shrink, some things might get lost. We were trying to exhume everything. This tape was located under a number that would indicate it was a master, but it wasn’t. It was a mix of these songs in their raw, undiluted form.
Andy Greene, Rolling Stone, 16 July 2013

The three main categories are Self Portrait songs BEFORE Bob Johnston took them to Nashville and overdubbed them, then other cover versions which were tried out. The final category is alternate versions of Nashville Skyline and New Morning material. Outside those categories are a few odds and ends … the earlier Minstrel Boy, the session with George Harrison which resulted in Working on A Guru, and a demo version of When I Paint My Masterpiece.

The joy is mainly hearing just the duo ad trio … Bob Dylan, with David Bromberg on guitar and sometimes with Al Kooper on piano. The duo / trio did most of their work in an intense three day session. Then Bob Johnson swamped them with added bass, drums, guitars, horns and backing vocalists. That has been eradicated. We have to assume that Dylan didn’t care. The version of All The Tired Horses without overdubs – the female voices with minimal backing – indicate that was a production style that interested him.

Al Kooper: It was bizarre. He wasn’t writing any of the songs, which is an important part of a Bob Dylan album. He had a pile of Sing Out! magazines and he was taking the songs, as in the chords and lyrics, straight out of them. They were his main feed, then they pulled other things like ‘Mr. Bojanges’ and ‘The Boxer.’ I was like, ‘Yikes!’ At one point we recorded ‘Come a Little Bit Closer’ by Jay and the Americans. Hopefully nobody ever hears that.
Rolling Stone, 16 July 2013

In retrospect, songwriters Tom Paxton and Eric Andersen were very unlucky for their songs not to make either Self Portrait or 1973’s Dylan. With Self Portrait being a #1 UK, #4 US hit, they missed a major payday. Thirsty Boots was chosen as the B-side of the 2013 single, and would have been one of the best tracks if it had survived the cull in 1970.

dates are in American order on the table (3.5.70 = March 5th 1970). This is because I’d get confused re-ordering them!

titlecomposerinformationdate (US)
Went to See The GypsyBob DylanNew Morning demo3.3.70
Little SadieTrad. arr DylanSelf Portrait, no overdub3.3.70
Pretty SaroTrad.arr Dylanunreleased3.3.70
Alberta #3Trad. arr DylanAlt version, Self Portrait3.5.70
Spanish Is The Loving TongueTrad. arr Dylanunreleased solo, piano3.3.70
Annie’s GoingTo Sing Her SongTom Paxtonunreleased3.4.70
Time Passes Slowly #1Bob DylanNew Morning, alt version
George Harrison guitar
Only A HoboBob Dylanunreleased till Greatest Hits
Happy Traum banjo
Minstrel BoyBob DylanBasement Tapes, unreleased1967 (?)
I Threw It All AwayBob DylanNashville Skyline, alt version2.16.69
Railroad BillTrad.arr Dylanunreleased3.4.70
Thirsty BootsEric Andersenunreleased3.4.70
This Evening So SoonTrad. arr Dylanunreleased3.4.70
These HandsEddie Noackunreleased3.3.70
In Search of Little SadieTrad. arr DylanSelf Portrait, no overdub3.3.70
House CarpenterTrad. arr Dylanunreleased3.4.70
All The Tired HorsesBob DylanSelf Portrait, no overdub3.5.70
CD 1
title composerinformationdate
If Not For YouBob DylanNew Morning, alt version
Dylan – piano, unknown -violin
WallflowerBob DylanAlt version. Bootleg Series 1-3, 1990
Hit for Doug Sahm 1972
WigwamBob DylanSelf Portrait, no overdub3.4.70
Days of 49Trad.arr DylanSelf Portrait, no overdub3.4.70
Working On A GuruBob Dylanunreleased
George Harrison guitar
Country PieBob DylanNashville Skyline, alt version2.14.69
I’ll Be Your Baby TonightBob Dylanwith The Band, live, Isle of Wight8.31.69
Highway 61RevisitedBob Dylanwith The Band, live, Isle of Wight8.31.69
Copper KettleTrad. arr. DylanSelf Portrait, no overdub3.3.70
Bring Me A Little WaterTrad. arr Dylanunreleased, New Morning6.4.70
Sign on The WindowBob DylanNew Morning, + orchestral overdubs6.5.70
Tattle O’DayTrad. arr. Dylanunreleased3.4.70
If Dogs Run FreeBob DylanNew Morning, alt version6.5.70
New MorningBob DylanNew Morning + horn overdubs6.4.70
Went To See The GypsyBob DylanNew Morning, alt version, solo, piano6.5.70
Belle IsleTrad. arr Bob DylanSelf Portrait, no overdub3.3.70
Time Passes Slowly #2Bob DylanNew Morning, alt version6.2.70
When I Paint My MasterpieceBob DylanDemo, solo, piano3.16.71 &

While it was called Another Self Portrait he could have divided it in two because there’s a whole Another New Morning in there too. When CBS released Dylan (1973) that had more tracks done at the slightly later New Morning sessions than at the Self Portrait sessions.

It’s fascinating to hear Sign On The Window with an orchestra, and New Morning with a horn section. They were both expensive experiments to discard. The version of Went To See The Gypsy with just Dylan solo and piano is marvellous.

CD3: Live at the Isle of Wight

CDs 3 &4. The live album is in an Italian “ex-jukebox” sleeve as used for secondhand records from juke boxes. The Second Uruguay CBS sleeve contains a CD with late 60s Columbia USA design for the original album in sequence
Another Self Portrait CD3: Isle of Wight Live

Remixed and remastered 2013. With:

Robbie Robertson – guitar
Levon Helm – drums, vocal
Rick Danko – bass, vocal
Garth Hudson – organ, accordion
Richard Manuel – piano, vocal

She Belongs To Me+ The Band
I Threw It All Away+ The Band
Maggie’s Farm+ The Band
Wild Mountain Thymesolo
It Ain’t Me Babesolo
To Ramonasolo
Mr Tambourine Mansolo
I Dreamed I Saw St Augustine+ The Band
Lady Lady Lay+ The Band
Highway 61 Revisited+ The Band
One Too Many Mornings+ The Band
I Pity The Poor Immigrant+ The Band
Like A Rolling Stone+ The Band
I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight+ The Band
(Quinn The Eskimo) The Mighty Quinn+ The Band
Minstrel Boy+ The Band
Rainy Day Women #12 and #35+ The Band

I’ve heard three bootlegs of this … cassette, vinyl and CD . They ranged from piss-poor to unlistenable. The Italian CD Minstrel Boy was fairly widely available, and had a slightly different running order towards the end. I’m sure this one is right and they were wrong.

It is a revelation. I was not there on the day. We decided we’d sail out in a sailing dinghy from Poole, stop offshore and listen for free. We set off and got becalmed in Poole Bay right by the Bournemouth sewage outlet with not a whisper of wind. We could hear the low rumble of bass guitar from the Isle of Wight … an earlier set, not Dylan and The Band, but we were still many miles away. We retreated home in disgrace and hosed off the boat for a long time.

The CD has the Swinging Pig “trade mark of Quality.” However an “E” has been added … Trade Mark of Equality. Swinging Pig was the most successful bootlegging enterprise, responsible for Great White Wonder and Royal Albert Hall. A nice in-joke. I don’t suppose they asked permission to use the logo either.

The sound is SO different to the bootleg versions of Isle of Wight that I had. Stunningly so, with huge presence on bass and drums. We have read about the recording being done in a mobile truck with no view of the stage. I still don’t believe there was no communication as stated with the stage crew because we were using intercoms in 1967 between lights and backstage. It’s also not “typical 1969 festival sound” because Woodstock sounded a lot better … I know CSN overdubbed after the event, but most didn’t. Monterey Pop had the Hendrix / Redding set too. Live could sound better, so it’s not just a case of 2013 tender loving care on the remix, though there is an aspect of that.

I always felt She Belongs To Me was OK, and a B-side too so less expected, but on the 2013 release, it’s terrific. I Threw It All Away is excellent too – and is one of the Isle of Wight recordings added to CD2.

The solo set begins with Wild Mountain Thyme which I’d have chosen for the 1970 release. On the other hand, It Ain’t Me Babe will be familiar to 1990s and later audiences in bending the melody just enough to be irritating. To Ramona is great. Mr Tambourine Man … good, but not great.

The Band return for I Dreamed I Saw St Augustine and it’s a delight to hear the piano. This is the classic Band set up defined in the stereo mix… Levon’s drums at audience right, Richard Manuel’s piano at audience left. Garth Hudson’s organ behind. Robbie Robertson and Rick Danko centre. A bit of uncertainty from Bob on lyrics … nice addition of The Band chorus for the final lines. Lay Lady Lay is good.

Highway 61 Revisited is tremendous from The Band in every department … it would have been better than Like A Rolling Stone for the 1970 album. Dylan is really rocking. A notable Garth Hudson organ solo. Interestingly this is one of the two Isle of Wight tracks added to CD2 as the potential replacements for what he selected in 1970.

One Too Many Mornings is another playing around with a known song in a novel jaunty version. Garth adds to the jauntiness on accordion I assume, but as he’s on organ soon after I guess it was an organ sound, unless Richard Manuel moved to organ. They’ve worked on this … Robbie’s guitar solo is very Before The Flood. I Pity The Poor Immigrant has accordion too which truly fits the lyric. The guitar solo is hairs rising on the back of the neck stuff.

The song that still puzzles me in reappraising Self Portrait is Like A Rolling Stone. The new mix reveals it was actually a good performance opening with Rick Danko’s bass and Dylan’s guitar on their own. You can hear more of the Band joining in than on the 1970 release. They’ve been brought further up in the mix which gives it a raucous feel. That mood leads to I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight with a Basement Tape ramshackle chorus. It suits the song. But when reviewers in 1970 talked about him pissing on his best known song, they were talking about Like A Rolling Stone. It was a throwaway, careless mix, as we now know. It could surely have sounded as it does here, or is modern equipment that much better at finding what was on the tape and reproducing it?

Mighty Quinn was fine because it was the first official Dylan / Band basement song released by them. Dylan credits the hit by Manfred Mann “great group, great group.”

I always loved Minstrel Boy. Forget the “1967” attribution. I still think this was written for the Isle of Wight. Rick Danko’s bass guitar holds the entire thing. Which reminds me that the alleged “1967” version is just guitar and bass.

Rainy Day Women was always supposed to sound like this. You can’t go far wrong with Everybody Must Get Stoned at an outdoor festival. Garth Hudson’s oran is again a major improvement, as is Robbie Robertson’s continuous stinging guitar pattern. Richard Manuel is hammering the piano.

CD4: Self Portrait 1970

This is where you came in. The 1970 album intact, but remastered.

Critical re-appraisal

Let’s start with Rolling Stone since they went for the jugular in 1970:

This two-CD set of previously unissued demos, alternate takes, scrapped arrangements and discarded songs from more than 40 years ago is one of the most important, coherent and fulfilling Bob Dylan albums ever released. The performances are immediate and invigorating, often in spare, buoyant arrangements with clear, virile singing. Despite the vintage, or maybe because it’s all been hidden for so long, everything here feels like new music, busy being born and put to tape with crisp impatience. 
David Fricke, Rolling Stone, 14 August 2013

Neither the original “Self Portrait” nor this supplementary reconstitution are anything close to a masterpiece, of course, but both are worth hanging in the museum.
New Yorker 13 August 2013

Dylan’s manager, Jeff Rosen started playing me some of the Dylan-David Bromberg collaborations from Bootleg Series, Vol.10: Another Self Portrait. It’s just the two of them playing. And immediately, those songs just leapt out, they leapt out of all the overcoats that had been draped over them. You know: you suddenly saw people running through fields.
Greil Marcus, Uncut, 7 August 2013

Too many accounts of Dylan’s progress have characterised this period as a long, fallow spell in which he lost his way: in fact, aided by some of the most capable musicians he ever worked with, fascinating recordings were pouring out of him. This was not pop music. It remains for grown-ups, full of ambiguities and sadness, and a profound sense of American history. How great to hear it at last, removed from the games its author went on to play with it: a self-portrait so improved as to make the first almost irrelevant.
John Harris, The Guardian, 23 August 2013

For me, yes, it’s one of the best of the Bootleg Series. The trouble with the Live 66 and Rolling Thunder sets is there is a limit to how many times you want to hear the same songs played live in different halls.


Beatles For Sale – The Beatles
Their Satanic Majesties Request … The Rolling Stones
Speedway (and Elvis film music) – Elvis Presley
Electric Mud– Muddy Waters
Self Portrait – Bob Dylan
Byrdmaniax – The Byrds
Cahoots – The Band
Carl and The Passions- So Tough! – The Beach Boys
Wild Life – Wings
Sometime in New York City – John and Yoko / Elephant’s Memory
Recall The Beginning: A Journey From Eden … The Steve Miller Band
Hard Nose The Highway … Van Morrison
Chicago III … Chicago
Berlin– Lou Reed
Pinups – David Bowie
Death of A Ladies’ Man – Leonard Cohen
Born Again – Randy Newman
Mingus – Joni Mitchell
Everybody’s Rockin’ – Neil Young
American Dream – Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
Jefferson Airplane – Jefferson Airplane (1989)

And here’s a rule-breaker. I’d decided one album each, but Van Morrison got so much vituperation from critics (unjustly) in 2021, that I had to add it:

Latest Record Project Volume1… Van Morrison

This list will grow steadily


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