Tell Tale Signs: The Bootleg Series Vol. 8
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Customer Reviews:

  • The Good The Bad & The Ugly
    Okay let me first say that I've already commented elsewhere about the 3CD rip-off that most people are rightly feeling upset about. I have nothing more to add to that debate. This is my review of the 2CD set having listened to it repeatedly over a number of weeks now.

    I'm surprised how many people rate this 5 stars. To my ears there is some great music on hear: Mississippi, Across The Green Mountain, Can't Wait, Marchin To The City, Red River Shore, but Disc Two in particular suffers from some lacklustre and even rough, live cuts. To me these tracks are just unnecessary filler and spoil the effect of listening to some superb album left-overs, early takes or alternatively contemporary songs written for film soundtracks.

    A ragbag assortment for sure but why are there no tracks left off "Love & Theft" (my favourite Dylan album post "Empire Burlesque")? I agree with some mainstream press reviews that it is fascinating to hear some songs like "Dreaming Of You" (left off TOOM) which have lyrics which would be broken up and spread over a few of the officially released songs on the album. By the way, this track is a great song too!

    So there is a lot to like but don't be surprised if you feel a bit jaded hearing Dylan slogging his way through old chestnuts like "Cocaine Blues" for the umpteenth time. Or if you feel as though you would prefer to be listening to the studio takes. It's quite normal these days when Dylan shouts and snarls his way through live performances far more than he does ever sound passionate and caring about his own songs.

    Never mind, the good stuff is indeed great and the rough live stuff is well....ugly, but we should be grateful for small mercies.

    I'm off to hear Across The Green Mountain again. What a beautiful song and so inspiring. Too bad it was only written for a film soundtrack when it deserves a wider audience. At least here it should get just that.

    The 2 CD set is no classic compilation but if you are seriously into Dylan's music, you will definitely need to get it. Boycott Disc 3 though and send Columbia records an email telling them why!...more info
  • Bootleg Irony
    This is not a complete review of the album, but an observation. Some of the other reviews have noted the two versions of this album, the regular 2-CD version selling for about $15 and the deluxe version with a book of pictures of single jackets, a vinyl disk with two songs, and 3 CDs. The deluxe version is priced at $100+. Of the 3 CDs in the deluxe version, two of them are the same as the regular version. I grudgingly bought the deluxe version, but asked myself why would the deluxe version include more real music and not just additional padding. Also why is the price differential so crazy? The thought occurred to me that the inent (Dylan's?) was to insure that the 3rd CD in the deluxe version would actually be bootlegged. That is, people would share it with one another rather than everyone buying it. The bootleg series began as a way of releasing some tracks through official channels that had been bootlegged earlier. So the title was somewhat ironic to start with. But the current release of outtakes, alternate versions, and live tracks must contain much that has not been bootlegged. I suggest that this configuration and pricing may be intended to turn it into real bootlegged material. ...more info
  • A Must Have for Dylan and American Music Fans
    Outtakes from his latest trilogy (TOOM, "L&T" MT) and late 80's and early 90's. Mississippi is a masterpiece. Maybe the best Bootleg series release since Live: 1966....more info
  • Tell tale signs
    decent music if you`re a Bob Dylan fan.. lots of stuff i hadn`t heard before....more info
  • Startlingly Good
    I wasn't prepared for how good this cd is. Startlingly good, strong throughout, well sequenced, nary a "thowaway" in the 2 cd's. Dylan's voice is in fine form, with some of his best vocal performances ever on some of these songs, and there is stellar musicianship on several tracks. Great packaging, well-written & informative liner notes. One of the best releases of 2008. Proof that Dylan is "still relevant" after nearly a half-century of making music & a hint that some of his best work may be yet to come....more info
  • 27 songs spanning 18 years of Dylan's work
    When you open up the jewel case, you get a bit of a start. The disk has a plain white label with what looks like handwriting in red magic marker. You really feel like you're getting something different, something maybe you shouldn't get.

    On the other hand, the accompanying booklet is full-color and beautifully produced. It's one of the most attractive inserts I have even seen accompanying a disk.

    The music--that's 27 songs (some different versions of the same song) from Dylan's vaults. To me, none of this is outtakes. They're good enough to go on other artist's mainstream albums. It's just Bob....

    My only gripe--the sleeve is so tight, be careful not to rip it to get to the CDs and booklet! (What I did was carefully open the top side of the cardboard and push the booklet and jewel case through.

    Rebecca Kyle, April 2009...more info
  • Tell Tale Signs
    Tell Tale Signs was a real shock to my system. I always knew Dylan had some special vocal moments during the 90's and 00's all the way up to today, but I thought they were only captured live (like the 1996 version of Boots of Spanish Leather) or with the occasional officially released song (To make You Feel My Love from Time Out of Mind, for example). Nothing prepared me for what I was about to learn about Dylan's painfully bad judgement about which songs he decides to include on officially released albums and which ones remain on the cutting room floor. If I am ever privileged enough to have Mr Dylan ever read this review I hope he understands that I'm not trying to insult him, I just question why he has left such brilliant material off the official albums. No matter, it's released now and all is forgiven!

    Many of these songs were arranged both musically and vocally in such a way where you hear the world-weariness in the voice, guitar, harmonica, Hammond Organ and the myriad of other rich sounding instruments found in this treasure chest. This is at a time when Dylan was emerging from a creative slump for a short period (as are all his creative slumps) and he really hasn't had a creative slump since 1988 in my opinion. Oh Mercy, Under the Red Sky, Good as I Been to You and World Gone Wrong all have amazing moments in my opinion, some more than others. Of course, then there's two albums rated 5-stars in Rolling Stone Magazine (Love and Theft and Modern Times) and one rated 4-stars (Time Out of Mind) and you can take Rolling Stone's opinion however you want, but I've usually respected them, however after hearing Tell Tale Signs I think those albums should all be knocked down a star or two after considering what was cut from them.

    These albums seem to me to be a road map to reclaiming the title of "great artist" that we all know he is. I know Dylan dislikes labels but even he can't argue with that one, he sure acts like he has an ego during his shows, which he richly deserves. (I guess I've ruined my chances of ever opening for him! Hah!!) All I got to say is crank this multi-disc set (don't get the one-disc and I'm not going to get involved with the 3-disc debate!).

    If you would like to understand why I love later Dylan so much, let my new piece, Rheta's Song, help you understand. In addition, the whole concept of bootlegging music has been endless fascination for me ever since I heard Dylan's original Bootleg Series Vol 1-3. I now release my own bootlegs to my fans, and then remove them from my site after a short time just because I loved that stuff as a young budding musician, so I'm hoping my rare music will be sought after someday. The seed has to be planted sometime!

    Jeff...more info
  • Bbootleg#8 is as good as it gets
    Tell Tale Signs is Dylan at the top of his game. The versions of Mississippi are worth the price of admission. Throw in
    The instant classic Red River Shore and any true Bob fan will we over
    the moon.

    Bill Wyman in his fine book on the blues calls Dylan the greatest white blues singer of all time, and he proves that he is on Marchin' To The City. His voice on this cut is somethi g to be hold. I know he sang that nobody can sing the blues like Blind Willie McTell ( bootleg#3) but I think Bill Wyman would say that Bob comes damn close.

    Duke of Earl ...more info
  • Songs from the outskirts of Dylan's key late-period albums
    Larry "Ratso" Sloman becomes a master of the obvious in his notes that accompany this CD's 60-page booklet. Any Dylan fan, whether casual or fanatic, will recognize 1983's Infidels as a career peak, a high water mark. 1989's Oh Mercy was also critically acclaimed, but the "in between" albums...1985's Empire Burlesque, 1986's Knocked Out Loaded, 1988's Down in the Groove, as well as 1990's post-"Mercy" Under the Red Sky...have never been considered "essential."

    If you needed to hear that from me, or from Larry "Ratso" Sloman, you;re either not a Dylan fan or you haven't been paying attention to his career for the last 25 years.

    Bob had a "comeback" of sorts with 1992's Good as I Been to You, which set the stage for the trilogy that Bob doesn't acknowledge as a trilogy:

    1). Time Out of Mind

    2). "Love and Theft"

    3). Modern Times (Special Limited Edition)

    So..."Tell Tale Signs: The Bootleg Series Vol. 8" is an amalgam of unreleased and alternate tracks from Oh Mercy, Time Out Of Mind, Love and Theft and Modern Times with a few live tracks thrown in.

    I agree with the public at large regarding the price difference between the 2-CD version of this set and the "limited" 3-CD version. Buy the 2-CD version and let Bob ponder the meaning of "rip off."

    There is also considerable debate about Dylan's voice in his post-2000 "renaissance." He's adopted a phlegmatic mumble-slash-low growl which some may find endearing and others may see as a reason to grab their copy of Highway 61 Revisited or Blonde on Blonde. paraphrase a very recent quote from Ringo Starr...Bob gives you the version of Bob he decides to give you. There are unquestionably strong tracks here, and the live tracks are excellent.

    An example of the "critical divide" over Modern Bob can be found in the track commentary for the unreleased Time Out of Mind track "Red River Shore," which quotes session musician Jim Dickinson's assertion that "in leaving (it) on the cutting room floor, they left the best song off the record." It's a matter of opinion. Does the song amble or does it ramble? Depends on your viewpoint, and this will hold true for the 27 tracks (on the 2-CD version) that Bob offers up.

    On "Tell Tale Signs," your Glass 'o' Bob might be half full or half empty. As you can see, there's no shortage of five star reviews. I think it's a solid four star set. I personally prefer Dylan's Infidels period...and a lion's share of the music that preceded it...but the modern-era "trilogy," as well as the outtakes, provides plenty of quality Bob for the masses.

    And the references in the booklet to "the power of Bob's modern touring band?" Here's a novel idea. Make "The Bootleg Series Vol. 9" a 2-CD live set featuring these performers...just concert tracks, not alternates or outtakes. The audience is waiting....more info
  • Dylan's best bootleg album
    I am an "old" Dylan fan and know all his songs from the very beginning. But this bootleg series Vol. 8 is better than all what I expected. I found songs even better mixed than on the originals "Time out of mind" or "Love and theft". I am really thrilled by this album and hope we will get much more, in future....more info
  • A Real Gem
    This a fine collection of songs from a true genius. Get it, live it, love it....more info
  • Nothing, Really Nothing, to Leave Out...
    The real gems in this three-disc set are the new songs that somehow got left off official releases from the 90s and 2000s. Among Dylan's many talents is his ability in more recent years to write material that suits his vocal abilities and age, and so the raspy quality of his voice and the wisdom of his years serve him well in material such as "'Cross the Green Mountain" and "Red River Shore." Only with a genius such as Dylan is the material dismissed just as significant as that which initially gets offered to the public. ...more info
  • Dylan's unreleased stuff is awesome as usual...often better than the offical versions....
    This is another awesome adventure in the bootleg series of Bob Dylan. This one is one of the best bootleg series out there. As usual, the material that Dylan keeps off of the record is as good and sometimes better than the stuff he officially releases.

    The first alternative take of Mississippi, a song that appeared on Love and Theft although initially recorded at the Time Out of Mind sessions, is gorgeous. It's as good as the offically released version, and it many ways surprasses it. It's much more melancholy and spare, leaving Dylan's vocal to come to the fore. The 2nd alternative take of Mississippi is OK. The version of Someday Baby here is a much more atmospheric, subtly angry, and mysterious song. It's a lot better than the Modern Times version. Red River Shore was one of those unreleased tracks that obtained almost a god like reputation, and it deserves it. It's one of Dylan's most moving songs. Can't Wait and Everything is Broken are released here in alternative versions with completely different lyrics for both. Both versions are excellent, and I like the new version of Broken more than the official one. Marchin' to the City is a great, great gospel like number which eventually became Til I Fell in Love with You on Time Out of Mind. Marchin' is a much more powerful, moving song that what it became. Can't Escape from You is gorgeous. Dylan sings a lot like Tom Waits on this track, and it really works.

    There are several live tracks that are essential for any Dylan fan. The versions of Lonesome Day Blues and High Water (for Charley Patton) are much more aggressive and rockin' than the album counterparts. The version of Ring Them Bells is much more livelier than its studio counterpart, and The Girl on the Greenbriar Shore is awesome too. There's a great duet with Ralph Stanley called The Lonesome River, a great song from the "Bloomberg" sessions called Miss the Mississippi, and the addition of Cross the Green Mountain is a godsend. I've always loved this song. It's from the soundtrack to the very underrated film Gods and Generals, and now it's available on a Dylan album, so you don't have to buy the soundtrack.

    It's a testament to Bob Dylan's genius that he can take one of his songs and rework it so many ways. It's really remarkable, and it's one of the reasons he's remained such a vital artist his whole life. This is one of the best bootlegs series CD's out there, and a must for any Dylan fan.
    ...more info
  • Time to hang it up
    Dylan's voice is shot. Some of his songs remind me of a bad Leon Redbone imitation. Time to go....more info
  • tell tale signs
    My husband is a big Dylan fan and wanted me to add this purchase to an order, so I did. He's listened to it and said he really liked it. It has versions of songs he doesn't have, and one or two songs he didn't have at all (and he's got quite a collection)....more info
  • A fascinating listen, hear a master at work.
    I am not usually a completist wanting to hear everything an artist does, but these two CDs are just fascinating to hear completed alternative versions of songs released since 2000, what are presumably works in progress of songs later released with his full touring band, and unreleased new masterpieces.
    Once again Dylan shows he is the master of modern Americana without ever losing a hold on the traditons that inform his music. Every style he has used recently is here from wonderful walking blues, to western swing and even some that almost go back to the folky of the 60s with just acoustic guitar or piano.
    This is a magnificent work, by a master of modern music without parallel....more info
  • 4.5 stars... Another outstanding addition to the "Bootleg" series
    So now we are up to Volume 8 in the long running Bob Dylan "Bootleg" series, first started in 1991. The "Bootleg" series has focused on 1960s and 1970s recordings, but this release ventures in new territory, as it looks back on (broadly defined) the last 20 years of Bob Dylan.

    When listening to "The Bootleg Series, Vol. 8. Tell Tale Signs - Rare and Unreleased 1989 - 2006" (2 CDs, 27 tracks, 138 min.), the first thing that immediately strikes your attention is that unreleased and alternate tracks from 1989's "Oh Mercy" and 1997's "Time Out of Mind" cover about half this release (13 tracks, to be precise), and simply confirm how much on the top of his game Dyland was at those times. The crowning moments for me are the 2 alternate takes of "Mississippi", which kick of both CDs. While you recognize the tune, both versions are vastly different from what we would finally hear in the released studio version, and both of them are equally compelling. The gems are all over, to be honest. Check out the different versions of "Dignity", for one. Or the gorgeous "Red River Shore", another unreleased gem from the "Time Out of Mind" sessions. How could this have been left out from the proper album? There are a number of great live tracks on here as well, such as "Ring Them Bells", from the 1993 shows at the Supper Club in New York (can we get more of those, please?), and the biting "Lonesome Day Blues" (from a 2002 show in Florida). And on and on...

    In all, while this collection does not bring any of Bob Dylan's best known songs from the 60s and 70s, this is nevertheless an outstanding addition to the very rich "Bootleg" catalogue. The very fine liner notes from Rasko Sloman are a joy to read, including a tongue-in-cheek comment on each of the tracks. I've had the good fortune of catching Dylan a number of times in the last 10 years or so, mainly touring behind "Love and Theft" and "Modern Times" and his "never-ending tour" continues to confirm Dylan and his live band as one of the best touring acts around these days. Meanwhile, this "Bootleg Vol. 8" is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED....more info
  • True to Life, True To Me...(and above all, his Muse)
    "Some of us turn off the lights and we live

    In the moonlight shooting by

    Some of us scare ourselves to death in the dark

    To be where the angels fly.."
    There is only one person on this planet who could write prose so beautiful that they don't even require any music to be considered eternally lyrical.
    And that, of course, is His Bobness.
    For anyone who has recently seen him in concert, it would be all too easy to shrug off any musical output from Mr D--but don't be fooled by the 'croaking and cloaking' endless tour. THIS is the real Dylan--the mystical magician, the soulful song & dance man and the 'now you see it, now you don't' brilliant songwriter who almost single-handedly changed all the rules for all songwriters who came after him.
    There are many great moments on this 2 CD set (ignore the other, more pricey offers--those are just marketing ploys by the money boyz at Sony) but only one song here makes this entire effort not only worth having, but a requirement for anyone who appreciates the beauty of words and images that transcend time and space: Red River Shore.
    In less than 8 minutes, The Jokerman summarizes a century of Americana music, tearing down the lines between genres (country? bluegrass? folk? is there any difference in his world?) and makes it all look/sound so easy. A sad tale of a loner, a "stranger in a strange land" forever left to live without his true love, with only his memories to keep him company. "Wearing the cloak of misery" he wanders through each day, "living in the shadows of a faded past".
    Five decades into his musical journey, the Hibbing Hobo still has revelations to reveal before Revelations arrives. And on this song, and this CD set, he proves yet again that no one walking on God's green earth can string a phrase, a series of dreams or create a visual and musical universe as unique and beautiful as our boy Bobby.
    And after listening to the masterpiece of the same name, you too will wonder if "someone ever saw him here at all, except the girl, from the Red River Shore."...more info
  • Essential Listening
    If you like Dylan, you'll LOVE this!

    This is NOT just some out-takes and alternate versions. This is a gold mine of truly tasty stuff from the greatest songwriter of our time. Many of these songs I didn't know because they got lost in the mix and murk of over-production. Get this official bootleg, you'll end up going back and listening to the originals because you won't be able to believe you missed some of this stuff.

    I was SO put off by Sony's pricing policy ($100.00+ for the 3rd disc) that I almost didn't buy this. Don't let that happen. This 2-disc set is WELL worth every penny and it comes with a very nice booklet. This is a great value. Buy it!...more info
  • Essentially A New Dylan LP
    Being a long time fan of Bob,in almost all of his metamorphic transformations,I abstained from most of the previous (major label) so-called bootlegs.(I have a couple though,Rolling Thunder,etc. and an ACTUAL bootleg or two from Bleeker St.from way back when.) Getting to the point...this is essentially a brand, spanking new Dylan release, not a bootleg!!And, not to be missed!!(A necessary extension/re-affirmation of the latest, so-called "Trilogy." OUTSTANDING!The 2-C/D set is also a very nice package and a great deal for all Dylan/music fans. (the 3 cd set,unless you"re D.Trump, is just unthinkable,and unnecessary,as was meant to be.) Once again, this is really a great release (one of my favorites for the whole year,as by anybody!)Thanks Bob!...more info
  • Great CD
    All the stuff I haven't heard other words "new Dylan" how could you go wrong. Sometimes the stuff that doesn't make it to the big time is the best!!!!!...more info
  • 4 1/2 stars. High water everywhere
    Volume 8 of Bob Dylan's "Bootleg Series" presents 27 songs from 1989 onwards, most of them previously unreleased. It is not quite as revelatory as some of the previous installments, but it is nevertheless a worthy addition to the rich and vibrant musical legacy of Robert Allen Zimmermann.

    This is a collection of alternates, rarities, and live versions, which means that there are few completely "new" songs to be found. But that doesn't make "Tell Tale Signs" a waste of your time (or your money), far from it. Many of these alternates are so vastly different from the "official" versions that they seem almost like a whole other song, like the opener, a completely stripped-down "Mississippi" featuring just Dylan and an electric guitar playing subtle blues licks, the rearranged blues standard "Someday Baby", or the lean and gritty solo rendition of "Most of the Time". Just Dylan, his guitar and his harmonica, pure and undestilled.

    The casual listener may feel that this collection is lacking in variation...quite a lot of songs, especially on disc one, are set at approximately the same tempo, a lazy shuffle, and a number of them even sound like they're in the same key, which may make Dylan's vocals seem a little unvaried.
    And yes, "Signs" may require a little bit of patience. But give it a chance and it'll grow on you. Seriously, everyone with even the slightest interest in His Bobness has to fall for this beautiful, majestic "Born in Time", which, to me, at least, completely overshadows the one released twenty years ago on "Under the Red Sky". The simple piano demo of "Dignity" is much more urgent and powerful than the one from "Greatest Hits III", and I much prefer this punchy, energetic version of "Everything is Broken" to the original as well. It is leaner and meaner, with fewer instruments and a more blues vibe, freed from the sometimes rather glossy production of Dylan's 80s albums.

    Disc one ends with another highlight, a searing, fully-electric live rendition of "High Water (for Charley Patton)", all pounding drums, sizzling electric guitars and a strong, precise vocal by Dylan, who also plays the piano. And disc two opens with the second alternate take of "Mississippi", a slow, hoarsely whispered folkish version with a full band backing Dylan, followed by a real treat, a solo acoustic performance of Robert Johnson's "32-20 Blues". Dylan plays the completely authentic acoustic blues guitar riff, and lays down a magnificent, craggy vocal. And his duet with bluegrass veteran Ralph Stanley on the swinging country number "The Lonesome River" shows the incredible bredth of Dylan's talents.

    There are numerous other highlights to savour as well, like the potent mid-tempo hard rock of "God Knows", the punchy, full-band R&B-version of "Dignity", the wistful ballad "Miss the Mississippi", the spooky "Ain't Talkin'", and a tough live "Lonesome Day Blues". And don't forget the slow, moody "Cross the Green Mountain" which closes the album, an eight-minute Civil War narrative from a master lyricist.

    The sound is absolutely phenomenal all the way through, and the liner notes are nothing if not thorough (the enclosed booklet is sixty pages!). "Tell Tale Signs" is not _quite_ as amazing as some of the earlier "Bootleg" albums, but judged on its own merits this collection of outtakes and alternates is head and shoulders above most singer-songwriters' finest, most laboured-over efforts. Fans will not want to be without it....more info
  • Rocking and sizzling CDs
    I was surprised at how much I liked the bootleg CDs. I probably like the mature Dylan with the deep gravelly voice as much as, or even more than the young revolutionary Dylan. The songs are varied, some rocking, some lyrical, some filled with longing, or love. There is always the Dylan beat, the Dylan signature. I don't know exactly what this signature is because I am not a music expert, but it is here. What is also amazing about Dylan is his ability to invent different melodies to the same song (i.e., Someday, Baby; Mississippi; Dignity) and all the versions are equally appealing and stirring. These two CDs present a rich Dylan tapestery of fine melodies and rhythms. Highly recommended. ...more info
  • Dylan my man
    This was great it was the best I have heard in a long time.This was the Dylan I know and love before he got so famous and over processed. If you want to know the real Dylan this is the album for you. And for all you who think Dylan is dead think again he is more alive than most folks....more info
  • Tier One Dylan
    Tell Tale Signs is loaded with great songs, including the alternate versions.
    This version of Can't Wait is eerier and better than the previously released one. And Dreamin of You is amazing. Hard to believe it didn't make Time Out of Mind.
    The reviewers have been ecstatic about very Dylan release since Time Out of Mind. As much as a I love Dylan's work, the reviews have often been excessively glowing, particularly with regard to Modern Times. But the raves about Tell Tale Signs are deserved. ...more info