Yet just as Hallam Holland brings his sister back into the family circle, and Jean Rhys gives Bertha Mason (Mrs Rochester) a voice of her own in her novel Wide Sargasso Sea, perhaps now is the perfect time to bring this abandoned child out of the attic and take another look at it. After all, we are currently in the middle of a media blitz for the forthcoming Bootleg Series number 10, Another Self Portrait. This consists largely of out-takes from the Self Portrait and New Morning sessions - the exact same sources as Dylan. The simple fact is, while it is far from Dylan at his best, it has (like Self Portrait, which is now undergoing critical reappraisal) never been as bad as its reputation. Take it for what it is - Dylan running casually through some old folk songs and a few contemporary songs he likes by other writers - and it becomes a pleasant if unremarkable footnote to his more celebrated albums.
Now there are rumours - via an apparently premature story later withdrawn - of a career-spanning box set of all Dylan's albums (some newly remastered) plus a double CD of other previously released material, much of it currently unavailable. Details are sketchy at this stage - it is not even certain it will appear at all - but if so, it will be interesting to see whether Dylan gets included as part of the official canon, and if so, whether it will finally get a standalone CD reissue as well. I hope the rarities set comes out separately, because I have all Bob's albums already - some in multiple editions including the Original Mono Recordings box set - so it would take a lot to make me fork out US$300, the rumoured price, to get them all again. As with many things Dylan, however, everything at the moment is mixed-up confusion, all tangled up in blue.
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