Bob Dylan - Self Portrait (1970)

Although critics at the time loathed this recording. Bob Dylan's "Self portrait" circa 1970 I found very undervalued. I guess that's a good thing, because 37 years later, it can now be applauded for it's alt- country rock cowboy vibe sensibilities. A sound that Dylan had introduced a year earlier on Nashville Skyline.

Self Portrait is Bob Dylan's 10th studio album, released in in 1970.

Seen by some as intentionally surreal and even satirical at times, Self Portrait was given extremely poor reviews upon release. The most memorable reaction was Greil Marcus' opening sentence in his Rolling Stone review: "What is this shit?"

Rock critics Jimmy Guterman and Owen O'Donnell, writing in their 1991 book The Worst Rock and Roll Records of All Time, listed Self-Portrait as the third worst rock album ever, with only Lou Reed's experimental Metal Machine Music and Elvis Presley's concert byplay album Having Fun With Elvis On Stage faring worse.

Which leads one to ask. " where the fuck are Jimmy Guterman, Owen O'Donnell, Greil Marcus these days, and what the fuck did they ever to do. " ...So don't put too much stock into what these creative-LESS people have to say. It's a great album. Just listen to "All the Tired Horses"...it's a wonderful song.

...but then again...Greil Marcus is the same man that said "Elvis Presley has been more important dead than alive."
PA-LEASE!... you don't have to go ask John and Paul who they were listening too, before they started writting songs.

Track listing

1. "All the Tired Horses" (Dylan) – 3:12
2. "Alberta #1" (Trad. Arr. Dylan) – 2:57
3. "I Forgot More Than You'll Ever Know" (Cecil A. Null) – 2:23
4. "Days of '49" (Lomax/Lomax/Warner) – 5:27
5. "Early Morning Rain" (Gordon Lightfoot) – 3:34
6. "In Search of Little Sadie" (Trad. Arr.Dylan) – 2:27
7. "Let It Be Me" (Gilbert Becaud/M. Curtis/Pierre Delanoe) – 3:00
8. "Little Sadie" (Trad. Arr. Dylan) – 2:00
9. "Woogie Boogie" (Dylan) – 2:06
10. "Belle Isle" (Trad. Arr. Dylan) – 2:30
11. "Living the Blues" (Dylan) – 2:42
12. "Like a Rolling Stone" (Dylan) – 5:18
* Recorded live August 31, 1969 at the Isle of Wight Festival.
13. "Copper Kettle (The Pale Moonlight)" (Alfred Frank Beddoe) – 3:34
14. "Gotta Travel On" (Paul Clayton/Larry Ehrlich/David Lazar/Tom Six) –
15. "Blue Moon" (Lorenz Hart/Richard Rodgers) – 2:29
16. "The Boxer" (Paul Simon) – 2:48
17. "The Mighty Quinn (Quinn the Eskimo)" (Dylan) – 2:48
* Recorded live August 31, 1969 at the Isle of Wight Festival.
18. "Take Me as I Am (Or Let Me Go)" (Boudleaux Bryant) – 3:03
19. "Take a Message to Mary" (Felice Bryant/Boudleaux Bryant) – 2:46
20. "It Hurts Me Too" (Trad. Arr. Dylan) – 3:15
21. "Minstrel Boy" (Dylan) – 3:32
* Recorded live August 31, 1969 at the Isle of Wight Festival.
22. "She Belongs to Me" (Dylan) – 2:43
* Recorded live August 31, 1969 at the Isle of Wight Festival.
23. "Wigwam" (Dylan) – 3:09
24. "Alberta #2" (Trad. Arr. Dylan) – 3:12

* Byron Bach - Cello
* Brenton Banks - Violin
* George Binkley III - Violin
* Norman Blake - Guitar
* David Bromberg - Guitar, Dobro, Bass
* Albert Wynn Butler - Clarinet, Saxophone
* Kenneth A. Buttrey - Drums, Percussion
* Fred Carter Jr. - Guitar
* Marvin Chantry - Viola
* Ron Cornelius - Guitar
* Charlie Daniels - Bass, Guitar
* Rick Danko - Bass, Vocals
* Pete Drake - Steel Guitar
* Bob Dylan - Guitar, Harmonica, Keyboards, Vocals
* Delores Edgin - Vocals
* Fred Foster - Guitar
* Solie Fott - Violin, Viola
* Bubba Fowler - Guitar
* Dennis Good - Trombone
* Emanuel Green - Violin
* Hilda Harris - Vocals
* Levon Helm - Mandolin, Drums, Vocals
* Freddie Hill - Trumpet
* Karl Himmel - Clarinet, Saxophone, Trombone
* Garth Hudson - Keyboards
* Lilian Hunt - Violin
* Bob Johnston - Producer
* Martin Katahn - Violin
* Doug Kershaw - Violin
* Al Kooper - Guitar, Horn, Keyboards
* Sheldon Kurland - Violin
* Richard Manuel - Piano, Vocals
* Martha McCrory - Cello
* Charlie McCoy - Guitar, Bass, Harmonica, Vibes
* Barry McDonald - Violin
* Ollie Mitchell - Trumpet
* Carol Montgomery - Vocals
* Bob Moore - Bass
* Gene A. Mullins - Baritone Horn
* Joe Osborn - Guitar, Bass
* June Page - Vocals
* Rex Peer - Trombone
* Bill Pursell - Piano
* Robbie Robertson - Guitar, Vocals
* Albertine Robinson - Vocals
* Al Rogers - Drums
* Frank Smith - Trombone
* Maretha Stewart - Vocals
* Gary Van Osdale - Viola
* Bill Walker - Arrangements
* Bob Wilson - Organ, Piano
* Stu Woods - Bass



pass: mud


Anonymous said...

This is a good posting and I think it's always interesting to read how an album was reviewed at the time it was released. I remember the panning "Self Portrait" got very well and those opinions were widely held. Some albums wear better over time than others and maybe this is one of them. However I think you should be careful assuming that someone like Greil Marcus has no right to voice his opinion. You ask where these people are now – well Marcus is now among the most highly regarded cultural commentators in American writing with several important books to his credit. His writings on both Dylan and Elvis (and many others) are landmark studies of great insight and understanding of their subjects. His ability to place these artists in the broader context of US cultural history is greatly admired and hugely extends the framework in which popular music and those who make it is discussed. His work can't be dismissed on the basis of a one-line quote where a little more reading might put it into better context. But like I say, a good posting on a good blog ... Small Faces, terrific, and nice background notes on that one.

Anonymous said...

Oh, my no. I love Dylan but this album is at best a complete mess. The version of "Like A Rolling Stone" is a disgrace. I can't say Dylan was drunk at the time, I can only hope he was. "In Search Of Little Sadie" is unbearable. The cover versions are all karaoke Dylan. Ringo could do better, you could do better, he could do better. "Days Of '49" is so mind numbingly boring that it took me ages just to bother to listening to the lyrics. Which aren't worth listening to. As Dylan says in the middle, "Oh my goodness!"

On the plus side...yes, I like "All The Tired Horses" (best thing on LP), the "Alberta"s, "Woogie Boogie", "Living The Blues", "Copper Kettle" and maybe a couple of others. But if someone took this album away from me, would I pine for any of the songs? Maybe "Horses". That's it.

It does sound like Dylan was putting out his own bootleg LP, as he once said. Maybe he was being pressured to release an LP. Definitely he was lacking inspiration. Its hard to put oneself in the mindset of an artist who would release "Self Portrait"

Anonymous said...