ALBUM REVIEW: Bob Dylan – Fragments – Time Out Of Mind Sessions (1996 – 1997) The Bootleg Series Vol. 17

4.5 rating
Bob Dylan

Time Out of Mind upon its release in 1997 was the first album of original songs since the poorly received Under the Red Sky seven years earlier. Time Out of Mind, received impressive reviews and won a Grammy, became a staple alongside Blonde on Blonde and Blood on the Tracks. A five-disc collection has been issued to pay homage to this release.

The first contains all eleven songs in their entirety. The key difference is with Michael Brauer’s remixes, Time Out of Mind producer Daniel Lanois‘ work is “stripped back” to reveal Dylan’s’ “nuanced phrasings in all their razor-edged authenticity”.

With no significant reinterpretations, there is seldom a risk of a sense of betrayal by traditionalists that Brauer’s work insults the flawless Lanois-produced original. Instead, this bootleg release across 60 tracks need to be assessed on how well it tells the story making Time Out of Mind. Things did not initially go to plan. In August 1996, Dylan went to the Oxnard Studio, Teatro but felt that with this studio, a former Mexican theatre being too close to his Malibu home, he became too easily distracted, as a result, Bob decided in January 1997 to relocate to 2800 miles east to the Criteria Studio in Miami. The outtakes from the Criteria Studio are more developed and fluid than those from Teatro.

Naturally, the Teatro and Criteria outtakes do not outmanoeuvre the final polished product but they give fly-on-the-wall access to a master at work constructing and refining his work. The finished songs could have taken various different forms. We hear the original versions of songs “Mississippi” and “Red River Shore“ rejected by Lanois which would later be released on Dylan’s 2001 subsequent Love and Theft LP. “Not Dark Yet” was initially not as dark as the finished product that has haunting civil war drums. “Love Sick” and “Cold Iron Bounds” were originally performed with additional verses and “Make You Feel My Love”, covered by Adele initially had the word “blowing” instead of “drifting” to describe how the rain is making contact with Bob’s lovers face.

Despite creative and studio changes, one positive factor that new original songs and poetry had returned to Dylan was the absence of cover versions in the two studios. In fact, just one cover version, the Scottish ballad “The Water is Wide” which Bob had previously sung with Joan Baez was recorded at Oxnard.

The greatest misconception this collection addresses is that Dylan, whilst he analyses death, views it in generic terms as opposed to his own personal mortality. When Dylan recorded Time Out of Mind, he was in good health. It was following these recording sessions that Bob was hospitalised with inflammation of the saclike tissue around the heart better known as histoplasmosis pericarditis, which forced him to cancel a tour with Van Morrison. With Dylan’s hospital admission making the headlines when Time Out of Mind was released several months later, the press and some reviewers linked Time Out of Mind death analogies being influenced by Bob’s hospital admission.

The remaining discs are devoted to Time Out of Mind songs performed live. The inclusion of live performances from America, Argentina, England, Norway and Australia is a testament to the international acclaim Time Out of Mind received. The only way they could bring the whole story of the Time Out of Mind LP together was to include material previously released on this release

Two ingredients vital to an artist’s legacy are quantity and quality. Across Fragments, the listener will delight in experiencing both. Bob’s legacy and continued cultural relevance are more than safely secured with this release.

 

Xsnoize Author
Michael Barron 284 Articles
Michael first began writing whilst studying at university; reviewing the latest releases and live gigs. He has since contributed to the Fortean Times as well as other publications. Michael’s musical tastes vary from Indie to psychedelic, folk and dubstep.

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