Bob Dylan once dismissed his 1970 album Self Portrait as a joke. But newly released recordings from that era suggest that something serious was going on in the singer’s mind”I don’t know if I should keep playing this. Nobody’s calling in and saying they want to hear it or anything … usually when something like this happens people say, ‘Hey, the new Dylan album,’ but not tonight.” The words are those of an unspecified radio DJ, quoted in a 1970 Rolling Stone review of the album Self Portrait, a collection of 24 pieces of music that completely confounded its audience. The writer was Greil Marcus, who would go on to write some of the best commentary and criticism about Bob Dylan and his art, and whose opening sentence on this occasion eventually made his piece the most famous record review ever written: “What is this shit?”All musical oeuvres contain duds. Plenty of musicians fall into phases where such things are all they can produce. This was Dylan’s fate for much of the 1980s, as owners of such albums as Empire Burlesque and Down in the Groove will know. Self Portrait, though, is rather different: this was a deliberately bad record, …read more

Via: The Guardian | Books