While previous entries in the Alias: The Sideman Story bootleg series compiled rare and little-known Bob Dylan guest appearances from the 1960s and 1970s, this third volume features one of the biggest records of all time, the 1985 all-star charity effort "We Are the World," as well as its hipper counterpart, the anti-apartheid screed "Sun City." Despite how much the quality of Dylan's own music dipped during the 1980s, with the benefit of hindsight one realizes what a relatively high media profile he nevertheless maintained throughout the decade. He rapped, badly (on Kurtis Blow's "Street Rock"), he contributed forgettable soundtrack work (the title theme of 1986's Band of the Hand), and he teamed with fellow rock royalty to make off-the-cuff country-rock (as the Traveling Wilburys, represented here via the compilation track "Nobody's Child"). Dylan also played harmonica on Warren Zevon's comeback hit "Sentimental Hygiene," jammed with U2 on the Rattle and Hum outtake "Love Rescue Me," and backed Nanci Griffith on her cover of his "Boots of Spanish Leather." If it all seems maddening and nonsensical, consider it representative of Dylan's decade in a microcosm. And despite its flaws, this erratic set's still a more engaging listen than Knocked Out Loaded.
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