Various Artists

Dylan: Out-Takes and Adaptations -- The Later Years

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Long before Bob Dylan demonstrated his sly archival skills as a musicologist through his Theme Time radio shows, each of which featured an impressive diversity of American music from blues and R&B to folk, country, jazz, rock, pop, and rap, as well as gospel, spoken word pieces, and other fascinating bits of recording history, he was doing much the same sort of thing during the studio sessions for his various albums. Beginning with the sessions for his self-titled debut album in 1962, Dylan would frequently warm up with cover versions of songs that struck his fancy, and they’d be all over the musical map, demonstrating early his familiarity with the history of American pop music in all of its genre streams. It’s a process Dylan has stayed with throughout his career, using what came before as a springboard to creativity. This set collects the original artist versions of songs Dylan attempted in recording sessions for Shot of Love from 1981 through 2001’s Love and Theft, and it’s an impressively diverse list, ranging from Hank Williams' “Cold, Cold Heart” to Merle Travis' “Sixteen Tons,” Buddy Holly's “Listen to Me,” Woody Guthrie's “Pretty Boy Floyd,” Elizabeth Cotten's “Shake Sugaree,” and Nat King Cole's “Red Sails in the Sunset,” among others. The end result is a fun and fascinating playlist even without the Dylan connection.

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