More Blood, More Tracks is the 14th installment of Bob Dylan’s expanding Bootleg Series, gathering (in the case of the Deluxe Edition) every known take from his 1975 masterpiece, Blood on the Tracks.
At this point, Dylanites don’t need explaining what makes these releases, which have lately focused on particular periods or album sessions, so remarkable. For anyone who has heard “Tangled Up in Blue” and “Simple Twist of Fate” a hundred times over, these newly unearthed versions – which could have easily become the definitive versions were it not for the choices of Bob or others in that specific time and place – give new life and dimensionality to these already colossal songs.
Even slight differences in lyrics, tempo, instruments and emphasis allow new lines and meanings to pop out in captivating ways. A song like “Up to Me,” which didn’t make the final cut on the album, adds yet another angle to the album’s lovelorn narrative.
The greatest revelation is how most of these original takes were recorded with Dylan alone, with harmonica and acoustic guitar in hand, heightening the heartbreaking lonesomeness of the record, and increasing the long-drawn parallels to his folk-driven early material.
As with other entires in the Bootleg Series, Volume 14 is most rewarding for Dylan fans with a familiarity of the definitive document. But with or without that context, More Blood, More Tracks is a gorgeous set of recordings, and fascinating dissection of one of the greatest breakup albums of all time.
Ryan is a writer, editor and vinyl collector currently based in Los Angeles. He started Mini Music Critic in 2017.