Bob Dylan: Springtime in New York: The Bootleg Series Vol. 16 1980-1985 (Columbia/Legacy, 5 CDs). This is one of the best releases in the Dylan bootleg series. The period from 1980 to 1985 was when Dylan was recording the albums “Shot of Love,” “Infidels” and “Empire Burlesque.” The set contains 57 rare Dylan recordings, including outtakes, alternate takes, rehearsal recordings and two live performances, one of which is the only previously released track here. The alternate takes selected for the box set are different from the ones released on previous volumes of the bootleg series.

Much of the material, including all of discs three and four, are from the recording sessions for “Infidel,” when the studio band included guitarists Mark Knopfler (Dire Straits) and Mick Taylor (John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, Rolling Stones), keyboard player Alan Clark (Dire Straits) and the Jamaican rhythm section of Sly & Robbie (drummer Sly Dunbar and bassist Robbie Shakespeare), with Clydie King the featured backup singer. Disc five has recordings from the “Empire Burlesque” sessions. The first disc, which includes many unexpected song choices is mostly rehearsal tapes, while disc two consists of outtakes from the “Shot of Love” sessions.

The disc of rehearsals tapes is an almost perfect album by itself, with versions of the haunting “Senor (Tales of Yankee Power),” the upbeat “Ramona” from 1964, rockabilly guitar on “Jesus Met the Woman at the Well,” a traditional song he first performed in 1961, and the old song, “Mary of the Wild Moor,” a song about a woman freezing to death that features mandolin and autoharp. There is a bigger, early version of “Need a Woman,” and the first release of Dylan’s version of his “Let’s Keep It Between Us,” with organ, a song Bonnie Raitt recorded in 1982.

The cover songs include Shel Silverstein’s “A Couple More Years,” Junior Parker’s “Mystery Train” (the only outtake on disc one, with fuzzy guitar, piano and Ringo Starr on drums), Bill LaBounty’s “This Night Won’t Last Forever,” an energetic version of Dave Mason’s “We Just Disagree,” slow covers of “Sweet Caroline” and “Fever,” and “Abraham, Martin and John.” stripped bare and performed as a duet with King.

Disc two turns to 10 outtakes from the “Shot of Love” sessions, plus an alternate mix of the album’s “Lenny Bruce,” which comes across more mournful. There is an earlier version of “Angelina” and a rollicking “Price of Love” in its only recording. Another song here in its only recording is “Borrowed Time,” while “Don’t Ever Take Yourself Away,” which has a Caribbean feel, is unfinished. Fine covers are “Let It Be Me,” done as a duet with King and stripped down to almost a prayer, and Hank Williams’ “Cold, Cold Heart.” (An Elvis Presley connection surfaces several times.)

The third disc turns its attention to “Infidel,” with four alternate versions and six outtakes, including the original master track of “Jokerman,” without all the album version’s overdubs. There are two early tries of “Don’t Fall Apart on Me Tonight,” with Dylan sounding lost as much as the woman he is singing about on the slower first version. The second take is faster and sung in a higher register. This, by the way, is one of the three songs in this collection that Chrissie Hynde selects for her Dylan covers album, reviewed below. Another is “Blind Willie McTell,” which, despite being quite good here, Dylan abandoned. Dylan tackles a Frank Sinatra recording, “This Was My Love,” but adds Mexican guitar to the ballad. There are two versions of “Too Late” – an acoustic one and a band one – which became the electric “Foot of Pride” two days later. These are two of the many instances throughout the set that show Dylan working on songs and composing as he recorded.

Disc four is more “Infidel,” with eight outtakes and three alternate versions, the latter including an intimate “Sweetheart Like You.” A piano-led cover of “Green, Green Grass of Home” is a duet with King, who wails some backing vocals on a cover of Jimmy Reed’s “Baby What You Want Me to Do.” “Jules and Ethel,” about the Rosenbergs, accused spies, rocks, while Dylan sings a cover of Willie Nelson’s “Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground” by himself, whereas the international single version was a duet with King. One of the alternate takes is the fast blues of “Union Sundown,” which is about the dehumanizing of globalization, while “Tell Me” is a song that went unused. Knopfler’s distinctive guitar style can be heard throughout discs three and four, but especially on the faster take of “I and I” here.

“Empire Burlesque” is featured on the fifth disc, with six of the eight alternate versions being more stripped down, without the final album’s production sheen or overdubs. Highlights include the rocker “Tight Connection to My Heart,” with the same band as for the “Infidel” sessions, and “Seeing the Real You at Last” with the Heartbreakers’ Mike Campbell on guitar. Ron Wood (Rolling Stones) plays guitar on the thrashing “Clean Cut Kid,” another highlight. There is a sincere pop song in “Emotionally Yours,” the fun unreleased ‘50s-ish rocker “Straight A’s in Love” (also with Campbell) and two members of the E Street Band – guitarist Stevie Van Zandt and pianist Roy Bittan – are on both the slow and fast versions of “When the Night Comes Falling from the Sky.” The set concludes with a nearly 12-minute “New Danville Girl,” co-written with actor/playwright Sam Shepard (he was part of Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue) and about movies and memories, and Dylan’s solo acoustic “Dark Eyes.”

In addition to the 5CD box set, which includes two hardcover books with musician credits, liner notes on each track, memorabilia and photos, there also are a 2CD and a 2LP highlight versions. Grade: A+

Chrissie Hynde: Standing in the Doorway – Chrissie Hynde Sings Bob Dylan (BMG CD). Pretenders’ singer-songwriter Hynde has stated she was in a “quasi-emotional coma” due to last year’s pandemic lockdown, but then became inspired when Bob Dylan released his epic, 16+-minute “Murder Most Foul.” The result was that she and the band’s guitarist, James Walbourne, began begin doing covers of Dylan songs, recording their parts separately and sending them to each other. That led to this fine album in which they give nine selected Dylan songs, mostly from the 1980s, a pared-back reworking.

Hynde actually is known for her well-chosen covers – the Pretenders’ first single was a cover of The Kinks’ “Stop Your Sobbing” – and she long has liked Dylan’s songs. She performed “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue” with him onstage at Wembley Stadium in 1984 and sang a gospel-tinged rendition of “I Shall Be Released” at Dylan’s 30th anniversary concert in 1991. She has sung “Property of Jesus” on her solo tours, and “Forever Young” was added to the Pretenders’ set list only a few years ago.

Hynde and Walbourne chose less obvious fare here, including three songs included in the above-reviewed new Dylan bootleg series set. They are “Sweetheart Like You,” a somewhat sexist song from 1983’s “Infidels” (“You know a woman like you should be at home, that’s where you belong,” but the chorus is, “What’s a sweetheart like you doing in a dump like this?”); “Don’t Fall Apart on Me Tonight,” with an easy, gospel-rock vibe in place of Dylan’s Sly & Robbie–driven reggae rhythms; and “Blind Willie McTell,” the brooding outtake that ties America’s history of slavery with the blues. Walbourne plays piano, harmonium, acoustic guitar and mandolin on the latter.

For the breakup drama of “You’re a Big Girl Now,” Hynde replaces the jazziness of the original on “Blood on the Tracks” with acoustic guitar and sings the lyrics with knowing sarcasm. She also replaces the harmonica solo with church organ. Her take on “Standing in the Doorway,” a moody song from Dylan’s 1997 comeback album, “Time Out of Mind,” keeps the ethereal throwback vibe of Dylan’s recording. Probably the most familiar song is “Tomorrow is a Long Time,” which Dylan first recorded live in 1963, Elvis Presley covered in 1966 and which first appeared on Dylan’s “Greatest Hits Vol. 2” album. There are bird sounds over the instrumental ending of “Love Minus Zero/No Limit.” Grade: A

Billy Idol: The Roadside EP (Dark Horse CD). First off, it is great to hear new music from Idol and longtime collaborator/guitarist Steve Stevens. Second, it is great to see George Harrison’s Dark Horse label revived. Sadly, there are only four songs here, all written by Idol and Stevens with others, including producer Butch Walker (Weezer, Green Day) on two.

The disc opens with the rousing rocker “Rita Hayworth,” which literally opens with a purr. Idol’s vocal drips with attitude, as it always has, and there is some late guitar shredding by Stevens. The EP’s first single, “Bitter Taste,” has acoustic guitar and piano high in the mix. The backing vocals often serve as an echo of Idol’s vocal. It is a gothic meditation on life, death and fate, as Idol wonders why he survived his near-fatal 1990 motorcycle accident. The chorus repeats the lines, “Hello, goodbye. There’s a million ways to die. Should have left me way back by the roadside.” It seems the song is part death wish, part existential meditation and part survivor’s guilt.

There’s some Prince influence in “U Don’t Have to Kiss Me Like That,” from the use of “U” to the female backing vocals to the funky sound. The track has a wild ending. Finally, there is the “big” ballad “Baby Put Your Clothes Back On,” which has Idol in crooning mode. The song has a nice melody. Now, with a rebel yell, we want more, more, more from Idol and Stevens. Grade: B+

Avey Grouws Band: Tell Tale Heart (Navy House CD). This is the second album for the band, after last year’s “The Devil May Care,” which reached No. 10 on the Billboard Blues Album Chart and received a BBMA nomination for best debut album by a new artist, as well as being nominated for four Independent Blues Awards.

The new album shows the group as a good party band. The band consists of vocalist/songwriter Jeni Grouws, guitarist/songwriter Chris Avey, drummer Bryan West, bassist Randy Leasman and keyboardist Nick Vasquez. Grouws sings nine of the 10 originals by herself, while the playful finale, “Eye to Eye,” is a duet with Avey. Several of the songs are influenced by the recent pandemic lockdown.

The album opens with the blues rock of “Love Raining Down,” a hopeful song with a lot of bounce. “There for Me” slows things down, but is nice. It has another positive message, as Grouws sings her gratefulness for the female friends who helped her during the pandemic and the thousands of online viewers who watched the band’s 102 performances that were streamed live during the past two years.

On the other hand, “Bad, Bad Year” acknowledges what was not good and talks about not getting along. The blues track has a dramatic opening and a fine guitar solo. “Hanging Around is more pop, trending towards alternative rock. Next is the bluesy power ballad, title track, about an unfaithful love. Mistrust of a lover also surfaces in the rocker “Heart’s Playing Tricks,” which is full of suspicion of infidelity.

Showing the band’s variety, there is a 7-minute instrumental, “Mariana,” in which the guitar becomes the track’s voice, particularly on the stark opening. “Daylight” is an acoustic ballad, in which Grouws sings about the aftermath of a restless night. “We’re Gonna Roll” is back to funky rock, and about being tired of staying home during the pandemic. Grade: B+