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Bob Dylan - The Bootleg Series Vol. 11: The Complete Basement Tapes


Josh Hurst
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Oh yes. What we've been waiting for.

Did George Clinton ever get a permit for the Mothership, or did he get Snoop Dogg to fetch one two decades late?

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  • 1 month later...

 

They're just killing me with these leaks.

 

Even the tambourine on "Edge of the Ocean" somehow sounds like the greatest thing I've ever heard.

 

And I would buy the entire six-disc set for this amazing "One Too Many Mornings." Really I would.

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Andy Whitman on Facebook:

 

 

Well, I'll be the curmudgeon.

Today is the day that The Complete Basement Tapes - all 6 CDs and 138 songs - is released as Volume 11 of Bob Dylan's Bootleg Series. I love Bob Dylan. I love The Band, Dylan's worthy compatriots on this 1967 effort. I certainly love the original release of The Basement Tapes, a modest 2-album set originally released in 1975.

But even when you're the greatest songwriter of the rock 'n roll era, and one of the greatest ensembles of the rock 'n roll era, farting around in the basement is still farting around in the basement. There's a reason why much of this material hasn't been released for the first 47 years of its existence. This song, which was on the original release, explains why.

 

 

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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Joe Henry on his official Facebook page this afternoon:

 

 

IMPRESSIONS OF "THE BASEMENT TAPES COMPLETE.
“You don’t have to take this one, Garth…you’re just wasting tape,” says a 26-year-old Bob Dylan to one Mr. Hudson, in a house in the woods in upstate New York, in the fall of 1967, in the midst of a melancholy run-through of “Hills of Mexico,” a song it seems the singer likely first heard as “Buffalo Skinners” from Jack Elliot –who’d himself adapted it from the dying mentor of both, Woody Guthrie.

This flash of a song and a moment –broken off before the end of a first verse-- does not resume.

We still hear it, though, near the top of disc three, in the just-released sprawling box set called The Basement Tapes Complete. And though many have been seduced over decades –nay, invited by their creator— into dismissing these recordings as merely demonstration reels for a publisher’s archives, that doesn’t explain the dozens of songs (and the multiple takes of many of them) for which the expenditure of tape was deemed worthy: covers of old cowboy laments, honky-tonk country ballads, early rock and roll and R&B fare, and gospel- and Mayfield-styled re-workings of several of the singer’s own first seminal songs that had, obviously, already been well documented: all shot through with quite serious laughter and delivered with a palpably spooked devotion.

Midway through this collection the game gets tumbled, as new songs in various stages of development come to the floor and dominate —are conjured and playfully wrestled like a long-dead cousin called up at a séance. There is clearly more driving these collaborative sessions than mere documentation; and anyone who thrilled to the quiet revelations of last year’s installment of the on-going Bootleg Series, Another Self-portrait, won’t miss it: as a man works not only to shake off the chaos of the past few years –the endless miles and cloying demands of self-inflicted stardom, all fueled by copious combinations of dope and adrenalin and a maddeningly relentless and arrogant imagination— but to reconnect himself to the map and mythology and the power and wonder and mystery that is song: when a few strange verses floating along melodies of both child-like simplicity and shocking beauty stand above any author or singer like saints upon a grim altar; like a compass hauled up from a sunken ship, still offering spinning and confusing direction.

It is a bit shocking to be reminded that at this juncture the artist, still in his mid-twenties, has already passed through three significant creative phases: from bumpkin to cunning shape-shifter; from Guthrie acolyte to new-era prophet, to the first untouchable and unapproachable post-Presley rock star; producing seven albums --many of them game-changers-- and all within the course of a mere four years of public life.

Though we can easily see now how he arrived here in the proverbial and literal basement –and understand in retrospect its foreshadowing of many things to come— there really is nothing else like this music in the body of Bob Dylan’s complete works to date; nothing else that speaks with such sad authority or with such spirited abandon.

And there is nothing else that sings with such knowing reverence for the past –even as it cracks open like an ancient lightening-struck tree that stands burning alone in the quiet of a dark woods: hollowed-out and ready to be re-animated by the wild life already preparing to take it over and start life anew.

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  • 1 month later...

I received this most beautiful set for Christmas; as expected, it is a treasure trove.

 

Even if it existed only to finally give us an official rendering of "All You Have to Do is Dream," or a decent-quality version of Bob's "Big River" performance, it would be essential.

 

One thing that I love about it is its sense of narrative. It moves from warming-up and goofing around (the first two discs, roughly) to the gang really digging in and getting to work-- and when that shift happens, this thing becomes completely gripping and revelatory.

 

One of the revelations is that the official, two-disc Basement Tapes set is... really pretty excellent. Robbie Robertson chose the best takes, and for the most part he picked the best songs. There is plenty of stuff on the complete set that I love-- and "All You Have to Do..." is probably my favorite thing from these sessions-- but this big box makes it clear that what was released in 1975 was selected judiciously. The big box expands and recontextualizes our understanding of the 1975 album, but it doesn't replace the 1975 album.

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