Aside from (maybe) The Dead, no other artists’ fans have been more rabid about collecting every scrap of recorded music put out by that musician than Bob Dylan’s acolytes. Ever since his label started releasing their Bootleg Series in 1991 – mainly comprised of outtakes, demos and live recordings, many that had never been heard outside of Dylan’s circle – fans have been speculating about the existence of more songs from his storied 1967 sessions with The Band. The songs were worked on in the famous pink house in upstate New York, while Dylan was recuperating from a motorcycle accident and the music world was left wondering if he would ever return.
The songs that make it onto this collection (138 tracks on the 6-Disc deluxe edition) were found on tapes that surfaced just a few years ago and have been restored. The music here seem pretty removed from the 24-track Basement Tapes album from these same sessions that came out in 1975, a much more polished, cohesive collection. But that is part of the appeal of this massive haul – you get a much stronger sense of what the moods were like in the house. Slightly unpolished, but still brilliant, just about any one of these songs here sound like they were ready for a proper release without too much more production. There are plenty of covers here as well, from standard folk and country songs like “My Bucket’s Got a Hole in It” (made popular by Hank Williams) to Johnny Cash’s “Big River” and “Folsom Prison Blues”.
While there is also a two-disc version that offers highlights from this set, the deluxe edition – which comes with a 120-page bound book of photos and other memorabilia – is well worth the price and almost justifies the 40-plus year wait. Can’t wait to see how the Bootleg Series plans to top this release.
Bob Dylan and The Band – The Basement Tapes Complete: The Bootleg Series Vol. 11 [Deluxe Edition]/6 CDs/Legacy Records/2014