My copy of Bob Dylan and the Band’s Basement Tapes Complete arrived today. I’m currently ripping disc 4 onto my computer. I’m also in the middle of listening to track 5 on disc 1, “Belshazzar.” I am almost apoplectic with glee right now. (Yeah, that might be physically impossible, but I’m working on accomplishing it.)
Just switched to “I Forgot to Remember to Forget.” A lot of the tracks are covers of old Folk and Country classics, which might be why Robbie Robertson weeded them out on the truncated 1975 release. He probably wanted to showcase as much of the original stuff as possible, not to mention showcase the Band’s contributions as much as Dylan’s. I get that. But his curating led to all this amazing music being kept out of circulation. Well, legal circulation, anyway. The bootlegs of these recordings have been bouncing around almost since they were recorded. But this is the first official release of everything, with all the commensurate bells and whistles.
Among those bells and whistles are some amazing pictures and essays packaged in hardcover. They did their best to make this set worth the price tag. (Amazon ended up charging me about $30 less than the original list price, but it’s still more than a hundred bucks for everything.) Frankly, I’m so happy right now I could just spit. It might be enough to keep my mind off of politics tonight.
I’m not including a clip. I searched YouTube, but every title that matched one of these terrific tracks was “not available in your country.” I’m sure it’s available for streaming somewhere, so if you can’t pony up the bucks, you should probably be able to listen to it. I’d look it up, but I just want to get back to the music.
Glory be to all music fans today! We have reached the promised land! I read in my new issue of Rolling Stone today that Bob Dylan will be releasing the complete recordings from his sessions with the Band in Woodstock in the late 60s. Known as the Basement Tapes, they have long been one of the most sought after Dylan/Band bootlegs. These sessions were the crucible that helped form the musical identity of the Band, and are believed to contain some of the greatest, loosest, most freewheeling music ever.
After I finished keening incoherently*, I ran to the computer and pre-ordered my copy at Amazon. For anyone so inclined and with the bucks, the set is called The Basement Tapes Complete: Bootleg Series, Volume 11. It’s part of a long running series of Dylan recordings that have previously only been available as bootlegs. He’s basically been raiding the vaults in between making new music that sounds as vital as anything else he’s ever done. (Except for that damn Christmas album he released a few years ago. What the hell was he thinking?)
Back in 1975, a handful of the songs from those sessions was released as The Basement Tapes, compiled and produced by Robbie Robertson. If you’ve ever heard any of those songs you know what treasures there must be in this new release. “You Ain’t Going Nowhere” was one of the songs on the ’75 release, and it’s one I’ve always enjoyed. I’m seriously looking forward to hearing the complete thing, fully restored and remastered. Really, I never thought this day would ever come. Now I just have to hold on until November 4th.
*Seriously. It came out like a high-pitched moan. I may also have rocked back and forth like a traumatized Bart Simpson and trembled a little.