Bob Dylan, The Genuine Complete Basement Tapes, is Coming
While you were sleeping, an announcement, if you could call it that, has slid out into the internet. Dropped quietly, like the proverbial pebble in a pond, it will hit you like a stormy sea-wave once you’re fully awake. Now available for preorder, and to be released on November 4, is a complete, remastered recording of The Basement Tapes.
Once upon a time, the word-of-mouth legend of recordings from the Catskill woods, done in 1967, began a subterranean, homesick quest for scratchy, broken songs to listen to. Bob Dylan, Robbie Robertson, Levon Helm, Garth Hudson, Richard Manuel and Rick Danko, making music with each other the way folks had for generations on the front porch — we all wanted to be there, drinking something good from a jar, listening, singing along on the choruses. “Great White Wonder” snuck out in 1969 and still gets around. “The Genuine Basement Tapes” has made fans of Dylan and The Band happy for years. Almost 40 years ago, “The Basement Tapes” was an official version of sixteen of the Tapes tracks, plus new songs by The Band without Bob. What about it, though? Were we ever going to hear those midnight and afternoon and early-morning celebrations from Big Pink in all their raging glory?
Yes. Here is the announcement of what’s coming at you in just over two months, via Amazon: “The Basement Tapes Complete brings together, for the first time ever, every salvageable recording from the tapes including recently discovered early gems recorded in the “Red Room” of Dylan’s home in upstate New York. Garth Hudson worked closely with Canadian music archivist and producer Jan Haust to restore the deteriorating tapes to pristine sound, with much of this music preserved digitally for the first time. The decision was made to present The Basement Tapes Complete as intact as possible. Also, unlike the official 1975 release, these performances are presented as close as possible to the way they were originally recorded and sounded back in the summer of 1967. The tracks on The Basement Tapes Complete run in mostly chronological order based on Garth Hudson’s numbering system.”
Well, glory be. Thank you, Garth Hudson and Jan Haust. Six discs with over twenty tracks on each — classics and covers and folk tunes and sea chanteys and silly little ditties and brand-new, back then, Dylan songs in early, perhaps first, versions. “My Bucket’s Got A Hole In It.” “Folsom Prison Blues.” “Cool Water.” “Joshua Gone Barbados” (a very long song, as Dylan notes). “Bonnie Ship The Diamond.” “I Shall Be Released.” “This Wheel’s On Fire.” Get ready, get set, and rejoice.
* image of Bob Dylan in Woodstock and cover of The Basement Tapes Compete, Bootleg Series Vol. 11 by Elliott Landy. © Sony Music Entertainment 2014