Thought You’d Heard All Of The Basement Tapes? Think Again!

What an incredible body of work Dylan has put out, and he (or his record company) continues to do so at an ever-increasing rate, both new material and, with the Bootleg Series, a large archive of previously unreleased music. And for fans, almost all of it is precious in one way or another.

The Basement Tapes

Marjorie and I fell in love with the original Basement Tapes when we got the album way back just a few years after it was finally released on LP, a staggering eight years after it was recorded. I know, it doesn’t quite seem the eon that it did at the time. In 1975, 1967

Bob Dylan-basement-tapes-Bootleg-Series-Vol-11

seemed almost antediluvian!  And these recordings, made by Dylan and the band in the basement of their Woodstock abode, Big Pink, and in various other domiciles, had become the stuff of legend. Some of the tapes had been passed around as demo tapes for other artists to cover, and had found their way into the hands of collectors, eventually being released on what is considered the first ever bootleg, The Great White Wonder.

I’ve been listening to that original release again very recently and it’s still amazing. Sure, you have to have a certain appreciation of absurd humour to appreciate most of the original songs, seemingly composed on the spot in many cases. And it’s not glossy, it’s jammy, offhand playing, although it’s actually a lot more sophisticated than the home-recorded circumstances might have suggested.

The Basement Tapes Complete: The Bootleg Series Vol. 11

So now we have SIX CDs of it to look forward to!

Newly discovered tapes have added to the archive, and the compilation has been overseen by Garth Hudson and Canadian music archivist and producer Jan Haust.

The original release focused on original songs, but this hugely expanded release ranges from traditional folk, country, blues and gospel to more recent and contemporary songwriters such as Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, even the likes of Bob Crewe and Curtis Mayfield.

I actually found out about this when I reloaded the fascinating and ground-breaking iPhone app: “Bob Dylan: The Bootleg Series“, which originally only dealt with the recent expanded Self Portrait release. The app takes the old art of liner notes to a new level, being an extensive compendium of photos and information about the music, and the ability to play the songs while reading about them.

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Cover of the original 1975 Basement Tapes album

Anyway, as I was saying, I went back to the app last night and discovered that there’s a new song on there! “Odds And Ends” from the upcoming expanded Basement Tapes! How cool!

There will also be a 2-CD condensation for the more casual listener: BOB DYLAN- THE BASEMENT TAPES RAW: THE BOOTLEG SERIES VOL. 11

Listen to the preview track, courtesy of Rolling Stone, at the link below from Dylan’s official website:

http://www.bobdylan.com/us/news/bob-dylans-basement-tapes-complete-bootleg-series-vol-11-set-november-4-release

And look at the mouthwatering track listing!

Christmas Videos by DC Cardwell

“Christmas Must Be Tonight”

Originally by The Band, this song was written by Robbie Robertson and sung by Rick Danko on their 1976 album, “Islands”. In this video, I play regular acoustic guitar while Samuel plays a Baby Taylor tuned in the so-called “Nashville Tuning”.

I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day

From the poem “Christmas Bells” by Longfellow. We decided to perform this in a style heavily influenced by The Byrds, particularly in the guitar figures between verses played by me, and Samuel’s extraordinary Roger McGuinn-like guitar solo. Available on DC’s album Pop Art.

The Day That A Child Appeared

A Larry Norman song from his “Bootleg” album. I played the piano on this recording, trying to get it as close as possible to how it is played on the original, which I’ve always felt was very inventive and clever.

Christmas Time Is Here

My simple piano version of this song by Vince Guaraldi which appears on “A Charlie Brown Christmas” both as an instrumental and a sung version. A hugely evocative Christmas tune for many people!

More from The Band

Treated myself to the Last Waltz Box Set today. Enjoyed disc 1 so far – really nice stuff that’s not on the original album or in the film. 

I downloaded it years ago from N#$^%er or some such place, but it sounded really weedy and disappointing, but it must have been either the bootleg version or badly ripped because the sound quality on this set is fine.

This Wheels On Fire” is the most rollicking, least creepy version I’ve heard. And the live version of “The Weight”  is great. Muddy Waters swinging through“Caldonia” is also great fun.

The Band really were amazing for a big 70s rock band. They could play many rootsy styles of music with great authenticity, especially blues-based and New Orleans styles. Imagine any other major rock act of the time having to back up Muddy Waters, Paul Butterfield, Van Morrison, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Bobby Charles, Dr. John etc, and doing it with such aplomb.

Considering that they were known for getting away from the whole white-blues-rock thing and creating original music that in some ways reached further back, and in other ways pointed the way forward, they were soundly based in the rock and roll form. As is also clear from the early 60s Hawks material on the “Musical History” box set.

Three discs to go!

Any new Robbie Robertson guitar solo is a joy and we never get sick of that squeaky thing he does on his Strat. Do you think he means it? Everyone lauds him for it, but maybe he can’t help it and it really annoys him! 😉

~ DC

The Last Waltz

Samuel & I spent a pleasant evening changing guitar strings, eating the last of the Christmas cake and listening to the second commentary on The Band’s “The Last Waltz” DVD. Levon Helm & Garth Hudson are good value as always. Greil Marcus is so bursting with insight he’s slightly dangerous to himself and others. And the rest of the participants throw in a few interesting tidbits and Martin/Mr/Marty Scorsese impressions. Someone scorns Van Morrison‘s bizarre garb in a manner almost worthy of The Mighty Boosh. And Neil Diamond‘s apparel and general out-of-placeness is also accurately pinpointed. But above all, it’s worth waiting to the end where there’s a beautiful, wistful Garth Hudson solo piano piece. You don’t expect music on the commentary track!