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Album Review: The Basement Tapes Complete: The Bootleg Series Vol. 11 by Bob Dylan
Phenomenal, Based on 13 Critics
Under The Radar - 100 Based on rating 10/10
This six-disc box set finally unearths the entirety of Dylan's mythical '67 home-recordings with The Band. Hearing it is perhaps like leafing through the personal notebooks of Faulkner or Steinbeck. But to focus solely on the historical value is to deny the sheer pleasure of discovering all the stony in-jokes, congealing classics and left-field covers ("People Get Ready," "You Win Again," and "Mr.
For music collectors of a certain age, the release of The Basement Tapes Complete has been a long time coming, and the opportunity to hear everything that Bob Dylan and his friends recorded at a rented house in upstate New York in 1967 is the realization of a decades-old dream. Advance press has touted the issuing of this six-CD set as having the significance of finding the Holy Grail or discovering the lost city of Atlantis. I’d settle for calling it the most significant musical event of the year, but I realize that people coming late to the party might wonder what all the fuss is about.
The greatest album Bob Dylan never intended to make – hours of blues, country, folk ballads and newly composed surrealism recorded as far off the grid as he could get in 1967 – has been a half-century in coming, arriving in waves of teasing and surprise (bootlegs, the 1975 Columbia double LP, newly unearthed takes) like treasure from a trunk with many false bottoms. These six CDs are, we're assured, every surviving note Dylan taped with his sidemen, the future Band, in upstate New York after the unsustainable frenzy of their 1965-'66 tour and his July '66 motorcycle accident. The immediate impression in this bulk and sequence (mostly covers, at first) is that the sessions began as a holiday, a healing break from manic ascension and suffocating adulation.
Preserving newly written Bob Dylan songs for copyright is the reason why the Band's Garth Hudson rolled tape at Big Pink but The Basement Tapes were something much more than songwriting demos. Greil Marcus dubbed it a celebration of the "Old, Weird America" in his 1997 book Invisible Republic, connecting these songs to Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music, adding an extra layer of myth to tapes that were shrouded in mystery from the moment bootlegs started to circulate. The Basement Tapes Complete strengthens portions of that legend while simultaneously puncturing it.
Bob Dylan and The BandThe Basement Tapes Complete!(Legacy)Rating: 5 stars out of 5 stars Music fans having access to the complete archives of The Basement Tapes is somewhat akin to historians being presented with the tapes of the meetings of the Continental Congress or art buffs who receive a videotape of Da Vinci’s entire process of painting The Last Supper. Maybe that sounds hyperbolic, but there’s really no way to exaggerate the importance of what took place in Woodstock, New York and its surrounding areas throughout 1967 and the beginning of ’68. Every time there’s a back-to-basics reactionary movement in music against artifice and overproduction, it can be traced back to The Basement Tapes.
There’s something winningly quaint about the security measures surrounding The Complete Basement Tapes. In order to combat piracy, there are no promotional CDs: those who wish to cast a critical ear over the 138 tracks are required to listen to them via a stream, or visit the record company’s offices, taking the precaution to first pack a sleeping bag and a change of clothes. No one must bootleg The Basement Tapes; that seems to be the message.
This review pertains only to the two-disc The Basement Tapes Raw: The Bootleg Series Vol. 11. Sony Legacy Recordings is also releasing a six-disc deluxe Complete edition this week. The reputation and mystique of The Basement Tapes sessions precedes this official release by nearly half a century. No ….
The version of The Basement Tapes released in 1975 was a feat of editing as much as musicianship. Under the hand of Robbie Robertson, the vast collections of recordings made by Bob Dylan and the Band (or the Hawks) was shaped, polished, sometimes beefed up with overdubs, to become an album, one where Dylan and the Band shared equal collaboration. It’s an album that celebrated the Band after they had made their own name, but also celebrated the fruitful work Robertson and company had done with Dylan, treating the set as a starting point for the Band and a career shift for Dylan.
New York Daily News (Jim Faber) - 80 Based on rating 4/5
Every recording Bob Dylan ever cut shall one day be released. Or so it would seem, given collections like the new, supersized, six-CD “Basement Tapes Complete” package. It’s the 11th in the gargantuan “Bootleg Series,” which has been filling in the holes in the Dylan canon ever since the collection of outtakes, “Rare and Unreleased,” kicked off this mass disinterment project 23 years ago.
Raw, cryptic, much bootlegged, by turns intense and throwaway, shot through with surreal humour, Dylan’s home studio sessions with the Band in 1967 have a justly fabled place in rock mythology. This six-CD set presents them (for a princely £110) complete and unmanicured, adding versions of celebrated songs such as Quinn the Eskimo and I Shall Be Released, though its 138 tracks are mostly country and folk staples. Amid the homespun (often leaden) renditions of Hank Williams, Ian & Sylvia et al is a clutch of nuggets, among them the bluesy Silent Weekend and the country moan Wild Wolf.
Bob Dylan & The Band The Basement Tapes Complete: The Bootleg Series Vol. 11 (Columbia Legacy) The mass of informal home recordings Bob Dylan cut with the Band in the spring and summer of 1967 remains one of rock & roll's most mythologized caches. The Basement Tapes' powerful mystique first manifested on the genre's bootleg breakout, 1969's The Great White Wonder, and given increasingly lavish iterations and official tidbits over the ensuing decades (Columbia's truncated, studio-doctored 1975 version doesn't count), why it's taken so long for a proper release is confounding.
Long considered the single most revered recordings ever made, Bob Dylan and the Band’s Basement Tapes still retain their legendary status nearly fifty years after those sessions concluded in the basement of a rented house in upstate New York. Originally made public through the circulation of the first bootleg offerings ever made, the so-called Great White Wonder only heightened the curiosity about the surrogate sessions that took place while Dylan was still in seclusion following his motorcycle accident in the summer of 1966. Rumors and speculation added to the mystique, and the fact that these collaborations yielded songs that would later become seminal standards and minted material for outside acts fuelled the fascination even further.
They used to do things differently back in the olden days. In the six years - barely enough time for modern high profile acts to laboriously produce two identical albums - between signing to Columbia in 1961 and the legendary 1967 sessions exhaustively documented during this 6-CD marathon, Bob Dylan had transformed himself from a novice folkie also-ran to a God for the burgeoning psychedelic counter-culture To start off with, Dylan became a bard for the protest-folk movement in the early 60's, crafting a rich raft of songs that transcended the typical topical limitations of the era and genre they were written in to become timeless classics. Done with that in 1965, Dylan plugged in, unleashing a torrent of amphetamine-poetry visions set to a pumping rhythm 'n' blues beat that marked the point when rock (serious artistic intent for the hip grown-ups) officially split up from pop (sugar-sweet nothings for undemanding ears).