BOB DYLAN – ” More Blood, More Tracks ” The Bootleg Series Vol. 14

Posted: September 20, 2018 in ALBUMS, MUSIC
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Fresh off a two-record stint with Asylum, Bob Dylan returned to Columbia Records in 1975 with one of the most acclaimed records of his career.  Blood on the Tracks found Dylan reinvigorating the “confessional” singer-songwriter genre, even as he repeatedly insisted that the album’s songs had no relation to his own life and then-recent marital turmoil.  Whatever the truth, Blood on the Tracks was painfully raw, vulnerable, and altogether exquisite, boasting such all-time classic compositions as “Tangled Up in Blue,” “Simple Twist of Fate,” and “Shelter from the Storm.”   The making of the album was anything but smooth, however – and now, the full story can be told on the fourteenth volume of Dylan’s long-running Bootleg Series More Blood, More Tracks will be available on November 2nd as a 6-CD box set or 2-LP/1-CD highlights editions, chronicling the album’s original New York sessions and subsequent Minnesota rebirth via all of the extant session material including 75 previously unreleased tracks.

Dylan began recording at New York’s A&R Studios with producer-engineer Phil Ramone on September 16th, 1974. The first group of musicians including Eric Weissberg and his band, Deliverance, only lasted a couple of days before the artist brought in Paul Griffin on organ and Buddy Cage on steel guitar.  (Tony Brown was retained from Weissberg’s group.)  After ten days and four sessions with this group, Dylan had assembled an entire 10-song album which Columbia took to the test pressing stage in November.  But the restless Dylan had second thoughts.  With a new set of musicians, he entered Minneapolis’ Sound 80 studios in December.  In a couple of days, he re-recorded five of the ten songs, and the raw, stark, and powerful Blood on the Tracks as we know it was finished.

Over the years, session material has trickled out.  Only one of the five tracks from the test pressing, “You’re a Big Girl Now,” has ever been officially reissued.  It appeared on the Biograph box set along with a version of the outtake “Up to Me.”  Subsequently, The Bootleg Series Vols. 1-3featured New York alternate takes of “Tangled Up in Blue,” “Idiot Wind,” and “If You See Her, Say Hello.”  “Call Letter Blues,” an embryonic version of “Meet Me in the Morning,” was also included on that set.  An alternate of “Shelter from the Storm” was released on the Jerry Maguire soundtrack, and in 2012, an alternate “Meet Me in the Morning” appeared as the B-side of “Duquesne Whistle” on a Record Store Day single.  That left “Lily, Rosemary, and the Jack of Hearts” as the only song from the New York sessions which had not been released in any take.

More Blood, More Tracks follows the format of The Bootleg Series Vol. 12: The Cutting Edge 1965-1966 in presenting all of the available studio material in chronological order and so every song is heard in multiple versions.  (Alas, it seems much of the Minnesota session material no longer exists.)  The leadoff “single” is the first take of “If You See Her, Say Hello.”The 6-CD box set boasts a lengthy hardcover book featuring new liner notes as well as high-quality reproductions of pages from Dylan’s original notebooks used during the Blood on the Tracks sessions. A 1-CD or 2-LP version will have one alternate version of each song plus one take of “Up to Me.”

The Bootleg Series Vol. 14: More Blood, More Tracks arrives from Columbia/Legacy on November 2nd.

The earlier album sessions that went down in New York City left many more demos and alternate versions on the cutting room than most anyone outside the innermost Dylan camp imagined.

Disc 1 consists entirely of Dylan alone in the studio, accompanying himself on guitar and harmonica, at the very beginning of the process. None of these appeared on the original album. The second disc is made up of Dylan’s initial band sessions with the group Eric Weissberg & Deliverance, whom he quickly grew dissatisfied with and replaced. Only one of those made the finished album. It’s these two discs that may represent the greatest treasure trove for serious fans.

But the remaining four discs are hardly fool’s gold themselves. Disc 3 finds him continuing to work in New York with a mostly different band that was more to his liking and produced more of the eventual album. On Discs 4 and 5 and the first part of Disc 6, he ditches that band and performs the songs solo once again, or with just a bass player, ending the New York portion of the proceedings as intimately as they started, in the creation of what many consider his most intimate album.

Bob DylanMore Blood, More Tracks: The Bootleg Series Vol. 14(Columbia/Legacy, 2018)

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