BOB DYLAN – “1970 ” 3-CD Set, Feat George Harrison

Posted: March 3, 2021 in Classic Albums, MUSIC
Tags: , , , ,

A new collection, Bob Dylan—1970, the first widely available pressing of a three-disc set of long-sought-after studio recordings many of which feature George Harrison, has been released by Columbia Records and Legacy Recordings in the U.S. on February 26, 2021. (It’s U.K. release has been delayed until March 19th.) By ploughing through the roots of Bob Dylan’s storied legacy, Sony/Legacy’s official bootleg series has brought Dylan devotees the backstory of some of the most daring and dramatic episodes and interludes of the Bob’s 60-year career. While the outtakes and rarities have rarely been the equal of the official offerings, they’ve continued to provide a fascinating glimpse into the musical undertow that helped bring those milestones through to fruition. 

The latest in that series (curiously, the “Bootleg Series” handle doesn’t appear on this set) retraces much of the music covered on earlier installment of the series, Another Self Portrait, sharing early incarnations of songs.  The recordings on “Bob Dylan—1970″ were first released in a (very) limited edition as part of the Bob Dylan 50th Anniversary Collection copyright extension series (which began in 2012). That first batch sold out instantly. The 3-CD set, includes previously unreleased outtakes from the sessions that produced “Self Portrait” and “New Morning”, as well as the complete May 1st, 1970, studio recordings with his future bandmate Harrison, which capture the pair performing together on nine tracks, including Dylan originals (“One Too Many Mornings,” “Gates of Eden,” “Mama, You Been On My Mind”), covers (including the Everly Brothers’ “All I Have to Do Is Dream,” Carl Perkins’ “Matchbox,” The Beatles’ “Yesterday”) and more.

Consequently, many of the tracks included in this three CD set consist of early takes of songs that would eventually emerge on the latter (multiple run-throughs of “Went To See the Gypsy,” “Time Passes Slowly,” “Sign on the Window” and “If Not for You” dominate these discs overall) and candidates for tracks that might have made it to the latter—Buffy Saint-Marie’s “Universal Soldier,” Eric Andersen’s “Thirsty Boots” and Tom Paxton’s “I Can’t Help But Wonder Where I’m Bound,” along with any number of traditional tunes. 

Bob revisits a few of his own oldies as well—“I Don’t Believe You,” “One Too Man Mornings,” “Gates of Eden,” “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues,” “I Threw It All Away,” “Song To Woody,” and “If Not For You,” songs that span the breadth of his catalogue up until that point. Why he chose to retrace these tunes is a bit of a mystery, but one might assume they were intended as warm-up rehearsals for the players involved.

Two offerings in particular would seem of special interest, “Untitled 1970 Instrumental #1” and “Untitled 1970 Instrumental #2,” a pair of unfinished efforts that could have emerged as songs of significance had he chosen to complete them. The majority of these run-throughs come across as surprisingly complete and cohesive, with Dylan investing a full measure of sentiment and sensitivity. That’s especially evident on such songs as the aforementioned “Thirsty Boots” and “Universal Soldier.” There are off-handed moments as well, as heard  on “Little Moses,” where his back-up singers mug their way while over-exaggerating their contribution. 

Still, the biggest lure might be the inclusion of those fabled heretofore lost sessions with George Harrison which took place when Harrison came for a visit to Dylan’s Woodstock retreat. While Harrison’s presence will likely claim the lion’s share of attention, the tracks that find his participation are somewhat slight overall. His backing vocals and guitar contributions are somewhat negligible, even frivolous, as Harrison appears to defer to Dylan in each instance. (The exceptions lie in Harrison’s solo on “Mama You’ve Been On My Mind,” which is both expansive and expressive in equal measure, and Harrison’s heartfelt harmonies on “It AIn’t Me. Babe.”) Likewise, it’s somewhat strange that there’s no evidence of their collaboration on their co-credited “If Not For You.” Given the informal setting, those expecting some sort of regal revelation would best focus on the Traveling Wilburys recordings that arrived nearly two decades later. On the other hand, given the near mythical stature that these legendary Dylan-Harrison sessions have attained over the past five decades, compulsive collectors will find any inclusion welcome regardless.

The collection includes numerous takes of Dylan’s “If Not for You.” Several months after these sessions, Harrison recorded the song for his “All Things Must Pass” album, which was released at the end of the year. “Bob Dylan—1970″ comes housed in an eight-panel digipack featuring new cover art and liner notes by Michael Simmons. See the complete track listing and hear some other songs below the links.

Personnel: Bob Dylan – vocals, guitar, piano, harmonica George Harrison – guitar, vocals (Disc 1, Tracks 20 & 24 and Disc 2, Tracks 2-3, 6-7, 10-11, & 16) Bob Johnston – piano (Disc 1, Tracks 24-25 and Disc 2, Tracks 1-3) Charlie Daniels – bass Russ Kunkel – drums David Bromberg – guitar, dobro, mandolin Ron Cornelius – guitar Al Kooper – organ Charlie Daniels – bass, guitar Russ Kunkel – drums Buzzy Feiten – guitar

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