Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Bob Dylan's Greatest Boots Vol. 1

Here it is, the true present for you, Liane!  I hope you enjoy this collection that I compiled for your birthday.  Sorry it is late and not physical, but alas, the internet made this all possible so I hope you love this compilation I made for you :)


Bob Dylan has one of the most expansive and elaborate careers in musical history, and has always been on the forefront of musical and social progression.  He is a storyteller, the kind you compare to Hemingway and Shakespeare, the kind that gets underneath your skin and exfoliates emotion.  He is among the greatest artists in history, and has spawned a dedicated bootleg following.

The first common bootleg that circulated in American was Great White Wonder, a two-LP album.  Since then, thousands of songs have uprooted themselves, some nearly impossible to find and some on very rare officially released box sets.  All of these songs have been combed through to create a bootleg mirror of the greatest hits LPs.  These songs, in my opinion, can be easily compared to any of the songs on his greatest hits, and deserve to be heard multiple times.

So pretty much my most vague concept, but this collection is really just a blast to put on and listen to with friends who enjoy Dylan.  Call it an unreleased album, call it a best of bootleg collection, call it whatever, just know: it's Bob Dylan.

Bob Dylan's Greatest Boots Vol. 1

Side A:

1.  Crawl Out Your Window 
(issued mistakenly as a mispress of Positively 4th Street - 1965)
2.  Quinn The Eskimo (The Mighty Quinn)
(recorded with The Band, outtake from Basement Tapes - 1967)
3.  Caribbean Wind
(outtake from Shot of Love - 1981)
4.  I'm Not There
(recorded with The Band, outtake from Basement Tapes - 1967)
5.  Abandoned Love
(outtake from the Desire sessions - 1975)
6.  I Shall Be Released
(recorded with The Band, outtake from Basement Tapes - 1967)
7.  Ballad For A Friend
(demo for Leeds Music Publishing - 1962)

Side B:

8.  George Jackson
(single officially released but only issued on very few collections - 1971)
9.  Milk Cow Blues
(outtake from the Freewheelin' sessions - 1962)
10.  Percy's Song
(outtake from The Times They Are A-Changin' sessions - 1963)
11.  I'll Keep It With Mine
(outtake from Blonde on Blonde sessions - 1965)
12.  She's Your Lover Now
(outtake from Blonde on Blonde sessions - 1966)
13.  Rock Me Mama
(outtake from Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid sessions - 1973)
14.  Blind Willie McTell 
(outtake from Infadels sessions - 1983)

This collection begins with an oddity for certain.  It seems that mistakenly, this either early version or mashed up version due to communication problems was issued as the B-Side to Like A Rolling Stone, which was really meant to be Positively 4th Street.  It is odd or understandable, because the backtracking for this version of Crawl Out Your Window uses the same instrumentals and overdubs as the track it was accidentally replacing.  Anyway, I prefer this to the repressing of it as a single to cover the error.

And then the second track hits you hard.  It is absolutely grotesque and blasphemous that this beautiful track, recorded with The Band, was left off of 1975's Basement Tapes, especially since it was a double-LP.  Anyway, this is an absolutely fabulous tune that expresses in a two-minute package Bob Dylan's knack for lyricism and melody.  Much better than that single version whatever band did of it.

Caribbean Wind was one of the songs that Dylan felt so strongly about, that when he couldn't appease his perfectionist nature, he just dropped (a similar thing occurred on the final track on the album).  This is a more stripped-down version than on any official release, probably an entirely alternate take, and is hands down the best song recorded during the Shot of Love era.

I'm Not There is one of the most famous (or infamous) bootleg tracks from Bob Dylan and is another shame to him for not including it on Basement Tapes.  A song about regret, love and denial, with one of the most vulnerable vocals Dylan has ever laid to tape.  One of Dylan's forgotten masterpieces.

Probably the best outtake from Desire, Abandoned Love easily could have, and arguably should have been among the official track listing.  A earworm of a melody with out a doubt, this song will get stuck in your head (I'd wager this wont be a bad thing).  On top of this lovely melody, you get heart-pulling strings that are lifted straight from One More Cup of Coffee.  Throw in some tried-but-true harmonica and you get another classic from Bob.

The original version of I Shall Be Released, recorded with The Band, is another classic Dylan bootleg.  The Greatest Hit's Vol 2 rendition was rerecorded in 1971 and does not do this version justice.  Another great and tender epic from the 1967 basement sessions is the penultimate track on side a.

Closing with the earliest track of Dylan's catalog featured, we have an early demo that was recorded during a demo session for Lou Levy that included five songs.  Surprisingly, Dylan never returned to this simple yet engraving tune that helped pave the way for a certain composing style.

Side B begins with an almost entirely forgotten officially issued single.  It has barely been reissued on any collections or compilations.  I have included it here to allow this song to shine again.  It is an excellent song about a member of Black Panthers.

Oh, Milk Cow Blues.  Honestly, it's Dylan covering Robert Johnson.  That is all you need to know.

 The next track is the longest of the collection.  At almost 8 minutes, you know this is one of those epic novels of a song.  And truly, it is; another delicate and emotional acoustic song that feels like it should have been one of The Times They Are A-Changin' singles, rather than an outtake.

Here is quite possibly the greatest song on the album, and thusly, the greatest Dylan bootleg track.  This rightfully saw release on the bootleg series first outing, and is one of his greatest piano songs hands down.  This was an outtake from Blonde On Blonde, the third of his masterpiece trilogy of albums, proving how prolific he was during that unbelievable year between 1965 and 1966.

If Positively 4th Street was the sequel song to Like A Rolling Stone, She's Your Lover Now is the epilogue.  Like the previous masterpiece, this jammin' organ-driven song was another outtake from Blonde On Blonde.  This is Dylan in his prime and does not fail to impress.

I recall my mouth literally gaping, eyes wide, when I realized that Wagon Wheel by Old Crow Medicine Show was really penned by good ol Bob.  It actually made me appreciate that track even more.  Though this is clearly preliminary jam session recordings, the melody doesn't fail to have even more of an oomph under Dylan's voice.  This was an outtake from Pat Garrett, and I'm guessing this was the original finale track, replaced by Knockin on Heaven's Door.  You know it's good if one of Dylan's most praised songs was its replacement.

There are plenty of outtakes from 1983's Infidels, but none stand out nearly as much as Blind Willie McTell.  Almost acquiring its own mythology and folklore, this is one of the most celebrated bootleg tracks, post-80's tracks, and Bob Dylan tracks in general, and is an excellent way to end a collection of this sort.  There is also an electric version of this track, but you'll all have to wait for Vol. 2 to get that tasty treat ;)

Please share and enjoy.  As of thus far, I feel this is the best mix I have compiled.  Let me know what you think!

- blashco

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