AThe Basement Tapes Complete:The Bootleg Series, Volume 11 (2014)

Track Listing Forget it. Too much to type.


Good Lord. 139 songs. On one CD collection. Well, I guess you really can give the fans what they really want. The die hard fans anyway.

Now, before I really start this review, I must confess that I’ve only managed to get through this entire thing once. Normally I’ll listen to a CD about ten times before I review, as it can take that long for me to really appreciate and evaluate a piece of work. Had I done that with this thing, I would have died of old age first. Truthfully, though, this is one of those compilations that you really don’t need to listen to multiple times, because an album like this is only geared towards one type of individual. Since I wouldn’t classify myself as “that” type of individual, it’s really unfair for me to review this on how much I like it, but rather how much other people, that fit the particular category, would like it.

Bob Dylan’s famous Bootleg series tend to fall into 3 general categories – 1) Unreleased studio cuts 2) Live Performances and 3) Alternate takes of existing songs with a lot of starts and stops. This album fits into the third category. Whereas I love the first two categories (by anyone, not just Bob Dylan), I’m not really that crazy about the third. For me, bootleg recordings were much more exciting many years ago. Back in the 1970’s, for example, your average fan of music might only have 20-25 record albums. The only other avenue for listening to music was on the radio and, chances were, your pickings for that format might have been very slim. Therefore, owning and/or hearing a bootleg of your favorite artist was an incredible treat. Fast forward to 2015, however. Nowadays, a music fan can basically listen to any recording at any time, any place they want. For legitimate music, all one needs is a Spotify or Apple music account. Bootlegs are generally available at the click of the mouse, and one can spend hours in one sitting searching for treasures on a platform such as YouTube. Because of all of this, the allure of a bootleg as somewhat worn off. There’s just too much music out there.

Which now takes us back to this release. In case you were unaware, these recordings by Bob Dylan and his most famous backup band (later referred to as “The Band”) took place sometime in the late 1960s. The recordings never saw the light of day until 1975. During that interval, the sessions were, apparently, “heavily bootlegged”. Now, when they did see the light of day, it was on a nice, hefty-but-comfortable double album simply called The Basement Tapes. A nice selection was taken from the sessions, legitimately transferred to vinyl, and was now legally available for all who wished to partake. What made this legitimate recording so great (I gave it a 5 star review), is that even though the songs sound well-done and cared for, they still had a loose, care-free feeling that felt very warm, yet also spontaneous.

I guess, however, there were those that wanted the entire recording sessions released legitimately as well, so 40 years later, they got their wish. I honestly can’t tell much difference. Most of the stuff on that 1975 album is here (albeit, maybe a different version), and there are lot of stops and starts, talking and coughing during songs, various versions of the same song, and on and on and on. I guess what I’m really trying to say is that the two CD collection that came out in 1975 is really all I need. This is just too much for me.

Again, though, if you have to have everything (and also a rather large bank account), you shouldn’t be disappointed by this purchase. Enjoy. I honestly have to wonder, however, how you manage to have time to do anything else in your life.

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