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More Blood, More Tracks: The Bootleg Series Vol. 14
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Bob Dylan – More Blood, More Tracks – The Bootleg Series Vol. 14
Columbia Records and Legacy Recordings, the catalog division of Sony Music Entertainment, has released Bob Dylan – More Blood, More Tracks – The Bootleg Series Vol. 14.
This chapter in Columbia/Legacy’s highly acclaimed Bob Dylan Bootleg Series makes available the pivotal studio recordings made by Bob Dylan during six extraordinary sessions in 1974—four in New York (September 16, 17, 18, 19) and two in Minneapolis (December 27, 30)—that resulted in the artist’s 1975 masterpiece, Blood on the Tracks. One of the top-selling albums of Dylan’s career, Blood on the Tracks redefined the boundaries and structures of modern pop songwriting.
Strictly limited Deluxe 6 CD Set Includes every surviving take from Blood On The Tracks, including the complete New York sessions. Features alternate versions of Tangled Up In Blue , Simple Twist Of Fate and Shelter From The Storm Over 70 previously unreleased recordings Bonus hardcover book features original handwritten lyrics, photographs and more The latest chapter in the highly acclaimed Bootleg Series makes available the pivotal studio recordings made by Bob Dylan during six extraordinary sessions in 1974 that resulted in the artist's 1975 masterpiece, Blood On The Tracks. The 6CD full-length deluxe version includes the complete New York sessions in chronological order including outtakes, false starts and studio banter. The album's producers have worked from best sources available, in most cases utilizing the original multi-track session tapes. The only recordings remaining from the Minneapolis sessions are the multi-track masters of the five performances included on the finished Blood On The Tracks album. Each of these has been remixed and remastered for the deluxe edition. The deluxe box set is a strictly limited edition. The set includes a hardcover photo book featuring liner notes by rock historian Jeff Slate and a complete reproduction of one of Dylan's legendary handwritten 57 page notebooks, where you can follow the lyrical development of the songs that would eventually comprise Blood On The Tracks.
- Is Discontinued By Manufacturer : No
- Product Dimensions : 8.73 x 8.37 x 1.75 inches; 3.18 Pounds
- Manufacturer : Sony Legacy
- Item model number : WA-36763337
- Original Release Date : 2018
- Run time : 5 hours and 59 minutes
- Date First Available : September 13, 2018
- Label : Sony Legacy
- ASIN : B07H5VTTDD
- Country of Origin : USA
- Number of discs : 6
- Best Sellers Rank: #24,944 in CDs & Vinyl (See Top 100 in CDs & Vinyl)
- Customer Reviews:
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"Nobody convinces Bob to do anything Bob doesn't want to do."
"Fierce, passionate, and intense. Dylan is still almost as different as one could imagine from the artist he had been just three months prior in New York."
This is a box set many people (including me) have waited for, for quite some time. This latest trawl through Dylan's vaults wasn't released simply to assuage fan's desires for more music from the "Blood On The Tracks" sessions--but to ensure that copyright control didn't slip away from Columbia/Sony Records. But the legal reasons are well beside the point. The end results for Bob-o-philes and/or fans of that original album is that we now get to hear the available tracks recorded over those six days in '74. In one way this set can be heard as a multi-disc extension of the original album's songs--not just Dylan working through the lyrics and the music to the final takes.
Now issued in chronological order, and without the slight echo added to the original album tracks and at the correct pitch for the first time, this music takes us down avenues explored by Dylan as he tries various combinations of musicians and lyrics in search of hearing on tape what he heard in his head. And with the remixed sound (even on the officially released album tracks) these performances have a closeness, an immediacy, a "human-ness" that brings another dimension to these songs. The original album tracks, now remixed, have a slightly different feel to them, while the unheard tracks each bring something worthwhile to fan's ears. The majority of these tracks are taken from the multi-track master tapes, but there are a few tracks that come from mono 1/4" rough mixes, which have lower fidelity.
And while there's multiple takes of a number of songs, the seeming repetition doesn't make for tedious listening--far from it. There's a certain something here that's captivating--listening to Dylan as he changes his mind (and a few lyrics) to something ever closer to what he wanted. Picking out high points is pretty useless. Each take here has something to recommend it--these album sessions are that important. There's a single disc available that picks out a few alternate takes which only hints at this whole process Dylan went through. But diving deep into the music from these sessions (a few tracks have been previously released on the "Bootleg Series Vol. 1-3", "Biograph", and "Blood On The Tracks" test pressings) you really begin to understand what was in Dylan's mind during this period--an album about his personal problems--or an album influenced by Chekov's short stories--who knows for sure? From solo sessions to duos. trios and full bands, this multi-disc set is the best way to hear all the tracks surrounding one of Dylan's finest albums.
Disc One is Dylan solo--vocal, acoustic guitar, harmonica--with some intimate performances that are quite nice to finally hear together. Disc Two has Dylan playing with the Deliverance band--but the band not giving enough impact to Dylan's songs--which nonetheless are a good insight into Dylan's struggles recording these tunes. Also here are several takes of "Idiot Wind" with only a bassist accompanying Dylan which have a power of their own, and many takes of "You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go" again with the band. Disc Three is Dylan again using only a bassist, with a few tracks also using organ or piano. Disc Four is made up of a few solo tracks of "Buckets Of Rain", and the rest again with bassist Tony Brown. Disc Five continues with Dylan using only a bassist for accompaniment with remakes of "Tangled Up In Blue" "Simple Twist Of Fate", "Idiot Wind", and a few other songs. Disc Six has the Minneapolis tracks recorded with local musicians that were released on the original album but with a slightly different sound.
The packaging is similar to other Dylan box sets. Everything slips into a (8 1/2" X 9") hardcover slipcase. There's two books--one with the discs and track-by-track information, along with period photos. Each disc slips into a pocket in a hard cardboard page in the book which incorporates some cool graphics in the pages for each disc. The other book-a 122 page hardcover book with sewn in pages ("Stories In The Press, Photographs, Writings and Memorabilia") is full of more ephemera like photos of Dylan in sessions and on stage. A number of pages are taken up with a repro of one of Dyaln's notebooks of lyrics from these sessions that show him changing lyrics that better suited him. There's some great repros of test pressing labels, promotional record jackets, artwork, singles record jackets, album charts, a newspaper piece from Ralph J. Gleason ("In Praise Of A Mouth Harpist"), and other great stuff that few people have previously seen.
This is one of the better volumes in this fine Bootleg Series, and anyone who finds something of meaning in the original album should add this apparently limited edition set to their shelf of Dylan music. I had this set prior to the official release date so I could post this review on release day.
Music of course is amazing so far. I love the New York sessions, and the mixing / sound quality sounds great. The music breathes better than what I've heard from the original CD, the 2003 remaster, and the MFSL remaster. I haven't done close A/B'ing of same tracks yet though.
So none of the scratches on the discs seem to have impacted the audio. I wanted to add again that the material itself is amazing. I was very surprised at how very little actual filler there is on this set. Almost every take is amazing, to the extent that virtually any combination of recordings of the 10 final songs would've made for a historic album if released in 1975. Astonishing consistency in quality (while maintaining the classic Dylan variation in delivery and performance), far beyond what I would've expected based on the 18-disc Cutting Edge, the Basement Tapes, various unreleased outtakes from other albums, etc.
Again, the sound quality and mixing choices are amazing. I'm particularly thrilled with what they did with the five remaining Minneapolis recordings -- the performances sound more epic and timeless. I greatly prefer these mixes to any of the various prior official and unreleased masters I've heard over the years. Next thing I'll do is make my own playlist of all the master takes -- this will better supplant any of the other releases of the official album than the equivalent from The Cutting Edge (master takes from that release were sometimes missing too much final polish).
Fans online have been discussing mixes missing from the test pressing, some of the details around "Idiot Wind" recordings, overdubs and edits, etc. I think the right thing would have been to include a disc with a copy of the original acetate.
That said, this is an expensive item, and it was shipped in a padded envelope causing damage to the exterior. Given this is a limited edition release I am reluctant to return it.
Also, as far as I can tell, this release does not come with the auto rip feature, allowing my to easily download the contents of this album to my various electronic devices. It seems obvious that many folks would buy a physical copy of the album to have access to the booklet and other materials, but would primarily listen to the music digitally. Given that this is a six-disc box set, ripping the discs is tedious.
That said, Amazon did deliver on getting me this item at a very good price, for which I am grateful. I only wish they had been more careful with the packaging.
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The packaging, on the other hand, suggests that quality control is not what it might be. The volume containing the discs has already started to fall apart, someone decided to save a cent on the glue to be applied to the inserts which is disappointing. The fact that the facsimile notebook is missing pages is bad enough but I think we can take it that Sony knew this long before launch date so deliberately concealed the fact until we mugs/suckers had taken delivery before the pathetic apology was posted on bobdylan.com. Simply not good enough and blatantly dishonest. There is no chance of a replacement, completed book but surely they can send all purchasers a full copy of the notebook rather than just the missing pages?
Still, at least they belatedly acknowledged their incompetence and the fact that they were selling a defective product. Amazon, on the other hand, have remained silent about something they too are clearly aware of. Fairly typical Amazon conduct, presumably depending on us not having the energy to return the product which we actually want to have and keep.
I hope that the poor customer service by the record company and Amazon may be enough to wean me off my Bootleg Series addiction (I have the Collectors’ Edition of The Cutting Edge FFS!) but as I listen to “Shelter from the storm” on Disc 3 I fear that the truth is I will buy whatever they are selling. What a mug...
Edited to add:
Incidentally, I pre-ordered this weeks ago so no sign of a free download of the tracks apparently being offered by Amazon. Disappointing. Other music retailers ARE available...
First, the album we know as Blood on the Tracks is composed of two distinct sessions. One in New York, in September 1974. The second in December 1974, in Minneapolis. Both the mood and the musicians in these two sessions are very different. In New York the mood was intense, sad, low-key. There was a band on some of the tracks, but most are solo, or accompanied only by Tony Brown’s bass.
In Minneapolis Dylan has a different band and his mood has veered to energetic, angry, nearly shouting at times.
Why two sessions? A complete album was made from the first sessions and test pressings were made (and later widely bootlegged). Dylan wasn’t happy with it. Too personal? Too downbeat? His brother may have told him it would never sell. So he returned to the studio in a different town. The final album mixed some songs from New York with others from Minneapolis, including the epic Idiot Wind.
Neither session was a long drawn-out affair. Everything in this set (and I referring to the big 6-CD deluxe edition) was recorded in just 6 days of studio time.
Why the intensity? Dylan is at a moment of personal transition. His marriage is shaky. He is confused, perhaps, about relationships, about how to find inner peace, about the big issues of life. So being the artist he is, the songs pour out of him, full of emotion.
He went into the studio with the songs fully formed. He had already performed them privately. So he was highly focused.
That said, Dylan is unusual in the way he constantly tries new ways of expressing himself, even within the context of a single song. Every performance is something different. Combine that with the intense emotions he was feeling, and the amazing songs he was writing, and the fact that he was at the peak of his powers as a musician and vocalist, and you get these remarkable sessions.
A personal story. Back in the 70s I had always enjoyed Blood on the Tracks. Then I picked up a bootleg which had different versions of some favourite songs, like Tangled up in the Blue, and Idiot Wind. I played Idiot Wind and was stunned. The tempo was slow. The mood was no longer angry, but still passionate. The lyrics were different, more personal. Some, in my view, among Dylan’s best:
You close your eyes and pout your lips
and slip your fingers from your glove.
You can have the best there is
but it’s going to cost you all your love
you won’t get it for … money.
If you like Dylan at all, you just have to hear the way he sings that last line above. Money. And love. Timeless themes, intense emotion.
In addition, there was an amazing swirling organ behind the vocals. I loved that bootleg. However, it was spoilt by an annoying skip, baked into the mastering, due to the fact that the bootleg came from a needledrop of the test pressing mentioned above.
Life got better. Sony released The Bootleg Series 1-3 and included some of the New York session songs not included on Blood on the Tracks. This included the version of Idiot Wind mentioned above – except not quite, the swirling organ was missing, despite being mentioned in the sleeve notes!
Better copies of the test pressing also appeared, though not from Sony, so at least the skip was no more.
Now it is 2018 and here is More Blood More Tracks. “Includes the complete New York Sessions for Blood on the Tracks”, says the label. It also includes new mixes of the Minneapolis tracks that were on the released album; the others from that session have been lost and/or recorded over.
If you love Dylan, I highly recommend this set. The 1CD/2LP version is wonderful, a reimagined Blood on the Tracks similar but not the same as the Test Pressing, and with an additional fantastic song, Up To Me, though we have heard this before.
The 6CD version though is the one to have if you are, like me, passionate about this album. Every track is worth hearing, many are wonderful. You will hear variations in the words, but more important, variations in the delivery as Dylan explores how best to perform these songs.
Sony has chosen to package this in the form of two books in a slipcase. One has the 6 CDs in a glossy illustrated presentation with notes on each track by Jeff Slate. The other has more pictures, press cuttings, and a reproduction of (nearly) every page from a notebook in which Dylan wrote out the lyrics.
The notebook is really interesting, with lyric corrections, and of course variations from what is actually sung. There are also new songs which we have never heard, There ain’t Gonne Be any Next Time, Church Bell Blues, Where do you Turn, It’s Breakin’ Me Up, and more.
Do I recommend this set? Completely. However I have to note some errors and disappointments. The biggest one for me is that the test pressing version of Idiot Wind is STILL not included. That is, the same vocal take is included, but without Paul Griffin’s overdubbed swirling organ, that I heard all those years ago. Another take with organ appears here, but quite different. So sad.
Second, Sony apparently intended to reproduce the entire lyric notebook mentioned above, but accidentally missed out pages 8-11 and 52-53. The set is very expensive and the only response so far is to post pages 8-11 (but not 52-53) for download as a PDF. Especially annoying as page 53 includes another unreleased song, Little Bit of Rain. Let’s hope Sony does the right thing and reprints the book for us.
Third, there are some oddities with splicing in a couple of versions of Idiot Wind, where one take is mixed with another.
Note of this bars me from giving the set 5 stars. To hear these sessions in such high quality is just delightful.
The set itself is beautifully put together, However the printing error which Sony knew about prior to release spoils the otherwise quality product.
Not being a cheap set by any means buyers should expect what they have shelled out their hard earned cash for.
Sony's answer is to provide a download of 4 missing pages, what about the rest? Surely we are entitled to what was offered for our money not this half hearted response.
No reflection on Bob but I'd like what I paid for, this is no small thing how would you feel buying a book with pages missing. Come on Sony we deserve and demand better,
For my own benefit, I have compiled a playlist of what the test pressing would have sounded like with the 5 original NY tracks included and mapped the tracks to the 6 CD set below. Hope this is helpful. The copies that I have seen of the test pressing have the tracks in the same order as the released version though I have seen early acetates with a different running order.
Title CD Track Comment
1"Tangled Up in Blue" 5 3 Replaced with Minneapolis version (CD6 Track6)
2."Simple Twist of Fate" 5 5
3."You're a Big Girl Now" 3 3 Replaced with Minneapolis version (CD6 Track5)
4."Idiot Wind" 5 10 Replaced with Minneapolis version (CD6 Track4)
5."You're Gonna Make MeLonesome" 4 2
6."Meet Me in the Morning" 2 5 Replaced with edited version on album
7."Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts" 1 11 Replaced with Minneapolis version (CD6 Track7)
8."If You See Her, Say Hello" 4 13 Replaced with Minneapolis version (CD6 Track8)
9."Shelter from the Storm" 3 15
10."Buckets of Rain" 4 12