13 December 2014
Bob Dylan and the Band - 1967 - The Basement Tapes Raw
Trip-o-Meter: 2.5 out of 5
It's not psychedelic, and it's not really obscure, but I'm here to pratter away about the Basement Tapes. I think I found my way towards the 1975 album sometime in the late 90's. It didn't really do it for me, and I never bothered to find my way to the bootlegs. Turns out the reason was that the 1975 album has bundles of overdubs, it's missing some key Dylan tracks, and it has several contemporary recordings by the Band (I think I basically gravitated to those Band tracks). That pretty much took the air out of the affair. The whole point of the tapes is that it some guys dicking around in a basement with a dog sleeping on the floor. I guess the powers that were needed to make it "marketable" for a mid 70's audience. We've got official recordings to prove otherwise now, though. I'm not a rich man and I went for the two disc version, but based on that I think it's worth your time and money for the six-disc epic. It's a little counterintuitive here since the music diffused 1967 psychedelia, but when it's this good it doesn't matter.
Tunes like "Quinn the Eskimo" and "Nothing Was Delivered" find there way here finally, and this set ranks comfortably in with Dylan's 60's zeitgeist. The Band are really just backing the Man, but their input is still indispensable. No, drummer Levon Helm didn't show up until the tail end of the sessions, but we're best off making due with what we've got. I've done my own basement recordings (as heard with Andrew Bland on "Paper Tigers," and I can dig just how much inspirational juice is fueling these recordings. Damned if we could have touched it. I've been obsessively listening back to front of the two discs, and I can't say that for a whole lot. It perfectly distilled Americana.
Take the plunge. The best music needs no qualifiers and we can't be psychonauts all the time. Still, it transportative sounds, and that's what we're all looking for in the end. Give it a shot in one of these spots:
Six disc version:
Two disc version: