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Bob Dylan - Bootleg Series Vol. XII "The Cutting Edge"*

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Abbey Road, Oct 16, 2014.

  1. Spencer R

    Spencer R Forum Resident

    Location:
    Oxford, MS
    While the takes of “Like a Rolling Stone” after they had achieved what would become the master are not something I’d want to listen to over and over, I’m glad to have heard them once, as they vindicate Bob’s approach to recording. I think on one of the acoustic songs from Bringing It All Back Home, he says “I’m only going to do this once,” and, on the later takes of “Rolling Stone” you can hear the spontaneity getting squeezed out of the song as the musicians get to know the changes too well. The piano player in particular starts overplaying and going crazy and hurting the vibe of the song.

    When you listen to the “stems” for the song at the end of the disc, you can hear that several of the parts are pretty sloppy and raw and there are audible flubs, but it is what it is. There’s a magic in the overall take when all the parts are mixed together that was lost with subsequent takes.
     
  2. revolution_vanderbilt

    revolution_vanderbilt Forum Resident

    Location:
    New York
    The later takes are much more competent and Bloomfield really starts to get his part, which he seemed to still be grappling with on the master take. But they never quite manage to recapture that lightning in a bottle.
     
  3. NumberEight

    NumberEight Came too late and stayed too long

    My, er, take on it is that, having recorded the six-minute Take 4, Dylan was trying to get a shorter version down that could actually be released as a single.

    Fortunately for 1965 listeners, he wasn’t able to do so. :)
     
    mark winstanley likes this.
  4. Spencer R

    Spencer R Forum Resident

    Location:
    Oxford, MS
    Was he? Doesn’t at least one of the subsequent takes go just as long? Although many of them break down halfway through.
     
  5. NumberEight

    NumberEight Came too late and stayed too long

    Take 5 breaks down after about 1 minute and 45 seconds with Dylan saying "It's six minutes long, man". To me, he sounds surprised at how long the song has turned out to be.

    The remainder of the takes sound - to me, at least - as if they're being taken too fast in order to get below the six-minute mark. At the end of Take 11 (the other complete take you're referring to) Dylan says something I can't quite make out, but which sounds as if it's something to do with speeding up.
     
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  6. Spencer R

    Spencer R Forum Resident

    Location:
    Oxford, MS
    Why would he be surprised? Chimes of Freedom runs 7:10, Ballad in Plain D 8:16, Gates of Eden 5:40, It’s Alright, Ma 7:29.

    I get the concern over releasing a six-minute single, but he had already shattered the six minute barrier on record multiple times. And no matter how fast they sped up the tempo, there was no way they were going to get the song below five minutes without cutting lyrics.
     
  7. revolution_vanderbilt

    revolution_vanderbilt Forum Resident

    Location:
    New York
    Short of playing faster, there really isn't much he could have done to shorten it. At least with Sooner Or Later, there were the harmonica breaks that he cut to bring down the running time. That also had the effect of making the harmonica more dramatic when it did appear. Although I should say, those full takes of Sooner Or Later are some of my favorite tracks from this set, even the earlier ones where everyone is more sloppy and Dylan's vocal is less "committed," I constantly come back to them.
     
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  8. soniclovenoize

    soniclovenoize Forum Resident

    Location:
    Minneapolis, MN
    My interpretation of Dylan's exclamation was that he was jibbing the backing musicians that they weren't even half the way through the song yet before tanking the take. As in:
    "It's six minutes long, man... We still got 4 more minutes to go! Get with it, man!"
     
  9. Spencer R

    Spencer R Forum Resident

    Location:
    Oxford, MS
    He would have had to take an axe to the lyrics to get it to three minutes. Or have used the solution Columbia tried at first: just chop it down to a three minute edit to get it on the radio, as they did on the initial promo single that cut the track into “Part One” and “Part Two.” Atlantic had taken the same approach years earlier with Ray Charles’s “What’d I Say.”

    By 1965, “Like a Rolling Stone” was able to break the three minute barrier and get on the radio at its full length. Although, for those who were there, did some stations still play just the three-minute edit?
     
  10. babyblue

    babyblue Pactches Pal!

    Location:
    Pacific NW
    Yes, probably my favorite part of the whole set. But then Sooner or Later is my favorite Dylan song. His vocal and the piano especially are amazing.
     
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  11. Percy Song

    Percy Song Tom's Tambourine Man

    He says, "I'm afraid I screwed up." Perhaps he'd forgotten the harmonica flourish after the last verse.


    Initially it doesn't seem that Bob was planning for "Like A Rolling Stone" to be a single. The AJS for the 15 June session states that the budget allocation is for a Pop Album. Obviously, this doesn't confirm that Bob wasn't planning for it to be a single, and he may even have changed his mind from one day to the next. On 15 June "Like A Rolling Stone" was a waltz, of course, and probably not pop single material. The next day, well, we all know what it turned into, and I don't doubt that once it was wrapped up Bob was convinced that it should be the new single. It was certainly time for a new single; the last one released in the US was already three months gone! The job number amendment for the remake on the AJS (below - from the 18CD media book) may well indicate that the budget was reallocated to Pop Single after the session.

    Also, as @Roger Ford points out in his Cutting Edge essay, Tom Wilson had already prepared the next single, the overdubbed "If You Gotta Go, Go Now" and perhaps Bob was not keen on releasing that old song.




    [​IMG]




     
  12. Spencer R

    Spencer R Forum Resident

    Location:
    Oxford, MS
    I agree with this. Is there any indication that Bob had any say in picking his singles to begin with? Did Bob decide that “Mixed-Up Confusion” was going to be a single, or was that Columbia’s idea? They didn’t even release a single from Another Side. Before “Subterranean Homesick Blues,” which scraped the bottom of the Top 40 at #39, none of his singles had even charted in the US. Not sure that “Rolling Stone” was earmarked for a single at the session: maybe it was just another track he cut that day.
     
  13. Percy Song

    Percy Song Tom's Tambourine Man

    An 09 October, 1962 internal memo from John Hammond to his boss, David Kapralik (Columbia A&R executive), stated that "Grossman and I would like an immediate single release from Bob Dylan." There followed three studio sessions, seemingly convened to produce a single, between 26 October and 14 November, during which the unique b-side version of "Corrina, Corrina" was recorded (4th take of the first session of 26 October). "Mixed-Up Confusion" was hammered into submission in about 25 takes during these three sessions. The take chosen for the single was Take 12 from the 14 takes recorded at the last session. (There was a take called "test" within this batch of takes but it isn't clear whether the test was a take of "Mixed-Up Confusion". Probably not.)

    The Tape Identification Sheets only indicate that the sessions were "Columbia Pop", not specifying "album" or "single", and several other songs were tried out at these sessions, but it seems clear from the sheer number of takes of "Mixed-Up Confusion" that there was some urgency to get this thing done and dusted for a single and that Bob was at least cooperating with the request. The single was released in the U.S. a month later while Bob was in England but withdrawn from sale very quickly which suggests he was unhappy with the record being released. The original stock copy is rarer than the radio station white label promo apparently.

    The single was released in Holland in 1966. Probably not Bob's idea. The same could be said for the Dutch release of "If You Gotta Go, Go Now" the following year.
     
  14. Spencer R

    Spencer R Forum Resident

    Location:
    Oxford, MS
    Very good information. I still wonder whether Bob thought “Like a Rolling Stone” was so special that he went into the session with the notion that it was going to be a single. Did he really have any say in which songs were picked as singles? Did he even care which songs were released as singles? Maybe the success of the Byrds’ cover of “Mr. Tambourine Man” and the various covers of “It Ain’t Me, Babe” made both Columbia and Dylan realize that they could push him in the singles market, too. I do find it interesting that Columbia didn’t even bother to try to pull a single from Another Side of Bob Dylan.
     
  15. Percy Song

    Percy Song Tom's Tambourine Man

    We'll probably never know what Bob really thought about his waltz song going into the session on 15 June, but I don't think there's much doubt that he left the studio on 16 June with the "Like A Rolling Stone" acetate knowing he had a smash single. The battle he seemed to have, with Grossman by his side, was to persuade Columbia to release the song unedited and, perhaps, to make sure that an older song with similar timing was on the B-side so that it wouldn't be played on the radio instead of the A-side. In the end, of course, after a DJ was given an acetate of the song, the radio stations themselves started to demand promo copies even as Columbia was trying to kick the thing into the long grass. The stand-off with regard to the length of the song was solved when Columbia realised it could use it as a positive marketing tool.


    [​IMG]

    Prior to this record, I don't think there was much, if any, attention given by Bob to singles and the small number that were released were probably chosen by Columbia. Even "The Times They Are A-Changin'" wasn't released as a single, let alone anything from "Another Side...", so it is almost certainly the case that Columbia, Grossman, and probably Bob himself, realised there was a singles market ready to be tapped, particularly after the success of the "Mr. Tambourine Man" cover.

    "Positively 4th Street" was on an "Album" budget, although it was a natural choice for a single to follow "Like A Rolling Stone". I think the first time we see an AJS showing a session with a budget allocated to "Single" is the session for "Visions of Johanna" and "Can You Please Crawl Out You Window?" According to Bob at the San Francisco Press Conference there had been some talk of "Visions of Johanna" being a single but he might have been kidding. He was certainly very enthusiastic about having "One Of Us Must Know (Sooner Or Later)" released as a single when he premiered the acetate on the Bob Fass show just a few hours after the recording session had finished. If I recall correctly, he even knew then which (old) song would be on the B-Side.
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2020
  16. NumberEight

    NumberEight Came too late and stayed too long

    In March 1965 - one month before The Byrds’ Mr. Tambourine Man, but contemporaneously with Donovan’s Catch The Wind - CBS in Europe decided the singles market was ready for folk, if not yet folk-rock:

    [​IMG]
     
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  17. Spencer R

    Spencer R Forum Resident

    Location:
    Oxford, MS
    That song was over a year old at that point. I never realized that Columbia didn’t release “Times They Are A-Changin’” as 45 in the U.S. I just assumed that they did.
     
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  18. Percy Song

    Percy Song Tom's Tambourine Man

    It could be argued that "Subterranean Homesick Blues" was effectively the first "proper" single in the U.S., released a couple of weeks ahead of "Bringing It All Back Home". (It hardly set the charts ablaze, though.) The only two singles released before that one were "Mixed Up Confusion" and "Blowin' In The Wind". The former was withdrawn PDQ and the latter was released commercially a couple of months after Peter, Paul and Mary had had a big hit with it. Perhaps the success of the PP&M version nudged the suits to think that a single by the original artist could boost sales of "...Freewheelin'.." which had been in the shops for several months. I don't think Bob's version bothered the singles charts at all.

    [​IMG]


    In the UK the first single released was (The) "Times They Are A-Changin'" in March 1965, presumably as a promotional tool for the upcoming tour. It did rather well for an old song, going Top Ten. While the tour was in progress, "Subterranean Homesick Blues" also hit the Top Ten prompting a further single release, "Maggie's Farm", a couple of months later. After this came "Like A Rolling Stone". (The UK only got "Blowin' In The Wind" on an EP containing four old songs, also released in mid-June in the wake of the 1965 tour.)


    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    Given this hodge-podge of releases on either side of the Atlantic, it's easy to see without looking too far that not much was really sacred. If I were to make a guess I'd say Bob probably considered "Like A Rolling Stone" to be his first proper single - the one he wanted to be released.





     
  19. The Bard

    The Bard Highway 61 Revisited. That is all.

    Location:
    Singapore
    Thank you for posting that background regarding the UK. Very interesting and enjoyable to see the images. :edthumbs:
     
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  20. Percy Song

    Percy Song Tom's Tambourine Man

    In another thread quite recently, the knowledgeable and generous @lukpac posted this very useful image which goes some way to explaining some, if not all, the various codes and prefixes used in the Columbia paperwork and cards, facsimiles of which are included in all "The Cutting Edge" packaging.

    @lukpac states:

    It's undated, but if I had to guess I'd say the typed portion is from 1962 or 1963. The last few items written in pencil seem to be from 1964, notably Auravision and 8-track. Note 8-track (the recording format, not the consumer format) is not present. And as previously noted, the usage of these prefixes wasn't set in stone. Certainly ZSP was used for non-"Hillbilly" 45s, and SW was used for things other than 3-track work parts.


    [​IMG]


    Notwithstanding Luke's qualifying note about the ZSP prefix, it brought a smile to my face then, as now:-


    [​IMG]


    "I walked down there and ended up
    In one of them coffee-houses on the block
    Got on the stage to sing and play
    Man there said, come back some other day
    You sound like a hillbilly
    We want folksingers here"



     
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  21. Percy Song

    Percy Song Tom's Tambourine Man

    One single release that I think we can be confident had Bob's blessing was "Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window?"


    Surely it could only be Bob who would insist on a specific presentation of the song title on the label of the 45.


    [​IMG]


    Obviously the "Not For Label" on the release card should read "Note for Label". For the original U.S. 45 this note was acted on to the, er, letter, with a BOLD TYPE!!!!! underscore and eroteme.

    [​IMG]




    In the U.K. there was something of a compromise, the underscore being less bold than demanded:-



    [​IMG]



    When it came to replicate the singles for "The Cutting Edge Collector's Edition", any attempt at adherence to the BOLD TYPE!!!!! instruction had been abandoned and the song no longer carried the PUNCH!!!!! suggested by the title as envisaged by its author.

    [​IMG]


    I scanned the release card shown above from the jewel case insert which came with the 2CD version of "The Cutting Edge". You will only find a partial image of it in "The Cutting Edge Collector's Edition" and it isn't included in the 6CD Deluxe Edition. This is a feature of the Bootleg Series - often the smaller edition carries paperwork not included in the deluxe editions. It's like multi-storey car park crime...

    Anyway, this single pretty much bombed. Top Twenty in UK but that's about it. The next one, the gorgeous "One Of Us Must Know (Sooner Or Later)", was even less successful, despite (at least in the US) having a loud edited version for radio play on the promo:-


    [​IMG]
     
  22. Scott6

    Scott6 Forum Resident

    Location:
    UK
    Good box set!
     
  23. jvs52

    jvs52 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Netherlands
    "Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window?" was the single which turned me on to Bob Dylan when I bought it at a record summer sale in July 1966. The next day I went back and found "Positively 4th Street". Two weeks later his newest single "I Want You" came out.
     
  24. NumberEight

    NumberEight Came too late and stayed too long

    You were also in the fortunate position of being able to buy If You Gotta Go, Go Now the following year. Hopefully you did! :)
     
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  25. jvs52

    jvs52 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Netherlands
    Yes I did, not aware that it was a special release.
     
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