Bob Dylan's Basement Tapes - where we're currently at (Part 6)

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by hodgo, Nov 8, 2014.

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  1. slane

    slane Forum Resident

    Yeah, 'Rock Salt And Nails' is a highlight for me. Bob remembers all the words and everyone plays it great.

    I was listening to 'Nothing Was Delivered' earlier, and something struck me. 'Nothing is worse than a night without sleep' = 'Nothing is better, nothing is best', in terms of melody and chord changes.
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  2. dee

    dee Senior Member

    ft. lauderdale, fl
    One of my favorite couplets there ending with 'take care of yourself and get plenty of rest'
  3. dee

    dee Senior Member

    ft. lauderdale, fl
    Or take heed..., :)...of this, :)...
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  4. notesfrom

    notesfrom Forum Resident

    NC USA
    'I Shall Be Released' might have been a stand alone single for Dylan - I could hear that going top 10 in England - the Band doing their own version - buried as it was as the last LP track on Big Pink, notwithstanding. Perhaps Dylan felt it really wasn't his style after all and was best left for someone else. Strong material as it is, though, I feel that the Band's rendition of 'Tears Of Rage' goes over better than the other two Dylan cuts on the BP album, for my tastes.

    Was listening to Music From Big Pink this morning. Was listening for a particular Basement Tapes 'vibe' to it, but couldn't quite find it, even given the songs that emanated from it and the house itself. The time period and Dylan's presence are missing; they're not there (1967). The effects on Robbie's guitar, the production, and the rhythms sound more modern. Richard Manuel and company give birth to Steely Dan on 'We Can Talk'.
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  5. RayS

    RayS A Little Bit Older and a Little Bit Slower

    Out of My Element
    I interrupt this thread to suggest that some of you might want to check out "Lost on The River: The New Basement Tapes". Here's one particularly Basement-y track, "Married to My Hack". Some lines to prove its Basement pedigree:

    "I got 15 women and all of them are swimmin'"

    "Candy McGrath's always good for a laugh"

    "Gimme a bottle or someone to throttle"

  6. Bennyboy

    Bennyboy Forum Resident

    God no, thanks. That whole enterprise stinks.
  7. (All images/screenshots from the "Complete" box set and the Rolling Stone video.)[/QUOTE]
    Regarding MFBP, I totally agree - it's a very "produced" albumespecially given the elaborate, ornate arrangements on many of the tracks, I don't really hear much of a basement 'vibe' or connection there at all. Probably the best known track - "The Weight" of course - actually comes closest. OTOH, I hear a lot more of the basement influence in the self-titled 2nd LP - even to the point of replicating the basement recording environment to some degree in Sammy Davis Jr.'s pool house - rather than recording in professional studios this time. And it's all the better for it - for me this remains their one indisputable masterpiece.
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2014
  8. revolution_vanderbilt

    revolution_vanderbilt Forum Resident

    New York
  9. DeeThomaz

    DeeThomaz Senior Member

    In The Felony Room
    Totally agree. Though I think it's worth pointing out that "someone to throttle" is a (very apt) addition by Elvis Costello. The actual manuscript ended mid-line.
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  10. HominyRhodes

    HominyRhodes Forum Resident

    That's a very nice timeline/summary, and when the revised Griffin book becomes more widely available (mine's still on pre-order), we should all be able to compartmentalize the tracks into in a more accurate chronological order, I hope.

    You mentioned the speculative nature of the Heylin and Griffin assessments of the material, and it appears that Heylin, at least, based many of his findings on the track sequences that originated with the leaked 1990s cassettes of the Basement Tapes. These sequences added to the confusion surrounding Take Three of Nothing Was Delivered (all 0:33 seconds of it, which sounds like it features Levon on drums), and Goin' To Acapulco/Gonna Get You Now, two tracks that Heylin thought were recorded near the end of the Basement era due to their placement on the same tape as Wildwood Flower, et al, but are now believed to have been done much earlier.

    As for Cassette #5, it corresponds with Reels "2" and "3" of the tapes, but it's still difficult to determine exactly which of those two reels was recorded first, or if they may have even been done a little later in the process (co-producer Jan Haust apparently pegged Reel "2" as Reel "6").

    Here are the track listings from those old cassettes, with my annotations, courtesy of the wonderful site that focuses on The Band:

    The 1991 Cassettes
    Cassette 1 [=REEL #8]
    Million Dollar Bash (1) / Yea! Heavy And A Bottle Of Bread (1) / Million Dollar Bash (2) / Yea! Heavy And A Bottle Of Bread (2) / I'm Not There (1956) / Please Mrs Henry / Crash On The Levee (1) / Crash On The Levee (2) / Lo And Behold (1) / Lo And Behold (2)

    Cassette 2 [=REEL #4] + two songs
    I'm A Fool For You (1+2) / Next Time On The Highway / Tupelo / You Gotta Quit Kickin' My Dog Aroun' / See You Later, Allan Ginsberg / Tiny Montgomery [+ BIG DOG]/ The Spanish Song (1) / Spanish Song (2) / I'm Your Teenage Prayer / Four Strong Winds / The French Girl (1) / The French Girl (2) / Joshua Gone Barbados / I'm In The Mood For Love / All-American Boy / Sign On The Cross

    Cassette 3 [=REEL #10]
    Tears Of Rage (1) / Tears Of Rage (2) / Tears Of Rage (3) / Quinn The Eskimo (1) / Quinn The Eskimo (2) / Open The Door Homer (1) / Open The Door Homer (2) / Open The Door Homer (3) / Nothing Was Delivered (2)

    Cassette 4 [=REELS #20 & #13] + three songs
    Going To Acapulco / Gonna Get You Now / Wildflood Flower / See That My Grave Is Kept Clean / Comin' Round The Mountain / Instrumental Jam [NOT INCLUDED ON BT BOX] / Flight Of The Bumble Bee / Confidential To Me / Odds And Ends (1) / Nothing Was Delivered (3) / Odds And Ends (2) / Get Your Rocks Off / Clothesline Saga / Apple Suckling Tree (1) / Apple Suckling Tree (2)

    Cassette 5 [=REELS "2" and "3"] NOT LISTED On A Rainy Afternoon
    Belchezaar / I Forgot To Remember To Forget Her / You Win Again / Still In Town, Still Around / Waltzin' With Sin / Big River (1) / Big River (2) / Folsom Prison Blues / Bells Of Rhymney / Nine Hundred Miles [FRAGMENT version] / Goin' Down The Road / Spanish Is The Living Tongue / I Can't Come In With A Broken Heart / Come All Ye Fair And Tender Ladies / Under Control / Ol' Roison The Beau / I'm Guilty Of Loving You / Johnny Todd / Cool Water / Banks Of The Royal Canal / Po' Lazarus)
  11. RayS

    RayS A Little Bit Older and a Little Bit Slower

    Out of My Element
  12. HominyRhodes

    HominyRhodes Forum Resident

    I knew a bartender who used to make a toast with: "Here's to swimmin' with bowlegged women, and..." I'll let you guess the rest.
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  13. HominyRhodes

    HominyRhodes Forum Resident


    Now they asked me to read a poem
    At the sorority sister's home
    I got knocked down and my head was swimmin'
    I wound up with the Dean of Women

    Yippee ! I'm a poet, and I know it
    Hope I don't blow it.
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  14. Bennyboy

    Bennyboy Forum Resident

    That's the move and line Quint (Robert Shaw) uses in Jaws.
  15. davenav

    davenav High Plains Grifter

    Louisville, KY USA
    Not surprising. The Lo-fi, making-it-up-as-you-go, no drums aspect makes this a completely unique, acquired taste listening experience.

    Most folks have exactly the same initial reaction, before they get sucked into the singular dynamic that prevails throughout these sessions.

    Context is important.
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  16. Bennyboy

    Bennyboy Forum Resident

    It's not that it's lo-fi, it's more that it rapidly becomes boring and one dimensional.
  17. wdp33

    wdp33 Forum Resident

    Of the 19 songs on the set having multiple takes, I am curious about what songs people prefer an earlier take over a later take.
  18. fangedesire

    fangedesire Well-Known Member

    Thanks for listing the bootlegged cassettes; they help determine what was actually on some of the reels.

    Griffin's book is actually not that helpful as to the chronology, except for a few points (like Helm's return). His song order seems to be completely scrambled, and he also makes some questionable assertions. (For instance he states flat out that 'Bourbon Street' is from July '67, which given its presence on reel 16 right next to Blowin' in the Wind, seems doubtful.)

    My chronology partly rested on a few unspoken assumptions, which could be wrong....
    - How do we know the full 14-song acetate started circulating in October, rather than a later month?
    - What was the source for there being "20" reels? Heylin's clear that there are 16 extant reels; unfortunately his details are fuzzy, he doesn't say what's on all of them or exactly what counts as a reel, and it's vague how many "non-extant" reels he thinks there were.
    - I now think there was probably a recording gap in October, perhaps considerable. Helm came back, and there would have been some re-adjusting; Dylan went to Nashville for a session; and they moved the "basement setup" to Wittenberg Road. According to the box set notes, all the tracks on disc 5 are post-Helm and were recorded on Wittenberg Rd. (Though there are doubts about 'Goin' to Acapulco/Gonna Get You Now.')
    -Heylin used to say the basement recordings started in May/June and went to roughly November. Now he says they started in March and went into early 1968. Something must have changed his mind about the dating....but what? Another "Red Room" reel was found which could push the starting date earlier; but if we say that "reel 16" represents songs stretching from, say, November to Jan/Feb, those later months become notably less productive, which might make sense.
    - I don't know what Band-only reels exist from the basement. Are these listed anywhere? I've assumed that at the end of '67 they must have gotten more serious about rehearsing for their album, leaving less room for Dylan recordings in that period.
    - Levon Helm wrote that he recorded 'Nothing Was Delivered' with the band after Thanksgiving (that is, after the John Wesley Harding sessions were done). But he lists it among a group of Band-only songs that they worked on....I don't think he specifically mentions recording with Dylan at all, unfortunately. He may be thinking of a Band-only attempt at the song that we don't have.
    - The chronology post-Levon's return is really anyone's guess. For all we know 'All You Have to Do Is Dream' was recorded before 'Blowin' in the Wind.'

    I also had some questions about your reconstruction of Reel 16... You include a number of Dylan originals ('My Woman,' 'Mary Lou,' 'Dress It Up,' 'What's It Gonna Be,' and 'Wild Wolf') that aren't written on the reel box. There are some gaps and ?'s, so they could be on there.
    But I noticed Heylin said that the '71 copyright reel (which included these songs) was taken from reels 6, 15 & 16. The order of the copyright reel largely matches the song order on disc 5, except for some shuffling. But when he describes reel 16 at the end of his essay, he doesn't mention any of these songs as being on it. Is it possible some of these songs were actually on reel 15? (Heylin doesn't say a word about reels 14-15, so we presume they're lost, but maybe not?)
    Heylin artfully avoids saying that any reel is actually still lost - his essay makes it sound like all the music was eventually recovered from various dubs. Reading between the lines makes this doubtful, though. (What else could have been on the 'Sign on the Cross' reel??) I think, given the "official" nature of his essay, he had to hold his tongue, and we may have to wait for him to write about the reels elsewhere for more exact details.
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  19. HominyRhodes

    HominyRhodes Forum Resident

    I apologize for backtracking here, but when I first replied to this wonderful post, I forgot to mention a few more songs that came from the same group of reels, but were split up on the box set:

    Next Time on the Highway
    The Spanish Song (Take 1)
    The Spanish Song (Take 2)
    All American Boy
    Sign on the Cross

    (But you probably already knew that, right? :whistle:)
  20. Ted Pastuszak

    Ted Pastuszak Forum Resident

    Just a quick question or two regarding The Band-only basement tracks:
    1. Aside from the tracks on "A Musical History" set, I was curious if any of the other Band-only titles mentioned in Griffin's book were ever in circulation.
    2. Is there any way of defining a timeline for those non-Dylan tracks in relation to the Dylan and Band material. Presumably, The Band material were all on separate reels. Inquiring minds need to know! Thanks all for a real wealth of information in these posts.
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  21. HominyRhodes

    HominyRhodes Forum Resident

    re: Reels 14-15
    - Heylin intimates (somewhere, I can't recall exactly) that the tracks from these reels were used on composite reel #16

    re: "Missing reel #6"
    - There's confusion about this reel -- Haust labels the Belshazaar reel as #6. There was apparently a tape that's now missing, which may have contained All American Boy and Sign on the Cross, and possibly even Don't Ya Tell Henry and Bourbon Street (or those could have been from "Reel 12," with Goin't To Acapulco and Gonna Get You Now).

    re: Reel #16
    - I posted this screenshot earlier. If you rotate this image, you see additional tracks listed up the length of the box.


    91 Don't Ya Tell Henry [+ March 1971 copyright reel]
    92 Bourbon Street [+ March 1971 copyright reel]
    93 Blowin' in the Wind
    94 One Too Many Mornings
    95 A Satisfied Mind
    96 It Ain't Me, Babe
    + 114 If I Were a Carpenter
    97 Ain't No More Cane (Take 1)
    98 Ain't No More Cane (Take 2)
    99 ["?" ON LABEL] My Woman She's a-Leavin' [+ March 1971 copyright reel]

    100 Santa-Fe [+ March 1971 copyright reel]
    101 ["?" ON LABEL] Mary Lou, I Love You Too [+ March 1971 copyright reel]
    102 ["?" ON LABEL] Dress It Up, Better Have It All [+ March 1971 copyright reel]
    103 Minstrel Boy [left off March 1971 copyright reel because it had already been registered from the live version on Self Portrait)
    104 Silent Weekend [+ March 1971 copyright reel]
    105 ["BLUES" on label] What's It Gonna Be When It Comes Up [+ March 1971 copyright reel]
    106 900 Miles From My Home - "Mary Don't You Weep"

    [illegible along very edge of box?]
    + 111 Wild Wolf [+ March 1971 copyright reel]

    (OK, my brain hurts now.)
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  22. hollowhorn

    hollowhorn In Memoriam In Memoriam

    Isle of Asda
  23. DeeThomaz

    DeeThomaz Senior Member

    In The Felony Room
    It's probably getting tiresome to say it, but yet again I have to salute the SCHOLARSHIP on this thread.
  24. hoggydoggy

    hoggydoggy Forum Resident

    I think someone captured my feelings about the first takes really well earlier in the thread, in that they generally seem to capture Bob giving the vocal a little bit extra, whilst the second and "best" takes have more careful performances.

    In that context, whilst many of the second and third recordings of the canon songs capture sharper and more focussed ensemble performances, there are a couple of songs where Bob's contribution bottle the lightning of the moment - my votes, therefore, go to versions 1 of Lo and Behold! (henceforth known as the "Laughing Lo") and Odds & Ends.
  25. PonceDeLeroy

    PonceDeLeroy Forum Resident

    Laughing Lo! Liked that.
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