Bob Dylan - The Basement Tapes

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Basements have long been associated with raw, off-the-cuff rock n' roll, the damp and dark spaces serving as the woodshedding venues for countless bands. Yet no basement is more famous, and none yielded music as familiarly weird, wholesomely American, joyously loose, and identifiably humorous as that in the upstate New York house dubbed Big Pink – the location where, during the summer and early fall of 1967, Bob Dylan and The Band played a vivid tapestry of covers, originals, and traditionals that signaled the advent of Americana. Once again, the Bard changed the world.

Fresh off experiencing a motorcycle accident and the wrath of audiences hostile to his embrace of amplified music, Dylan elected to retreat to the comforts of rural and family life. He soon began collaborating with members of the Band in his house, ultimately moving the sessions to Big Pink. Informal, peaceful, relaxed, open-minded: The collaborations blanket country stomps, roots hootenannies, forgotten spirituals, earthy originals, chaotic marches, dreamscapes, dance tunes, folk laments, catch-as-you-can improvisations. On The Basement Tapes, mythical ghosts and dead legends reappear, reveling in the absurdity, comedy, mystery, aura, and alchemy.

In Invisible Republic, his scintillating book about the sessions, cultural critic Greil Marcus states: "At a time when the country was tearing itself apart in a war at home over a war abroad, the music was funny and comforting; it was also strange, and somehow incomplete. Out of some odd displacement of art and time, the music seemed both transparent and inexplicable when it was first heard, and it still does." Indeed, The Basement Tapes appear to emanate from an indefinable chasm between modern and ancient, self-evident and mysterious, shapeless and fully formed, abstract and concrete, histories unwritten and chronicled. But every note chimes with freeness – a liberating fun, humble simplicity, and bond-creating camaraderie felt in every hoot, holler, laugh, and false start.

The Basement Tapes' capacity to remain so gloriously honest and timeless – performances that genuinely could've been made today, ten years from now, or back in the 1930s – helps account for their emotional resonance and unsurpassed reputation as a snapshot of how unencumbered American music, and art with deep historical roots and connective cultural tissues, is supposed to sound.

Two-thirds of the album's 24 tracks feature Dylan on lead vocals backed by the Band, and were recorded in 1967, eight years before the album's release, in the lapse between the recording and subsequent release of Blonde on Blonde and John Wesley Harding.

Heavyweight double vinyl pressed by We Are Vinyl for Columbia Records in 2017. Gatefold sleeve. Includes download card.

TRACKLISTING:

A1 Odds And Ends
A2 Orange Juice Blues
A3 Million Dollar Bash
A4 Yazoo Street Scandal
A5 Goin' To Acapulco
A6 Katie' Been Gone

B1 Lo And Behold!
B2 Bessie Smith
B3 Clothes Line Saga
B4 Apple Suckling Tree
B5 Please, Mrs. Henry
B6 Tears Of Rage

C1 Too Much Of Nothing
C2 Yea! Heavy And A Bottle Of Bread
C3 Ain't No More Cane
C4 Crash on The Levee
C5 Ruben Remus
C6 Tiny Montgomery

D1 You Ain't Goin' Nowhere
D2 Don't Ya Tell Henry
D3 Nothing Was Delivered
D4 Open the Door, Homer
D5 Long Distance Operator
D6 This Wheel's On Fire

 
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