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The Basement Tapes

Bob Dylan & The Band

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Album Review

The official release of The Basement Tapes — which were first heard on a 1968 bootleg called The Great White Wonder — plays with history somewhat, as Robbie Robertson overemphasizes the Band's status in the sessions, making them out to be equally active to Dylan, adding in demos not cut at the sessions and overdubbing their recordings to flesh them out. As many bootlegs (most notably the complete five-disc series) reveal, this isn't entirely true and the Band were nowhere near as active as Dylan, but that ultimately is a bit like nitpicking, since the music here (including the Band's) is astonishingly good. The party line on The Basement Tapes is that it is Americana, as Dylan and the Band pick up the weirdness inherent in old folk, country, and blues tunes, but it transcends mere historical arcana through its lively, humorous, full-bodied performances. Dylan never sounded as loose, nor was he ever as funny as he is here, and this positively revels in its weird, wild character. For all the apparent antecedents — and the allusions are sly and obvious in equal measure — this is truly Dylan's show, as he majestically evokes old myths and creates new ones, resulting in a crazy quilt of blues, humor, folk, tall tales, inside jokes, and rock. The Band pretty much pick up where Dylan left off, even singing a couple of his tunes, but they play it a little straight, on both their rockers and ballads. Not a bad thing at all, since this actually winds up providing context for the wild, mercurial brilliance of Dylan's work — and, taken together, the results (especially in this judiciously compiled form with its expert song selection, even if there's a bit too much Band) rank among the greatest American music ever made.

Customer Reviews

Tsk Tsk....

Let me first of all say that this collection pales in comparison to the actual 108 tracks that were recorded in these sessions. Monumental. There have been a number of books devoted to this period of time in Bob's life and I still read articles and such that speculate what Dylan was doing in Woodstock and why he " went into hiding". A Tree with Roots is the counterpart to this set of songs. All of which songs in the Tree With Roots are un mastered, original Reel-to-Reel recordings. If you like this album here, then go out in search of a Tree With Roots. Hard to find, but worth the hunt. I had to order mine from Japan and it cost me 150, but it was well worth it, so only if you are serious. But until you decide to go all the way, this should be enough to tide your hunger.

Lo And Behold!

There's no better way to start your morning than with Canadian hillbillies and a shape-shifter coming together underneath a house for the sole purpose of reinventing the public domain.

Only 2 Reviews?

its a great album & deserves more comment. I own the original Album/Record version. Even though like no one knows these songs there all amazing

Biography

Born: May 24, 1941 in Duluth, MN

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Bob Dylan's influence on popular music is incalculable. As a songwriter, he pioneered several different schools of pop songwriting, from confessional singer/songwriter to winding, hallucinatory, stream-of-consciousness narratives. As a vocalist, he broke down the notion that a singer must have a conventionally good voice in order to perform, thereby redefining the vocalist's role in popular music. As a musician, he sparked several genres of pop music, including electrified folk-rock and country-rock....
Full Bio

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