Music News: Unpacking Bob Dylan's 'Blood on the Tracks' Bootleg box


Bob Dylan's album 'More Blood, More Tracks.'
Bob Dylan's album 'More Blood, More Tracks.' (Columbia Records)
Unpacking Bob Dylan's 'Blood on the Tracks' Bootleg box
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The latest volume of Bob Dylan's Bootleg Series is out today, focusing on one of his most beloved albums: Blood on the Tracks. Beyond the fact that the 1975 album is a fan favorite, this six-disc release is particularly anticipated because of a longstanding debate over a crucial decision Dylan made when recording the album.

He recorded every song on the album in New York in September 1974, mostly recording with just a single bassist to accompany him. What could have been a very intimate Blood on the Tracks emerged from that session, and the album was slated for release...but then, at the last minute, Dylan decided to assemble an entirely different group of musicians, produced by his brother David Zimmerman in his home state of Minnesota.

Jackets had already been printed, so the Minnesota musicians weren't even credited for their work, but half of the album ended up coming from those sessions, including "Tangled Up in Blue," "Idiot Wind," "Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts," "You're a Big Girl Now," and "If You See Her, Say Hello."

Over the years, fans have furiously debated whether the Minneapolis session was a good idea. Some fans think the songs were "ruined" by the looser, more collaborative re-recordings. Others think the songs were improved, and the album gained wider range. After hearing the new release, Jon Pareles of the New York Times argues that...

In the end, Dylan knew best. The Minneapolis versions unleashed the suppressed anger in "Idiot Wind" and brought the momentum of a band to the long quasi-narratives of songs like "Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts." The New York versions of the songs were monochromatic and slightly forbidding, and they played down Dylan's dry humor.

The box also allows fans to hear alternate versions of some of Dylan's most mutable songs (he's frequently changed the "Tangled Up in Blue" lyrics when playing the song live), and crisper remasters of all the recordings.

More of this week's new releases

Tenacious D: Post-Apocalypto

Comedy rock duo Tenacious D have released their fourth studio album. This one, Post-Apocalypto, features Dave Grohl on drums and has an accompanying web series. The album tells the story of Jack Black and Kyle Gass surviving the apocalypse and learning how to survive, with songs like "Robot," "Woman Time," and "Save the World."

Pistol Annies: Interstate Gospel

Pistol Annies are a country supergroup: Miranda Lambert ("Lone Star Annie"), Ashley Monroe ("Hippie Annie"), and Angeleena Presley ("Holler Annie"). They formed in 2010, released two albums and were building momentum when, five years ago, they decided to cancel a tour to "take a breather," as Lambert says. When Lambert recently started a group text with a new song idea, the breather came to an end. Interstate Gospel is a rollicking ride full of the trio's indomitable spirit and classic country sense of humor on songs like "Stop Drop and Roll One."

Vince Staples: FM!

Vince Staples isn't putting a label on his latest release, FM! The 11-track, 22-minute release isn't an album; you can decide for yourself whether the semi-surprise release is an "EP," a "mixtape," or just a "project." FM!, which is mixed and hosted like a radio show, finds plenty darkness despite its party-friendly atmosphere and star-studded guest list, writes Pitchfork.

Bruce Springsteen: "Land of Hope and Dreams"

Bruce Springsteen's solo Broadway show has turned into a huge triumph, winning raves from critics and audiences and even earning the Boss a Tony. After a 14-month run at the Walter Kerr Theatre, Springsteen on Broadway will close on Dec. 15. That same night, a concert film documenting the show will start streaming on Netflix, and the preceding day will see the release of a soundtrack album. As a teaser, Springsteen has released the Broadway recording of the Wrecking Ball track "Land of Hope and Dreams."

Songs sampled in podcast
Jahzzar: "Comedie" (CC BY 4.0)
BoxCat Games: "Against the Wall" (CC BY 3.0)
Bob Dylan: "If You See Her, Say Hello"
Tenacious D: "Post-Apocalypto Theme"
Pistol Annies: "Stop Drop and Roll One"
Vince Staples: "FUN!"
Bruce Springsteen: "Land of Hope and Dreams"

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