A single visit to the studio in June was the source for Another Side Of Bob Dylan, and two sides’ worth of outtakes from it form the centerpiece of this set. Two incomplete, forced takes of “Black Crow Blues”, both on the guitar, demonstrate why the one on the album has piano. A 44-second excerpt of “Mr. Tambourine Man” seems to be included just because it can be, but four separate takes of “I Shall Be Free No. 10”, some with different words, show both how and why it was edited on the LP.
A tape recorded with Eric Von Schmidt (the blues guitar player he’d met in the green pastures of Harvard University) spans three sides and follows the pair running through blues riffs, R&B covers, silly impromptu songs and what appears to be the first recorded performance of “Tambourine Man”. If you’d rather hear him spar vocally with Joan Baez, four tinny “duets” are placed where they belong.
The rest of the material chronicles various live performances, beginning with a short set from Canadian television that closes with a nice version of “Restless Farewell”. Two of the records cover a London performance two years to the day before the notorious “Albert Hall” concert, recorded in excellent quality. “Walls Of Red Wing” and “Eternal Circle” are the rarities here, along with another “Restless Farewell”. The concerts on either side of the Halloween Philharmonic Hall show are, unfortunately, barely listenable; the intercom-quality sound in Philadelphia obscures the crowd’s laughter at “I Don’t Believe You” and their wonder at “It’s Alright Ma”, and renders the variations in “Talkin’ World War III Blues” inaudible. The California shows are a bit clearer but marred by the taper’s conversations. These would never have passed for official releases, so having them here to “protect” their copyright is laughable.
Somewhere out there somebody spent lots of money on one of the thousand copies of this set, and generously shared it over the Internet. Some people will buy anything.
Bob Dylan 50th Anniversary Collection 1964 (2014)—2½
CD availability: none; LP only