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Bob Dylan’s complete ‘Basement Tapes’ to be released

The music that Bob Dylan and members of The Band so famously recorded in Big Pink, a nondescript house in upstate New York, in 1967 has intrigued fans for decades.

For the first time, a complete version of the famous Basement Tapes will be available. Columbia Records/Legacy Recordings is releasing the compilation Nov. 4.
For the first time, a complete version of the famous Basement Tapes will be available. Columbia Records/Legacy Recordings is releasing the compilation Nov. 4.Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

The collection of more than 130 recordings, known as “The Basement Tapes,” represents some of Dylan’s greatest and most popular works ever recorded. As mysterious as they are popular, a definitive and complete collection of the recordings has eluded even the most devout of Dylan aficionados.

Until now.

For the first time, a complete version of the famous recordings will be available. Columbia Records/Legacy Recordings is releasing the compilation Nov. 4 as the 11th installment of The Bootleg Series.

A two-disc collection of 39 highlight tracks will be released simultaneously.

The songs Dylan and The Band recorded during the sessions include some of Dylan’s most famous and oft-covered compositions, such as “The Mighty Quinn,” “This Wheel’s On Fire,” “I Shall Be Released” and “You Ain’t Going Nowhere.” In addition to the original compositions, the recordings feature the musicians’ take on songs written by Hank Williams, Johnny Cash and John Lee Hooker.

Band member Garth Hudson and Canadian music archivist and producer Jan Haust restored the quality of the recordings from the original tapes. The collection, presented in what is believed to be a chronologically correct order based on Hudson’s numbering system, includes previously unheard songs recorded in the “Red Room” of Dylan’s upstate New York home.

Dylan and The Band regrouped as Dylan recovered from a motorcycle wreck. The Band wouldn’t release its debut album, “Music From Big Pink” until 1968, an effort that included a trio of Dylan compositions that originated during “The Basement Tapes.”

Several of the songs were first bootlegged on 1969’s Great White Wonder. Six years later, Columbia Records officially released a scaled-back and heavily overdubbed collection of 16 tracks coupled with eight tracks from The Band without Dylan.

The recordings have been available in various incarnations on the black market for years, and a five-volume bootleg collection has been highly prized by Dylan fans. Still, even this more-complete collection did not include all of the tracks Dylan and The Band committed to tape in 1967, shortly before Dylan recorded John Wesley Harding.