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New Dylan release, an alternative version of 'Meet Me In The Morning,' reviewed

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Today is "Record Store Day," a joyous occasion when fans are encouraged to buy music from brick and mortar music shops, instead of generic chain retailers and online stores. To entice customers into their record stores, labels press special releases, often in limited quantities, frequently on vinyl.

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Of special interest to Bob Dylan fans is the 7" vinyl release of "Duquesne Whistle," from his recent album "Tempest." While that in and of itself is not really newsworthy, the b-side is something that has been kept under wraps for 38 years - an alternative take of "Meet Me In The Morning," from the "Blood On The Tracks" sessions.

Previously reported:

  • Bob Dylan — Duquesne Whistle (2012 Record Store Day Black Friday Release) ... 7-inch.
  • Limited edition indie store exclusive for Black Friday 2012.
  • Bob Dylan’s "Duquesne Whistle" with "Meet Me in the Morning" ("Blood on the Tracks" unreleased version) on the flip side will be on sale in US independent record stores from November 23th and will be limited to 5000 copies only.

The out take from "Blood On The Tracks" is apparently a teaser for "The Bootleg Series Volume 11," even though Volume 10 has not even been announced, yet alone released.

As previously speculated here, this version of "Meet Me In The Morning" was recorded in New York on September 19, 1974, with Dylan on guitar and vocals, and Tony Brown on bass. For those unfamiliar with the "Blood On The Tracks" saga, the short story is Dylan recorded an early version of the album in New York, and test pressings were sent out. After having a talk with his brother, Dylan rerecorded half the songs in Minnesota at the end of the year, and the official 1975 version was a hybrid of both sessions.

The early recordings have a more intimate, (instrumentally) mellow, acoustic vibe, except for, oddly enough, "Meet Me In The Morning." Numerous outtakes, including a version of the song in question with different lyrics entitled "Call Letter Blues," have been released on various CDs. Meanwhile, the five new tracks are generally more forceful and energetic, if less emotionally revealing.

Now we finally have a stripped down "acoustic" version of "Meet Me In The Morning." A totally different feeling going on than on the released version. More fragile, vulnerable. The experience of hearing this newly released alternate take is both shockingly breathtaking and oddly familiar. The classic sound of the New York sessions enters the brain and shoots right through your heart into your soul. It is now part of our collective DNA.

The extended instrumental introduction is a tour de force of Dylan's acoustic laid back blues guitar picking - raw, unpolished, heartfelt. Then comes the vocals. Dylan's phrasing begins with a deceptive plea, then goes through a whole range of emotions, from hope to self doubt to futility. It is similar to the album version, but there's more going on here, more ups and downs. Dylan's songwriting at this time was a breakthrough. He was going deep inside himself as no artist had done before. The pain here is real. You can feel it. Nearly four decades later, it has lost none of its impact.

Better than the original? Probably, but that's not the point. It's another chapter, another layer. I cannot get enough, and I doubt Dylan fans can either. If this is the tip of the iceberg, who knows what other treasures lie deep in the Sony's vaults? "Volume 11" cannot arrive too soon for me.

Keep up with Bob Dylan Examiner news. Just click on Subscribe above, or follow @DylanExaminer on Twitter. Harold Lepidus also writes the Performing Arts column for Examiner.com. Thanks for your support.

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