Bob Dylan fans will be able to take a deep dive into his critically lauded 1975 album “Blood on the Tracks” with the arrival on Nov. 2 of the latest volume of the ongoing “Bootleg Series” of archival reissues.
In “More Blood, More Tracks — The Bootleg Series, Vol. 14,” Columbia Records/Legacy Recordings have assembled a deluxe, limited-edition box set comprising six CDs of alternate takes and related songs Dylan recorded during sessions that yielded one of the most acclaimed albums of his storied career, one to which Rolling Stone devoted an extraordinary 6,000 words from a variety of writers assigned to assess its import.
The 87 tracks, including remixed and remastered versions of the finished songs on the album, include multiple versions of the BOTT songs. The collection stands to provide Dylanologists with rich fodder for exploring his creative process and hearing his songs evolve over even relatively short periods of time.
That evolution will be illuminated in the box set with chronological sequencing of each of the recording sessions. The set includes, for example, seven renditions of “Simple Twist of Fate,” nine recordings of “Idiot Wind,” 10 versions of “Tangled Up in Blue” and a dozen takes each of “You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go” and “Buckets of Rain.”
Among other songs that were recorded at the time but didn’t make the final cut for the album are three takes of “Call Letter Blues,” nine passes at “Up to Me,” and one recording of “Spanish Is the Loving Tongue,” the traditional folk song included on the 1973 album “Dylan,” which Columbia Records execs compiled and released with no input from the artist.
An accompanying hardcover photo book with extended notes on the album includes a reproduction of one of the notebooks Dylan used when writing the album’s songs, period photos, liner notes and other documentation of the 1974 recording sessions that took place in New York City and Minneapolis.
“Blood on the Tracks” represented a coup for Columbia Records in luring Dylan back after he had left the label and signed with Asylum Records, which released 1974’s “Planet Waves,” his reunion in the studio with the Band, and the subsequent double live album from their tour together, “Before the Flood.”
The new set will be available in two main configurations: the six-CD limited edition deluxe box set, and a single disc (mirrored in a two-LP vinyl edition) spotlighting remixed and remastered final takes plus one alternate take of each song, all culled from the New York recording sessions. It also will be available for streaming.
Liner notes by music journalist and Dylan specialist Jeff Slate note that many of the original masters had been sped up by as much as 3% for release, as was common in the day as a method believed to enhance songs’ appeal to radio programmers. “More Blood, More Tracks” will serve up the recordings at the original speed at which they were recorded.
“Dylan cut each of these amazing performances — some of the best he ever committed to tape — one after the other, live in the studio, without headphones, and without the types of overdubs that most performers rely on to make their records sound finished,” Slate writes.
“Instead,” he continues, “on these tracks, we find Dylan — just a singer with a guitar and a harmonica and a batch of great songs — delivering performances that thrill you when they’re supposed to and break your heart when they need to .... The performances are also in the purest state we’ve ever experienced them.”