The whole idea of the 50th Anniversary Collection Series is to prevent the recordings from legally entering the public domain in Europe, the first edition, from 2012, releasing tracks from 1962, was even called “The Copyright Extension Collection, Volume I”. The extremely limited editions was meant for only the chosen, or lucky, few, extending the copyright for possible future releases. As we know, this problem was in 1965-66 solved by releasing the complete studio work of those years in the Bootleg Series release “The Cutting Edge” (2015), the basement work from 1967 already released the year before, also a Bootleg Series release, “The Basement Tapes Complete” (2014).
This time Sony makes an exception as it for the first time first releases the Copyright Extension version, and then shortly after, due to popular demand, chooses to release the collection in a regular way, making it available for all with interests in digging as deep as it gets into Dylan’s work, or as bobdylan.com tells us: “The buzz surrounding the 1970 performances, notably Dylan’s studio sit-down with George Harrison on May 1, created a demand for a broader release of these historic tracks”. Knowing that one of the few Anniversary Edition sold already was on sale for more than 1000 $ on Discogs, I guess there will be many happy fans out there able to get the “74 previously unavailable studio performances” (and a few not so happy sellers).
The new release is a very beautiful eight-panel digipack, new cover art with pictures of Dylan in studio, and a little booklet with a few more pictures and the essay “This Is What This Shit Is” by Michael Simmons, reminding us about the Greil Marcus review of “Self Portrait”. What’s important to know is of course that this might be the last piece in a picture that includes not only “Self Portrait” (1970), but also “Another Self Portrait”, “New Morning” (1970) and “Dylan” (1973), and more than anything else gives us a very interesting insight in making us come a little bit closer to Dylan’s artistic process in this special period of his career. Simmons has been speaking with the great David Bromberg, and quotes him through the essay, also about Dylan’s voice through this period: “It was excellent singing”, states Bromberg. “At the time Bob was experimenting with different voices.” Indeed he was.
When it comes to the musical content, I’ve covered this thoroughly in an earlier blogpost, “Tales From A Lone Pilgrim’s Progress”. The only change from the Anniversary Edition, when it comes to the music, is that “Day of the Locusts” is moved from the wrong to the right day of the recordings, making it the last song on the third cd. Except for that the songs and the order of songs are the same. And as I’ve mentioned earlier, the sound is great throughout the set.
Some of the popular demand for these recordings, and a reason for this release, obviously comes from the knowledge of that Special Guest on some of the songs, George Harrison. Even if his contribution as “second fiddle” on the 1st of May recordings is charming, when we can hear him or his guitar, the fact that these recordings is released in this way, might be Sweet George’s most important contribution to this particular part of history.
Then again, the most important is the music, which you can read more about here.