Thursday, March 5, 2015

Bob Dylan - Songs For Dwarf Music




Bob Dylan - Songs For Dwarf Music
(soniclovenoize reconstruction)


Side A:
1.  Million Dollar Bash
2.  Yea! Heavy and a Bottle of Bread
3.  Please Mrs. Henry
4.  Crash on The Levee
5.  Lo and Behold!
6.  Tiny Montgomery
7.  This Wheels On Fire

Side B:
8.  You Ain't Going Nowhere
9.  I Shall Be Released
10.  Too Much of Nothing
11.  Tears of Rage
12.  Quinn The Eskimo
13.  Open The Door, Homer
14.  Nothing Was Delivered


This is a reconstruction of the 14-song acetate compiled in January 1968 of Bob Dylan’s Basement Tapes recordings for his music publishing company, Dwarf Music.  Intended for distribution to recording industry insiders in order to shop the songs around for other artists to cover, it was this acetate that was used to create the very first bootleg album, Great White Wonder.  Many believe this specific collection is the closest official word to a vintage, proper Dylan album compiled from the 1967 Basement Tapes recordings.  This reconstruction of that acetate uses the very best sources (namely the Bootleg Series vol 11) uses the correct takes in correct sequence and is presented in a unique mono mix.  As opposed to the overdubbed 1975 Basement Tapes album or even the 2014 Bootleg Series vol 11 box set, this reconstruction is how the material was originally presented and meant to be heard in early 1968.   Note that this is not necessarily an upgrade from my previous Basement Tapes reconstruction Big Pink, even though the sound quality certainly is an upgrade and they share 13 of the same 14 songs; both Songs For Dwarf Music and Big Pink attempt different goals through the same body of music. 

Infamously concluding his electric, amphetamine-fueled 1966 World Tour with a “debilitating” motorcycle accident, Bob Dylan was left to retire from the public eye and become the family-man he allegedly always wanted to be.  But his old desire to make music eventually crept in, which amounted to Dylan placing phone calls systematically to the members of The Hawks, his backing band for his previous tour.  Being on retainer, Robbie Robertson, Garth Hudson, Rick Danko and Richard Manuel—whom themselves were thinking about regrouping and renaming their own outfit into The Band—arrived to Dylan’s Woodstock home in the summer of 1967 and began simply jamming to old country, gospel and traditional standards while the world around them snacked on psychedelic pop.  Hudson recorded the highlights of the proceedings for posterity to two-track tape and the quintet quickly amassed a pile of reels, unsure exactly what to do with them.  The Basement Tapes were born.

But without a new Dylan album or tour on the horizon, manager Albert Grossman needed new product.  Thus the gears eventually shifted and the daily basement jams evolved into demo sessions for new Dylan compositions, intended to be sold to other artists.  Even though Dylan tailor-wrote each serious original for a specific artist, his originals were very different during this period, informed by the structure of the folk standards the quintet had jammed on during the previous months.  Dylan’s lyrics were paired down from the verbose poetics of Blonde on Blonde to be concise, with every singular line being important and justified; many songs became structurally and even thematically similar to sea shanties and drinking songs.  But the most notable characteristics are the full band arrangements, which often included: Dylan’s 12-string acoustic guitar and idiosyncratic voice; Rick Danko’s electric bass keeping the rhythm in Levon Helm's absence, reminiscent of Sun Records' drumless recordings; Richard Manuel’s piano keeping the backbone with Dylan’s acoustic; only Robbie Robertson’s tasteful electric lead guitar and Garth Hudson’s celestial electric organ remained from the previous year’s 'wild mercury sound’.  Remarkably, some of Bob Dylan’s most cherished songs spawned from these sessions and the Basement Tapes set the standard for Dylan’s concise songwriting method and style for his following albums, from John Wesley Harding up to Planet Waves. 

The first collection of demos was compiled by Hudson (who was acting as impromptu producer) in October 1967, a set of ten songs from Reels 8 & 9, sequenced in the order they were recorded (although “Tiny Montgomery” from Reel 4 was stuck in-between): Million Dollar Bash / Yea! Heavy and a Bottle of Bread / Please Mrs. Henry / Crash on the Levee / Lo and Behold! / Tiny Montgomery / This Wheel’s On Fire / You Ain’t Going Nowhere / I Shall Be Released / Too Much of Nothing.  It was this original tape that secured the initial covers of the Basement Tapes material, including Flatt & Scruggs take on “Crash on the Levee”, Brian Auger & The Trinity’s take on “This Wheel’s On Fire”, The Byrds take on “You Ain’t Going Nowhere” and Peter, Paul & Mary’s take on “Too Much of Nothing.”

With The Byrds and Peter, Paul & Mary charting with Dylan originals, Albert Grossman asked for more songs.  A second, five-song tape was compiled in January 1968 with the best songs from Reels 10 & 13 that included: Tears of Rage / Quinn The Eskimo / Open The Door, Homer / Nothing Was Delivered / Get Your Rocks Off.  Eventually the final song was dropped, and the remaining four songs were tagged onto the end of the previous 10-song reel, creating the final 14-song acetate that lead to Manfred Mann’s take on “Quinn The Eskimo” charting as well as The Byrds take on “Nothing Was Delivered”.  It was this 14-song configuration that made the most rounds in the inner circles, arriving not only in the hands of both music industry professionals and curious musicians, but in the hands of Jann Wenner who famously published an article about the great unreleased Bob Dylan album in Rolling Stone.   It also arrived in the hands of Ken and Dub who pressed their own  vinyl run of the material (coupled with recordings from 1961) and sold their wares under-the-counter to drooling Dylan fans starving for the originals of his currently-charting originals otherwise were unavailable to the general public.  Eventually dubbed The Great White Wonder, this was the first bootleg record. 

The mythology of The Basement Tapes grew throughout the 60s and 70s, largely due to the notoriety of those specific Dylan songs he never released, Wenner’s Rolling Stone article and the emergence of bootleg recordings.  Meeting the demands for an official document of the Basement Tapes recordings, Robbie Robertson with Levon Helm (who did not appear in the Basement Tapes sessions until the 14-song acetate was completed) compiled and then overdubbed a double album of the recordings in 1975.  While a great listen, the inherent faults of the album (anachronistic overdubs, poor sound quality of some source material, inclusions of unrelated Band material, exclusion of “I Shall Be Released” and “Quinn the Eskimo”) did not quench many Dylan fans’ thirst for the vintage Basement Tapes recordings.  Since then, a number of bootlegs including A Tree With Roots and The Genuine Basement Tapes offered a more vintage anthology of the available material.  Both sets were finally trumped by the official 6-CD box set The Bootleg Series vol 11: The Basement Tapes Complete, remastered (mostly) from the master reels, presented as a modern centralized stereophonic mix.  The epic box set was everything a Basement Tapes aficionado would desire, but it lacked one thing: a remastered reproduction of that original fourteen-song acetate for Dwarf Music, the recording that started it all, what many Dylan fans believe is the true missing Dylan album from 1967. 

Recreating the original 14-song acetate—what  I have titled here as Songs For Dwarf Music—is a much easier task than it appears to be.  All the source material is available on Bootleg Series vol 11 at the highest sound quality possible.  The one kink is that it is in stereo with an overly-centered vocal track, while the original acetate is in mono.  Furthermore, I propose the Basement Tapes were meant to be heard in mono all along for a few reasons:
1) All of the tapes were tracked live to two-track tape, with Dylan’s acoustic and vocal in one track and all of the remaining instruments in the other track.  The end result, if mixed to stereo, is a difficult listen, akin to the awkward mixes of early Beatles albums in which the vocals are trapped in one channel and instruments in the other.  The logical solution is to make a final mix in mono and I believe that was Hudson’s intention while recording it. 
2) Any compilation of this material would have been used for industry insiders and played mainly in corporate offices, professional locations with no concern for stereophonic setups. 
3) In 1967, mono was the standard anyways; it would take a couple more years for stereo to become the predominant format

But how would have these mono mixes have been prepared in 1967?  Luckily we have fairly decent audio samples of “Million Dollar Bash” and “Yea! Heavy and a Bottle of Bread” sourced from John Peel’s copy of the original acetate.  Using those mixes as a guideline, we can take the correct tracks from BS11 and split the left and right channels into separate tracks.  From there, the right channel (Dylan’s vocal/acoustic track) is reduced in volume by 28 dBs and the two tracks are remixed to mono.  The result is a mono mix with Manuel’s piano driving the song and Hudson’s organ up front in the mix, right behind Dylan’s voice.  This matches the levels found on John Peel’s copy of the acetate, which was how Hudson originally mixed the songs.  Making the assumption that all 14 songs were mixed this way, we apply these settings to all 14 songs (with the exception of “I Shall Be Released” which was already mixed with both channels at an equal volume on BT11; I instead created a mono fold-down that seemed to match the instrumental balance of the other 13 tracks). 

What songs should be included?  Luckily there is a lot of documentation that clarifies which takes were used and in what order, and we will follow that template (for better or for worse).  Side A of my reconstruction begins with take 2 of “Million Dollar Bash”, followed by take 2 of “Yea! Heavy and a Bottle of Bread”, “Please Mrs. Henry”, take 2 of “Crash on the Levee”, take 2 of “Lo and Behold!”, “Tiny Montgomery” and “This Wheel’s On Fire”.  Side B begins with take 2 of “You Ain’t Going Nowhere” followed by take 2 of “I Shall Be Released”.  Take 1 of “Too Much of Nothing” was used on the acetate (as opposed to take 2 featured and overdubbed on the 1975 Basement Tapes album) and Peter, Paul and Mary’s cover version logically reflects that arrangement.  Likewise, take 1 of “Tears of Rage” (as opposed to take 3 on the 1975 Basement Tapes album) and take 1 of “Quinn The Eskimo” (as opposed to the superior take 2 on Biograph and The Essential Bob Dylan) were both featured on the original acetate.  This reconstruction concludes with takes 1 of “Open The Door, Homer” and (regrettably) take 1 of “Nothing Was Delivered”.  While I don’t totally agree on these take selections (notably for “Nothing Was Delivered” and “Quinn The Eskimo”) we will concede to present an accurate artifact. 

The final touch is the cover art, inspired by the blank, generic Emidisc sleeve that often housed these type of acetates, featuring only a typewritten title and tracklist, with some tracks even mistitled!  Also included are scans of three (of the reported eight) copies of the actual acetate disc labels as well as a tapebox scan of the master reel of Hudson’s initial 10-song configuration from October 1967.  So while BT11 is an amazing document of the entire Basement Tapes, presented here is what the genuine article was originally meant to be, if anything at all.  


 

Sources used:
The Bootleg Series vol 11: The Basement Tapes Complete

flac --> wav --> editing in SONAR and Goldwave --> flac encoding via TLH lv8
* md5 files, track notes and artwork included
 

68 comments:

  1. I love what you do, and can't wait to hear the latest!

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  2. Many thanks, good sir. This ties in nicely with my re-reading of Levon Helm's excellent biography, "This Wheel's On Fire."

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    1. So...why don't you just make your own mixtape?

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    4. get over yourself simplelines. talk about an over-reaction to a simple, innocent question. wtf?

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  4. https://www.facebook.com/groups/edlis.cafe/permalink/759662310738970/

    Very fine work, appreciate it. ;-)

    EDLIS Café

    http://www.edlis.org/cafe

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  5. A big, loud, boisterous thank you for this! Exactly what needed to be done, carried out exactly as it needed to be. You saved a lot of us some work, because I'd bet 98% of the folks who bought the Complete Basements intended to do just what you've done here, if only we had your editing/balancing skills. This is perfect! Love this site, check it every day, thanks again for all your creative efforts!

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  6. Some great stuff, Bob Dylan from 1964-1976 is pure gold. Love some of his other albums too, Slow Train, World Gone Wrong, Tempest and Freewheeling from the early days are also all great albums flying just under the radar in comparison atleast in my opinion.

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  8. What about using this as an album cover:http://idesignalbumcovers.tumblr.com/post/18859126045/i-wanted-to-do-a-bob-dylan-basement-tapes-cover

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    1. That is really cool and a good idea, for those of you looking for a more proper cover.

      I actually created some proper artwork for this as well, but I ultimately chose not to include it and stick with the generic acetate mock up, because that's essentially what this is; it is not meant as a proper album (unless you want it to be, which is what people think of the 14-song acetate anyways!) so I didn't want to confuse the matter.

      There was ALSO some really great cover art created by a poster on the Steve Hoffman forums in one of the many threads devoted to BS11.
      http://i.imgur.com/6xXjR02.jpg

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  9. Hmmm, the last two releases on this blog have both be minor re-hashes of previous mixes. Come on Sonic, are you losing your inspiration?

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    1. There's only so many albums he can work with where the material is available in some form. But I agree it seems like a rehashing

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  10. With that all being said though, fantastic work on this one.... I know there are A LOT of other unreleased Zappa albums that you could possibly do... and that GD 1993/1995 album.... Promises Kept (The Supremes) is another you could do... FMRG is already on your Short-list, theres that Bob Dylan 71-73 album IF he had made the album... , Then there's Brent Mydland's SOLO album (1982), Robert Hunter's album "Alligator Moon" and "eagle Mall Suite", What about a "Last Hollies album (With Nash included) , Santana had an album from '76/79 that COULD be an unreleased album..., There's also a relatively unknown folk singer whom died too early Judee Sill, whom was working on an album in 73/74 before she died... tracks are out there and would be able to make her Third final album... the Miles Davis album i mentioned.... The John Coltrane thing... there's always more ;)

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    1. Eagle Mall Suite was just a long song RH wrote that he performed solo acoustic I thought. Wish the Dead had done it, I have heard that Jerry may have set some music to it in 69.

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    1. Okay, but I have to disagree. In fact, I'm surprised a post like this would even need to be defended on a blog that aspires to recreate the great lost albums of the rock era. The 14 song acetate, with it's mono sound and original take selections is one of Dylan's most iconic concoctions, and it's still unavailable anywhere. Yes, with a little work anyone could have recreated it now that we have the box, but the beauty is that we don't have to bother, this blog has provided the service for all. I'm delighted and thankful. I absolutely want this.

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    1. No disrespect to you, but I don't get your point. That, since "most 'lost albums' weren't ever among the serious stages of development" we shouldn't wonder what they might have sounded like if they had been developed? If you love music, if you love a band that has ever abandoned a project, how do you suppress the curiosity and interest in this kind of thing? Sure, you have to bend rules and make allowances, 'cause as you say, these albums never existed and half the time nobody knows exactly what the band was planning. But still, it's always fun and intriguing to see what people come up with to plug those gaps. There's a lot of fun in the links of this blog, the guy deserves the appreciation he gets. Alright, you see it as excessive, but what does it matter, why complain? People are genuinely appreciative of what they find here, that's a good thing.

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  14. Hey sonic, your awesome hobby is starting to get everyone hot and bothered here!

    How about creating a poll and let people vote for your next possible project?

    This could stop us all arguing!

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    1. Great idea! Here you go!
      http://strawpoll.me/3900753

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    2. Ouch! That's a tough decision there!

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    3. Soniclovenoize- isn't that poll featuring reconstructions you have already done? maybe the poll needs and update

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  15. Cool idea! I am interested to hear exactly what it was that Fairport heard.

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  16. I'd like to thank Sonic for what he does here; create an interesting and fun blog to visit. As most of our favorite performers have limited catalogs, it's nice to see a little fantasy ( and who can't use a good one now and then ?),when it comes to seeing unfinished or unrealized records reconstructed ? Appreciate what Sonic does here : it's a nice respite from the drudgery of daily life. I anxiously check daily to see if there's new offerings. Thanks again, Sonic; keep up the great work !

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  17. Nice, and truly appreciated. Thank you so much!

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  18. Would you be able to make a COMPLETE, FULL Rolling Stones "Rock & Roll Circus" concert, from using both the Rock And Roll Circus (album), any RNR Bootlegs you can find, as well as Rock And Roll Circus DVD-Audio / Extras found within the DVD, in a chronological performance order?

    It would be amazing. GREAT WORK TOO!

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    1. Thanks! They also were have said to performed/rehearsed "Confessin' The Blues", "Route 66" as well as "Look Over Yonder Wall" ... so we could find them from the rehearsal tape (which already has crowd noise within it...) and add that to the set. following the chronological order of performances.)

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  19. How about the rumored King Mathers album from Eminem that he recorded some songs for in the 2005-2007 timeframe. Some songs ended up on Relapse, but originally were recorded for this rumored album. Songs that could be used are Careful What You Wish For, Difficult, Syllables, My Darling, No Apologies, Jimmy Crack Corn, Public Enemy #1, Beautiful, Emulate, Ballin' Uncontrollably, Wee Wee, G.O.A.T., The Apple, It's Been Real, and 50 Ways. I don't know if you have ever done a rap album, but this could an interesting change of pace. Thanks for what you do

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  20. I've always imagined a better sounding Manassas: Down The Road album. (One with Mama Told Me So, Peace Of Mind, Love & Satisfy, White Nigger etc on it)

    That and Dennis Wilson's Bamboo should be great albums to recreate.

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  21. John,don't forget " Throughfare Gap" and "Witchin' Hour " for Down the Road. That lp you can actually do yourself with the Down the Road, Pieces, and Down the Road Outakes ( bootleg ) cds. Pretty easy, and lots to choose from. Could have been a great lp if not for Atlantics interference.

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    1. I have all of the tracks and could do a great sequence, but after basic editing in audacity I'm lost. Sonic must use some software and settings to equalise everything the way he does.

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  22. I still think you should do that unreleased "Days Between/ So Many Roads" album by The Grateful Dead :) It's VERY easy to make [with the sources in brackets]
    My Version of "Days Between" was this:

    1.Liberty (There And Back Again LP)
    2. Wave To The Wind (Soundcheck March 1993 Capitol Theatre)
    3. Corinna (Evening Moods LP)
    4.Lazy River Road (Studio Rehearsal)
    5. Eternity (Studio Demo)
    6.So Many Roads (Studio Rehearsal)
    7. Way To Go Home (Studio Rehearsal)
    8. Days Between (Studio Rehearsal)
    9. Easy Answers (Studio Demo)
    10. Childhood's End (Live SBD Phil/Friends May 27th,2000)

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  23. I've always felt "Nico" to be more of a compilation album because of the covers/ older tracks on it. What if you gave Blind Melon a PROPER last album, as well as a PROPER 1991 EP that was blocked for sounding "too polished" with Shannon Hoon? Something like this:

    "Sippin’ Time Sessions" EP

    Soul One (20th anniversary Blind Melon)
    Mother (20th Anniversary Blind Melon)
    What You Lost (The Head Train Demos)
    Rebirth (The Head Train Demos)
    Wooh G.O.D (Tones Of Home Single)

    “Nico"

    Hell (Nico)
    Soup (Soup Demos)
    All That I Need (From Shannon, To You and You and You and You”)
    Glitch (Nico)
    Life Ain’t So Shitty (Nico)
    Swallowed (Soup Demos)
    Pull (Soup Demos)
    Every Day (The Way You Looked Before) ("From Shannon, To You and You and You and You”)
    Frosting A Cake (Soup Demos)
    Letters From a Porcupine (“From Shannon, To You and You and You and You”)

    It could be a joint post since the ep is only 5 tracks...

    As well as BM releasing a cover EP with all their covers:

    1. Candy Says (No Rain Single)
    2. Out On The Tiles (Encomium: Tribute to Led Zeppelin album)
    3.Three Is A Magic Number (Schoolhouse Rocks Tribute album)
    4. Me & Bobby McGee (2 Meter Sessies)
    4. The Pusher (Nico)
    5. John Sinclair (Nico)

    What do you think? Good idea? :) It would be stellar!

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  24. Another request: Mad Season's 2nd album: here are the tracks and what you could add to complete it:

    Mad Season 2nd Album

    Locomotive (“Above” Mad Season 20th anniversary Reissue)
    Black Book of Fear (“Above” Mad Season 20th Anniversary Reissue)
    Interlude (“Above” Mad Season 20th Anniversary Reissue)
    I Don’t Wanna Be a Soldier (Working Class Hero: A Tribute To John Lennon)
    Slip Away (“Above” Mad Season 20th Anniversary Reissue)
    Get Born Again (Alice In Chains - Nothing Safe: Best Of The Box)
    Died (Alice In Chains - Nothing Safe: Best Of The Box)
    Last One In The World (Mark Lanegan - Scraps At Midnight (1999)
    Things You Do (Layne Staley and The Aftervibes- unreleased song (bootleg))
    Ash Grey Sunday (Screaming Trees - Last Words: The Final Recordings)

    This is what couldve been… if only.

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  25. Green Day's 39/Smooth album & Sweet Children &Slappy EPs combined make a great listen of an album (15 Tracks when removing Kiffmeyers "I Was There" Track.)

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    1. 1039 Smoothed Out Slappy Hours!

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    2. Yes, I've got that CD actually, i just don't like how the '88 stuff is with the '90 stuff... as well as the Kiffmeyer track and the Operation Ivy cover...

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  26. A live at Woodstock series would be appreciated, for example gather all the best sources and put together Tim Hardin's set. Arlo Guthrie's set can be gathered pretty easily. But what would be really cool is if you could take the sources and still make it seem like a flowing set, a lot of edits would have to be made and unmade. And research into setlists and songlengths. Example is If I were A Carpenter by T Hardin, a lot of released versions are actually an edited version that has verses cut out.

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  27. The Misfits- 12 Hits From Hell would be another good one.

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    1. Oh this is a good one, I'll look into it!

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  29. FYI (and I hope this ends the debate) Dylan just released a reproduction of this very acetate on Record Store Day as a limited edition vinyl-only release. It's allegedly remastered from Garth's own master of the 14-song demo and it sounds remarkably close to my reconstruction.

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  30. Thank you! Great job!

    shared it on facebook in "Subterranean Homesick Bob" ;)

    https://www.facebook.com/groups/362182460459536/permalink/999599250051184/

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  31. Would this benefit from an upgrade, or is everything here the same quality as on the big box set?

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    1. Everything here *is* sourced form the big box. ;)

      BUT I will say that I would recommend seeking out the Record Store Day vinyl-only release of The Basement Tape, which is the REAL DEAL of what this reconstruction is. It is actually a remaster of Garth Hudson's orignal mono mixdowns... and sounds amazing!

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    2. Crap, I meant to post this on the Big Pink set.

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  32. I read your post and I want to say that it is very good and informative. I like it and I appreciate you for your effort about music.

    pauljg1.livejournal.com/

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  33. Thank you for helping people get the information they need. Great stuff as usual. Keep up the great work!!! Checks by phone

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  34. I'm bored can you help me what music should i listen?
    Diola - PLAY

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  35. You really just need to put together the whole tracklisting of GWW in the best quality/mix, now that the full basement tapes are out there. love yr work.

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