By Brian Ives
Sony Legacy has revealed that they’ll be releasing the next installment of Bob Dylan‘s Bootleg Series. Titled The Basement Tapes Complete: The Bootleg Series Vol. 11, the collection is credited to Bob Dylan and the Band. The six-disc set, including 138 tracks, is available for pre-order at Amazon and iTunes.
The collection draws from Dylan’s legendary 1967 sessions with the musicians who would later name themselves “The Band.” But for those who are unfamiliar with that era in Dylan history, here’s some context: After a few years as one of pop’s most significant voices in the ’60s, Dylan took a break in July of 1966, when he was reported to have been injured in a motorcycle accident (Dylanologists have long debated whether or not that was just a ruse).
What is agreed upon is that Dylan retreated to upstate New York, where he recorded lots of new music (reportedly over a hundred songs) with Robbie Robertson, Rick Danko, Richard Manuel, Garth Hudson and, later, Levon Helm, in the basement of a small house, dubbed “Big Pink” by the group, in West Saugerties. Their recordings included traditional covers as well as dozens of newly written Bob Dylan songs, including “I Shall Be Released,” “The Mighty Quinn,” “This Wheel’s On Fire” and “You Ain’t Going Nowhere.”
In June of 1968, Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner heard many of the tracks and wrote: “There is enough material — most all of it very good — to make an entirely new Bob Dylan record, a record with a distinct style of its own. Although it is highly unlikely that Dylan would want to go into the studio to record material that is now seven or eight months old, nonetheless these tapes could easily be remastered and made into a record. The concept of a cohesive record is already present.”
Curiosity among Dylan fans reached a fever pitch, which led to what is often referred to as the very first “bootleg” record. In 1969, the unauthorized recording known as “Great White Wonder” began showing up in record shops around the country.