Home Music Music News

Bob Dylan Plots Massive ‘Blood On The Tracks’ Reissue for Latest ‘Bootleg Series’

The deluxe six-disc ‘More Blood, More Tracks’ is packed with previously unheard alternative versions of songs from 1975 masterpiece

bob dylan

The latest entry in the Bob Dylan Bootleg Series looks at his 1975 landmark album 'Blood on the Tracks.'

Barry Feinstein

Blood on the Tracks has always been one of Bob Dylan’s most mysterious albums, but the upcoming Bootleg Series More Blood, More Tracksset for release November 2nd, will finally reveal, piece-by-piece, how the 1975 LP came together over just six days at studios in New York City and Minneapolis, Minnesota.

A test pressing of the original album that pre-dated Dylan’s decision to recut five of the songs in Minneapolis has circulated within bootleg circles for decades, but the vast majority of takes on More Blood, More Tracks have never been heard. They include solo, acoustic renditions of “Tangled Up In Blue,” “Simple Twist of Fate” and “If You See Her, Say Hello” that are staggering in their intimacy and emotional rawness, a previously unknown cover of the standard “Spanish Is the Loving Tongue” and take after take of classics like “Idiot Wind” and “You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go” where Dylan fine-tunes the songs until he finds just the right arrangement.

 “This collection shows how the songs mutated and changed as Bob kept reapplying himself,” says a source close to the Dylan camp. “Even when the band isn’t quite working right, he’s still able to give 100 percent. He never wavers in his intensity.”

Dylan originally recorded the album across four days in September 1974 at A&R Studios in New York with producer Phil Ramone. For reasons he’s never fully explained, he recut five of the songs at Sound 80 Studio in Minneapolis three months later. Every single take from the New York sessions is on More Blood, More Tracks, but the outtakes from the Minneapolis sessions have been lost. “We have no idea what happened to them,” says the source. “We have the feeling that Bob only worked on those five tracks. If there was anything else, he was being pretty heavily bootlegged at the time, so maybe they were wiped. Who knows?”

Discerning Dylan’s motives decades later is practically impossible, but More Blood, More Tracks makes a convincing argument that he was seriously considering recording Blood on the Tracks as a solo, acoustic record. He’d been playing friends the songs on the acoustic guitar for months prior to cutting the album and he began the first day of recording totally alone. “It’s pretty apparent that Bob went in with a fully-realized concept of doing an acoustic record,” says the source. “At least that’s our belief. He does the first six or seven songs twice each and they are very polished.”

But after a couple hours that first day, bassist Tony Brown, drummer Richard Crooks, keyboardist Thomas McFaul and guitarists Eric Weissberg, Charles Brown II and Barry Kornfeld joined the musician. They struggled to match the simplicity of Dylan’s raw renditions of the tunes. “The way Bob works in the studio is instinctual and players are supposed to get it and play along,” says the source. “These guys were called in spur of the moment. They just couldn’t get their feel together. There are excellent players in the band, but they were flummoxed by the material and Bob was just moving so fast.” (He still filed an album to Columbia after four days of work, but just before Christmas he decided to hold the Minneapolis sessions with a different band.)

Bob Dylan – “If You See Her, Say Hello” (Take 1) from More Blood, More Tracks

Rumors of a Blood on the Tracks Bootleg Series have swirled for years, but the Dylan camp was reluctant to commit to it. “For a lot of years we’ve been trying to figure out how to do this,” says the source. “But it’s an unusual project because there’s just 12 songs, or 13 if you count ‘Spanish Is The Loving Tongue,’ and he’s trying to find his way into them. And there’s no outtakes from Minneapolis.”

They began to change their minds when they made digital copies of every bit of Blood on the Tracks material in the vaults for preservation purposes and listened back to the rough mixes. On the finished album, Ramone added in a ton of echo and sped up the tape by about three percent to sweeten the sound. “We thought it would be really interesting to see what the songs might sound like gently mixed in a way that brought out the closeness that we were hearing on these rough mixes,” says the source. “That made us think there was a whole other way of doing this and that there was something valuable to be done with this stuff. When you strip away the echo and run it at the right speed, there’s more of a verité sound. It’s sounds like you are in the room with Bob.”

Getting all of the information off the original tapes was a very delicate process. Tape from the 1960s, broadly speaking, tend to last for decades in the vault without many problems, though tape from the 1970s is often far more delicate. To prevent the oxide from falling off the tape and literally turning to dust once fed into a machine, technicians had to bake the them so the oxide would adhere to the tapes. “We’re always worried about what is going to happen to tapes in the future,” says the source. “Whenever we have a chance we try to bake the tapes and fix whatever we can.”

Ramone didn’t run multi-track tapes during every Blood on the Tracks take, so some of the recording were only captured on mono ¼” rough mixes. That’s preferable to the Minneapolis situation where everything but the masters are forever lost, but on More Blood, More Tracks those five masters have been remixed to provide listeners with a different experience than the album.

More Blood, More Tracks will be available as a one CD/two LP set featuring different takes of every song from the original Blood on the Tracks along with the outtake “Up To Me.” The six-disc set contains every single Blood on the Tracks recording in the Dylan vault. There’s also a hardcover book featuring notes by rock historian Jeff Slate and a reproduction of one of Dylan’s three Blood on the Tracks notebooks that includes page after page of his original handwritten drafts from the era, including many that he never attempted in the studio. It comes from the collection of George Hecksher, who donated it to the Morgan Library in New York. Two other Blood on the Tracks notebooks currently reside at the Bob Dylan Archive at the University of Tulsa.

More Blood, More Tracks – The Bootleg Seres Vol. 14 Complete Tracklisting

1 CD / 2LP

Tangled Up in Blue (9/19/74, Take 3, Remake 3)
Simple Twist of Fate (9/16/74, Take 1)
Shelter from the Storm (9/17/74, Take 2)
You’re a Big Girl Now (9/16/74, Take 2)
Buckets of Rain (9/18/74, Take 2, Remake)
If You See Her, Say Hello (9/16/74, Take 1)
Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts (9/16/74, Take 2)
Meet Me in the Morning (9/19/74, Take 1, Remake)
Idiot Wind (9/19/74, Take 4, Remake)
You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go (9/17/74, Take 1, Remake)
Up to Me (9/19/74, Take 2, Remake)

All Tracks Recorded
A & R Studios
New York 9/16 – 9/19/1974
Tracks Recorded 9/16 & 18
Bob Dylan – vocals, guitar, harmonica
Tracks Recorded 9/17 & 19
Bob Dylan – vocals, guitar, harmonica
Tony Brown – bass
All songs written by Bob Dylan

Six-CD Deluxe Edition

DISC 1

A & R Studios
New York
September 16, 1974

If You See Her, Say Hello (Take 1) – solo
If You See Her, Say Hello (Take 2) – solo – previously released on The Bootleg Series, Vols. 1-3: Rare and Unreleased, 1961-1991
You’re a Big Girl Now (Take 1) – solo
You’re a Big Girl Now (Take 2) – solo
Simple Twist of Fate (Take 1) – solo
Simple Twist of Fate (Take 2) – solo
You’re a Big Girl Now (Take 3) – solo
Up to Me (Rehearsal) – solo
Up to Me (Take 1) – solo
Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts (Take 1) – solo
Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts (Take 2) – solo – included on Blood On The Tracks test pressing

Bob Dylan – vocals, guitar, harmonica

 

DISC 2

A & R Studios
New York
September 16, 1974

Simple Twist of Fate (Take 1A) – with band
Simple Twist of Fate (Take 2A) – with band
Simple Twist of Fate (Take 3A) – with band
Call Letter Blues (Take 1) – with band
Meet Me in the Morning (Take 1) – with band – edited version included on Blood On The Tracks test pressing and previously released on Blood On The Tracks
Call Letter Blues (Take 2) – with band – previously released on The Bootleg Series, Vols. 1-3: Rare and Unreleased, 1961-1991
Idiot Wind (Take 1) – with bass
Idiot Wind (Take 1, Remake) – with bass
Idiot Wind (Take 3 with insert) – with bass
Idiot Wind (Take 5) – with bass
Idiot Wind (Take 6) – with bass
You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go (Rehearsal and Take 1) – with band
You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go (Take 2) – with band
You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go (Take 3) – with band
You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go (Take 4) – with bass
You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go (Take 5) – with band
You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go (Take 6) – with band
You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go (Take 6, Remake) – with band
You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go (Take 7) – with band
You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go (Take 8) – with band

Bob Dylan: vocals, guitar, harmonica
Eric Weissberg, Charles Brown III, Barry Kornfeld: guitars
Thomas McFaul: keyboards
Tony Brown: bass
Richard Crooks: drums
Buddy Cage: steel guitar (5-6)

DISC 3 

A & R Studios
New York
September 16, 1974

Tangled Up in Blue (Take 1) – with bass

A & R Studios
New York
September 17, 1974

You’re a Big Girl Now (Take 1, Remake) – with bass and organ
You’re a Big Girl Now (Take 2, Remake) – with bass, organ, and steel guitar –included on Blood On The Tracks test pressing and previously released on Biograph
Tangled Up in Blue (Rehearsal) – with bass and organ
Tangled Up in Blue (Take 2, Remake) – with bass and organ
Spanish Is the Loving Tongue (Take 1) – with bass and piano
Call Letter Blues (Rehearsal) – with bass and piano
You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go (Take 1, Remake) – with bass and piano
Shelter from the Storm (Take 1) – with bass and piano – previously released on the Jerry McGuire original soundtrack
Buckets of Rain (Take 1) – with bass
Tangled Up in Blue (Take 3, Remake) – with bass
Buckets of Rain (Take 2) – with bass
Shelter from the Storm (Take 2) – with bass
Shelter from the Storm (Take 3) – with bass
Shelter from the Storm (Take 4) – with bass – previously released on Blood On The Tracks

Bob Dylan: vocals, guitar, harmonica
Tony Brown: bass
Paul Griffin: keyboards (2-9)
Buddy Cage: steel guitar (3)

 

DISC 4

A & R Studios
New York
September 17, 1974

You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go (Take 1, Remake 2) – with bass
You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go (Take 2, Remake 2) – with bass – previously released on Blood On The Tracks

A & R Studios
New York
September 18, 1974

Buckets of Rain (Take 1, Remake) – solo
Buckets of Rain (Take 2, Remake) – solo
Buckets of Rain (Take 3, Remake) – solo
Buckets of Rain (Take 4, Remake) – solo

A & R Studios
New York
September 19, 1974

Up to Me (Take 1, Remake) – with bass
Up to Me (Take 2, Remake) – with bass
Buckets of Rain (Take 1, Remake 2) – with bass
Buckets of Rain (Take 2, Remake 2) – with bass
Buckets of Rain (Take 3, Remake 2) – with bass
Buckets of Rain (Take 4, Remake 2) – with bass – previously released on Blood On The Tracks
If You See Her, Say Hello (Take 1, Remake) – with bass – previously included on Blood On The Tracks test pressing
Up to Me (Take 1, Remake 2) – with bass
Up to Me (Take 2, Remake 2) – with bass
Up to Me (Take 3, Remake 2) – with bass
Buckets of Rain (Rehearsal) – with bass
Meet Me in the Morning (Take 1, Remake) – with bass – previously released on the “Duquesne Whistle” 7” single
Meet Me in the Morning (Take 2, Remake) – with bass
Buckets of Rain (Take 5, Remake 2) – with bass

Bob Dylan: vocals, guitar, harmonica
Tony Brown: bass (1-2, 7-20)

DISC 5

A & R Studios
New York
September 19, 1974

Tangled Up in Blue (Rehearsal and Take 1, Remake 2) – with bass
Tangled Up in Blue (Take 2, Remake 2) – with bass
Tangled Up in Blue (Take 3, Remake 2) – with bass – included on Blood On The Tracks test pressing and previously released on The Bootleg Series, Vols. 1-3: Rare and Unreleased, 1961-1991
Simple Twist of Fate (Take 2, Remake) – with bass
Simple Twist of Fate (Take 3, Remake) – with bass – previously released on Blood On The Tracks
Up to Me (Rehearsal and Take 1, Remake 3) – with bass
Up to Me (Take 2, Remake 3) – with bass – previously released on Biograph
Idiot Wind (Rehearsal and Takes 1-3, Remake) – with bass
Idiot Wind (Take 4, Remake) – with bass
Idiot Wind (Take 4, Remake) – with organ overdub – included on Blood On The Tracks test pressing and previously released on The Bootleg Series, Vols. 1-3: Rare and Unreleased, 1961-1991
You’re a Big Girl Now (Take 1, Remake 2) – with bass
Meet Me in the Morning (Take 1, Remake 2) – with bass
Meet Me in the Morning (Takes 2-3, Remake 2) – with bass

Bob Dylan: vocals, guitar, harmonica
Tony Brown: bass

DISC 6

A & R Studios
New York
September 19, 1974

You’re a Big Girl Now (Takes 3-6, Remake 2) – with bass
Tangled Up in Blue (Rehearsal and Takes 1-2, Remake 3) – with bass
Tangled Up in Blue (Take 3, Remake 3) – with bass

Sound 80 Studio
Minneapolis, MN
December 27, 1974

Idiot Wind – with band – previously released on Blood On The Tracks
You’re a Big Girl Now – with band – previously released on Blood On The Tracks

Sound 80 Studio
Minneapolis, MN
December 30, 1974

Tangled Up in Blue – with band – previously released on Blood On The Tracks
Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts – with band – previously released on Blood On The Tracks
If You See Her, Say Hello – with band – previously released on Blood On The Tracks

Bob Dylan: vocals, guitar, harmonica, organ (4-5), mandolin (8)
Tony Brown: bass (1-3)
Chris Weber: guitar (4-6, 8)
Kevin Odegard: guitar (6)
Peter Ostroushko: mandolin (8)
Gregg Inhofer: keyboards (4-8)
Billy Peterson: bass (4, 6-7)
Bill Berg: drums (4-8)

All songs written by Bob Dylan except Spanish Is the Loving Tongue (traditional, arranged by Bob Dylan)

New York sessions originally engineered by Phil Ramone

Minneapolis sessions originally engineered by Paul Martinson

In This Article: Bob Dylan

Show Comments

Newswire

Powered by
Close comments

Add a comment