Later this month columbia records will release Biograph, the most comprehensive retrospective of Bob Dylan‘s career to date. The five-record boxed set features fifty-three tracks spanning the two decades from Dylan’s 1962 debut album to 1981’s Shot of Love. In addition to most of his best-known songs, Biograph includes eighteen previously unreleased recordings and three rare singles. At press time, Columbia had not set a list price for the set, although it is not expected to top $39.95.
Biograph has been in preparation for three years. While collecting material for the set, it was discovered that some Dylan master tapes had been mislabeled — not with titles but with bits of lyrics. Liner notes originally written for the set by rock critic Dave Marsh have been replaced by a thirty-six-page booklet featuring commentary by writer Cameron Crowe and a song-by-song explanation by Dylan. Dylan’s notes mark the first time he has divulged so extensively the meanings behind his lyrics and the events and characters that inspired them. The booklet also includes many previously unpublished photographs and opens with a picture of Dylan’s parents, Abraham and Beatty Zimmerman.
Appearing on an American album for the first time are the singles “Mixed Up Confusion” (1963), “Can You Please Crawl out Your Window” (1965) and “The Groom’s Still Waiting at the Altar” (the B side of the 1981 single “Heart of Mine”).
Among the previously unissued tracks are the Dylan classics “I’ll Keep It with Mine” (1965) and “Percy’s Song” (1963), made famous by other artists, including Fairport Convention. Live recordings include “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue” and “Visions of Johanna” (both 1966, solo), “I Don’t Believe You” (1966, with the Hawks, soon to become the Band) and “Isis” (a 1975 recording of the Rolling Thunder band from the Dylan film Renaldo and Clara).
Other previously unreleased tracks include “Jet Pilot” (1965), “Lay Down Your Weary Tune” (1963), “Quinn the Eskimo” (from the 1967 Basement Tapes), “Abandoned Love” (1975), “Baby I’m in the Mood for You” (1962), “I Wanna Be Your Lover” (1965), “Up to Me” (1974) and “Caribbean Wind” (1981), as well as alternate takes of “Forever Young” (1972), “You’re a Big Girl Now” (1974), “Romance in Durango” (1975) and “Heart of Mine” (1981).
This story is from the October 24th, 1985 issue of Rolling Stone.