Ten of swords.  The most famous Bob Dylan bootleg of all time.  In addition to the 134 previously unreleased tracks from 1961 to 1966 that were included on the eight + hours of music, the other wonderful thing about the set was the 16 page book that was included.  The text, mostly written by Paul Cable, included sections with comments on every album side. 

There were some problems with the book, though.  One of the problems was that the type set was small and sometimes hard to read.  The biggest problem is that most people who would like to have a copy of it, don't.  The restrictive price of the set, and the rare occurrence of it ever being for sale, severely limits the availability.  While some have copies of the Ten of Swords on cassette tape or CD-r, most do not have a copy of the book.  That is the purpose for this section.  We have faithfully reproduced the book so that it may be made available to all who desire to see it. 

A third problem with the book was that it was not professionally proofread and edited.  There are many, many problems with the grammar and punctuation.  For the sake of historical accuracy however, we have reproduced the book exactly as it was written. 

This explanation section, obviously, was not part of the original text.  For convenience, we have included a section of links entitled 'Songs and Subjects' that was not part of the original text.  In the booklet Contents Section, the title of each section was followed by a corresponding page number.  Instead of listing the page, we have made each title in this section linkable to its' corresponding page.  The '(side xx)' that follows the page titles in the Contents Section are part of the original text and refer to the album side that this particular section is in reference to. 

Other than the conveniences we have listed here, this entire section is reproduced directly from the original book.  If you would like to actually view the cover and artwork of the booklet click here


The Minnesota hotel tapes (side 1, 2, and 3) 
Early studio sessions ["Bob Dylan" outtakes] (side 4) 
The Leeds music demos (side 5) 
"The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan" session outtakes (side 6) 
M.  Witmark and Sons music publishers demos (sides 7 and 8) 
Gaslight Cafe (sides 9, 10, and 11) 
Live in concert 1963 and New York town hall and Carnegie Hall (side 12) 
Miscellaneous (side 13) 
"The Times they are a-changin" sessions outtakes (side 14) 
"Another side of Bob Dylan" session outtakes (side 15) 
"Bringing it all back home" and "Highway 61 revisited" outtakes (side 16) 
"Highway 61 revisited" sessions outtakes (side 17) 
The Band sessions (side 18) 
Royal Albert Hall concert 1966 (sides 19 and 20)        Return to Top

Songs and Subjects
Click directly on each individual song title below to locate it in the booklet

Baby I'm In The Mood For You   Baby Please Don't Go  Ballad For A Friend    Barbara Allen Black Cross
Bringing It All Back Home California Candy Man    CBS folly    Cocaine Corrina Corrina    Cough Song (Suze)
Desolation Row  Dusty Old Fairgrounds     East Laredo Blues    Ed Sullivan Story  Eternal Circle    Farewell
Guess I'm Doing Fine  Hard Times In New York Town    He Was A Friend Of Mine    Hezikiah Jones Highway 61
I Wanna Be Your Lover I Was Young    If I could Do It All Over    I'll Keep It With Mine It's All Over Now Baby Blue
Last Thoughts On Woody Guthrie Lay Down Your Weary Tune    Lonesome Whistle    Long John   Love Minus Zero
Mama You Been On My Mind Man on the Streets    Man of  Constant Sorrow    Miami Sales Conference
Mixed Up Confusion Moonshine Blues     Mr Tambourine Man New Orleans Rag No More Auction Block
Only A Hobo  Paths Of Victory    Percy's Song  Please Crawl Out Your Window  Poor Boy Blues  Rocks And Gravel
Sally Girl   Seems Like A Freeze Out    Seven Curses She Belongs To Me   She's Your Lover Now
Sitting On A Barbed Wire Fence Standing On The Highway    Story of East Orange  Talkin' Hava Negila
Talkin' Bear Mountain  Thats All Right    Walls Of Redwing Whatcha Gonna Do?    Who's-a-Gonna?
Woody's VD Songs   Worried Blues

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The objective of this album is to provide a comprehensive and virtually chronological catalog of recordings made by Bob Dylan between the years 1961 through 1966 that were not made available to the public by his record company.  We've sought out and obtained what are perhaps the best quality tapes in circulation of all material contained herein.  This set is not to be confused with any of the "Bootleg" albums that previously appeared.  None of the material contained here was derived from any of those albums.  Although it is true that much of the material in this set has previously appeared on such records, in every instance the other records feature the material in noticeably lesser sound quality.  A few words about the type of product is called for: there have been scores of underground releases of Dylan material, the first being the infamous but nevertheless sub-mediocre Great White Wonder .  Although a few of these "Limited Edition" records were of reasonably high-quality, they were the exception to the rule.  Overall, Dylan bootlegs are awful.  Seldom was there any kind of logical cohesion to the presentation of the material, and frequently the sound quality of the tapes used for mastering were dismal.  Frequently these records were merely copied from other bootlegs causing further deterioration of Fidelity.  Adding insult to injury was the low-grade vinyl the records were pressed on. 

This set avoids all of the aforementioned pitfalls.  We selected for inclusion what we felt to be the most essential material from Dylan's most creative era... and every effort has been extended to insure that this material is presented in the best form possible.  Deficiencies heard on these discs will generally be minor, and they exist on the tapes and acetates used in the mastering of this product.  In a nutshell, kids, you'll like what you here. 

This little booklet is provided in an effort to enhance your enjoyment of this material by giving you a bit of background as to the recording particulars (dates, places) as well as review, subjectively, the songs themselves.  I don't regard Dylan as a messiah.  I regard him as a person who on the whole was very good at writing and singing songs; and as a personality who was very good at resisting pressure to conform to the string of hypes the that people in that sort of jobs are subject to.  Major proportion of their recordings here are very high artistic standard, some of it is admittedly throwaway stuff.  The justification for inclusion of some of the material is to give an honest and more complete look at the work of a man who had such a profound impact on the music of the 60's and beyond ... and consequently on society itself.  Somehow even sub-standard Dylan songs from the period covered here tend to sound good today. 

There's a lot here to listen to.  Over eight hours of music.  We don't recommend listening to it all in one or two marathon sittings.  That would be gluttony.  Rather we recommend listening to it in one or two chapters at a time.  The music is divided up into neat little chapters each spanning one, two, or three album sides.  Savor it.  Take your time.  You'll be well rewarded.  The power in the songs is still as potent as they were when recorded 20 odd years ago.  We are proud to have been able to play a role in making this music available to you. 

(Most of the text in this book was written by Paul Cable.  However, Mr. Cable is in no way responsible for compilation, production, or manufacture of this project.  He has never even met the culprits.  So leave him alone). 

This album was compiled by: 
 Carla Rotolo, chairperson 
of the board, P.S.A.*
(* Parasite Sisters Anonymous)

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"Minnesota hotel tapes"

The first three sides of this set featured the so-called "Minnesota hotel tapes".  In actuality, these recordings were made by Tony Glover in the home of Dave Whitaker in Minneapolis on December 22nd, 1961.  ... accept for some tracks recorded a few weeks earlier at Columbia Studios (and featured on side four) this is the earliest material to be featured in this collection.  Dylan's roots are well illustrated by this varied assortment of traditional numbers and songs written by others.  There are some other good performances here and a few of the songs are perhaps preferable to some of the material on his first official album.  Forgive me for not commenting on each individual number, but there are a few I feel inclined to single out for discussion. 

Although it was apparently the first song he performed that evening, it sounds as though Dylan was already pretty well oiled by the time he did "Candy Man".  I do not know what the words are supposed to be, but I don't think their original version contained the line "Run and get the buggy get the baby some beer".  A portent of things to come perhaps-if you and imagine an electric backing that line would not be amiss in "Stuck inside of mobile with the Memphis blues again". 

Greil Marcus, in his Rolling Stone magazine article, praised the guitar work on "Baby, please don't go" ... and I have to agree.  It is very strident, very precise, and generally a bit more effective than a lot of Dylan's playing.  The vocal is likewise good and strikes a nice feel halfway between self pity and humor. 

"Hard times in New York town" is an adaptation of the traditional number called "Hard times in the country working on Ketty's farm".  The song, which has a plucky guitar accompaniment, is basically a complaint about what a cut through place New York is.  The song is one of the most Dylan-ish things recorded that evening.  It's easily good enough to have gone on the first album 

Of interest here also is a little "Folk opera", if you will, made up of a quartet of Woody Guthrie songs dealing with the dreaded VD.  "VD city" with its pleasant melody and highly evocative, if slightly over romantic lyrics about people lying around in gutters and doorways rotting to death is intriguing.  The fate just described, tells us what you get for an hour of passion and vice.  Not a particularly enlightened philosophy , but what the hey, it's only a song.  Come to think of it, an hour of passion and vice nowadays could land you a case of AIDS.  Maybe that song is more enlightened than it seems. 

"Man of constant sorrow" would warrant considerable praise were it not for the Superior version on Bob's first album.  That version contains rather less strained notes but not the coughing that occurs on this version.  (coughing, of course, makes up a considerable portion of any worthwhile Dylan collection).  Dylan's version of "Cocaine" is very pleasant and so also is " Stealin' " which contains some nice observations about the nature of male to female relationships. 

Somewhere along the way Dylan's got turned on to the immaculately hip aristocrat himself, the inimitable Lord Richard Buckley. Inimitable or not, Dylan nevertheless manages to pull off a surprisingly faithful performance of his lordship's skit "Black cross" (sometimes mistakenly referred to by the title "Hezekiah Jones").  Dylan no doubt heard Buckley's recorded version on the 1959 album "Way out humor".  The story is spoken, not sung ... and Dylan adds the accompaniment of a simply strummed guitar.  He manages a good mimic of Buckley's interpretation of the sound of the voice of Hezekiah's indolent, simple-minded neighbors ... the southern louts who were to lynch the black farmer for not believing in God or the church.  If one is only familiar with Dylan's version it is difficult to imagine that this was originally conceived and performed in a humorous vein (though obviously with a serious underlying message) but one would have to be familiar with Lord Buckley's work to understand. 

"I was young when I left home" is a bit too long and a trifle gushy but it's still good.  Actually, just about everything from the Minnesota tapes is worthwhile.  In fact, the only awful number, and the track that bears the dubious distinction of possibly being the worst song in this entire box set is "Long John".  It's one of those super ethnic Dave Ray train hollers: and it's pretty dismal.  I think the reason it comes over so badly is that it's pure hype and what Dylan was about was the opposite of hype. 

There is another track which is basically awful, but it's so bad that it's almost good.  (note that I said "Almost").  The track I speak of is "The story of East Orange, New Jersey".  Dylan is talking about a dream he had that was inspired by everyone in East Orange being chess-mad. What is funny is certainly not the story itself, but the way he lets you know he has just done the punch line by self consciously adding "That's a little story about East Orange, New Jersey". 

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"Bob Dylan" outtakes

Outtakes from Dylan's earliest studio sessions are featured on this side.  The first track, "Sally Girl" (an adaptation of Woody Guthrie's "Sally don't you grieve") is a newly discovered recording that has not previously seen the light of day ... even on underground albums.  Most of the songs were recorded during the sessions for Bob's eponymously titled album.  The sessions took place at Columbia Studios on November 20th and 22nd, 1961. 

It seems fair enough that a few of these tracks did not get on the first album.  The quality level just wasn't there.  "Milk cow blues", "Going to New Orleans" and "Witchita" are only a bit better than drab.  "Baby, please don't go" is good, but it doesn't hold a candle to the Minnesota version on side one.  Exceptions however are "Talkin' bear mountain", " worried blues", and "I heard that lonesome whistle" which are all excellent.  "Bear Mountain" is really funny in places.  But possibly one reason it was not used on "Bob Dylan" is that "Talkin' New York" was just a bit funnier.  "Bear Mountain", to my mind though, is as good as "World War III blues".  I assume that the latter fit the " Freewheelin' " image better. 

Hank Williams' "Lonesome whistle" is a good gutsy tune to which Dylan does ample justice.  The guitar and vocal are well-balanced and the whole effect is undemandingly pleasing.  "Worried blues" also has an attractive tune.  So attractive in fact that it allows Dylan to get away with it's very simplistic and repetitive lyrics.  "Talkin' Hava Negila" is a bit of a goof off that gave a clue to Dylan's than secret background.  A version of "Quit your lowdown ways" is said to have been reported at the "Bob Dylan" sessions.  If so, that version was not our disposal.  So the Witmark demo of that song is what we've used to close side four.

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He was a friend of mine (traditional) (4:00) 
Man on the street (false start) (1:07) 
Hard times in New York town (traditional) (1:35) 
Talkin' Bear Mountain picnic massacre blues (3:35) 
Standing on the highway (4:00) 
Poor boy blues (2:55) 
Ballad for a friend (2:20) 
Man on the street (1:27) 
Rambling, gambling Willie (3:30) 

( Note: The box cover and  record label copy mistakenly listed only eight songs on this side ... omitting "Poor boy blues".  The correct track listing and sequence of the Leeds music demos appears above) 

There is material here of which no other Dylan versions are known to exist.  There is also material that appears elsewhere in this album.  Some of it superior, some of it inferior to the other versions.  For instance the version here of "Talkin' Bear Mountain" from the point of view of both timing and delivery is not nearly as good as the version on side four.  On the other hand, "Rambling gambling Willie" has the edge over the version on side six.  Again, "Hard times in New York town" does not, go over nearly as well as the Minnesota version on side one.  Largely because of the hurried way Dylan dashes it off giving the impression he is bored with it.  One reason perhaps why it never got on an official album. 

"He was a friend of mine" has been done by the Byrds with lyrics changed to refer to John F. Kennedy.  Dylan's version is nice, but not as good as another song here that expresses much the same sentiment ... "Ballad for a friend".  Both songs mourn the death of a friend, but while "He was a friend of mine" has a slight aura of hyped sentimentality, "Ballad for a friend" simply draws a gentle and evocative sketch of the relationship between the singer and the dead friend in terms of their shared background.  It has a much better tune as well.  Definitely the best song on this side 

One gets the impression that "Poor boy blues" is one of those prototypes that might have developed into something better if Dylan had pursued it.  "Standing on the highway", on the other hand, is a well worked out blues number. that makes good use of a cascading guitar riff and comes off very successfully.  Another song that definitely could have gone on an official album. 

Not really up to the official standards are either of the takes of "Man on the streets".  The lyrical content is very similar to "Only a hobo" (see side 14) but it does not come off nearly as well as the latter because it doesn't have much melody to speak of and because Dylan sounds as if he has sung it hundreds of times before and has had enough.  Admittedly this impression does not tie in with the fact that the reason he does two takes is because he forgot the words the first time around.  But perhaps one should bear in mind that he forgot the words to "Like a rolling stone" at the Isle of Wight, and he had sung that song a few zillion times before. 

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The "Freewheelin" sessions

The original "Freewheelin Bob Dylan" was withdrawn by Columbia very soon after being issued, and four of its songs ... "Let me die in my footsteps", "Talkin' John Birch paranoid blues", "Rocks and gravel" and "Rambling gambling Willie" were replaced with "Masters of war", "Talkin' World War III blues", "Girl from the North Country" and "Bob Dylan's dream" 

"Talkin' John Birch" seems to have been the main reason for the withdrawal of the original.  Dylan was to make an appearance on the Ed Sullivan show and refused to do so after the program controller vetoed his doing "John Birch" on the grounds that, presumably, anything anti-anti-Communist must be pro-communist.  Ed Sullivan was on the CBS TV network.  The "C" in CBS stands for Columbia.  Word about this snafu got back to the recording division.  Somewhere along the line came a directive to drop the song from the album.  Why the other three songs were withdrawn as unclear.  "Rocks and gravel" and "Rambling gambling Willie" may have been dispensable, but "Let me die in my footsteps" is a great song.  This album side features all of the songs deleted from the original "Freewheelin" (except for "Rocks and gravel", a studio version of which appears on side 13) plus the other songs recorded at the "Freewheelin" sessions. 

The versions here of "Mixed up confusion" and "Corrina Corrina" are different than any of the released versions of those songs.  "Mixed up confusion" is a primitive rock song.  Interesting academically, but not especially musically aesthetic.  It's Dylan living out his Little Richard fantasy.  "Baby, I'm in the mood for you" somehow doesn't quite come off either.  Dylan's rushed delivery, though intentional, renders the song somehow not quite as engaging as it might have been.  Dylan reportedly also recorded "The Death of Emmett Till" at these recording sessions, but the version that closes side six is probably the Witmark demo recording. 

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The Witmark demos 

Depending on whose list you go by, there are upwards of 40 tracks contained in the catalog of songs known as the Witmark and Sons demos.  A few of them are sprinkled throughout the many sides of this album, but the 16 contained on sides 7 and 8 make up the bulk of them used for this collection.  A number of the Witmark demos are versions of released Dylan songs that are not markedly different than their officially available counterparts.  Still others are unreleased songs that are available in superior alternate versions that appear elsewhere on this album.  Our criteria for determining which Witmark material to  use in this set were simple: all the songs that do not appear on official albums or in superior unreleased versions, plus the more interesting specimens of songs that were subsequently released by Bob in recorded form.  We also elected to include three of the demos of unreleased tunes that turn up in other versions on this album (namely, "Hero blues"; "Watcha gonna do" and "Farewell"). 

A number of these songs Bob had probably already rejected as candidates for tracks on his own albums, so these were recorded specifically in the hope that someone else would do them.  A few thoughts about some of the songs: it is strange that Bob prefaces the recording of "If I could do it all over ..." with the remark, "Let's put this one down just for kicks", considering that it is stronger than many of the other songs in this batch.  "Tomorrow is a longtime" is far better than the officially released version that appears on "Bob Dylan's greatest hits Volume two".  The song has been recorded by many people, but nothing comes close to this magnetically emotive rendering by Dylan.  It could have been totally perfect if he had not let the guitar rhythm lag occasionally and had not tried to cram too many syllables into the second line of the first verse.  Nevertheless it is still brilliant. 

"Guess I'm doing fine" is interesting.  I like the ambivalence of the words, Dylan is saying that while he is not rich and powerful he does have his voice and his health and his memories.  But while on the surface it is a very positive count-your-blessings type of song there is still some intangible bitterness.  Perhaps fame was already starting to get to Dylan and he was finding that when you reach the top you somehow can find yourself coming awfully close to hitting bottom. 

Other high spots include "Walkin' down the line", "Gypsy Lou" and "Farewell", which is definitely the best of the existing versions of that song.  "I shall be free" contains a verse which the official album version does not have.  Also included here are Dylan's piano backed renditions of "When the ship comes in " and "The times they are a-changin". 

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The Gaslight tape 

The material here it is from a private concert before a small audience, recorded at New York's Gaslight Cafe in late 1962.  There are a few Dylan standards like "Don't think twice" and "Hard rain" and a few songs that turn up elsewhere on this album in different versions, and there are that are a few items that are unique to this recording (i.e. no other known Dylan recordings made of certain songs). 

One of the latter is "Barbara Allen" with Dylan sounding in places very much like he later would on "Nashville skyline".  It is very pleasantly done but, unlike some of the other standard folk numbers that were in his repertoire, he does not manage to quite make it his own.  I think perhaps the song is just a bit too Joan Baez-ish for him. 

"No more auction block", on the other hand, is perfect.  It is very beautifully sung and played and the whole effect is very moving.  Dylan's guitar accompaniment seems to have been produced with a mandolin like plucking techniques and in places the chords achieve a sort of waterfall quality that is hard to describe. 

"Moonshine blues" is good too-one could even call it brilliant if it weren't for the outstandingly superior version featured on side 13.  But that is a recurring facet of Dylan: he seems to put everything he has into a song on one occasion, then you hear another version and by comparison he chucks the whole thing away. 

This does not strictly apply in the case of "Moonshine blues" because both versions are excellent and anyway the best one was recorded later when Dylan had evolved and personalized it.  But "Rocks and gravel" is a classic example.  There are several other versions that I had happened to hear before hearing this one, and I used to think it was a pretty boring song.  But then I heard this one which I think is quite good.  It isn't that much different from the others-the rhythm of the guitar is spot-on whereas on some of the existing versions it is irritatingly draggy, and vocal, especially where it goes falsetto, he is just more at one with the sense of the lyrics and the feeling of the guitar.  The result is a song that comes across as having guts, atmosphere and a subtlety distinctive tune as opposed to the other versions which condemn themselves as tuneless non-starters.  (an entirely different sounding, yet nonetheless enjoyable, version of the song is featured on side 13). 

If there were another Dylan version of "No more Cane" this might also be the case.  In places, admittedly, the vocal is very good but the guitar is similar to, though not quite as dead-on-its-feet as Leonard Cohen's accompaniment for "The Butcher"-and that could kill any song. 

I personally have of bug up my ass about the song "John Brown".  I don't like it but the folks who compiled this album do like it so they won't print any of my negative remarks about it in this booklet.  It's a song about a proud mother waiving her son off to war.  Later the son comes back blinded, hands blown off and his body held together with a metal brace.  Cheerful stuff. 

Of academic interest is Dylan's meld of "Kind hearted woman blues/32-20 blues/cornfield blues".  Dylan's performance here of "Cocaine" is equally as pleasant, if not quite as lascivious, as the one on side three, though you have to be aware of the bit at the end where he comes too close to the microphone and sounds eerily as if he is suddenly in the room with you.  "Handsome Molly" is a lovely song he does beautifully and sensitively.  Bob also takes another stab at Lord Buckley's "Black cross" as they stand, "Motherless children" and "The cuckoo is a pretty Bird" are OK but a bit more work on them would have developed them into something more worthwhile.  "West Texas" suffers a bit from an over-long guitar intro.  But these are minor quibbles.  All in all the Gaslight Cafe recordings make for a very satisfying listening experience. 

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New York Town Hall and Carnegie Hall concert 

The first five tracks on this side represent the 1963 model Dylan live in concert.  The first three numbers are from Bob's New York Town Hall show of April 12.  "Ramblin' down through the world" is an adaptation of two Woody Guthrie songs, "Sally, don't you grieve" and ramblin' 'round".  It is followed by Dylan's call for the abolishment of boxing, "Who killed Davy Moore?".  "Hero blues" does not rank alongside of Dylan's better humor odes, nevertheless, judging by their response the audience at this concert really ate it up. 

From Bob's October 26th Carnegie Hall performance comes two unique tracks.  The first one, to my mind, has a title that is attractive in itself-("Dusty old Fair grounds").  Unfortunately the song is not really up to very much; one of the disappointing things is that it really is about dusty old Fair grounds-a whole shit load of them.  Dylan introduces it as a "route" song  and that's just what it is-an itinerary set to music.  The tune sounds as though either it is going to evolve into something better or it is already a basically good tune Dylan happens to be doing one of his leave-out-the-subtleties jobs on. 

The other unique item is "Last thoughts on Woody Guthrie", an 8 minute poem that Bob recites at breakneck pace after explaining that he has been asked to provide a brief piece for a book on Woody Guthrie.  He asks the audience to bear with him because he has not managed to stick to the original terms of reference, and indeed he has not.  The poem's last line is about Guthrie, but I'll be damned if any of the rest of it has anything to do with Woody.  This litany of hassles, as well as the four songs proceeding it was slated to be on an official Columbia live Dylan album that got as far as the test pressings stage (in fact, tracks No. 4 and No. 5 on this side were taken from one of those test pressings).  It seems likely that the album was shelved because "Last thoughts" (the LPs lead off track, yet) was seen as too much of a risk.  This could be one instance when Columbia exercised good judgment. 

We've put the piano-backed Witmark demo of "Mr. tambourine Man" onto the end of this side because we had room for it here and not anywhere else in this set and we thought it was an item most of you would want.  This is presumably the very demo that the Byrds heard before cutting their hit version of the song. 

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Side 13

Side 13 doesn't follow the programming rules of the rest of this set.  (13 is a cosmic number; it doesn't have to follow any rules).  Here is where some loose ends sortta get tied up.  But don't worry, it's a really good side.  It kicks off with the best of Bob's studio versions of "Rocks and gravel".  The live version on side nine is superior, but this version is still very listenable.  For you fact fiends out there, this number was adapted from two other songs "Solid Road" and "Alabama woman blues". 

The next two songs are newly discovered recordings making their first appearance anywhere.  "Who's a-gonna" (that may not be the correct title) doesn't sound like a Dylan original, although it might be.  It's the only number in this set that we didn't have time to fully research before this booklet went to print.  The song is very sweet and pleasant, probably more so (sweet, that is) than anything else on this album.  "Whatcha gonna do" is the other new discovery here. Note that though the song is copyrighted by the title listed here, on this version of the song Dylan clearly enunciates the words, "Tell me what you gonna do". 

Next up is one of the Witmark demos.  "Moonshine blues" is, in fact, possibly the best of the Witmark tracks.  The performance is an absolute gem.  Dylan has taken a traditional song, added some superb variations to the original tune and came up with a masterpiece of control, expression, melody and pathos that unequivocally should have been officially released. 

"The cough song" is an instrumental, cut short by a cough fit (hence its title).  Like I said earlier, no Dylan collection could be considered complete without some samples of the famous Dylan cough.  There is some argument as to the source of this recording.  We cast our vote with the folks who think it was recorded at the "The Times they are a-changin'" sessions. 

The next track offers a preview of side 14 in that it is definitely a "Times" sessions outtake.  "Seven curses" is simply superb and it should have been released.  The lyrics are about a judge who demands sex from a girl in payment for preventing her father from being hanged.  The morning after the judge has had his way the Girl wakes up to find that the hanging has already taken place.  The storyteller himself then puts seven curses on the judge, the final curse being that "Seven deaths will never kill him".  It is a fine ending in that it can be interpreted as expressing faith in some sort of universal justice.  The interpretation aside, it is a beautiful tune which fits perfectly with the mood of the lyrics. 

The side closes with two different demos (taken from acetates) of the song "Mama, you been on my mind".  On the first one, Dylan accompanies himself on the guitar; on the second he plays piano.  The guitar version has the edge.  The tune could maybe use a little work, but the words are quite good.

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"The Times they are a-changin' " outtakes 

These songs were recorded during August and October 1963.  "Eternal Circle" was presumably omitted from the "Times" album because it obviously needed a bit more work and refinement.  Maybe Dylan got sick of the song before reaching a point of polishing it up a bit more.  The version here of "Only a hobo" is the best of Dylan's recordings of the song.  In the majority of cases, as Columbia was fond of advertising in 1967, "Nobody sings Dylan like Dylan".  "Only a hobo", however, is one of the exceptions in that being a very simple song it benefited considerably from the relatively complex backing it got on Rod Stewart's version.  I quite like this version by Dylan though-in spite of it sounding like Dylan imitating Neil Innes imitating Dylan. 

I don't think anyone could beat the version here of "Percy's song".  The Witmark demo version (not included in "Ten of swords") is excellent but this one goes just a bit further.  The song showcases a further example of Dylan's contempt for judges in this tune borrowed from Paul Clayton.  In it Dylan portrays himself appealing to a judge to reconsider his decision to sentence a friend to 99 years after a fatal car crash in which he was the driver and only survivor.  Initially in the face of the judges intransigence Dylan gives up, but in attempting to console himself with his guitar he finds that its sound only reflects his own melancholy.  Dylan's harmonica playing on this track is incredibly good.  He sings well too.  It would be interesting to know if Percy actually exists.  If he does he must be pretty angry that the song never got on an official album it's a hell of a lot better than "Hurricane". 

"Paths of victory" is quite nice but not really outstanding.  I wonder if Dylan was hoping that perhaps someone like Peter, Paul and Mary might make a "We shall overcome"-type of hit out of it.  "Walls of Red Wing" goes on for a bit too long, it's not really hard to see why this song failed to make it on the album as well.  On the other hand, " Farewell" is much too short.  It could easily have been the best version if  Dylan had bothered to do the song in its entirety as on the Witmark demo which appears on side 8. 

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"Another side of Bob Dylan" outtakes 

There is some beautiful stuff here.  In fact everything on this side has something to recommend it, including "East Laredo blues" which is charming by virtue of its exuberant awfulness.  It's an apparently semi improvised piano solo of Mexican flavor played extremely badly.  It seems to be  practically accepted as fact that by the end of the "Another side ..." sessions (which took place on June 9th, 1964) Dylan had consumed something in the region of two bottles of Beaujolais, and one imagines that "East Laredo blues" might have been his final gesture before the day caught up with him. 

But what a brilliant day it was.  Around 20 tracks recorded, many of them classics.  It illustrates that the use of the word "Genius" in referring to Dylan was not just something that arose out of the semantic excesses of pop journalism-it is a fair enough description to use in relation to a large portion of his work during the sixties. 

"New Orleans rag" is not a work of genius but the versions here are good vital thumping music.  The first take lasts for a little more than a verse, but just in that time a whole atmosphere is set up.  Even so, it is completely eclipsed, with the aid of rocking, stomping piano, simply becomes a first class rock number, which is perhaps why it was left off the album.  The lyrics are about a young man having his mind changed about visiting a lady of pleasure when he sees the string of shattered individuals emerging from her place of business.  It is the sort of thing that could easily not have worked-but something intangible, perhaps the genuinely stoned tone of Dylan's voice, makes this song a hundred percent successful down to the brilliant harmonica imitation of a man of out of breath, which ends the number. 

"Denise" is not all that great but again it gets some sort of zest just from the pervasive vitality in Dylan's voice.  I don't know if "That's all right Mama" was ever intended by Bob to be an album track, and I doubt if Colombia would've allowed it anyway at the time, it not being a self-penned  number.  But the piano on it is remarkable-very unusual both rhythmically and simply in the order of the notes.  The most analogous music I can think of would be parts of the soundtrack of "Spartacus" where they used what the sleeve notes claimed to be genuine Roman rhythms.  The effect with Dylan's performance here is that he seems to be continually teetering on the verge of breaking rhythm and blowing the whole thing.  It is an inspired accompaniment for a very standard sort of song.  It is a pity he did not use it for one of his own songs, though possibly he found later that he had forgotten how to play it. 

But everything on this side pales before "I'll keep it with mine".  It's been said that this song was written for Nico but I never understood whether that meant written for her to sing or written about her.  Anyway if Dylan was gentleman enough to leave the song of his own album in order that Nico could have exclusive rights to it that would certainly indicate that the numerous tells of his stepping all over other people to get to the top are not necessarily representative unless Dylan really didn't know how brilliant the song was. 

To my mind it is the best song of the entire session.  It is performed perfectly too-even the introduction where the piano momentarily loses it's rhythm is perfect in its own way.  And the lyrics form the least patronizing way I have yet heard of saying, "I'm older than you-therefore I know better".  The tune is exquisite and it is exploited to the fullest extent by Dylan's superb singing and the way the piano and the voice change each other's roles from time to time.  The whole thing is magnificent. 

"Lay down your weary tune" is not in the same class but it is still an exceptional song.  It is also an important song in the context of Dylan's rejection of protest.  The lyrics are reminiscent in sentiment of the "Chimes of freedom" in so far as they express awe at the beauty of nature.  But this time Dylan compares the sounds of nature with the vain strivings of composers and musicians, presumably such as himself.  Ironically, but also imperatively I suppose, the song has a really good tune.  It makes me wonder if maybe Dylan borrowed it from somewhere.  Maybe not-either way it is a great song. 

"California" is the prototype for "Outlaw blues"; it contains a whole verse that wound up as part of the latter.  Just the same, it can still be judged on its own merit.  With its combination of droll lyrics, thumping piano and the over-all sound generated at the sessions it is an effective and entertaining number. 

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"Bring it all back home" outtakes

It is interesting to note that in the poem on the back of the "Bringing it all back home" sleeve Dylan says he has given up making any attempt at perfection.  Assuming he wrote the poem after recording the released version of "She belongs to me"-A performance which I consider utterly perfect-then these sessions outtakes bear out what he is saying. 

The best example is "Love minus zero/no limit".  The outtake is not as polished as the released version either from the point of view of Dylan's singing or of Bruce Langthorne's guitar work; in fact it sounds like a try-out for both of them.  But the point is that it is more tuneful then the final version.  If Dylan had been more of perfectionist he would have presumably gone on to do the third take this time combining maximum with maximum polish Unless of course he just happened to prefer the tune of the released version. 

The outtakes of "It's all over now, Baby blue" indicates that this could well be the case.  It would seem that Dylan's taste in melody at the time may have been positively perverse because the outtake is much better tunewise than the album version.  Whereas on the latter the first two lines of each verse are not much more than a one note shout tapering down the scale at the end, the same lines on the outtake start working their way down the scale much earlier on and do so much more melodiously.  Admittedly there is no trace of the Langthorne guitar on the outtake, but that could have easily been dubbed on later.  The only reason I can think of as to why the other take was used on  the album is that those first two lines, which less tuneful, are very distinctive merely on the basis of the raucous way they are put across.  It is possibly relevant that the song books quote the lyrics exactly as they are on the outtake while the words on the released version differs slightly from the song books.  This would indicate that the inclusion of "Bringing ..." of the latter take rather than the former was a last-minute decision. 

As I have implied, I have no arguments over "She belongs to me", the release version is superior in every way to the outtake.  But it's still fair to say that the outtake is excellent.  It loses a lot from not having the typewriter drum which graces the familiar version, but the vocal is great and so too is Langthorne's guitar which is slightly more rhythm oriented here and provides a loping-along effect in between each vocal line.  It is beautiful guitar work-but Langthorne just does not quite attain the perfection he gets on the final take.  Specifically, he does not achieve the climax that he gets on the latter, that superb phrase just before the start of the second line of the final verse where the guitar goes up in a manner that heralds that this has to be the last verse. 

Bruce Langthorne was obviously an important factor in determining how " Bringing it all back home" came out.  Apart from adding dimensions to every song he played on he is very much a symbol of Dylan's first major steps towards electric music.  "Bringing it all back home" was not quite an electric album.  While certainly a risky proposition to put before purists, it was still almost categorizeable as folk music.  And this is the only reason I can think of why "If you gotta go, go now" was omitted.  It just could not be seen as folk music; regardless of the style in which Dylan performed the song in concert, the studio version is out right rock'n'roll.  If the song had been included on "Bringing ..."  it would have made a brilliant L.P. even better.

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"Highway 61 revisited" outtakes

"Highway 61 revisited" was an amazing album-still is an amazing album.  But turning to the music included here, the outtakes from that masterpiece, it must be admitted that it was appropriate that these tracks didn't make it to the record.  That is not necessarily a criticism of them, it just stands to reason that it would be hard to improve on the format of the album as it is. 

Included here is an unusual slow version of "Can you please crawl out your window" that was recorded at the "Highway 61" sessions, in early summer 1965.  The later fast version which was released as a single was such a totally different arrangement that it virtually ceased to be the same song . The version here has a much more mellow sound which includes a fine xylophone phrase which was subsequently used in the introduction of Glen Campbell's version of "Galveston" 

The outtake of "It takes a lot to laugh" just cannot be compared to the familiar version.  Again, for all intents and purposes it is a different song.  It is much faster and the lyrics are only a pale shadow of those of the final version. 

The words of a last verse of "Sitting on a barbed wire fence" are a joke about the song just being a riff.  The song is straight twelve bar but it is not just a rift.  The rhythm, for a start, is very unusual; pounding, but with a note played on the organ in every fourth beat  that somehow seems to correspond to the upstroke on a guitar.  I would assume it is very much a Dylan-Kooper-Bloomfield work-out with a lot improvised, including the lyrics, some of which come from, or later found their way into, "Just like Tom thumb's blues".  Bloomfield and Kooper's virtuosoing is very much to the fore and it seems that Dylan is very much enjoying the novelty of the whole electric thing. 

An alternate version of Dylan's epic "Desolation row" was also recorded.  Again, it's good that it was rerecorded for the album but the specimen included here still has a lot going for it.  But it has what I can only describe as a hesitant quality about it, and an unsureness that was ironed out by the time the released version was cut.  There are some lyric changes in this version as well.  You Dylanologists  out there can maybe make something of them. 

The next track is a real gem.  Although not really a "Highway 61" outtake, it is assumed that this track was written and recorded in that general time frame.  Included here is the piano-accompanied demo of "She's your lover now".  This is a newly discovered recording, making its first appearance anywhere on this record.  I will have much more to say about the song itself in the notes for side 18. 

Just for kicks, we ended side 17 with Dylan's message to the Miami sales conference which was recorded on May 12, 1965.  After a bit of arguing with the recording engineer Dylan lays down an  uncharacteristically trite message to the effect of "Thanks for selling so many of my records, please keep it up". Really witty stuff. 

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Sessions with The Band

On November 30th and December 1st, 1965 Bob Dylan entered the recording studio with Robbie Robertson, Garth Hudson, Rick Danko, Richard Manuel, and Bobby Gregg-essentially the group who were later to become known as The Band.  Side 18 features all of the unreleased material in circulation from those sessions.  This is essential, classic, superlative stuff, folks.  The heart bleeds to know that the material here can only be a fraction of the entire sessions.  There are just splinters of "Midnight Train" and the slow "Crawl out your window", and it is highly likely that Dylan and the band went on to record complete versions (the released fast version of "... crawl ..." came from these sessions).  " Number one" is just a backing track-the vocal track probably still resides in a tape vault somewhere. 

"Visions of Johanna" (known at the time by the title "Seems like a freeze out") is completely different an arrangement from the released version and also has slightly, though some people think significantly, different lyrics.  This particularly applies to a phrase in the last verse which caused this version to be known has the "Nightengale's code" version.  A lot of Dylanologists read very profound things into that phrase. But Dylanologists tend to have shit for brains, so let's just leave it at that.  As to the arrangement, the main difference is the rhythm which relies heavily on maracas and a piano pattern slightly reminiscent of the high-hat on "Sad-eyed lady of the lowlands ", and the organ which gives a much fuller support of the overall sound than the organ on the released version.  A further difference is the lack of an aggressive guitar.  I personally prefer the "Blond on Blonde" version from every standpoint, especially the subtlety menacing sound of the organ and that killer lead guitar.  But I have no argument with those who feel that this version is easily up to "Official album" standards 

"I wanna be your lover" is a brief rocker that unashamedly rips off the Beatles' "I wanna be your Man" for the chorus.  But it works because whereas the lyrics of the first three lines of the chorus are identical to the Beatles' song, the last line veers off at a tangent.  The lyrics are classic Dylan '65-'66.  There is the typical melee of unrelated events involving unrelated weirdo characters and the whole effect, as usual, is quite superb. 

Now to "She's your lover now". This song embodies the essence of what Dylan was about circa '65-66.  The lyrics are wild, spontaneous, full of images, totally disrespectful to excepted pop lyric forms and hyper-vicious.  The song is addressing two people, one of them the singer's ex-girlfriend, the other, the guy who has taken her.  In is constant veering back and forth between bitter, though not entirely negative, recrimination towards the girl, and pulverizing put-downs of the man.  In amongst the torrent of reproaches and insults there are some lines which, had the song been given a commercial release, might have become famous simply for their semantic cleverness.  As the song goes on it gets weirder and weirder-in places it is reminiscent of Heironymous Bosch's "Garden of Earthly Delights".  Unfortunately the performance ends abruptly and prematurely. 

Dylan may have very well gone on to cut another (uninterrupted) version with The Band.  There is supposedly in existence a tape of a phone call between Dylan and his producer Bob Johnston in which Johnston tells Dylan that Columbia is going to release "She's your lover now" as a single.  There was also a report in the music press in 1966 to that effect. 

Anyhow, all this brilliant material was not given an official release.  What was Columbia up to? Putting something aside for a rainy day? The rainy day came- several rainy days came.  On the first rainy day they put out "Bob Dylan's greatest hits".  On the second rainy day they put out an album called "Dylan" ...... what knuckle heads!

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Royal Albert Hall 1966 

To quote Granddad in Jack Rosenthal's "Bar mitzvah Boy", "What can you say about perfection?". 

This music is great, brilliant, stunning,-all the superlatives you can think of.  Dylan seethes with resentment towards the audience and it is translated into singing that its tight, searing, and-dare I say it-apocalyptic. 

"Tell me Mama" is not nearly such a friendly song as it was when he sang it in earlier venues and the increased viciousness is, of course, an improvement.  Before "I don't believe you" Dylan plays a few bars of it on the harmonica, then says "This is called I don't believe you.  It used to be like that, now it goes like this".  He stamps his foot four times and the band comes in with the same sort of immediacy you get from tipping a whole table full of crockery and cutlery in to the sink all at once.  It does not seem possible that this song used to be an acoustic number. 

"Baby let me follow you down" is a slow starter but it soon gets going.  "Tom thumb's blues" comes next and is incredibly good.  "Leopard skin pill box hat" is undoubtedly the best version of the song in circulation.  It leaves the "Blonde on blonde" version in the dust and I think a good part of the credit has to go to Robbie Robertson's lead guitar.  All power to Dylan's elbow for playing lead on the album version, but it was just a little sedate compared with what Robbie unleashes here. 

It is just prior to "One too many mornings" that something happens to indicate that it is only a minority of the people in the audience who are not won over by Dylan's new-found electrification.  A few people start slow-hand clapping and to hush them up Dylan employs the rather ingenious device of muttering incomprehensible nonsense into the microphone until the curiosity overcomes the slow hand-clappers and they stop in order to catch what he is saying.  At this point his mutterings become "I just wish you wouldn't clap so loud".  A much larger portion of the audience than bursts into applause indicating they are on Dylan's side. 

"One too many mornings" comes into its own as a rock song and it is the sad acid in Dylan's voice that does it.  So it is surprising that, with the mood Dylan is in, he does not appear to sing the song at the audience.  It is flawlessly done but the vocal is surprisingly unaggressive. 

Not so "Like a rolling stone".  This is the occasion of the famous incident where a member of the audience, for reasons known only to himself, yells out "Judas!".  Other people are yelling things as well but nothing comprehensible, and it would appear that it is an answer to the "Judas" accusation that Dylan response, "I don't be ... you're a liar ... [moving back from the microphone] ... You're a fucking liar!".  At which point the band crashes in and "Like a rolling stone" lets everyone know why the gentleman with the penchant for biblical analogy is talking through his butt hole. 

And this is where side 20 of Ten of swords ends, with the live concert that took place on the stage of London's Royal Albert Hall on May 26th, 1966.

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