Once upon a time the album below sort of invented the bootleg.
Great White Wonder – complete with its stamped pig “Trade Mark of Quality” was a collection of songs from Bob Dylan’s “Basement Tapes” period when he was recuperating from a serious motorcycle accident in Woodstock New York. These songs, performed mostly with The Band and a mixed bag of originals and covers of traditional folk and country songs, pretty much invented the genre we now call Americana. Everyone knew the tracks existed, but they were not released at the time when Bob was the be all and end all as he’d moved on to John Wesley Harding, and the bootleggers selection from them allegedly became the biggest selling illegal album of all time.
In 1975 CBS records, reputedly ok at last because Dylan had fixed up the publishing but maybe piqued by his adventures elsewhere at Asylum, went through the tapes and made a legitimate double album but it was a bit of a fraud, incorporating Band songs not cut at the sessions at all, and featuring several – that showed that the songs were in fact as good as everyone said. Which was a fact many people knew because other artists had started covering them willy nilly. But it was only 2 albums worth, even if it did still hit top 10 in the US charts.
More bootlegs of the full sessions circulated of which this 4 CD set was the best
And worth every penny the bootleggers asked for just this one beautiful country-soul-gospel song alone:
But still the tracks remained hard to get and even Bob’s official bootleg series releases – amazing and market leading as they were – didn’t put that right with surprisingly few of the songs turning up there.
Until November 11 2014. When this is coming. And we may be able to hear them all properly! And maybe as many as 30 that no one knew about – even the Dylanologists.
Save your pennies.