Columbia Records is wrapping up a trove of early Bob Dylan recordings that will surface in time for the holidays, among them 47 early demo recordings by the fabled singer-songwriter that previously had never been officially released.
The other major component of the two-pronged release slated for Oct. 19 is “Bob Dylan — The Original Mono Recordings,” consisting of the monaural mixes of his first eight studio albums, from “Bob Dylan” through 1967’s “John Wesley Harding.”
Recordings known as “The Witmark Demos,” recorded from 1962-64 for Dylan’s first two music publishers, will make up Volume 9 in the ongoing “Bootleg Series” of archival releases. They feature Dylan alone playing guitar and harmonica, and some piano, on such watershed songs as “Blowin’ in the Wind,” “The Times They Are A-Changin’,” “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” and “Mr. Tambourine Man” as well as 15 numbers that never subsequently surfaced on his studio albums, including “Ballad for a Friend,” “Long Ago, Far Away” and “The Ballad of Emmett Till.”
The mono box set, akin to “The Beatles in Mono” released last year, is being issued because those early albums were originally intended by Dylan to be released in that format, which was the dominant medium at a time when stereo recording was still young.
Critic and author Greil Marcus writes the essay accompanying the box set, which also includes “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan,” “The Times They Are A-Changin’,” “Another Side of Bob Dylan,” “Bringing It All Back Home,” “Highway 61 Revisited” and “Blonde on Blonde.”