Album Review: Bob Dylan – The Bootleg Series, Vol. 12: The Best of the Cutting Edge 1965-1966

Review by Sean Lynch

RIYL: Neil Young, Van Morrison, Woody Guthrie

Recommended Tracks: All, especially Track 2 – “Subterranean Homesick Blues (Take 1, Alternate Take)”, Track 3 – “Like A Rolling Stone (Take 5, Rehearsal (Short Version))”, Track 7 – “Highway 61 Revisited (Take 3, Alternate Take)”

Grade: A+

With another bootleg tapes finished, Bob Dylan shows a variety of his library that hasn’t been seen before. The Cutting Edge provides some for the albums Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited, and Blonde on Blonde. The cuts from the album provide some nostalgia behind the final tracks. There is a special feeling listening to the different cuts and seeing what Dylan was trying to create.

“Like A Rolling Stone” takes a new form on the album. The track is dumbed down from the original with only the harmonica, guitar and Dylan’s voice on the track. The track is a short cut, but shows difference through the emphasis placed on the harmonica. From the original track, their is a presence of a band, but the song sound more intimate with less instrument. Dylan also uses lighter vocals on the track rather than his usual crooning.

Some songs bear almost exact resemblance to the finished product. The alternative version of “Subterranean Homesick Blues” stays true to the single with Dylan’s fast paced vocals and jangly guitar. “Highway 61 Revisted” also shares similar aspects with its finished product, but also has some stuff missing like the whistling that starts off the song.

“She’s Your Lover Now” is one of the unreleased tracks from the Blonde on Blonde sessions. The track dives in with Dylan’s classic vocals, but it gets more of a complete band feel with the use of piano and drums. The track is complex which led to it never being completed because of Dylan’s frustration with it. “She’s Your Lover Now” makes you wonder what could have been of the track if it had been on the album.

The product prides itself on showing the process of production. To be able to take a step back and hear the tracks stripped down bare. Even though Dylan is known for being a solo artist, the variance of great musicians on each track provides a great example of how Dylan could get the cream of the crop when it came to supporting musicians. The Bootleg Series, Vol. 12: The Best of the Cutting Edge shows how much more there is to Dylan’s catalogue. With all the unreleased material coming out, there is no way to know what Dylan has in his bag of hidden material anymore.


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