On Oct. 9, Bob Dylan released the first single from his new Bootleg Series, titled Lo and Behold. The track is the first peek into the eleventh volume of his famous Bootleg Series, with this specific addition adding an incredibly large amount of content to the musician’s canon from the Basement Tapes era. The Basement Tapes time period ranges from 1975 to 1976 and consists of a large catalog of home recordings Dylan created with The Band while hiding from the press in the countryside. This new volume will make a great deal of the recordings available with six CD’s of new music.
Lo and Behold sounds like the rest of the Basement Tapes era songs that fans have already heard, but in a positive sense. It is important to keep in mind that the Basement era was already cataloged with the release of the official Basement Tapes album in 1976. However, a wide array of recordings and alternate takes were tucked away, never seeing the light of day until this release. So, it makes sense that these new songs act as an extension of the official 1976 release rather than standing independent of it.
Lo and Behold, the new single that was released for Bob Dylan’s Bootleg Series is reminiscent of some of the most well-known Basement Tapes cuts, echoing songs like Odds and Ends and You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere. It is playful, especially when Dylan begins to laugh at the halfway point and Robbie Robertson continues the vocals despite Dylan’s childish nature. This is a wonderful thing, because at this point in his career, the folk legend had received an immense amount of pressure to perform well from his fans and record label. The serious nature of his studio albums during this time has been stripped away entirely in the Basement Tapes, and as a result, the sound feels untouched by corporate overlords, as if the listener is sitting around the campfire with Dylan and The Band rather than observing a serious performance.
Dylan’s vocals in this performance are strong as well, a rarity at times in his catalog. After his motorcycle accident in 1966, Dylan began to take stock of his life and slow down the rock and roll lifestyle that had caused him to overload. The era of his life that is showcased by the Basement Tapes is carefree; his vocals are strong and the contributions from The Band are electrifying.
This new single that Bob Dylan released for his upcoming Bootleg Series is promising because it signifies that the rest of the six CD’s will likely be performed in a similar manner. However, when taking a look at the track list, one may notice that many of the songs on the new release are not like Lo and Behold. Many of them are different takes of songs that fans have heard before, or different cuts of the same song over and over. That may be why this Bootleg Series is significantly longer than previous volumes. Regardless, Dylan’s sound is there, and it archives a period of his life when he was on top of the world musically.
Review By Brett Stewart