bob dylan: the bootleg series vol. 12: the cutting edge review
Whether you're a Bob Dylan fan or not, it can't be denied that the man changed the musical and social landscape forever. This is in reference to any period of time of Dylan's 50+ year career. Today though I'm touching on one of the most influential, iconic creative periods.
Between 1965 and 1966 Bob Dylan released three albums that forever changed music in every aspect of it. These albums are "Bringing It All Back Home", "Highway 61 Revisited" and "Blonde on Blonde". These albums were welcomed by many and harshly criticized by many more at the time for selling out and abandoning the music and audience that gained him such a strong fan base in the folk community. But these albums have stood the test of time and have become staples of our society and music in general. There's a reason "Like a Rolling Stone" has been proclaimed by many as the greatest song ever written. I'm not here today to rehash these facts, but to talk about the latest release in Dylan's ongoing Bootleg Series.
"The Bootleg Series, Vol. 12: The Cutting Edge 1965-1966" is an extensive, dense look into the making of these three masterpiece albums. Columbia Records didn't hold anything back. Whether you're listening to the two disc, 36 track "highlights compilation", the six disc, 100+ track "deluxe edition" or the 18-disc, 379 track "collector's edition", buckle yourself in for a ride of magic in the making.
"The Cutting Edge" showcases the evolution that lead to the songs we know and love from the 65-66 era as well as other cuts that didn't make the final track listings. The beauty of this massive collection of alternate takes, demos, false starts and rehearsals is that it invites you into the creative process of some of the most important works of the 20th century that forever changed how music was recorded and how the boundaries of one's own creativity is only limited by the person or group making said music.
To pin point an example from this collection would be an injustice but I'll try my best. The prime cut of "The Cutting Edge" has to be the incredible sessions to record "Like a Rolling Stone". Between June 15th and 16th of 1965 Bob Dylan recorded 20 takes of this song all with different tempos that are different from the version you're commonly used to. All 20 of these takes are included in the deluxe and collector's edition. To see this iconic song take form is a feeling that I, as a die-hard Dylan fan, left me awe-struck.
Other highlights of this massive compilation are lesser known songs to the occasional Dylan listener and the different takes of those songs including "Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window?" and "Sitting on a Barbed Wire Fence". What takes center stage of "The Cutting Edge" again is the creative evolution that leads to the final cuts that made it onto "Bringing It All Back Home", "Highway 61 Revisited" and "Blonde on Blonde". Some of the alternate takes might be preferred to the final takes.
I honestly could go on and on about how great this latest edition of The Bootleg Series is. Not just as a Dylan fan, but as a fan of music in general. "The Cutting Edge" is the volume of The Bootleg Series I've been waiting on for years and it certainly doesn't disappoint. It goes as far as exceeding whatever exception I had walking into this. "The Cutting Edge" is an insight into one of the most creatively striking periods in Dylan's career that forever changed music. I can't recommend this compilation enough.