For reasons unknown, Sony decided not to release expanded editions of “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan,” “The Times They Are a-Changin’,” and “Another Side of Bob Dylan,” in 2012, 2013, and 2014.
In those years, Sony was required to “officially” release any unreleased material that they wanted copyright ownership of in Europe, prior to that material turning 50 years old. If they didn’t release it, it would become public domain.
To meet this requirement, they released something like 100 vinyl boxed sets of studio outtakes and live recordings from each year. These did not in any way attempt to curate the material or to weave it together with outtakes or live material that had been previously released somewhere at some time. The only consideration was to publish previously unreleased material. Nonetheless, it meant that everything remaining in the vault was finally available in high fidelity.
For 1965-1966, Sony got wise and released three different versions of “The Cutting Edge,” ranging from two discs of studio outtakes from that period to a massive box including everything that was recorded during the sessions for the three relevant albums. It was the “copyright box” for 1965-1966, but it also included the previously-released material from those sessions.
So… there is still no canonical set of studio outtake companions to Bob Dylan’s official releases prior to 1965. That’s what the mixes here attempt to provide: the best general audience-through-semi-fanatic companion albums I can engineer, pulling from every official release there is, volume-equalizing it all, and assembling it into coherent listening experiences. Each of the three companions parallels the recording dates of their respective albums.
They aren't complete, but they go deep enough that when I couldn't choose between two versions of a song, I included them both. With very few exceptions, my omissions were more takes of the same songs.
Hopefully, Sony won’t smack me down too hard for sharing these, since they have shown no interest in a general releases of this sort.
The “Freewheelin’” sessions were the only one these three albums’ sessions that required me to omit a significant amount of material. They went on for a year and produced many takes of some songs. If you’re a completest, these won’t satisfy you, but if you’re a mid-level maniac, you’ll be pleased.
The first disc focuses on Dylan’s aborted, early rock and roll and rural blues impulses, along with his early batch of protest songs named for individuals. The second disc focuses on Dylan’s emerging songwriting and crooning chops.
The core of this companion to “The Times” was released by the much maligned Jeff Rosen on “Biograph” and “The Bootleg Series 1-3,” so let’s not be too harsh about Jeff Rosen.
Nonetheless, the picture is greatly expanded here, not least via tracks #9-14, which are all Dylan accompanying himself on piano. Dylan piano demos and outtakes are a rich sub-plot, across the years.
Zipped file of mp3s here (link repaired)
In the case this famous one-night-session album, the copyright box provides essential riches to augment the previously-released nuggets, but you still can’t get to a complete alternative studio version of the album. I have therefore cherry picked live versions of the missing album songs to provide a pretty rich companion to Dylan’s transitional moment between message-y folk singer and elusive, introspective genius.