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Lost on the River: The New Basement Tapes

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Lost on the River: The New Basement Tapes
LOTR TNBT Cover 713px.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedNovember 11, 2014 (2014-11-11)
RecordedMarch 2014
StudioCapitol Studios
GenreBlues rock, folk rock, country rock, psychedelic rock
Length74:00
LabelElectromagnetic Recordings / Harvest
ProducerT Bone Burnett

Lost on the River: The New Basement Tapes is an album produced by T Bone Burnett featuring a collective of musicians recording under the moniker The New Basement TapesElvis Costello, Rhiannon Giddens, Taylor Goldsmith, Jim James and Marcus Mumford.[1]

The album consists of a series of tracks based on recently uncovered lyrics handwritten by Bob Dylan in 1967; these were probably written in the period between his motorcycle accident (July 29, 1966) and the first recordings in the spring of 1967 in the "Red Room" in Dylan's house, where the first recordings of The Basement Tapes took place. The album was released November 11, 2014 in both a standard 15-track release and a "Deluxe Version" featuring 20 tracks.

The album cover image is a photograph by Jacob Riis titled "Mullen's Alley". It was taken in New York City in 1888.[2]

Background[edit]

In early May 1967, Dylan told reporter Michael Iachetta: "Songs are in my head like they always are, but they are not going to get written down until some people come forth and make up for some of the things that had happened", probably referring to his conflict with his manager Albert Grossman.[3] During the period in which he started recording with The Hawks, Dylan changed his writing habits and wrote his text directly on a typewriter.[4]

Dylan's publisher contacted Burnett regarding the box of handwritten lyrics that had been found, dating back to Dylan's Basement Tapes days, and asked if he had any interest in doing something with them. As soon as Burnett was assured that Dylan was on board with the project, he agreed to it.[5] Burnett selected his band based on their talent and collaborative style, as well as their interest as "musical archaeologists".[5] Each member of the group was sent the collection of lyrics, and each arrived at recording session with a selection of tunes, some having set only some of the lyrics, others having set all of them. Not wishing to encourage competition, the group decided to record all the tunes, including multiple settings of the same lyrics. Of the resulting 40 tracks, 20 are included on the present album.[5]

Actor Johnny Depp played guitar on "Kansas City", filling in for Elvis Costello, who could not attend one of the recording sessions due to a previously scheduled concert with The Roots in Las Vegas.[6] Depp also joined the band onstage, along with Haim, for one of their only live performances at the Ricardo Montalban Theater in Los Angeles.[7]

Reception[edit]

In a Los Angeles Times article in 2014, writer Randy Lewis wrote,

The album aims to honor the freewheeling musical spirit and collaborative creative process of the original sessions. One intriguing facet is the collaboration among the participants. Each has come up with his or her own music for many of the lyrics, resulting in multiple versions of the same songs and allowing a perspective on the ways different artists respond to Dylan's lyrics.[8]

A review in The Guardian stated,

Lost on the River recalls the spontaneity and sheer love of music-making of the original, but it’s not hamstrung by reverence or caution.[9]

In Uncut, Graeme Thomson wrote,

Lost On The River is an album of good, sometimes excellent songs with a unique creation story which, in the end, adds little of substance to the narrative of perhaps the most mythologised recordings in history. As footnotes go, however, it’s an entertaining, energised and often fascinating one.[10]

Bob Dylan's original Basement Tapes[edit]

Among Bob Dylan’s many cultural milestones, the legendary Basement Tapes – dozens of songs written and recorded by Dylan in 1967, backed by members of his touring ensemble who would later achieve their own fame as The Band – have fascinated and enticed successive generations of musicians, fans and cultural critics alike. Having transformed music and culture during the preceding five years, Dylan had reached unparalleled heights by the mid-1960s through the release of three historic albums, the groundbreaking single, "Like a Rolling Stone", a controversial and legendary "electric" performance at the Newport Folk Festival and wildly polarizing tours of the United States, Europe and the United Kingdom. Dylan's mercurial rise and prodigious body of work in that decade came to an abrupt end in July 1966 when it was reported that he had nearly been killed in a motorcycle accident in upstate New York.[11]

Recovering from his injuries and away from the public eye for the first time in years, Dylan ensconced himself, along with Robbie Robertson, Rick Danko, Richard Manuel, Garth Hudson and, later, Levon Helm, in the basement of a small house in West Saugerties, New York – dubbed "Big Pink" by the group. This collective recorded more than a hundred songs over the next several months – traditional covers, wry and humorous ditties, off-the cuff performances and dozens of newly-written Bob Dylan songs, including "I Shall Be Released", "The Mighty Quinn", "Tears of Rage", and "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere".[12]

When rumors and rare acetates of some of these recordings began surfacing, an album mysteriously titled Great White Wonder began showing up in record shops in 1969 as one of the very first bootleg records. The actual recordings, however, remained commercially unavailable until 1975, when Columbia Records released 16 of them on The Basement Tapes album.[12]

Videos[edit]

As of October 26, 2014, five lyric videos had been released for tracks from the album, each of them featuring Bob Dylan's actual handwritten lyrics inhabiting an animated environment:

"Nothing to It", with lead vocal by Jim James, [1] on August 19, 2014.
"Married to My Hack", with lead vocal by Elvis Costello, [2] on September 2, 2014.
"When I Get My Hands on You", with lead vocal by Marcus Mumford, [3] on September 23, 2014.
"Spanish Mary", with lead vocal by Rhiannon Giddens, [4] on October 14, 2014.
"Liberty Street", with lead vocal by Taylor Goldsmith, [5] on October 26, 2014.

Track listing[edit]

The 20-track "Deluxe Version" listed below includes five additional songs not found on the standard issue, "Golden Tom – Silver Judas", "Quick Like a Flash", "Hidee Hidee Ho #16", "Diamond Ring", and "The Whistle Is Blowing".

Vinyl side 1
No.TitleWriter(s)Length
1."Down on the Bottom"Bob Dylan, Jim James4:29
2."Married to My Hack"Dylan, Elvis Costello1:57
3."Kansas City"Dylan, Marcus Mumford, Taylor Goldsmith4:04
4."Spanish Mary"Dylan, Rhiannon Giddens5:31
5."Liberty Street"Dylan, Goldsmith2:45
Vinyl side 2
No.TitleWriter(s)Length
6."Nothing to It"Dylan, James3:32
7."Golden Tom – Silver Judas"Dylan, Costello2:39
8."When I Get My Hands on You"Dylan, Mumford, Goldsmith3:10
9."Duncan and Jimmy"Dylan, Giddens4:10
10."Florida Key"Dylan, Goldsmith3:19
Vinyl side 3
No.TitleWriter(s)Length
11."Hidee Hidee Ho #11"Dylan, James4:45
12."Lost on the River #12"Dylan, Costello3:42
13."Stranger"Dylan, Mumford4:22
14."Card Shark"Dylan, Goldsmith2:36
15."Quick Like a Flash"Dylan, James3:17
Vinyl side 4
No.TitleWriter(s)Length
16."Hidee Hidee Ho #16"Dylan, Giddens, Costello3:51
17."Diamond Ring"Dylan, Goldsmith2:54
18."The Whistle Is Blowing"Dylan, Mumford5:10
19."Six Months in Kansas City (Liberty Street)"Dylan, Costello3:36
20."Lost on the River #20"Dylan, Giddens, Mumford3:47
Total length:74:00

Personnel[edit]

  • Elvis Costello – Vocals (1,2,6,7,10,12,14,15,16,18,19), Acoustic Guitar (10,16), 12-String Acoustic Guitar (7), Electric Guitar (1,2,4,12,19), Electric Tenor Guitar (9), Slide Guitar (11), Electric Mandocaster (18), Ukulele (14), Bass (5,6,17), Organ (8,13,15), Mellotron (3)
  • Rhiannon Giddens – Vocals (2,4,6,9,11,12,14,16,19,20), Banjo (9), Minstrel Banjo (4), Fiddle (5,8,10,11,12,13,14,15)
  • Taylor Goldsmith – Vocals (1,3,5,7,9,10,13,14,15,16,17,18,19), Acoustic Guitar (7,10,11,14,16,17,20), Electric Guitar (8,13,18), Baritone Guitar (3), Bass (1,2,4,14,15), Piano (3,5,6,18,19), Organ (10,18), Mellotron (9,12)
  • Jim James – Vocals (1,3,6,7,8,9,10,11,14,15,16,17,18,19), Acoustic Guitar (7), Electric Guitar (1,3,4,5,6,10,15), Bass (8,9,12,13,16,18,19), Organ (1,14,17), Mellotron (2,4,5,11), Synthesizer (6), OP-1 (17)
  • Marcus Mumford – Vocals (1,3,6,7,8,9,10,13,14,15,16,17,18,19), Acoustic Guitar (3,18,19,20), Electric Guitar (6,8,9,13,17), Mandolin (1,3,10,11,12,14,16), Drums (1,2,4,5,15), Brushes (7)
  • Jay Bellerose – Drums (1,2,3,4,5,6,8,9,11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18,19), Percussion (8,17), Tambourine (13)
  • T Bone Burnett – Electric Guitar (2)
  • Zach Dawes – Bass (3,11)
  • Johnny Depp – Electric Guitar (3)
  • Griffin Goldsmith – Drums (3,11,13)
  • Alana Haim – Background Vocals (3,18)
  • Danielle Haim – Background Vocals (3,18)
  • Este Haim – Background Vocals (3,18)
  • Binki Shapiro – Background Vocals (3,18)
  • S.I. Istwa – Background Vocals (5,11,20)
  • Jessica Kiley – Background Vocals (5,11,20)
  • Megan Lovell – Background Vocals (5,11,19,20)
  • Rebecca Lovell – Mandolin (20), Background Vocals (5,11,19,20)
  • Carla Azar – Drums (6,9,12,19)
  • Bo Koster – Piano (11)

Charts[edit]

Chart (2014–16) Peak
position
Australian Albums (ARIA)[13] 69
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Flanders)[14] 130
Dutch Albums (MegaCharts)[15] 60
Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)[16] 58
US Billboard 200[17] 23
US Folk Albums (Billboard)[18] 2
US Independent Albums (Billboard)[19] 2

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The New Basement Tapes". Retrieved 2014-08-20.
  2. ^ Lost on the River: The New Basement Tapes, CD booklet, p. 8
  3. ^ Uncut: Clinton Heylin
  4. ^ Williams, Richard. "Bob Dylan's New Basement Tapes – A First Listen". The Guardian. Retrieved 2014-08-16.
  5. ^ a b c Burnett, T Bone (20 July 2014). "T Bone Burnett: How I set lyrics for Bob Dylan's new Basement Tapes to music". The Guardian.
  6. ^ "Johnny Depp To Feature On New 'Lost' Bob Dylan Lyrics Album". NME. Retrieved 2014-08-16.
  7. ^ "The New Basement Tapes – Kansas City (with Johnny Depp and HAIM)". YouTube.
  8. ^ Lewis, Randy. "'Lost' Bob Dylan Lyrics Make For 'New Basement Tapes' Project". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2014-08-16.
  9. ^ https://www.theguardian.com/music/2014/nov/20/lost-on-the-river-the-new-basement-tapes-review-bob-dylan
  10. ^ http://www.uncut.co.uk/reviews/album/lost-on-the-river-the-new-basement-tapes
  11. ^ Gilmore, Mikal. "Bob Dylan Unleashed: A Wild Ride on His New LP and Striking Back at Critics". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2014-08-16.
  12. ^ a b Marcus, Greil (2011). The Old Weird America: The World of Bob Dylan's Basement Tapes. Picador. ISBN 1429961589.
  13. ^ "The ARIA Report: Week Commencing 17 November 2014" (PDF) (1290). Pandora Archive. November 19, 2014. Retrieved November 30, 2014.
  14. ^ "Ultratop.be – The New Basement Tapes – Lost On The River" (in Dutch). Hung Medien.
  15. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – The New Basement Tapes – Lost On The River" (in Dutch). Hung Medien.
  16. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – The New Basement Tapes – Lost On The River". Hung Medien. Retrieved January 9, 2016.
  17. ^ "The New Basement Tapes Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard.
  18. ^ "The New Basement Tapes Chart History (Top Americana/Folk Albums)". Billboard.
  19. ^ "The New Basement Tapes Chart History (Independent Albums)". Billboard.