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What Do You Think Of The Witmark Demos?
Completely dismissible 5%  5%  [ 4 ]
A few good tracks, but nothing major 34%  34%  [ 28 ]
A grab bag, 50/50 good/bad ratio, maybe 11%  11%  [ 9 ]
A few clunkers, but mostly good stuff 16%  16%  [ 13 ]
Utterly essential 35%  35%  [ 29 ]
Total votes : 83
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PostPosted: Sat October 16th, 2010, 23:01 GMT 
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This maybe-ongoing series is designed to find out what ER actually believes. Certain loudmouth posters (present speaker included) tend to drown out the discussion, leading to (perhaps) false impressions of the consensus. What I want to do is take a nice, anonymous poll* of "controversial" Bob issues and see just where people stand. May not accomplish much, and probably doesn't mean anything, but should be interesting, nonetheless.

First, one of the (cough) highlight releases of next Tuesday: the Witmark demos. I think I've represented most POVs in the Poll question, so take a look and have at it**.



* - That's what she said.

** - That is what she also said.


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PostPosted: Sat October 16th, 2010, 23:18 GMT 

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a few good tracks, but nothing major


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PostPosted: Sat October 16th, 2010, 23:24 GMT 
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F) Still haven't heard it


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PostPosted: Sat October 16th, 2010, 23:32 GMT 

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"A few clunkers, but mostly good stuff" is my choice. A great release overall, though. This stuff may not be essential if you're not a Dylan completist, but I'm glad it's finally being released.


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PostPosted: Sat October 16th, 2010, 23:52 GMT 
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Bootleg Series 1-3 and 8 were substantial additions to the canon while #4, 5 & 6 were essential live documents and volume 7 was an occasionally interesting grab bag. With volume 9 we have an important historical document that is only occasionally also a gripping listening experience. Would we have preferred a Born Again collection, an expended Basement Tapes, an NET boxed set or a Supper Club collection? Yes, but we'll get those as well if we live long enough.

As for the Brandis CD, it's a fascinating set with at least one performance -- Masters of War -- that has to be heard. And two days after this rendition of John Birch, Bob would walk out of the Ed Sullivan show for not being allowed to sing it.


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PostPosted: Sun October 17th, 2010, 00:03 GMT 
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I voted "a few good tracks, but nothing major" but I'd like to explain what I mean.

The fact that we've heard most of these tracks before really bothers me...I mean, what's the point there, if not to avoid copyright issues in the future? We've heard the songs, we can find them in other places. And I haven't heard any decent rationalization for that.

That said, this is an important historical document.*

*Witmark Demos apologist defense #7


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PostPosted: Sun October 17th, 2010, 00:07 GMT 
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I voted 'essential', even though it may not be the most exciting release to some of us bootleg savvy anoraks, even to the casual 'greatest hits' fan this is a great release. It represents the true genious of young Bob Dylan and is probably the best officially released demonstration of how Dylan's writing evolved so greatly over only a couple of years. There may be a few 'clunkers' in there but they only serve to highlight the brilliance of songs like 'Mr. Tambourine Man'. Thus, even though this release might not be the most exciting for those that own the bootleg, it is definetly essential.


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PostPosted: Sun October 17th, 2010, 00:30 GMT 
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procatcher31 wrote:
That said, this is an important historical document.*

*Witmark Demos apologist defense #7


:lol: If you really believe that, I'd appreciate you (or anyone) expanding upon it. I'm not against the potential idea of it being "historic", it's just that no one can explain to me why it would be. How is it relevant to anyone who has heard Dylan's early albums? The most anyone can muster is, "It's young Dylan at his peak performing these important songs that he wrote". Even accepting the "peak" part (which is debatable), that's a thin interpretation of "historic" as everything he did at the time falls under that definition. What would set these apart?


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PostPosted: Sun October 17th, 2010, 00:43 GMT 
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Well, I think something that drives the feeling of "historical" is that (I could be wrong here, correct me if I am) these are all the first. This was the first time he laid down "Blowin' In The Wind." That alone is enough to make it historic.

I mean, I'm not thrilled with this release, I think there are a bunch of other recordings they could've released which would've been much more interesting than some re-releases and some songs bootleg collectors have heard. But this is historic--I mean, based on what I heard in that movie someone posted a couple days ago, these recordings changed the course of music recording (artists you hear actually being the songwriters).

Those are all of my cents.


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PostPosted: Sun October 17th, 2010, 00:48 GMT 
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procatcher31 wrote:
I mean, based on what I heard in that movie someone posted a couple days ago, these recordings changed the course of music recording (artists you hear actually being the songwriters).


Hmmmm? I must have missed that -- these specific recordings changed the course of music? I can't imagine how...

As for this being the first time they were laid down, I'd have to look into that. It would take a lot of research, it's likely true for some of them (though I wouldn't be surprised if he had performed the majority on stage by then). Even so, I dunno, "historic" seems like too weighty a word.


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PostPosted: Sun October 17th, 2010, 00:56 GMT 

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Warren Peace wrote:
procatcher31 wrote:
That said, this is an important historical document.*

*Witmark Demos apologist defense #7


:lol: If you really believe that, I'd appreciate you (or anyone) expanding upon it. I'm not against the potential idea of it being "historic", it's just that no one can explain to me why it would be. How is it relevant to anyone who has heard Dylan's early albums? The most anyone can muster is, "It's young Dylan at his peak performing these important songs that he wrote". Even accepting the "peak" part (which is debatable), that's a thin interpretation of "historic" as everything he did at the time falls under that definition. What would set these apart?


The Witmark demos would in most cases be the first recorded versions of many early Dylan songs, but what I'm really curious about is why you care so much about this release. You've spent dozens of posts dissing it, without stating any particular reason. What makes you so damn obsessed?


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PostPosted: Sun October 17th, 2010, 01:02 GMT 
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Warren Peace wrote:
procatcher31 wrote:
I mean, based on what I heard in that movie someone posted a couple days ago, these recordings changed the course of music recording (artists you hear actually being the songwriters).


Hmmmm? I must have missed that -- these specific recordings changed the course of music? I can't imagine how...

As for this being the first time they were laid down, I'd have to look into that. It would take a lot of research, it's likely true for some of them (though I wouldn't be surprised if he had performed the majority on stage by then). Even so, I dunno, "historic" seems like too weighty a word.

Perhaps I phrased that poorly--this stage of Dylan's recordings changed the course of modern music. I'm basing it on that part in the movie where the guy talked about what albums consisted of prior to Dylan: a 12-song album would have 12 different songwriters (none of them the actual singer) and a different recording session for each song. What Dylan's 2nd album was was 1 writer in 8 sessions...and, that writer was also the singer. Does that help?


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PostPosted: Sun October 17th, 2010, 01:16 GMT 
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HardTimes wrote:
The Witmark demos would in most cases be the first recorded versions of many early Dylan songs, but what I'm really curious about is why you care so much about this release. You've spent dozens of posts dissing it, without stating any particular reason. What makes you so damn obsessed?


It's a Bob Dylan message board and this is one of his major releases of the year, isn't that reason enough? Just because I dislike it doesn't mean I should pretend it doesn't exist. Mostly I'm trying to get at is what people who genuinely like the tracks (and aren't simply using them as a springboard to criticize other parts of Dylan's career) see in them. I haven't been too successful at that because I've been talking with folks less... nuanced in their appreciation than those like Procatcher. Discussion is nicer this time of day, when certain people are sleeping, isn't it? I'll have to remember that.

procatcher31 wrote:
Perhaps I phrased that poorly--this stage of Dylan's recordings changed the course of modern music. I'm basing it on that part in the movie where the guy talked about what albums consisted of prior to Dylan: a 12-song album would have 12 different songwriters (none of them the actual singer) and a different recording session for each song. What Dylan's 2nd album was was 1 writer in 8 sessions...and, that writer was also the singer. Does that help?


Well... er... not really, I'm afraid :lol: I'm trying to get it, I really am, but again, that's nothing that relates specifically to Witmark. It would be denying reality to say this part of Dylan's career is not historic. My point is, that history has already been laid down and Witmark doesn't expand upon it in any way I can see.


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PostPosted: Sun October 17th, 2010, 01:22 GMT 
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Warren Peace wrote:
It would be denying reality to say this part of Dylan's career is not historic.

This is what I'm getting at--I mean, you know what everybody means by "historic". And what you and I agree on is that this idea alone isn't enough to make an album with less than half new releases interesting.


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PostPosted: Sun October 17th, 2010, 01:26 GMT 
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Hmmmm, we're probably pretty close in our opinions of this, actually. I'm willing to consider appreciation of the set as legitimate, but I can't help but see the whole thing as redundant.


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PostPosted: Sun October 17th, 2010, 01:27 GMT 
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Yup. Case closed. Time to go eat Chinese food.


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PostPosted: Sun October 17th, 2010, 01:31 GMT 
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:lol: right on


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PostPosted: Sun October 17th, 2010, 01:32 GMT 

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Warren Peace wrote:
It's a Bob Dylan message board and this is one of his major releases of the year, isn't that reason enough? Just because I dislike it doesn't mean I should pretend it doesn't exist. Mostly I'm trying to get at is what people who genuinely like the tracks (and aren't simply using them as a springboard to criticize other parts of Dylan's career) see in them. I haven't been too successful at that because I've been talking with folks less... nuanced in their appreciation than those like Procatcher. Discussion is nicer this time of day, when certain people are sleeping, isn't it? I'll have to remember that.


I suggest that you just listen to the Witmark demos. If you can listen to "Tomorrow Is A Long Time" or "Ballad For A Friend" without feeling that these recordings are are very powerful, your mind must be full of dust.


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PostPosted: Sun October 17th, 2010, 01:36 GMT 
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I've heard 'em, man. Ballad's not bad, but the best 60's version of Tomorrow, like most else on those dics, is nowhere near Witmark.


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PostPosted: Sun October 17th, 2010, 02:14 GMT 
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They're historic but it doesn't make them good or release-worthy. The complete LARS sessions are historic but they're about as enjoyable as watching wall paper dry.


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PostPosted: Sun October 17th, 2010, 02:17 GMT 

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i think I have commented a number of times why I like the Witmark Demos. The main reason is that I find Dylan's guitar playing and song writing really interesting from this time period and how he has such a good handle on so many different styles (open tuning, flat picking, finger picking, country blues, etc). As I have also said in other threads, the two official albums that dovetail this release, Bob Dylan and The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, are my two favourite albums by Dylan. I just find this era of Dylan's career the most compelling for me. I guess other people with other reasons for liking Dylan would not necessarily find this reason as compelling.

I have already made a number of points in different threads regarding songs from the Demos that have not been officially released (like Gypsy Lou and Ain't Gonna Grieve). To give another illustration as to why I like the Witmark demos is listening to the differences in some of his iconic songs. For example, I was listening to the Demos today and noticed for the first time the differences in the flat picking on Blowing In the Wind from the official release. As it is an "iconic" song, I find Dylan's different approaches to it interesting.

If one was to make an argument about the Demos' historic importance, I suppose some interesting discussion could be had about how Dylan first started having real success as a musician writing songs that other people covered (the most obvious being the success that Peter, Paul & Mary had with Blowing in the Wind). The Witmark Demos are really the definitive testament to this era of Bob Dylan's career. On a side note, while a lot of people dismiss Peter, Paul & Mary, I always found it interesting how both Bob Dylan and Gordon Lightfoot had early successes in their careers by having Peter, Paul & Mary cover their songs. I do note that just because something is historically important doesn't mean it is good. However, as I am not basing my enjoyment of the Witmark demos on historic importance, I will let someone else champion their "historic importance" in more detail.


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PostPosted: Sun October 17th, 2010, 02:19 GMT 
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Voice With Restraint wrote:
We have an important historical document
bob dylan wrote:
Icon? It's just another word for a washed-up has-been.
Important historical documents belong in the public domain. As you imply, this material is largely of interest because 45 years have passed and the world has changed. But for this to be the sole salient reason for a release that's meant to line the pockets of CBS just before the copyrights become ambiguous (and it would've entered the public domain on its own) is not only cynical, it's sort of like calling dylan washed-up, ovaa, nothing new to offer, a museum piece. This is a release for after the man's passing, frankly - g_d forbid. At least don't lard it up with so much normally unreleasable stuff like when he stops Talkin' Bear Mountain in the middle to verbally insert a correction to the previous line, and so forth. It's just not entertaining enough for someone who calls himself a song and dance man is it? I haven't bothered to listen to the whole thing on NPR yet, and i'm not even cognizant of the release date. By contrast, I was online the night BS 8's debut streaming, listening to every track.


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PostPosted: Sun October 17th, 2010, 03:19 GMT 
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Well said, Doug. If people are wondering why I'm so pissed off at the release, shit like that is the reason why. Selling such lackadaisical performances to the public is beyond cynical. If they had edited out that, along with the "I don't give a damn so I'm just gonna stop" Let Me Die In My Footsteps, at least it would be respectable. It just blows my mind that they putting that out on an official release. Then again, if they left it off, they wouldn't get their copyright, which is the likely raison d'être behind all this.

On the flip side, I'm grateful for JRJ's thoughtful commentary. I don't agree with it, but appreciate where you're coming from, and it does give me a little insight about why someone might dig this.


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PostPosted: Sun October 17th, 2010, 04:14 GMT 
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Haven't got my copy yet, but have listened to the samples that were streamed a few days ago; and those samples gave me the clear impressions that a lot of sound quality issues of even the supposedly best bootleg (Hollow Horn's Let My Poor Voice Be Heard) have been fixed. I listened to the bootleg several times and was wowed by quite a few of the songs, but it was always the collector in me listening, making an effort to gloss over the flawed sound. Essential listening even then, but I never put those demos on for sheer pleasure. I think the official release will make that possible. So I'll get historical recordings I love in a form that will make listening to them fun - essential indeed.


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PostPosted: Sun October 17th, 2010, 13:44 GMT 
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Mister Goldsmith wrote:
Haven't got my copy yet, but have listened to the samples that were streamed a few days ago; and those samples gave me the clear impressions that a lot of sound quality issues of even the supposedly best bootleg (Hollow Horn's Let My Poor Voice Be Heard) have been fixed. I listened to the bootleg several times and was wowed by quite a few of the songs, but it was always the collector in me listening, making an effort to gloss over the flawed sound. Essential listening even then, but I never put those demos on for sheer pleasure. I think the official release will make that possible. So I'll get historical recordings I love in a form that will make listening to them fun - essential indeed.


Mister Goldsmith - let me welcome you to Expecting Rain, if I haven't already done so. 115 or so posts in. and I have to say I find myself agreeing with a lot of your comments - same with JRJ.

For those among you who say they can't get on with Dylan's early 'old man' voice - when was the the last time you listened to the first few albums? Shame on you if you don't dig that stuff. Shame on you.

And shame on you if you don't dig the Witmarks and their release. Shame on you. Go back to those towering toppling piles of Modern Bob recordings and hang your head. What have you done man?


Last edited by Bennyboy on Sun October 17th, 2010, 13:47 GMT, edited 1 time in total.

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