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Review by Lonesome Sparrow

Bob Dylan: The Minnesota Tapes

Wanted Man Music
WMM 33/34/35
Townsend number: T-318

Disc 1: WMM 033; matrix: MON WMM 33
Disc 2: WMM 034; matrix: MON WMM 34
Disc 3: WMM 035; matrix: MON WMM 35

Bonnie Beechers's apartment, Minneapolis, Minnesota, May 1961
1.1.Ramblin' Round (0:15/3:53/0:00)
1.2.Death Don't Have No Mercy (incomplete performance) (0:00/1:58/0:19)
1.3.It's Hard To Be Blind (0:00/2:45/0:21)
1.4.This Train (0:01/2:52/0:00)
1.5.harmonica instrumental (0:00/3:46/0:08)
1.6.Talking Fisherman Blues (0:00/6:03/0:01)
1.7.Pastures Of Plenty (0:27/5:33/0:08)
1.8.Railroad Bill (0:00/4:09/0:00)
1.9.Will The Circle Be Unbroken? (0:00/1:00/0:02)
1.10.Man Of Constant Sorrow (0:00/3:13/0:00)
1.11.Pretty Polly (0:00/5:29/0:03)
1.12.Railroad Boy (0:00/2:43/0:01)
1.13.James Alley Blues (0:00/3:27/0:11)
1.14.Bonnie, Why'd You Cut My Hair? (0:11/1:27/0:05)
1.15.This Land Is Your Land (0:00/3:46/0:02)
1.16.Two Trains Running (0:00/3:07/0:00)
1.17.Wild Mountain Thyme (0:00/2:40/0:00)
2.1.Howdido (0:00/1:46/0:02)
2.2.Car, car (0:00/2:03/0:02)
2.3.Don't You Push Me Down (0:00/1:41/0:18)
2.4.Come See (0:00/2:07/0:01)
2.5.I Want It Now (0:00/2:59/0:00)
2.6.San Francisco Bay Blues (0:00/2:04/0:02)
2.7.Young But Daily Growing (0:00/4:38/0:00)
2.8.Devilish Mary (0:00/1:37/0:04)
Bonnie Beecher's apartment, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 22 December 1961
2.9.Candy Man (0:00/3:08/0:00)
2.10.Baby, Please Don't Go (0:00/4:14/0:00)
2.11.Hard Times In New York Town (0:00/2:18/0:00)
2.12.Stealin' (0:00/2:15/0:00)
2.13.Poor Lazarus (0:00/4:24/0:00)
2.14.I Ain't Got No Home (0:00/2:06/0:02)
2.15.It's Hard To Be Blind (0:05/2:55/0:02)
2.16.Dink's Song (0:04/4:44/0:07)
2.17.Man Of Constant Sorrow (0:00/3:33/0:01)
2.18.East Orange, New Jersey (1:30)
3.1.Deep Water (0:00/3:02/000)
3.2.Wade In The Water (0:00/2:59/0:00)
3.3.I Was Young When I Left Home (0:06/4:47/0:03)
3.4.In The Evening (0:01/3:58/0:00)
3.5.Baby, Let Me Follow You Down (0:00/2:58/0:00)
3.6.Sally Gal (0:11/1:31/0:01)
3.7.Gospel Plow (0:00/1:28/0:01)
3.8.Long John (0:00/6:21/0:02)
3.9.Cocaine Blues (0:00/2:15/0:01)
VD Blues (0:01/1:54/0:00)
3.11.VD Waltz (0:00/0:50/0:00)
3.12.VD City (0:00/1:47/0:00)
3.13.VD Gunner's Blues (0:00/2:36/0:00)
3.14.See That My Grave Is Kept Clean (0:00/3:38/0:00)
3.15.Ramblin' Round (0:00/3:19/0:00)
3.16.Black Cross (0:41/4:15/0:06)

Total time disc 1: 60:22
Total time disc 2: 51:08
Total time disc 3: 50:10

Something like (a:aa/b:bb/c:cc) in the track list means that b:bb is the duration of the actual song. a:aa and c:cc indicate how much time of the track is due to introductions, tunings etc.

This 3 CD set comes in a large jewel box. It comprises 2 home tapes made in 1961, known as the Minnesota Party Tape (or the second Minnesota Party Tape, since there an older home tape is also known as the Minnesota Party Tape) and the Minnesota Hotel Tape. Both these tapes were recorded by Tony Glover at the apartment of Bonnie Beecher in Minneapolis, Minnesota. This apartment was called hotel in jest, hence the name of the second tape. The Party Tape was recorded in May, the Hotel Tape on 22 December, a month after Dylan recorded his first album. The Minnesota Hotel Tape seems to be the most famous home tape after the Basement Tapes.

One song from these tapes has been officially released, namely "Hard Times In New York Town" from the Hotel Tape, which is on "The Bootleg Series Volumes 1-3". The documentation to this CD set says it was recorded in a Minnesota hotel room, incorrect information undoubtedly caused by the tapes name.

Since there are more home tapes recorded in Minnesota than these 2, the title of this CD set is not entirely correct; they could have fixed this by using some words from a Dylan composition as subtitle: "some of them, not all of them".

The sound quality of the Hotel Tape half of this CD set is better than that of the Party Tape half. The latter has a quite loud low frequency hum, forcing you to turn the bass on your amplifyer as low as possible. It also suffers much more from sudden changes in the volume level. In "Wild Mountain Thyme" this is a very big problem, which I have been able to fix quite satisfactorily when I copied it to a tape, by adjusting the recording level at the right times. This is something the manufacturers of this CD set could of course have done too, and not only on this song, so I say they have done their work with too less love. Nevertheless, I find the overall sound quality of this set quite acceptable. Dylan singing with just guitar and harmonica doesn't demand such a high sound quality. These CDs can be played loudly on the speakers and still be enjoyed. There are other CDs that contain these home tapes: "The Early Years, Vol. 1" contains the Minnesota Party Tape; "The Early Years, Vol. 2" contains the Minnesota Hotel Tape. I haven't heard these CDs, so can't tell how they compare in sound quality to this CD set. Nor have I heard any of the circulating tape copies of these home tapes or any vinyl bootlegs containing songs from them.

The recordings are not continuous, that is to say recording was interrupted in between songs. And this wasn't done very neatly, so the recording of a song often starts just a little after Dylan has started it and oten ends just a little before the performance has really come to an end.

The index mark of "VD Blues" comes 18 seconds to late.

I think the famous Minnesota Hotel Tape is an indispensable item in any collection of officially unreleased Dylan material. The average quality of the performances on the Minnesota Party Tape is less and I don't regard it as indispensable, but very recommendable nonetheless. I'm very glad to have both tapes on CD.