Two discs 75,74 minutes each approximately. The sound is, for the most part, good-clean and warm, with fairly good dynamics-a few tracks suffer from slightly muffled sound-different sources were used for these tracks, but are still sonically okay sounding. The discs are snapped into a double jewel case. The 59 page booklet contains information (by noted music writer Colin Escott) on music recording and publishing at the time, and a bit on Dylan during the era. There are many previously unpublished period photos of Bob Dylan throughout the booklet, plus a few reproductions of ads/articles about Dylan. The bonus disc "Bob Dylan In Concert Brandeis University 1963" is 38 minutes long approximately. The sound is fairly good, with some echo heard throughout the tracks. The disc is in a cardboard jacket, which on the back uses a reproduction of a ticket stub that lists the tracks and assorted concert information.
These songs (recorded between the years 1962-1964) are part of the foundation of Bob Dylan's early music. In these songs you hear the beginnings of Dylan's career, when he was virtually penniless and recorded these demos for Witmark Publishing. Dylan began writing for two reasons-some songs he kept for himself, and some he gave away to friends/performers he knew at the time. Dylan began writing so he would have a cache of songs to perform and to, hopefully, make some much needed money. Signing a contract with Witmark Publishing, Dylan received several hundred dollars for his efforts.
Dylan's writing style was similar to what he does today-taking bits and pieces from a number of songs and putting them together until he felt he had something worthwhile. In this collection you'll here Dylan speaking occasionally between songs, explaining that he doesn't know all the words, or that a song was possibly not worth recording. Sometimes Dylan stops mid-song to correct a word in the lyrics, and then continues singing. He recorded these tracks no matter if the songs were old or newly written, and, at times, depending if he could remember the lyrics. But the overall feel is of Dylan in complete control of what songs he recorded in these sessions. He allowed no one to dictate whether a song was worthwhile-something he continues in the present. With these songs, we hear Bob Dylan becoming Bob Dylan. No longer strictly a folk singer, but beginning to forge his style of rock 'n' roll.
The songs, even familiar ones, with virtually the same lyrics we've heard over and over again, are different in sound and feel depending on Dylan's mood. And that makes this set even more important. This is Dylan laying down a number of his most well known, important songs. All of these songs were written by Dylan, with the exception of "Baby, Let Me Follow You Down"(copyright by Eric Von Schmidt and Reverend Gary Davis), and most have not been previously released legally. The exceptions are-"Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" (released on "The Bootleg Series Vol. 7"), "Walkin' Down The Line", "When The Ship Comes In", and "The Times They Are A-Changin'" (released on "The Bootleg Series Vol. 1-3").
This collection is at the heart of Dylan's writing, and in the early days at least, performing style. Just his voice and a delicately finger-picked guitar, occasional piano and harmonica-a perfect setting that strikes a certain mood when you hear these songs. Anyone with an interest in Dylan's early career, including some of his best known songs will find much to like here. The songs previously unheard (legally), only add weight to Bob Dylan's early start in music. The emotion heard in the best of these tracks is even more astounding-when you consider that these were being set down by a hungry Dylan, who was known only to a relatively few people on the scene, or who had heard his first Columbia Records recordings at the time. Now, with this release, we can revel in some of the earliest Bob Dylan, when he was searching and forming his individualistic style of performing.