Bob Dylan's Bootleg Series Eyeing 'Blood on the Tracks' Next

Rolling Stone

The deluxe edition of Bob Dylan's 30th Anniversary Concert Celebration won't hit stores until March 4th, but Dylan's team is already thinking about their next archival release. "We don't know exactly what the next Bootleg Series is going to be," says a source close to the Dylan camp. "There's a couple of things on our minds, but the natural next one is Blood on the Tracks."

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Dylan recorded Blood on the Tracks at New York's A&R Studios with producer Phil Ramone before heading to Sound 80 studio in Minneapolis, Minnesota to re-cut much of the material with a different band. The final album is a mixture of New York and Minneapolis sessions. Some of the tracks that didn't make the LP have been bootlegged, but much remains in the vault. 

"During the first couple of days in New York, Bob played the songs solo on acoustic guitar," says the source. "They're very different than anything that's been heard before and they're very special." 

Another project that's been in the works for years is a documentary about The Rolling Thunder Revue, a theater tour that Dylan took around America in late 1975 with 1976 with Joan Baez, Roger McGuinn and Ramblin' Jack Elliott. Many of the participants have been interviewed and there's hours of footage from the period that Dylan and his team shot for the ill-fated 1978 movie Renaldo and Clara

Might an outside director be brought in to turn the footage into a documentary, like what happened with Martin Scorsese and 2005's No Direction Home? "We're going to keep mum on that for the time being," says the source.  "We have no clue when it's going to come out. Maybe this year, but we're just hoping it happens sometime in our lifetimes."

With the exception of 1995's MTV Unplugged, Dylan has released very few concerts onto DVD/Blu Ray. "Hard Rain [a May 1976 concert filmed  in Fort Collins, Colorado show that was later broadcast on NBC] and other videos will probably be available after the Rolling Thunder thing happens," says the source. "The problem is there's no market for this stuff. We waited too long. There's no DVD market these days."  

The Toronto stop on Bob Dylan's 1980 gospel tour was also professionally filmed. "That was shot on two-inch tape," says the source. "The band is really great though. You can see some of it on YouTube. Many shows on that tour were just incredible, but I'm not sure that particular night, unfortunately, captures the incredibleness of those shows." 

Other shows on the gospel tour were professionally recorded. "It'll make a cool Bootleg Series and we will do it one day," says the source. "The only issue is that we fear nobody will be interested. It's not a period people are clamoring for, so it's kind of a square peg for a round hole. That said, exploring the born again period would be very interesting. He played a lot of songs live that weren't recorded and a deluxe box would be fun to do. It's a period that been much-maligned, but with the benefit of hindsight it's clear that Bob was doing some great things."

Dylan's 1978 world tour has also been much-maligned, largely because the Live At Budokan album captured a very early show before the band really gelled. "There was so much going on with that big band that Bob didn't always need to give off that much energy," says the source. "But they kept doing the show and it got better and better. Unfortunately, somebody erased most of the tapes. It's very frustrating. We had soundboards of all of them. We do have a couple now, though."

Another professionally filmed concert in the vault is a 1986 Sydney, Australia stop on Dylan's tour with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. It was broadcast on HBO and released on VHS, but it's been out of print for decades. "That's a good shows," says the source. "Though it's really 1980s Bob, with the black leather vest and whatnot.  He plays 'In the Garden,' which is a very unusual song and Bob puts a lot of passion into it. Maybe we'll release that someday too."

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